SMOKED HADDOCK CHOWDER

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It’s still chilly out there and several friends have asked for a recipe for my smoked haddock chowder.  I visited Cape Cod last July and ordered this at a diner, a ‘locals’ cafe and a very upmarket, smart restaurant.  On the whole, I was disappointed each time.  The chowder was too milky and not fishy enough – no big flakes of lovely smoked haddock.  The vegetable content was largely just bits of potato.  All round, not enough love or care in the chowder.

The only solution is to make your own.  I’ve said it before but please DO NOT overcook the haddock. It’s expensive but you don’t need that much per person. Prep all the vegetables so they are the same size and make sure they are very fresh. Use double cream to finish and a good handful of chopped, flat leaf parsley.  The addition of lemon zest finishes it off with a zingy taste.  It can be an elegant starter for a winter dinner party or a filling lunch on it’s own. Serve with brown bread. Look out for this in a future post – a whole new subject for us!

Smoked Haddock Chowder – serves 6
Ingredients
800 g undyed smoked haddock
1 litre full fat milk
6 black peppercorns
25 g unsalted butter
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, derinded and chopped
1 leek, washed
3 carrots, washed
3 celery sticks, washed
3 medium potatoes, washed
3 sprigs lemon thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly gound black pepper
150 ml double cream
grated zest of a lemon
handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method
Chop all the washed vegetables so they are diced the same size. Lay out the fish on a board and check for pin bones. Place the milk and peppercorns in a wide saucepan and gently heat. Bring to a simmer, add the haddock and remove from the heat.  The cooling liquid will gently cook the fish

In another saucepan, melt the butter and cook the bacon until it is just browning. Add all the vegetables and herbs and cook gently for 10 minutes

Drain the haddock but keep the poaching milk.  Gently break the fish into large flakes and
look out for any bones you may have missed. Strain the poaching milk to remove the peppercorns then add the liquid to the vegetables. You now need to turn the heat up slightly so the potatoes and carrots are just tender. Don’t let the milk boil.  Carefully add the haddock flakes and stir everything together. Discard the herbs and add the cream. Warm it through again and taste to check the seasoning.  It’s unlikely to need any more salt.

Serve in warmed soup bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley and lemon zest. This is perfect for the weather right now.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – TREACLE TART

COCONUT RED LENTIL SOUP

It’s really cold outside and as I am carrying a few extra pounds I need to eat something healthy, delicious and comforting.  I have to thank my good friend Petra Duguid for this wonderful recipe.  Petra’s a great cook and as many of her recipes are from the US  I have adapted this for the UK.  Please don’t think this is a ‘tree-hugging’ recipe because you will use lentils and split peas.  My family are strictly carnivore but this fabulous vegetarian soup is very popular and absolutely delicious. It’s the combination of the creamy coconut with the spicy curry powder along with the bite of fresh ginger and the coriander.  Try it once and I know you will love it.

Red lentils and yellow split peas are easy to use.  Just remember to rinse and rinse again until the scummy water they give off is gone.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup – serves 6
Ingredients –

200 g yellow split peas
200 g red split lentils
1.6 litres water
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tblsp fresh peeled and grated ginger
2 tblsp medium curry powder
2 tblsp butter
8 spring onions
45 g raisins
80 ml tomato paste
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk (use low-fat if you prefer)
2 tsp sea salt
large handful of fresh coriander

Method –
Place the lentils and split peas into a sieve and run cold water over them for a few minutes.  I then place them in a bowl and fill it carefully with more clean cold water.  If the water is still murky, repeat the sieve/running cold water exercise.
Now put them in a large pan with the 1.6 litres cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the grated ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  The split peas need to be soft.

Whilst the pan is simmering, take a small frying pan and toast the curry powder over a low heat until it gives off a lovely fragrant smell.  Be careful though, you don’t want to burn it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add half the onions, remainder of the ginger and the raisins. Cook for a few minutes whilst stirring then add the tomato paste and stir again.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and the salt. Simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes. The soup will thicken up and if it’s too thick for your liking, add more water.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over the remaining spring onions and a good scattering of coriander. I eat this with brown bread but you could be really good and eat it with rice or even brown rice !  I sometimes have a little left over and actually, it’s even better on Day 2.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – PIGEON