This post is dedicated to the frugal art of using up stuff you have left around. The salad above, as well as a bowl of corn and bacon chowder to go with it, were all inspired by things lying around the fridge.
This salad was basically thrown together with what I had around. A blood orange, from a trip across the border to Quebec, a couple of avocados, some beets I’d roasted the night before, and salad leaves.
The beets had already been dressed with orange juice and olive oil, so I added them last, after dressing everything else with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Very pretty, and avocados and beets are unexpectedly good together.
With the salad I had corn and bacon chowder. When my mother heard I was heating up chowder I’d made, she opined that it was nice to have my money. i asked her what part of chowder was expensive, and she said that on TV people always put expensive shellfish in it. (And I’m not even going to discuss the price of Newfoundland cod these days.) Anyway, this chowder is a lot more basic. (And affordable.)
Just as a side note, I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories about servant’s contracts specifying no more than three dinners of lobster/salmon a week, from back when they were cheap. I guess when chowder was getting going it was a similar case. Lots of fish, lots of potatoes, and crackers.
Oysters and stout are another example: they originally went together because both were cheap; all those oyster feasts in Dickens are like going mad on the pizza or burgers these days.
If you’re feeling rich, add your own favourite seafood to this recipe. If not, it’s a very filling soup, good for a cold day. The bacon you use makes a major difference to the flavour.
8 slices of bacon, chopped into thick pieces
1 onion, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 lb (500 g) potatoes, preferably red-skinned
4 c.(1 lt) milk or half stock and half milk
1 c. (250 ml) heavy cream
2 bay leaves
2 large handfuls frozen corn kernels
salt & pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
handful chopped parsley
sprinkle of paprika
Fry bacon in Dutch oven, until fat runs and the bacon crisps. (If loads of fat comes out, sponge some up with a paper towel held in tongs.) Lift out bacon and soften the onion and celery in the fat. Put in the cubed potatoes, and stir for a minute, to soften only. Put bacon back in pan, but save a few bits for topping the soup.
Season lightly, and add the thyme and milk. Bring up to the simmer, and let cook on low heat until the potatoes are knife-tender. Add the corn and simmer until that too is tender, a couple of minutes.
Add cream and let heat through.
Top with reserved bacon, parsley, a sprinkle of paprika, and serve.
PS – I sometimes chop a red pepper and fry it with the bacon to add colour to the soup. It makes a nice additon.