After a cold, dreary and snotty December I am so happy to have made it through to 2013. Sadly December was full of an extreme head cold and a huge lack of motivation. The run up to Christmas did not involve its usual hype and flurry of baking, quite the opposite actually. The big day, however, was amazing...spent with the in-laws...and before I knew it we were ringing in the new year and it was back to work for poor David.
While 2013 is going to be an adventure of a year for us (5 weddings to attend, house hunting, my parents visiting for 3 months, a trip to Madrid, a visit to Canada and hopefully a return to University for moi) the first couple of weeks of a new year always seem daunting and that "back to work" feeling just gets me down. I've planned our meals over the next couple of weeks to combat the blues...lots of starch (mashed potatoes in abundance) and a few more meat dishes than usual (pork chops, sausages, TACOS, chicken thighs) and while most people are detoxing I am planning on seeking comfort with Nigel Slater, my hot water bottle and a BBC drama or two.
While grocery shopping I, on whim, picked up some smoked haddock (skinless, boneless and yes...dyed...I'm not made of money) thinking I'd make some fish cakes or something. Yesterday after David left for work (poor guy) I took the fish out of the freezer and all of a sudden had a craving for a really thick, chunky chowder. Something creamy, smokey and filling.
I didn't follow a recipe, I just sort of winged it. I knew what I wanted the finished product to look like (and taste like) so...fingers crossed...I just followed my gut (or stomach in this case). I poached 350g of smoked haddock in 700ml of milk (with a bay leaf and a bunch of parsley stalks) and then removed the fish from the milk to cool, and discarded the bay leaf and parsley stalks. In a big saucepan I sauteed half an onion, finely chopped, and a small leek thinly cut into half rounds. Once softened I added about 4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes, and then the poaching milk. I simmered that until the potatoes were soft and then added the fish in chunks and a whole heap of chopped parsley. Served with crusty bread slathered with butter it was perfectly chunky, thick and delicious.
I am back at work next week...