New Year, New Gardens, New Recipes Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Marc McDowellAt the end of 2009, we caught up again with Chef Marc McDowell at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, who, as you may recall from previous posts, put in an extensive kitchen garden on the grounds of the resort. Echoing the feelings of many a new gardener, Chef McDowell said he spent the year alternatively exhilarated -- when his crops did well -- and disappointed -- when pests invaded. “I have never felt so hopeless than those times when I see total devastation, but when I see something doing well it’s a real feeling of pride,” said McDowell, who said gardening has become a real passion for him. We discussed the similarities between gardening and cooking – and how they both involve trusting your intuition a bit. “It's a feeling. If you think it’s going to taste good, it’s probably going to taste good. And if you think a plant needs water, it probably does,” said McDowell.

McDowell’s goal for the new year is to take what he’s learned and become more proactive. “I’ll adjust when I put certain vegetables in and try to be more ahead of the game instead of just reacting,” said McDowell, who’s been selected for the 2010 University of Hawaii Maui Master Gardener Training Program. The program begins on January 20 -- right around the same time his wife is due to give birth to their second child.

Chef McDowell sent along a recipe for a corn-and-lemongrass veloute – which he describes as a great soup that combines Hawaiian and Southwestern tastes and is made using ingredients right out of the garden. “It’s a chicken-stock-based soup that thickens itself because of the corn,” said McDowell. “We add crab to make it our signature soup.” (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Corn and Lemongrass Veloute

½ onion, small dice
1 ½ celery stalks, small dice
1 ½ lemongrass talks, chopped
¼ jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 ½ ears cut-corn from large ears
1 cup coconut milk
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cilantro
3 kaffir lime leaves
.5 tsp. salt
.25 tsp fresh white pepper

Gently sweat first five vegetables for 45 minutes with the chicken stock.
Add the heavy cream and coconut milk and slowly simmer for 20 minutes.
Add cilantro and lime leaf and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Pass through china cap then chinoise for extremely smooth veloute. If you prefer not as smooth with a little more texture, then don’t drain completely.