Almost Summer Corn Soup
Right Food for the Season - Late Spring
Written by Michelle Lahey   

The act of shucking fresh, locally grown corn is not only therapeutic, but it also signals that it’s [almost] summer. And although we may be a little early on the corn front, we found some beautiful cobs at the Union Square Farmers’ Market last weekend.

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Unfortunately, our grill had cooled down a bit too much before we put the cobs on, resulting in a rather al dente finished product. Faced with a fridge full of perfectly good corn cobs, I decided to turn them into a silky, flavorful soup – perfect for filling the time (and fresh corn void) until summer comes along. 

The key to this soup is the corn stock. Like just about any homemade stock, this corn-based version is packed with fresh flavor – plus a kick of heat thanks to the peppercorns and crushed red pepper flakes. I used the greens from leeks that I had in my freezer, but feel free to throw in a chopped onion instead, if you so choose. Some fresh herbs (like thyme) would also be great in this stock, if you have them on-hand. 

No matter what ingredients you use in your corn stock, I highly recommend serving this healthy soup with some crusty bread for dipping, or even alongside some grilled burgers or sausages. It’s on the thinner side, so a satiating entrée will complement it beautifully.

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Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero
Local Libations - Local Libations
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Spring is playing a cruel, cruel joke on us right now. Here in New England, we’re having sporadic 60-degree days with plenty of sunshine, followed by several days of rain, wind, and cold. What gives?

Clown Shoes beer

The only thing making me slightly OK with this colder weather is that stout season is still here. Nothing makes a wet, dreary day brighter than a full-bodied, delicious, dark stout.

One I am currently loving is Clown Shoes Beer’s Chocolate Sombrero. Clown Shoes brews out of Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and their mission is to produce beer without pretension. That’s a goal I can get behind, especially when it comes to alcohol. 

Clown Shoe’s Chocolate Sombrero is a Mexican-style chocolate stout that clocks in at 9% abv. This year-round brew packs a punch of rich chocolate flavor combined with the subtle spice of ancho chiles. The chiles are further cooled down with the help of a little cinnamon and some sweet, apparent vanilla extract. The sweet and spicy combination is spot-on in each sip, making this fairly strong beer a little too easy to consume. 

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Greek Lentil Salad
Right Food for the Season - Early Spring
Written by Michelle Lahey   

The warmer weather can only mean one thing: cookout season is almost here.

Most barbecues I attend feature grilled meats and veggies, with the typical salads to accompany them: pasta, potato, and/or a simple green salad. And although these

 nostalgic dishes are welcome cookout accompaniments, I’m looking to amp things up this year. Specifically with this Greek Lentil Salad.

Chocked full of spring-friendly green onions and fresh parsley, this protein-packed salad has all the flavors and textures you need for a satiating side dish. The salty olives and feta mixed with the fresh lemon juice and spicy onions makes each bite borderline addictive. The lentils are also like tiny little sponges that soak up every single flavor in the bowl.

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Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Right Food for the Season - Early Winter
Written by Michelle Lahey   

When I was little, I said I didn’t like Brussels sprouts because everyone else said they were “gross.” But I never even tried a Brussels sprout until I was well into my twenties – it was roasted to perfection, and ideally salty. From that moment on, my opinion of Brussels sprouts was forever changed. 

Brussels sprouts – which look like little baby cabbages - are one versatile leafy green vegetable, but my favorite way to prepare them is by roasting. Roasting any vegetable brings out their natural sweetness, and Brussels sprouts are no different. Roasting also gives them a delightful crispiness and texture.

Although the roasting method makes Brussels sprouts just sweet enough, adding a little maple syrup – this one from Ithaca, N.Y. – doesn’t hurt. The touch of maple syrup also gives the sprouts a glaze that’s borderline addicting. In this particular recipe, I also threw in some dried cranberries and roasted sunflower seeds for added texture, flavor, and color. The end result is a winter-friendly side dish that can be served with a variety of main dishes.

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Holy Mole! from Night Shift Brewing Co.
Local Libations - Local Libations
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Some people love the combination of chocolate with wine. Others love to pair their chocolate with a spicy, peppery beer. 

Night Shift Brewing Co.’s taproom regulars had been requesting a mix of their Viva Habanero and Taza Stout for quite a while - and the brewers finally gave in. A few weeks ago, they released Holy Mole!, a blend of these two popular brews. As a bonus, the blend was aged in Bourbon barrels, which were provided by Liquor World in Cambridge (the only store – besides the brewery – that got a few bottles to sell).

The bitter chocolate and cocoa blended with the smoky, spicy habanero is one successful fusion. The hint of bourbon in each sip just makes you want to cozy up to a fireplace and do nothing but sip on this 8.5% ABV beer. The heat from the peppers is slightly mellowed out from the smooth chocolate, fulfilling any spicy-and-sweet cravings you may have – while preventing the flavor from being too fiery.

I enjoyed each and every sip of this limited release brew on its own, but it is just light enough to play well with food. The slight richness from the stout also makes it decadent enough to have as an after dinner libation.

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Roasted Acorn Squash Soup For One
Right Food for the Season - Early Fall
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Growing up, fall meant jumping into a pile of leaves my parents just spent hours raking, then heading inside for a warm family meal. Because of these fond fall memories, this is by far my favorite time of the year – even though now I do the raking and the cooking. 

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Considering every autumn day as a kid ended with a comforting dinner, preparing similar meals in my own home during this season is borderline mandatory for me. I love dishes like chili, soup, and lasagna this time of year, chocked full of fall’s freshest bounty. And on a recent chilly fall evening – when my husband was away on business - I decided to use some leftover roasted acorn squash in a simple soup for one. This decision was one of the best ones I’ve made so far this fall.

The sweet maple syrup (from Ithaca, N.Y.) mixed with the savory onion and garlic provided me with a calming meal reminiscent of those I savored as a child. And if you’re cooking for more than one, simply double (or triple) this recipe as needed. [Quick note: you will not need the whole acorn squash for this recipe. Roasted acorn squash is a fabulous side dish on its own, so enjoy those leftovers!].

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