Minor weather here, wintery nonetheless. Ice is never minor and that is what Mother Nature laid down first late last night, a nice layer of ice, topped by a bit of snow. With a little sleet mixed in. I imagine the roads to be passable by this afternoon but who needs it?
Without a drop of sunshine not much thaw today.
Plenty of provisions to get through a minor or major ice event, plenty of wood heat and plenty of good company by way of Gene. So, I am hunkered in until the roads are totally clear!
This gray day highlights the spent ice covered lavender.
I’ve gotten creative with cloches in the garden. There are small kale plants under those gallon and half gallon jars. It’s pretty cold and sunless. We shall see if the cloche and the straw have provided enough of a buffer from the cold.
I always cook when the weather is cold, snowy, icing me in or even when I am just plain hungry. :) Yesterday was no different. Started out with a package of frozen shrimp from the last gulf trip. Thawed and peeled we were going to just gooble it down with some roasted veggies on the side (those roasted veggies were darn good by the way) but it was a little tough. So I threw it back in the fridge and last night made a chowder out of it. The recipe is below.
You may have noticed by now that my cooking philosophy is somewhat different than most people’s. I seldom get a recipe out, check to see if the ingredients are on hand, shop, then cook it. What DOES happen is this – I look in the fridge and pantry, see what bits and pieces of leftovers and scraps there are and create something new out of it. Then I write the recipe down and share it with you all.
That is how this chowder recipe came about. Chowder. Fish. Milk base. Other stuff. Yum.
Sarah’s Spicy Shrimp Chowder
2 – 3 medium potatoes, washed and chopped
1 quart cold water
3 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 – 2 stalks celery, diced
2 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (then mince before cooking)
2 C chopped mushrooms (your favorite)
1 C cold water
6 Tbls flour
2 – 3 C whole milk
2 – 4 tsp. Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning (or your favorite)
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric optional (this will give it a yellow color)
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 homemade corn tortillas, slivered and diced
about 1 pound (more or less) shrimp, diced
1 C half & half OR whipping cream
2 – 4 Tbls. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Wash, chop and cook the potatoes in the whole quart of water in a large pot until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until the fat is rendered. Add the chopped onion and celery. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until soft. Do not burn the garlic. Add the seasonings – Creole seasoning, celery seed, pepper, turmeric, paprika – and cook a minute more stirring well. Turn off heat.
The potatoes should be done by now. Do not drain them. Put the 1 C cold water and 6 Tbls. flour in a 2 cup jar with a tight lide. Shake vigorously until the flour is well blended. Bring the potatoes to a light simmer. Slowly pour the flour water mixture into the potatoes stirring continuously and cook until thick and bubbly. Turn off heat. This will be very thick.
Using a stick blender, blend the potato water mixture to desired consistency. If the potatoes are unpeeled there will be small brown specks which are kind of nice. Add the milk. Have I mentioned stirring?
Add the bacon and vegetables to the big pot of potato mixture. Stir well, put heat on low. Do not scorch. Give it a stir now and then.
Add the corn tortillas if you are using them. You could instead use a small can of kernel corn.
Add the diced shrimp. Stir once in a while.
Add the cream and cream cheese and bring to heat slowly stirring often. Make sure the cream cheese melts. Taste and adjust the spices. (I use a pretty heavy hand for my own eating.)
There is a lot of wiggle room in this recipe. Use what you have, more or less, adjust the spices! You could even make a roux to thicken the chowder with instead of the flour/water mixture. I like the flour/water because it is faster although does take a bit of know how if you haven’t done it before.
Along with a sandwich just enough chowder left for lunch today.
THE SANDWICH: Bean sprouts dressed with Ranch dressing, a couple slices of bacon, a thin slice of Asiago cheese, slivered onions, baby romaine all on sprouted grain bread. Happy winter day eating!