Today marks the last day of my summer semester in culinary school – 8 weeks, 13 credit hours and 4 classes down, and I am so excited to be well on my way to graduating this December. Over the past two months, I’ve studied a lot about nutrition, learning various ways to cook for specific diets and experimenting with healthier substitutions without sacrificing flavor. One week, my classmates and I made plant-based burgers.
I prepared a vegan white bean burger made with oats, herbs and spices, and while I will always be a meat eater, it was eye-opening to learn to cook in a less familiar way. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the flavors, and it expanded my mind, which is what learning is all about.
This semester, we also took some of our favorite comfort foods, such as pizza, and made healthier versions. Instead of a hand tossed crust made with flour and yeast, I made a cauliflower crust with eggs, fresh herbs, and Pecorino Romano cheese. The process was a bit more labor intensive (it required steaming the cauliflower, then squeezing out the moisture), but together with my homemade tomato sauce and vegetable toppings, the presentation was nice. With a few tweaks to the ratios of egg to cauliflower and oven type, the crust should get a little crispier next time.
Summertime is one of my favorite seasons to cook because of the incredible fruits and vegetables that are in season. Blackberries, fresh peaches, Silver Queen corn and homegrown tomatoes — the harvest is plentiful, and the garden is plush.
I’ve made my fair share of caprese salads this summer with the classic pairing of fresh mozzarella cheese, garden basil, and vine ripened tomatoes with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The key is to season the ingredients well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and to use tomatoes of all colors, shapes and sizes. I love combining the little orange and yellow cherry tomatoes sliced vertically with the larger slices of beefsteak tomatoes for variety.
Locally sourced ingredients that are in season are hard to mess up. My Shrimp and Corn Chowder is one such dish that is perfect in the summer months when the corn is sweet, and the Wild Georgia shrimp are fresh off the dock. The crunch of sweet corn with salty bacon and starchy potatoes comes together in complete harmony with the succulent, plump shrimp.
Creamy and pleasing to the eye with great texture, this dish epitomizes Some Kinda Good. In 30 minutes, you can make this dish for your family, and be sitting down to a delicious meal. Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.
Wild Georgia Shrimp and Corn Chowder
3 slices of hardwood smoked bacon
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 bunches of green onions, chopped
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
2 large baked potatoes such as Yukon Gold or Russet, peeled and diced
3 ears of fresh corn, such as Silver Queen, sliced off the cob
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart whole or 2% milk
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Old Bay, for seasoning shrimp
In a large skillet with a high rim, cook bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon, leaving the rendered fat. Stir in the celery, green onions and Vidalia onions, potatoes, and corn. Add the thyme, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.
Stir in the flour until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, then cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season the shrimp with Old Bay. Stir in the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 4 minutes. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and sprinkle with green onion and chopped bacon. Serve with Italian bread.