Wholesome Seafood Chowder with simple soda bread

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So January demands that budget is observed, and that the excesses of Christmas are put to one side. However…

I know what works for me and broadly speaking it’s higher protein and lower carbs with veg being colourful and appetizing. Of course all this will be coupled with moving around a lot more!

What I needed today was something wholesome and comforting, what I do from Monday when work and healthy living loom will be a little different but when I weigh up what went into this recipe, it’s a lot of goodness and very little else.

It didn’t really get light in London today, remaining resolutely grey, cold and wet. No tripping around to 30 different shops for me, a dish that would be resourced by the local supermarket was needed(shock horror – also meaning a few compromises on the seafood front but hey-ho). I decided not take hours on painstaking preparation because honestly, I am just not in the mood for that.

IMG_2616The smell of smoked haddock cooking reminds me of returning from school to find the house filled with it’s smokey aroma, it was a good day was haddock day…so a grey Saturday was going to turn into a smoked haddock day with my comforting seafood stew. I know there are purists when it comes to using the term chowder and a USA styled one will be entirely different to an Irish one for example so for me this is just a tasty seafood stew inspired by lovely days I once spent in Kinsale, southern Ireland.

IMG_2608Soda bread goes beautifully with soups and stews, there are hundreds of different recipes but it is quick and simple to make a requires no kneading and very little time. I am trying to reduce my gluten in take and I do love the nutty flavor of spelt, so I chose to use spelt flour for this loaf.

For the soda bread

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7 or equivalent – put baking tray in to heat through.

300g whole meal spelt flour ( or half and half with standard whole meal or all whole meal SR flour if you prefer).

1 tablespoon of honey, warmed to make it runny.

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

250ml buttermilk (or milk soured with lemon or live yoghurt)

1 egg, beaten

Mix the bicarbonate and salt through the flour then add all the other ingredients, as flour differs hugely add enough buttermilk to ensure a soft dough that you can handle but if you add too much and it’s too sticky just add a touch more flour.

Bring the dough together and form into a ball shape.

Slash the top both ways to form a cross and dust lightly with a little more flour.IMG_2601

Take the hot baking sheet from the oven and dust the bottom with some flour. Put the loaf onto the tray and bake for about 40 minutes until crusty on the outside and the bottom provides a hollow sound when you knock it.

Whilst the bread is in the oven start the chowder.

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You will need a selection of fish including one of the smoked variety, hot smoked salmon works well and I usually prefer undyed versions but as I was at the mercy of the local store, no such items were available.

Dishes like this are an idea, and the content can be whatever you have in the fridge or what you can get your hands on.

Chowder Ingredients

Serves 4

2 fillets of smoked haddock

1 large fillet of Pollock or other meaty white fish

A handful of raw prawns ( if using cooked just add at the end of cooking)

One of those little packs of mussels or mixed seafood.

1 large or two medium potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2 cm pieces.

150grams ( approx.) of green beans cut into 2cm pieces.

The kernels from a corn cob.

1 pint semi-skimmed milk

I medium onion peeled and roughly diced

1 onion halved and studded with cloves.

2 bay leaves

a bouquet garni

1 pint fish stock – stock cube is fine of you don’t have tome to make stock.

2 cubes of butter,

A little salt and pepper to taste.

Place the haddock and Pollack into a saucepan and cover with the milk, bouquet garni, bay leaves and fish stock.

IMG_2612 Bring up to heat until just off the boil and then turn out the heat and let the fish sit in the residual heat for about 5 minutes before carefully removing from the cooking liquor.

Leave the fish to cool, strain the cooking liquor through a sieve.

Put a little butter into the pan and add the chopped onion, soften gently not allowing to colour then add the cooking liquor back in to the pan with the onion.

Next add the potato cubes, and bring up to a rolling simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes, then add the green beans and sweet corn and cook for another 2/3 minutes.

In the meantime, gently flake the fish, keeping the pieces quite large – they should be ‘just’ cooked meaning that they will still be a little translucent and should produce large glossy flakes.

Next add the prawns and allow to cook for a minute or two before adding any other cooked seafood such as mussels along with the flakes of fish. The soupy element will be quite light in texture and not thick (albeit packed with flavor) you can thicken with a little butter and flour if you wish.

some smoked fish can be quite salty so I advise seasoning at the end.

Allow everything to warm for a just a minute or two before serving.

A sprinkling of parsley and some of the buttered soda bread complete the dish.

Please do let me know what you think by using the comments box below.

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