Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's Christmas! Let's Eat!

To hell with politics for a little while. Happer is going to screw up the country whether I complain or not; Bush is going to jam his daddy's head up Baker's ass whether I'm watching or not; Iraq and Afghanistan are going to 'splode real good no matter what anyone's aphorism of the day may be and Tony Blair's entire cabinet may get a cricket bat rectal from Cherie.

I'm putting together menus and I say so what.

So here's a seafood chowder recipe I just assembled and tested for the first time. This will be served on Xmas eve in this household, along with a ciabatta, a french loaf and three salads. (If anyone really wants the salad listings I'll provide in comments.) What follows is more or less a recipe for four people although on Xmas eve I'll be making it up for a dozen.

The first thing about this recipe is that it calls for a spice mix I made up in an electric grinder. You can make this to taste really easily. Start with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp amounts and adjust to your own palate from there. Start with 3 bay leaves, mustard seed, celery seed, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, red pepper flakes, cloves and sweet paprika. Grind it all to a powder, taste test and adjust. Put it in a small jar if you're like me and like to save your mixes. The recipe isn't going to use it all up.

For the chowder body dice up a cup of onions, slice a few mushrooms and a stalk of celery. Sauté them all together over medium heat in a T of butter while you dice 2 cups of potatoes. It's best if you use a heavy bottom pot but any 3 or 4 qt. sauce pan will do if you monitor the heat carefully.

Once the onions etcetera are softened nicely pour in 2 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth (Campbell's/No Name etc) and add the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Then add a couple of fillets of frozen talapia (or equivalent other white fish like cod), a cup or so of frozen mixed seafood (baby squid, baby octopus, shrimp, scallops and clams - Superstore carries it) a can of drained baby clams but keep the juice. Let it all simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk 2 T's of flour into the clam juice until it's smooth and get a cup and a half of 2% milk ready.

When the frozen fish and seafood is softened stir in the clam juice/flour mixture and the milk.

Stir in 1/2 tsp of the spice mix and let it sit just below boiling for a couple minutes before tasting. Add more spice as desired. Pepper and salt (or like me no extra salt). I ended up using about 1 1/2 tsp of the spice but obviously YMMV. (Remember this is for four.)

I almost forgot - I finished it off with about 1/2 tsp of grated orange zest before serving.

Pretty simple really but very tasty if I do say so myself.

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