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Putting shrimp in a potato-corn chowder seems to be popular these days. I’ve seen similar recipes in two of my newest cooking magazines. I love the idea, but as I read through each recipe, I thought there was room for improvement. Making potato soup with corn and shrimp isn’t rocket science, so it was easy to figure out how to create my own version.
This was unbelievably good. Good enough for a special occasion, and certainly an appropriate late-summer meal when fresh thyme, potatoes and corn are all at their peak.
We ate this exquisite soup with a crusty baguette, some sweet-cream butter, and a green salad. Perfection.
Potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits. Serves four.
Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, fried crisp
2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons flour
Leaves from 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, plus additional for garnish
1 large potato, scrubbed and diced (I used a Yukon Gold, which didn’t put a dent in the 30+ pounds we harvested last week)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh-ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth
Fresh corn cut from 3 ears (you can substitute 1 1/4 cup frozen corn)
12 to 14 large, peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 21-25 size because that’s what we have on hand)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk, or more, depending on the consistency you like
Directions:
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook onions until they’re transparent and golden, about 7 minutes. Add the flour, and cook for another minute or two. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir. Pour in the chicken broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Continue to stir the soup base until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer gently, covered for 7-8 minutes, or until potatoes are firm-tender, stirring occasionally. (You don’t want the potatoes to get completely soft, because they’ll continue to cook in the next step.)
Uncover soup and add the corn and shrimp. (Soup will be thick.) Again, bring up the heat until your soup just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for an additional 5 minutes or just until the shrimp is cooked, stirring frequently.
Finally, add the heavy cream and milk. Heat only until soup is heated through. Add most of the bacon bits. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve soup in preheated bowls. Garnish with reserved bacon bits and thyme leaves.

Putting shrimp in a potato-corn chowder seems to be popular these days. I’ve seen similar recipes in two of my newest cooking magazines. I love the idea, but as I read through each recipe, I thought there was room for improvement. Making potato soup with corn and shrimp isn’t rocket science, so it was easy to figure out how to create my own version.

This was unbelievably good. Good enough for a special occasion, and certainly an appropriate late-summer meal when fresh thyme, potatoes and corn are all at their peak.

We ate this exquisite soup with a crusty baguette, some sweet-cream butter, and a green salad. Perfection.

Potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits. Serves four.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, fried crisp
  • 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Leaves from 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and diced (I used a Yukon Gold, which didn’t put a dent in the 30+ pounds we harvested last week)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Fresh corn cut from 3 ears (you can substitute 1 1/4 cup frozen corn)
  • 12 to 14 large, peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 21-25 size because that’s what we have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk, or more, depending on the consistency you like

Directions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook onions until they’re transparent and golden, about 7 minutes. Add the flour, and cook for another minute or two. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir. Pour in the chicken broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Continue to stir the soup base until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer gently, covered for 7-8 minutes, or until potatoes are firm-tender, stirring occasionally. (You don’t want the potatoes to get completely soft, because they’ll continue to cook in the next step.)

Uncover soup and add the corn and shrimp. (Soup will be thick.) Again, bring up the heat until your soup just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for an additional 5 minutes or just until the shrimp is cooked, stirring frequently.

Finally, add the heavy cream and milk. Heat only until soup is heated through. Add most of the bacon bits. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.

Serve soup in preheated bowls. Garnish with reserved bacon bits and thyme leaves.

My mom had a talent of making cheap food taste good. The older I get, the more I understand what a great gift that is.

T.V. dinners were a new commodity when I was kid, but I suspect they weren’t cheap. Ads on our black and white television showed modern, shiny, compartmentalized trays with different, exciting foods occupying each section. They even included dessert! We didn’t buy them. Instead, my mother fixed potato soup, city chicken, “spaghetti” (not a pasta shape here, but a name to describe a tomatoey meal with ground beef over noodles), a variety of casseroles, creamed chipped beef on toast, and red Jell-O with fruit cocktail. Despite her lack of resources, she was a talented cook and I don’t remember much complaining.

We weren’t dirt poor, but the budget was tight. The Sunday beef roast was stretched into soup that night and then into sandwiches for the first few days of the week. My mom worked hard and had six hungry mouths to feed. Some things don’t change.

Every Saturday for lunch my mom made a simple potato soup. She would give each of us a square of waxed paper as a “plate”, and there were bologna sandwiches, sometimes Smokey Links, but potato soup was a constant. I loved it. Saturday lunch was my favorite meal of the week.

A few days ago I created a delicious, glorified potato soup with fresh corn and big, succulent shrimp. (Technically, it’s a “chowder” if you add corn.) As we ate it, it wasn’t lost on me that it was a far cry from that soup I grew up on – something light years away from what my parents could have afforded every Saturday for years.

Next up, potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits.

Potato soup recipe on tango-mango from three years ago.

Peek into tango mango’s other world
Contrary to what some of you might think, I can wield a pen or brush just as well as any spatula or wire whisk. I thought some of you might be interested to see a few of the tools I use for lettering.
Some of these represent only one of a multitude in my stash of others that are like them, such as the Pentel Color Brushes, folded pens, or “cola pens”, the Copic markers, flat and round brushes, and of course, all of the tens of Speedball and Mitchell Roundhand nibs attached to holders.
From left to right:
The essential pencil
Handmade cola pen – what I used to create the word, “Calligraphy”
Bamboo dip pen
Wide flat brush
Chisel-edge dip pen
Tiny chisel-edge dip pen
Long bristle pointed brush
3.8mm Pilot parallel pen
Handmade copper chisel-edge dip pen
Copperplate dip pen
Extra fine Zebra ballpoint pen
Old bamboo brush (possibly my favorite tool here)
Pentel Color Brush
6mm Pilot parallel pen
Pointed brush (not sure why this particular one made the lineup)
Pigma Micron pen
An old chisel-edged dip pen – one that dispenses ink superbly
Copic marker 
Another handmade copper chisel-edge pen
Pointed brush
Small flat brush
Small embossing tool
Coit split pen

Peek into tango mango’s other world

Contrary to what some of you might think, I can wield a pen or brush just as well as any spatula or wire whisk. I thought some of you might be interested to see a few of the tools I use for lettering.

Some of these represent only one of a multitude in my stash of others that are like them, such as the Pentel Color Brushes, folded pens, or “cola pens”, the Copic markers, flat and round brushes, and of course, all of the tens of Speedball and Mitchell Roundhand nibs attached to holders.

From left to right:

  • The essential pencil
  • Handmade cola pen – what I used to create the word, “Calligraphy”
  • Bamboo dip pen
  • Wide flat brush
  • Chisel-edge dip pen
  • Tiny chisel-edge dip pen
  • Long bristle pointed brush
  • 3.8mm Pilot parallel pen
  • Handmade copper chisel-edge dip pen
  • Copperplate dip pen
  • Extra fine Zebra ballpoint pen
  • Old bamboo brush (possibly my favorite tool here)
  • Pentel Color Brush
  • 6mm Pilot parallel pen
  • Pointed brush (not sure why this particular one made the lineup)
  • Pigma Micron pen
  • An old chisel-edged dip pen – one that dispenses ink superbly
  • Copic marker 
  • Another handmade copper chisel-edge pen
  • Pointed brush
  • Small flat brush
  • Small embossing tool
  • Coit split pen

Keeping up with the garden

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It’s a daily chore to walk through the garden and pick anything that’s ripe. That’s the easy part. Coming up with a way to use it all can be a challenge. More often than not the cherry tomatoes are eaten like candy as we pick them off. The spinach is usually made into salad and the bigger tomatoes are sliced, lightly salted and eaten as a side dish. Those darn zucchinis are the culprits that send me to the computer twice a week looking for new ways to use them.

A few days ago I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for stuffed zucchinis. How had I not seen this before? I liked some of what I saw, but I decided to include my favorite ricotta cheese filling, and figured I would make my marinara sauce from our fresh tomatoes.

This was sooo good! We were practically licking our plates! I served it with Jasmine rice and it truly couldn’t have been better. There was a little bit leftover which I reheated in the oven yesterday for lunch, and it was just as good the second day.

Stuffed zucchinis — a recipe that used every item pictured in this harvest shot!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-size zucchini
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Approximately 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out or if you use fresh spinach, blanch it in boiling water for 15 seconds and then plunge in ice water. Squeeze out all liquid and chop coarsely.
  • 1 pound pork sausage, browned and crumbled (I like to use Jimmy Dean)
  • Marinara sauce (I made my own using all of these fresh tomatoes)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, egg, basil, salt, pepper, and spinach. Set aside.

Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. 

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Fill hollowed areas with the ricotta cheese mixture.(You may have extra, which can use for another dinner!)

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Sprinkle with the sausage. 

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Arrange stuffed zucchinis in a 13x9-inch pan. Pour marinara sauce over zucchinis and top with remaining mozzarella.

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Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and spotty golden brown. Serve.

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Here’s another story – one that I was itching to write instead of the one I posted with the brownie sandwich cookies. It’s all about the frosting, which really deserves its own space.

Once upon a time, a long time ago I married this swell guy (we are still married, by the way) who told me from the get-go that he wasn’t fond of sweets. Despite the fact that he was perfect in almost all ways, I found this unfortunate. Even back then, baking was a passion.

When I made brownies I would wrap them individually and put them in the freezer for my own snacking. I rarely, if ever baked confections. However, every year when it came around to his birthday, I put my foot down. A birthday cake was in order. And, every year, when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted with what kind of frosting, he always told me he wanted “caramel frosting”. Wait – what’s that? What’s caramel frosting? I tried for years to come up with something suitable. I searched high and low (pre-internet days) for this mysterious frosting and every single time I tried my hand at it, it turned out crystallized and congealed and never wanted to spread.

One year I pleaded to his mother for what (I assumed) must be her famous caramel frosting recipe. She rolled her eyes and told me that my father in law, too, had always wanted caramel frosting and she had never come up with anything she liked. What? This caramel frosting desire was inherited, and evidently untold hours of aggravation had been spent looking for something suitable.

Yesterday I heard music float down from the sky and rainbows magically appeared when my eyes rested on this recipe for salted caramel buttercream. It is the holy grail of caramel frosting recipes — so delicious and spreadable two of us around here were licking the mixing bowl.

My search is over and now I am passing it to you. Salted caramel buttercream frosting recipe.