I was up at 4:45 a.m. to get to the polls right when they opened at 6:00. I was done at 7:00 a.m. and on my way to school to set up the computers for Kids Voting. My students did such an awesome job as poll workers and helped about 300 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, cast their ballots. By the time school was over, I was exhausted. It was all I could do to make to the grocery store before I collapsed on the couch for a pre-return watch party. (Is it a party if it's just my roommate and me?)
Still, I managed to find the energy to combine two of my loves...food and politics. So in honor of this historic election and my love of presidential politics, I bring you Barack-li, red peper, and cheddar chowder. It was very comforting (but not quite as comforting as Obama's victory!) after a very long day. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for voting!
Barack-li, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Chowder
adapted from epicurious.com, originally in Gourmet, December 2001
1 small head broccoli (1/2 pound)
2 medium red potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
l large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped of leaves
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. heavy cream
8 oz. sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
1. Discard tough lower third of broccoli stem. Peel remaining stem and finely chop. Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets.
2. Cook florets in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain. Reserve 3 cups cooking water for chowder.
3. Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Cook potato, onion, bell pepper, broccoli stems, and garlic in butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add cumin, salt, pepper, mustard, and thym and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add reserved cooking water and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Stir in cream and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, then season with salt and pepper.
6. Purée about 2 cups of chowder with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to pot.
7. Add florets and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.