Monthly Archives: February 2011

Cold weather recipe – Fish Chowder

When we were little my mom used to make some amazing fish chowder, and it’s still a tradition in my family to do fish (or sometimes clam) chowder for dinner on Christmas Eve. She’s a New England gal at heart.
I hadn’t ever tried to attempt making fish chowder myself, until this week when I realized I had a nice frozen fillet of cod in my freezer that was just waiting to be made into a creamy chunky soup.

New England Fish Chowder

I did a little sleuthing on the web and through some cookbooks to get the basic gist of what goes into chowder, and found I had to make a few changes due to the ingredients I had on hand, and here’s what I came up with:

Rebekka’s Take on Fish Chowder

1 cup chopped shallots (I found I didn’t have any regular onions! But hey, shallots are an upgrade, right?)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine (I had a Chardonnay on hand)
3 cups potatoes, peeled & cut into 3/4″ cubes (that’s like 3 medium russets)
2 cups dashi fish stock – ie Bonito fish flakes steeped in water (Don’t know what dashi is? I’ll explain in a sec)
1 tsp dried thyme (or more if it’s fresh…I didn’t have fresh)
2 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
bay leaf
1/2 lb fillet of cod, or other sturdy white fish, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1.5 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup cream, 1/2 cup milk, which is what I had)
2 tbsp flour (optional)

OK, so with most good soups, you start with onions. I found I didn’t have onions, but for some reason I had a whole bunch of shallots, so I chopped those up and put them in my pot with 2 tbsp of olive oil and heated them over medium heat until starting to turn translucent (about 5-8 minutes). Then I added the white wine to the shallots, which I reduced to about half volume.

chopped shallots

Next, you’re supposed to have clam juice or strong fish stock, or even chicken stock I guess would work. But I didn’t have any of this. then I remembered I had a bag of Bonito Flakes in my pantry from the last time I went to the Asian food market. You use these paper thin flakes of dried fish to make dashi, a broth that is used in lots of traditional Japanese cuisine (Great background reading on dashi can be found at JustHungry!) So I thought, why not just make my own kind of fish stock with the bonito flakes? It’s fishy enough! So I put another small pan on the stove, added 2 cups of water and a handful of fish flakes, brought the water to a boil, and then removed from the heat. I let the pan sit for about 10 minutes and then I strained out the flakes and had my broth! That gets added to the shallots and reduced wine.
Then I tossed in the cubed potatoes, the thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Also a pinch of paprika for good measure. Then I let the potatoes simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until just starting to feel done, but not too soft.

shallots, potatoes, herbs, and dashi!

At the end comes the fish! Into the pot! And the cream/milk goes in too. At this point you need to reduce the heat so you don’t curdle the dairy. Basically, keep stirring and keeping an eye on the chowder until it’s steamy, but not boiling. Once the fish is cooked through, it’s ready to serve!

fish chowder, almost done

Well, one minor tweak…I know that real New England fish chowder is not the thick creamy stuff you get at, say Ivar’s, in a sourdough bread bowl. This kind of chowder isn’t meant to have any thickeners added other than the natural starch in the potatoes and the cream. That said, I did want a little more body to the broth (and I knew M would too), so I cheated. If you want your soup a bit thicker, you can siphon off a cup of the broth and add 1-2 tablespoons (or more!) of all-purpose flour and whisk until smooth; then pour your flour-thickened mixture back into the main pot of chowder and stir to incorporate.

Enjoy with a piece of crusty bread, and maybe a healthy salad to balance out all that cream 😉

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What’s this in the air?

Seattle got some snow yesterday, and the hype was intense. Not enough to keep M home from work today, however. Boo!

Primroses with snow

I celebrated my birthday yesterday, and it was actually kind of nice – I knew it would be a low-key event by design, and even if snow and sickness kept a few of my close friends from venturing out, I definitely felt loved and cozy warm. I bought sushi from QFC, had a whole array of fixin’s for ice cream sundaes. We watched (almost) the entire Back to the Future trilogy.

Back to the Future DVD set

My parents were brave enough to chance the 45 minute drive. My older brother walked from his house to mine in the cold. My younger brother stopped by after he got off work at 10, along with his roommate to have some ice cream and catch the end of Part II. And I got an amazing present from M and his folks – a brand-spankin’ new laptop, upon which I now type! I’m very excited to join the 21st century and have a computer that actually works.

So today I’m trying to catch up on stuff and accustom myself to my new technology! And prepare to transition from my old set-up to the new. And also glancing out the window every so often to see if the dusting has melted yet.

snow-dusted dusty miller

Happy Thursday! Stay warm 🙂

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A Myriad of Mushrooms

What? Another post about mushrooms? Well, a week ago, Design*Sponge featured an article about mushrooms, wild mushroom gathering, and a super cute mushroom-focused centerpiece project!

I was so inspired!

via Design*Sponge

via Design*Sponge

via Design*Sponge

That last photo there had me especially enamored! I love the silky purity of the white mushrooms, and the way they grow clustered together like that!

So that very afternoon I went into the studio and did some experimenting with mushroom shapes, and here’s one of the results:

Cluster of Mushrooms from Jadeflower

What do you think?? I am very pleased with the way they turned out 🙂 Very fun and so simple, but they just make me smile! I think I’ll be making more, and of course, they’ll be posted in my Shop.

I don’t know why I have such a thing for mushrooms! Oh well! Happy Friday!

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Tea and Grahams

It feels like the weekend went by slowly and way too fast at the same time! I did manage to get lots done, and even baked this recipe from smitten kitchen – one that I’ve been dying to try for a while now!

Homemade Graham Crackers!

A little quiet moment, with a cup of hot tea and a mildly sweet, wonderfully crunchy graham on a rainy afternoon? Priceless.

Plus, I got in a little photo shoot for that cute little lacy plate you see in the picture!
Do you like it? You can find more in my Shop! 🙂

But anyways, those graham crackers are so great! I insist that you go make some as soon as you can. They are great for snacking when you don’t want something too big or too sweet (and I think if I make them again, I will cut back on the sugar even more)

So happy Monday everyone. Oh, yes, and Happy Valentine’s day as well ❤

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Mushrooms in action

Sorry for the lack of posting! It’s been a strange mixture of being really busy yet nothing very interesting happening.

But this little bit was just too fun for me not to share!
My biggest seller in my shop are my Three Dainty Mushrooms – they have a simplicity to them that I think people like…

Three Dainty Mushrooms by Jadeflower

But it is very rare, with anything I sell on Etsy, that I get to see how my little product is used or enjoyed. But I just got an email from Elisa, whose blog McLaughlin Designs shows me just that! The photos on her site are beautiful, and she took this little shot of her new succulent terrarium with a trio of dainty mushrooms! (I was so excited!)

photo from McLaughlin Designs

Isn’t that sweet? (See her full blog post here)

Elisa also has a gorgeous Etsy shop where she sells original knitting patterns, so if you are a knitter, check it out!

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Filed under Blog love, Etsy, Jadeflower Ceramics