Tuesday Dinner: Mexican Street Corn Chowder

OK, let’s hear it. How was your summer? Mine was not too summery. I did a lot of work, some of it fun, some of it a slog, and didn’t relax or travel much. Luckily, we ended the summer with a weeklong trip to Southern California. We spent most of our time in San Diego, and went to out eat almost every meal. Lots of fish tacos, lots of ice cream, and trips to the beach and the zoo. On our way back we spent one night at Great Wolf Lodge, which was by far the most fun we had all summer. Water slides! A wave pool! And arcade and a mini bowling alley and three restaurants and a candy store and a Dunkin’ Donuts all right inside the hotel! It was a surprise treat for my kids, and they had a blast—and so did I.

(As a parent, I find myself having to say “no” all the time. No to sugar, stuffed animals, glitter eyeliner, plastic swords, twisty balloons…For that one week of real vacation, I said “yes” to almost everything, and it felt so good. I couldn’t afford to do that all the time, but for a week, it was pretty great.)

I taught two weeks of cooking camp this year. One day of each week we spent in Samuel P. Taylor cooking over a wood fire—and also spending a lot of time playing in the creek. (Next year I might skip cooking camp in favor of  “Malika’s Creek Camp.”) The park day is my favorite day, and the recipe for Mexican Street Corn is one of my favorite dishes. Grilled corn is smothered in a creamy sauce flavored with garlic and chile, then rolled in crumbly cotija cheese. I used all those same flavors in today’s soup; toasted guajillo chiles, plenty of garlic, a creamy-cheesy sauce to stir in, and some cilantro and lime to finish things off.

Sunday was the first time since June—June!—that I’ve been to the San Rafael farmers’ market. I managed to make it to the Wednesday market in Fairfax a couple of times this summer, but life was too overwhelming for me to get all the way over to the Civic Center. Tim thought I had moved out of state, it had been so long since I’d been there. Adriana’s booth, of course, was overflowing with produce that was beautiful (all those gorgeous greens), delicious-looking (dark orange carrots, shiny zucchini), and fragrant (basil, strawberries, tomatoes). I managed not to go completely crazy, but I did come home with a boatload of fennel and bell peppers from Adriana and a huge watermelon from Tim, which are all going into the salad today. Even the dressing is bright green and pleasantly herbaceous from putting all the fennel tops into the blender. I also bought more strawberries than we could possibly eat. I intended to make strawberry shortcake for you guys, but then I went down the aisle to Tim’s booth, and he had the most gorgeous blackberries, so I came home with a flat of those, too. I made my mom’s ricotta cake, but with Tim’s blackberries instead of the raspberries she usually uses. It’s such a simple cake, but has so much flavor and richness from the ricotta, while the blackberries cook down to jammy puddles. Yay for dessert!

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