Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mirepoix for the Summer

I’m calling it Summer Mirepoix. Mirepoix is a mixture of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery, used as a base for most soups and many classic sauces. It can be chopped coarsely, left in large chunks, or diced precisely—the magic is in the combination of flavors.
But... I currently have corn, zucchini and onions, and so that's what I’m using as a base for soups and sauces. Fifty percent zucchini, 25% corn and 25% onions. Chili, chowder, pasta sauce, corn pudding, quiches—it’s all good. I’ve also chopped my ‘Summer Mirepoix’, sautéed it and frozen it in small batches to add to soups and stews during the winter, resurrecting summer flavors in January and February.
Summer 'Mirepoix'
1 pound (16 ounces) zucchini
8 ounces corn kernels
8 ounces onion
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
Wash the zucchini and cut into small dice. Dice the onion. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, over low heat until the onion is soft and the zucchini is tender. 
Summer Mirepoix Quiche
Leftover ham can be used in place of the bacon-- dice it, but there's no need to saute it. This is also a great use of the eggs in my share!
Dough for a 9” pie crust
1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
2 cups Summer Mirepoix
pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
3 eggs 
1- 1/2 cups milk 
1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1-1/3 cups)
1/4 cup minced fresh thyme (optional)
1. Cook bacon in a skillet over low heat until crisp. Drain off excess fat. Add the mirepoix, salt and pepper. Set aside. 
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry from center out, lifting pastry, turning it slightly, and occasionally flipping to prevent sticking. Roll pastry to 1/8 -inch thickness.  Gently pick up the pastry and place in a 9-inch pie pan, leaving about 1/4-inch overhang for shrinkage. Pinch up excess pastry to form a rim and flute the edges. Prick the bottom all over with a fork.
3. Line the pastry with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil larger than the pan, and fill with pie weights, rice, or dry beans. Bake about 20 minutes, until the edges begin to color. Remove the paper and weights. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. 
4. In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the milk and herbs, if using. Spread the vegetables and bacon over the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkle the vegetables with the cheese. Pour the custard into the pie shell to within 1/4-inch of the top of the crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling puffs. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Summer Mirepoix Chowder
3 cups Summer Mirepoix
1/2 pound thick bacon, cut into small pieces 
1 large clove minced garlic
1 bay leaf 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups scrubbed baking potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk 
1 cup heavy cream 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Add the garlic bay leaf, thyme, potatoes and Summer Mirepoix.. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. 
2. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 
3. Add the milk and cream, and simmer for 5 minutes, making sure the soup does not boil. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
4. Ladle into soup bowls garnish each serving with the green onions.

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