Hello from my (ridiculously brief) summer vacation in East Hampton. The only reason I'm posting a recipe while on vacation is that the local produce out here is so astonishing that I'm inspired to cook here more than I am at home. As much as the area is known for spiffy homes, those homes are separated by farms and farm stands bursting with glorious peaches, grapes, melons, vegetables, tomatoes, and berries. The sweet corn in particular haunts my beachy dreams with its caviar-pop sweetness.
As an added bonus, the fish scene is as fresh as the fashion. Every summer, my father-in-law makes us his famous crab cakes, a recipe I've already shared, so this year I settled on making up a crab and sweet corn chowder. It's not difficult to put your hands on good lump crab meat in Minnesota (Coastal Seafoods sells it, for instance), and Lord knows we know good sweet corn right exactly now. Work in some of the fresh herbs overgrowing your garden, serve wearing high heels alongside a plate of perfectly ripe tomatoes, and call it August, Hamptons-in-Minnesota style.
And oh, congratulations chef Sameh Wadi (Saffron, World Street Kitchen) for his win at the Minneapolis Farmers Market Country Chef Challenge this past Saturday! He and chef Jack Riebel (Butcher and the Boar) faced off with fresh-and-fabulous items quickly gathered at the market. I was a lucky, lucky judge, along with Lee Dean, food editor at the Star Tribune, and Matt Brickman and Jamie Yuccas, weekend anchors at WCCO-TV.
Jack Riebel's luscious beer cheese soup with tomatoes, chiles, maple-glazed bacon, fried croutons.
Sameh Wadi's stunning tomato salad with smoked tomato vinaigrette and raspberries (top) and fragrant trout tagine with squash and sweet corn.
Not a bad way to kick off the weekend, ha! I went from the market to the airport. Whee! Nice.
Notice how both chefs featured the gorgeous tomatoes flooding the markets right now. If you're looking for new (as well as tried-and-true) ways to use the tomatoes in your garden or at the market (like the gorgeous tomato jam pictured!), join chef Scott Pampuch and me for the last class in our Provisions series at Kitchen in the Market. This Thursday night we will be talking and eating tomatoes and berries: Jams, syrups, freezing, sauces, preserving in oil, on and on and on. We'll share tasty cocktails and a delicious meal as we chat and learn. Join us!