We initiated the holiday by sharing some fish chowder and home made bread with a good friend. The warm flickering of candles and flame from the fire made the food taste better! Who needs holiday decorations when you have candles, food, friends! In tribute to Martha - I did pull out the bag of cranberries that I never used for Thanksgiving and floated them in a glass vase of water and thought about adding the remains of my fruit bowl, persimmons, kumdwats and limes. But I was out of time so I didn't.
Potato and 5 onion fish chowder with scallop
The special treat of this basic everyday chowder was the seared giant sea scallop served with the chowder around it and sprinkled with truffle salt and herb garnishes.
Cod - nearly a couple pounds added after the potato onion chowder base was hot and thick and ready.
Potatoes - I used a couple pounds of yellow finn. I boiled 6 medium-large potatoes, but I used a couple for the bread. They thicken the chowder nicely so that no thickening agent is necessary.
Bacon - I start my bacon in the microwave to get some of the greese out and prevent over greecification of my kitchen. Then I chopped it and browned it in the large soup pot, but rinsed the pot of any blackening before cooking the onions. I used the bacon flavored fat rendered in the microwave for cooking to avoid a harsh flavor.
Onions - Leeks, Yellow onions, shallots, scallions, chives, all sauteed in a drizzle of bacon greese and a dab of butter and S&P.
Herbs and spices: Tarragon, thyme, cayenne, salt &pepper, truffle salt, 7 leaves of fresh tarragon and a couple pinches of fresh mild thyme from my garden. Salt and pepper. Cayenne and truffle salt at the end.
Broth: clam broth and fish broth (one can of clam broth and 2 cups of water from poaching a fish I had in the freezer. I didn't use the fish in the chowder as the texture wasn't great. I may add it to the left overs, otherwise - cat food)
Milk - At least a quart, maybe two? I had 1% milk, so I added a can of condensed milk, then later a 1/4 cup of cream.
Giant Scallops - one per person, seared and browned at the end in a pan of hot butter, placed in the chowder and sprinkled with truffle salt. Adding the cayenne dash and extra tarragon leaves (chives too) just before serving.
The Bread - Inspired by Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe for potato buttermilk bread in her "Bread Bible", but I didn't follow her recipe but improvised according to the time slots I had available.It was a potato theme. Using some of the potato water to make a sponge, I left it out for nearly a day, made it sour. The potato water excellerates the souring. I mixed the powdered buttermilk I had with potato water and added it to the sponge, with yeast and white whole wheat flour and sugar, and buttermilk, as well as some nearly mashed potatoes. The dough was silky soft like any good potato/buttermilk dough should be, though more sour than sweet. I punched the dough down a few times before I had time to form the loaves, raise one final time, and bake. I added chopped red onion just before forming the loaves. We liked it spread with butter for the first taste, but then ate it unbuttered and dipped in the chowder.
The Green Salad - a leafy green salad from baby live growing lettuce of red and green leaf, butter lettuce and and some dashes of sherry vinegar, olive oil, s&p, topped with delicate enoki mushrooms and mandarin orange slices.
Vegetarian potato onion chowder variation - the onion potato milk combination was really good before adding the fish, but I goofed by using bacon at this point which didn't meet my vegetarian daughter's needs. She ate the bread with slices of aged cheddar cheese and apricot jam. She also had mashed potatoes with vegetarian gravy I made her, and boiled edemame beans and salad.
No good vegan options.