What's on your Menu?

Feb 1, 2012

This Sunday, the average Super Bowl viewer will consume twelve-hundred calories worth of snacks like chili, chips, chicken wings, and pizza, which besides sounding kind of low for junk food, got us wondering what professional cooks and foodies serve at Super Bowl parties… fois gras nachos?  Home-made Cheetos?  We caught up with cookbook author and educator Kathy Gunst. Her book, “Notes from a Maine Kitchen” is a month-by-month guide of recipes inspired by the seasons.


Maine Shrimp, Haddock, and Jerusalem Artichoke Winter Chowder
from Notes from a Maine Kitchen (Down East books, 2011)

The Jerusalem artichokes give this Maine shrimp-based chowder a great crunchy texture and sweet flavor. The chowder can be made a few hours (or a day) ahead of time and simply reheated over low heat until bubbling hot. This chowder is a great platform for showing off the shrimp’s sweet, fresh winter flavor.

  •  3 strips bacon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes, Yukon Gold works well
  • 1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 pound haddock, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound peeled whole Maine shrimp

[TIP]You need one tablespoon of flour as a thickener, but if you prefer a thinner chowder only add this amount. If you want a thicker, more stew-like soup add 1 ½ tablespoons flour.

[TIP]You’ll need 2 1/2 cups dairy—for a lighter chowder add all milk and for a richer one add the cream. You can play with the proportions of milk and cream depending on how rich you like it.

In a large soup pot cook the bacon until crisp on both sides; drain on paper towels. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.

Add the oil to the bacon grease (if you choose not to add bacon work with about 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil instead). Add the onion to the hot oil and cook, stirring frequently, over low heat for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and just beginning to turn color. Add the salt, pepper, and half the thyme, and stir well. Add the potatoes and artichokes and cook, stirring, for a minute to coat the potatoes and artichokes thoroughly with the spices and onions.

Meanwhile heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat until just simmering.

Add the haddock to the pot with the onions and potatoes and stir well. Sprinkle on the flour and stir gently to coat all the ingredients. Let cook about 2 minutes. Add half the crumbled bacon (if using), the remaining thyme, and then the warm milk and cream. Raise the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Once the chowder simmers reduce the heat to low, add half the parsley, and the cayenne. Cover, and let cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the shrimp and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until they firm up. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, pepper, and cayenne if needed.

Serve hot with a sprinkling of parsley and some of the remaining bacon on top. Serves 4. 


Popcorn: Three Variations on a Theme
from Stonewall Kitchen Appetizers by Jonathan King, Jim Stott, and Kathy Gunst

Popcorn as an appetizer? Sure! It’s all the rage served with sophisticated cocktails at chic bars around the country—bowls of popcorn flavored with everything from truffle oil to Indian spices to garlic and cheese. Try any of these flavor combinations and then have fun playing with flavors to think up your own variety.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup white or yellow popcorn
  • Sea salt, or garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flavor toppings, see below

In a large pot heat the oil over low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add popcorn kernels in a single layer on the bottom of the pot, stir well, and cover. Let cook until the corn starts popping. Once the corn is popping shake the pan back and forth so that the kernels are evenly distributed. Cook until the kernels stop popping.

Meanwhile prepare one of the flavorings listed below.

Remove the popcorn from the pot and place in a large bowl. Toss in the flavorings while the popcorn is still hot, and put the lid from the pot over the bowl; toss the popcorn well to incorporate the flavoring throughout all the popcorn. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 cups popcorn; serves 6 to 8.

Flavor Variations: Add any of the following to the hot, just-cooked popcorn:

·      White Truffle Popcorn: 1 tablespoon white truffle oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix well.

·      Cheese, Thyme and Pepper: ¼ to 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (or your favorite hard) cheese, 1 ½ teaspoon dried crumbled thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped), sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

·      Spicy Turmeric Butter and Cheddar: Melt 4 tablespoons butter with ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon mild chile powder and 1 teaspoon ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until the butter turns a gorgeous yellow and has a spicy flavor. Pour over the hot popcorn and toss thoroughly with ½ packed cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese.