Wednesday, August 31, 2011

French Friday with Dorie: Corn Soup, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Peach Pie

Cut from the cob, the corn became an main ingredient for corn soup.  I have many memories associated with summer corn on the cob.  My grandpa planted about 50 acres of corn every spring.  All his big family looked forward to the 4th of July picnic in his large front yard where we annually ate our first ears.  My dad would find an old gunny sack made from burlap which had once been filled with some type of grain for the farm animals and together we would walk to the corn fields, picking only the ears that felt full and were ready for eating.  I learned that there is a big difference between "field corn" which was grown for the farm animals,  and "people eating corn."  Grandpa's eating corn was the best around.  Grandpa was not only a farmer but he was also a scientist.   He had graduated from a major university and then with 7 of his brothers had served on WW1.  His life experiences were rich as a community leader, but his heart was on the farm and that he where he stayed and reared his own family.  Every year he tried new varieties of corn and other vegetable seeds some of which he developed on his own.  I remember the first year he planted a variegated white and yellow corn that we all decided was the sweetest variety we had ever tried.  I always chose the very young and tender ears, my dad liked them a day or two more developed on the stalks, and Grandpa liked what I thought was "old" corn; the most mature ears were his favorites.  Back then everyone always ate 5 or 6 ears with their meal.  Now my whole family eats just 5 or 6 ears...they get broken in half or thirds and are just a casual side dish.

Years ago, when we lived in Upstate NY, we had a bountiful  vegetable garden every summer.  We grew enough corn for eating and for freezing and it was delicious.  I remember taking grocery bags filled with freshly picked corn on family campouts where we soaked the ears still in  their husks in big tubs of cold water waiting for our campfire to die down, resulting in mounds of hot coals which we use to roast our corn.  Sometimes this corn was all we wanted for dinner.  Slathered with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper this corn became not only dinner but a cherished memory.

Now our store bought corn gets grilled and instead of sweet butter it gets painted with herb infused olive oil which, even though it is delicious, does not meet my homegrown corn memories from earlier years.

The Phoenix SE Valley does have good corn, but it ripens in May and has a season of about 2 weeks.  By this time of year, as the rest of the country is enjoying the field's harvest, our short-lived corn season is just a springtime memory.  But there is still something comforting about bringing home corn on the cob, shucking it, and then using this "fresh" produce for our dinner, even if it has been shipped in from Utah or Colorado and is not "garden fresh."  Today it was used for a delicious soup that included other "garden fresh" vegetables and herbs.

And as I shucked the corn, I was reminded of another memory.  And part of all this blogging is to keep my memories, so I'll continue that many memories include our foods.  When my Jeni first came to our family at the age of fifteen and a half, she had never experienced even such simple pleasures as shucking corn.  In her orphanage they had never eaten corn.  One day, as part of our dinner preparations, I asked Jeni to take a dozen ears outside and get them ready for steaming.  I explained to her that when all the husks were removed, and I peeled off a few as my example, she would find the corn.  She had never before known how corn grew.  After an hour had gone by and most of our meal had been readied, I wondered where the corn and Jeni were.  I found Jeni  sitting on a chair, next to a trash can, carefully peeling away each piece of husk from each ear of corn, and to that point she had only cleaned 6 or 7 ears for cooking.  I remember being annoyed.  I took the remaining 5 or 6 ears and quickly shucked them all in less than a minute and returned to the kitchen.  As I was rinsing the corn and putting it into the pot,  I had the thought that I needed to be more patient and to show appreciation to Jeni.  She did not know that one could take most of the husks and rip them off in a single motion...she had never done this before.  It was a new experience.  She was learning.  I had expected a 15 year old girl to know some things, but how could Jeni know?  She had never seen this "real" corn before, never handled it, and did not know that corn on the cob is sturdy...she had been afraid that she might dislodge the fragile kernels from their cobs and ruin this part of our dinner.

To make the soup I cut the corn kernels from the cobs while heating 3  Cups of milk to boiling.  The cobs were saved and steeped in the hot milk, adding a sweet flavor to the broth,  while other vegetables were prepared.  An onion, several stocks of celery, 3 carrots, a sweet red pepper, several scallions, and minced garlic were sauteed in butter until just beginning to soften.

To season the soup I added a rosemary sprig, some parsley, salt and pepper,  and 3 Cups of chicken stock.  (The recipe called for added water, however, this dilutes the flavors and I wanted added flavor.)
The sauteed veges were added to the milk less the cobs, and the seasonings were added.  The soup simmered for about 10 minutes while I finished cooking a few strips of bacon, and by then Hubby could not wait another minute before eating.    I ladled a bowl of soup  and garnished his portion with chopped bacon.

Hubby enjoyed the soup and commented several times during the evening that the soup was really good.  I had been a little apprehensive to give it to him as it was simmering-hot, and our outdoor temperature is also very hot this evening...even after the sun had retired it is remains 112^, and Hubby had just come in from raking under our citrus trees.   I had planned to set a pretty table and put out several garnishing choices such as creme fraiche, grated cheese,and  fresh cilantro, but I was lucky to get a photo, before the bowl of soup was taken.  That's a good thing, but at that point I gave in and ate soup too.  Hubby's right.  This soup is good.

In between the soup making processes I decided to catch up on a recipe I missed last month, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, which I had not given much thought until I read so many positive reviews and decided I was missing out.

I cut enough grape tomatoes in half lengthwise to fill 3 cookie sheets which were lined with silicone mats.  The tomatoes were drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then I decided to mince my garlic and spread it over all the tomatoes.  Rosemary and thyme sprigs were added to the pans which were put into a 225^ oven for a slow roast.  To finish the 3 pans, which were placed on 3 different oven racks,  took 5 hours.The recipe states that 3 hours would finish this roasting process, but since I was filling the oven and crowding the pans I knew it would be a longer time.
It is midnight and I've just taken my roasted tomatoes out of the oven for cooling.  I plan to place them into a container, cover them with olive oil, and then refrigerate them after I've let them cool.  I will use part of them tomorrow in a pasta dish.  Can't wait.  The remainder should keep well, refrigerated,  for up to 3 weeks.   I tasted a few and they are soft and sweet and  I'm hungry again.

So, it is good that I made peach pies as part of tonight's cooking....had to do something during that long roast.  I'm actually eating a couple of pieces as I write up this post.  All the smells and tastings have kept me hungry all night.


 And my favorite PEACH PIE recipe is:

Dough for a double crust pie

6 or 7 ripe but firm large peaches
1 Cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 T quick cooking tapioca
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
pinch of salt
Fruit Fresh if desired.

1 egg, whisked
1/4 Cup sugar for sprinkling pie top

Preheat oven to 350^.

In a large pot, bring to a boil  2 or 3 quarts of water, enough to cover 3 or 4 whole peaches.
Roll out bottom crust and place in 9"  pie pan.  Roll out top crust and keep it ready.

Scald the peaches in the boiling water for 30 seconds, let cool slightly, and slip off the peels.  Cut peaches into 1/2" slices and discard the pits.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of Fruit Fresh which is usually found in the canning section of grocery stores.  A little lemon juice also works to keep the peach slices looking fresh.  But, if you work quickly these are not needed.

Place slices in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Toss gently until combined...mixture will become juicy.

Ladle the peach mixture into the bottom crust and add top crust.  Crimp the pie edges together and cut slits into the pie top crust as venting for steam to escape during the baking process.  Place the ready-to-bake pie onto either a parchment lined cookie sheet or on a large silicone baking mat...something to catch any juicy drippings that may escape from your pie.  It is easier to clean these items than to scrub your oven.

Whisk 1 egg and brush it onto top crust.  (Discard portion not egg will cover about 4 pie tops.) Sprinkle generously with your favorite sugar.  (Leftover pie dough can be rolled and cut into decorative shapes to garnish your pie.  Just "glue" them to your pie with a little water or egg wash.  Also brush these cutouts with egg for uniform baking.)

Bake for 60 minutes, check to see that filling is bubbling through the vent slits and crust is browned.  (A glass Pyrex type pan allows you to also see that the bottom crust has browned and will not be underbaked and thus soggy from those wonderful, juicy peaches.)  Your pie may need an extra 10 minutes of baking time.  It is better to have a well done crust than a crust that is soggy or underdone.
With corn, tomatoes, and peaches I am enjoying some of  summer's harvest.  These kinds of food are favorites and are a memorable part of our family traditions.

I look forward to seeing my fellow Doristas' fare.  It was actually fun when my Frolicking Night Owl daughter and family came over earlier and we discussed her soup which she made very differently than mine, even though inspired by the same recipe.  I enjoyed hearing about her ideas and look forward to all yours too.


  1. What a terrific post! I love all the memories of the farm and the corn and the shucking story. So nice to get a glimpse into the past. Everything turned out beautifully and I wish I had a slice of that peach pie right now!

  2. What a lovely post, it's amazing how many of our family memories are wrapped up in food. I really enjoyed reading about a few of yours.

  3. Glad to see you left the corn soup chunky. I pretty much broke my little electric coffee grinder "blending" my soup! Your tomatoes and pie look delicious as well!

  4. I can remember the first time I snuck an ear of corn from the field near our house (I must have been about six or seven). At that time, I didn't realize there was "cow" corn and "People" corn. But I sure learned quickly to leave the stuff in the field alone...
    And the pesto pizza is a great use for those tomatoes!

  5. Mmmm...I could eat those tomatoes every day. And that pie looks amazing. All around, it looks like you had a very good food day. Yum!

  6. Wow, Kris, what a flavor-packed post!

    I'm a little behind for a good reason - I got an offer on my house & have had meetings with my realtor.

    Anyway, I've tagged you for "My Seven Links", a food blogger game that's going around. It's a bit time-consuming, but I hope you'll play along. Scroll to the bottom of my post to see how:

    Have a great weekend!

  7. What a nice post and memory shared. I like the chunkier look of your soup and your tomatoes look delicious!

  8. Kris, Great post...loved reading about your memories of summers past! Your soup looks great! And your tomatoes and pies look incredible! Have a great Labor Day!

  9. I just finished eating dinner and looking at your dishes makes me
    hungry all over again. I love reading about your wonderful memories
    of growing up and all the wonderful traditions. Sometimes when your
    parent keep the traditions going, its nice to listen when your children,
    and especially the grandchildren, talk about them. Makes you think
    you did something right. Your photos are wonderful. Have a happy
    holiday weekend.

  10. Oh, just think of all the memories you've made for Jeni since she's come to you...both through your love and your food. Your soup looks marvelous as does the pie and tomatoes! Happy weekend~

  11. Hi Kris, nice memories around one of my favorite veggies, it's funny to think about corn being over for the year in May in AZ! Your soup, slow roasted tomatoes, pizza and peach pie are all making me very hungry;-)

  12. Thank you for sharing your memories. I loved this soup, and the slow-roasted tomatoes too. I used some of the tomato candy to garnish the soup, actually.

  13. Terrific post. I do wonder what it is about corn that triggers such amazing (no pun intended) memories...summer? family? the ritual of husking corn or of soaking it for grilling? (another memory of summers past for me) I don't know but it’s been a privilege to read yours. Thank you.

  14. I always enjoy your stories, Kris. And your food! What a wonderful spread! I would love to have some of everything.

  15. Hungry just looking at your soup, pizza, peach pie...perfect meal :) Drooling ! Your corn soup looks flavorful with the chicken stock instead of using just water...lovely. Mine was the first attempt and I did it right :)

  16. What a beautiful post, Kris. Food traditions live in us and our families as long as we take the time to share them. I'm craving the tomatoes now again after seeing your multiple trays.

  17. I love reading your blog posts, they're filled with so much life, love and memories. They're beautiful.
    And so is the food! Each and every thing your made looks great!

  18. So lovely that you have those memories and that you have this blog to record them, along with the ones you're making now. All three of your recipes look like they turned out beautifully. Thanks for sharing your peach pie recipe, too. It's the one thing I haven't yet made this summer. I suppose I'd better hurry now!