Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chowder & Bread

This morning we awoke to a hearty layer of frost on the ground. It was a beautiful, sun-lit morning that beckoned me to go for a walk. As soon as Tom left to take the girls to school, I bundled the boys up in their fleece buntings and put them in the baby jogger. They fell asleep five minutes into the walk which left me time to daydream as I huffed and puffed that heavy jogger up and down the hills.

And where do you think my mind would wander to but food! Its not that I was hungry, we had all just been happily satisfied with a big batch of buckwheat pancakes. This was a new recipe I was dreaming up. Since buckwheat was fresh on my mind, I began to put together a recipe for buckwheat bread. Buckwheat has such a great nutrient profile, is alkalizing to the body, and research has shown that it is beneficial for balancing both blood sugar and cholesterol. It also has such a lovely texture, much different than other gluten-free flours. It is soft and stringy when mixed with water. I wondered how it would work as the base for a yeast bread. Cinnamon would be a nice addition, and how about pecans and raisins. Mmm. I had all of the amounts carefully planned out in my mind by the time we got back.

But first I had to make sure I had the chowder started. This is a recipe I created a few weeks ago. I have had a few requests for it recently so I thought I would post it for everyone to enjoy. I went to the co-op yesterday to do some shopping and saw some beautiful fresh, wild Alaskan halibut there so I bought about 1 1/2 pounds. If you don't have a sharp knife or don't like to mess with taking the skin off of fish it is best to have them do it when you are purchasing it. I removed the skin myself today, though sometimes I have it done.

This chowder doesn't have any dairy in it; it gets its creaminess from mashing the cooked potatoes with the back of a spoon.

Halibut and Potato Chowder

A warming stew, great served with freshly baked rolls and sautéed dark leafy greens.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 slices organic bacon (optional)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons dried dill
2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 large red or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or a combination of stock and water
1 to 2 pounds fresh halibut, skin removed and cut into 1-inch chunks
large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft and starting to turn a little golden. Add bacon slices, garlic, and herbs. Sauté a minute or so more.

Then add diced carrots, celery, and potatoes; sauté a few minutes more. Then add stock and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Take a large spoon and mash some of the potatoes up against the side of the pot to make the chowder creamy.

Then add the halibut and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Remove bacon slices and discard. Add chopped parsley and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After our chowder was done we sat out in the warm November sun, something rather unusual for the Pacific Northwest, and ate our chowder. Gracie was too busy playing to eat much, part of not sitting at the table for lunch. A 3-year old just can't really focus when there is so much to do and see outside! And then the bread was done and it was time to put the babies in the bath. All that crawling around in the dirt had made them into little dirt balls! When I brought them upstairs Tom was in his office working and said to me "what are you cooking that smells so good?" It was the bread of course. A warm, yeasty, cinnamon smell wafting though the house. Who needs aromatherapy when you have bread?!
4/2/09 - Please Note, I have removed my bread recipe from the blog in order to perfect it for my next cookbook!

6 comments:

  1. HI Ali,
    Oh, yum. It has been cold and wintery here with snow flurries the past couple of days and your bread and chowder sound terrific for these cold days.
    I too love making chowder or soup with fresh veggies and wild fish. I like adding coconut milk to mine to make a even creamier.
    Your bread too sounds wonderful. I didn't know you could grind your own flours in a vita mixer. I was thinking about getting a grain mill but would love to get a vita mixer. So that is great to know.
    Also, I didn't know buckwheat doesn't need xanthan or guar gum. Great to know.
    I made potato bread last night with rosemary. Needed a bit more rosemary but it was delicious.
    thanks again,
    sarah

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  2. Beautiful soup and bread. Rob made the buckwheat pancakes from your book last weekend. He used your tip to substitute the egg with flaxseeds ground with boiling water. They were perfect - achieving the best texture for egg-free pancakes ever. Gotta love the buckwheat... I'd forgotten how alkalinizing buckwheat is. I think those pancakes will be our Sunday morning tradition. Love - April

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  3. I made this chowder this weekend.
    My husband and little ones loved eating this after playing in the snow! Thank you!
    Marisa
    Bend OR

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  4. This has become one of my new favorite recipes, thank you! I make it with the marinated mahi-mahi from Trader Joe's and it is wonderful!

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  5. This just might be my new favorite winter soup... can't wait to try the bread!

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  6. Beautiful chowder! Made it last night and we loved it. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks, and as always, Happy Cooking! Ali & Tom