17 January 2009

January Chowder Dinner

Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation.
~ Clementine Paddleford

Cooking on Fridays are always a bit of challenge for me. I generally keep them meatless and coming up with interesting and tasty dishes without beef, pork or chicken stretches me as a cook and hostess. My mother, from whom I first learned the art of Southern gastronomy, always opted for the simple approach: eggs, pancakes, pasta or the ever reliable cheese pizza.

This is all very well if I am cooking for one. I must confess, dear reader, that I am not one of those gourmands who must have white linen and candles with every meal I consume. I am afraid I am a bit too much of the social butterfly as well, so that does not always work with my social schedule.

Last night, however, I hosted an impromptu dinner as my friend Charlie was in town. I wanted to keep things light and simple yet not flat and boring. I scoured my Southern Living cookbooks and the Epicurious online database. In the end, I chose a recipe for New England Fish Chowder and made some additions of my own (okra, green peppers and celery).

Buying vegetables fresh and local becomes a bit of a challenge in January, when only apples, pears and root vegetables are the order of the day. So I broke one of my precious rules and bought green peppers ~ American yes, but trucked in. I ought to be beaten ~ or I need my own greenhouse! Onions I had in storage and potatoes as well, so I was saved there. As for the cod, haddock and red snapper that went into the chowder, I bought from our local seafood market, America's Seafood. I was also able to get the fish stock there as well. It is a great local store with some of the freshest seafood around.

For dessert, I made a Southern Living recipe for Pound Cake, which I poured into mini muffins pans and served with a warm chocolate sauce. It was a wonderful dinner that was simple to prepare and perfect for a cold January night.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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