Monday, December 31, 2012

Repost: Doggie Feet and Sidewalk Salt

Sidewalk salt turns pleasant walk into painful ordeal

With the full onset of winter, the road salt is out in full force. Have you ever been walking your dog and they raise a paw (or paws)? They look at you so pitifully. "Why do I hurt?" It's because the salt they are walking through is burning their feet.

This morning's sidewalk condiment, just up the road a few feet. This is nothing.

Rock salt and most chemical de-icers irritate a dog's paws and turn a winter walk into a painful ordeal. It's dangerous on the walk, and again when they return home and try to lick it off. Road salt has chemicals added to increase its effectiveness. Ingesting it can be toxic.

This morning on our walk I ran into this problem with Henry. We had a skiff of snow the previous night and snow removal companies were out in full force. In places the salt was actually over an inch thick. I would suggest this is neither environmentally, or financially, wise.

When Simon was quite young, and I unaware of this problem, he actually collapsed on Spring Garden Road because his paws burned so terribly. I had to physically pick him up and carry him about 1/4 of a block. Simon was a Bouvier and weighed about 65 lbs at the time. It's amazing the strength you can muster when your child is in pain.

Form Wikipedia (Road Salt):
"Calcium chloride is preferred over sodium chloride, as CaCl2 releases energy upon forming a solution with water, heating any ice or snow it is in contact with. It also lowers the freezing point, depending on the concentration. Whereas the minimum freezing point is −21.12 °C for 23.31 wt% of salt, the freezing near this concentration is so slow that the eutectic point of −22.4 °C can be reached with about 25 wt% of salt. (Do you understand any of that? I don't. - D) NaCl does not release heat upon solution; however, it does lower the freezing point. Calcium chloride is thought to be more environmentally friendly than sodium chloride when used to de-ice roads, however a drawback is that it tends to promote corrosion (of vehicles) more so than sodium chloride. NaCl is also more readily available and does not have any special handling or storage requirements, unlike calcium chloride."

We can't very well change the policy for an entire city, but what can we do as individual home owners? 
The US National Animal Poison Control suggests using sand or cat litter for traction instead of salt. It won't melt snow or ice, but won't hurt your (or other pet owners) dog's feet. My mother uses only sand in consideration of her dog.

What can we do to protect our pets? 
Wash their paws before going out and apply either Vaseline or Bag Balm (a farm product for cow's udders). When you return, repeat. As a preventative measure keep the hair trimmed on the bottom of your pet's feet. This will help stop the build-up of the salty slush that causes their pain.

Of course, there's always boots, but some dogs (Simon was one) won't abide them. It is good for a laugh, though.

Currently we're in the midst of a full-on snowstorm. I dread our walks the next few days.

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Recipe: Basque Style Chicken and Ham

It has been said: The whole is more than the sum of its parts. It is more correct to say that the whole is something else than the sum of its parts, because summing up is a meaningless procedure, whereas the whole-part relationship is meaningful. – Kurt Koffka

This is the result of cooking for one hour. Eggplant is an amazing thing.

So when we add two plus two in the kitchen we may get four, but we may also get something else as well. Something new…

What goes into a pot and what comes out never ceases to amaze me. The world is a culinary adventure just waiting for you to take part. I love it.

This is what it looked like before cooking.
This night I took a culinary trip  to the Basque region of northern Spain. My connecting flight was the grocery store.

Basque cuisine is among the best international cuisines. Much like Italian cuisine, traditional Basque food is not complex or elaborate. It is a food from the common people.

Basque cuisine is based on the best ingredients available in the region. As such it revels in simplicity of preparation, yet complexity of flavours.

Basque cooking is not based on elaborate sauces or spice combinations. The most important ingredient in Basque cuisine is the fresh ingredient.

Being a Maritime people (like Nova Scotians), a great deal of Basque cooking involves seafood. But seafood is not the only specialty.

I can sympathize. Many tourists think we just sit around eating lobster and cod all the time. Au contraire, monsieur et madame. The “coast,” although important, is always just a part of what makes a maritime community.

Like us, meat, poultry and game also hold their places of pride in Basque cooking. Cured and preserved meats like hams and sausages are also produced. Bayonne ham is one such famous export. (The recipe calls for it, but you’ll be lucky to find it in Nova Scotia.)

This recipe combines some ingredients you may not think of sticking in the pot all at once. They all go together in a most magical and satisfying way. What goes in is certainly different that what comes out!

Basque Style Chicken and Ham
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 1 hour  |  Serves 6
Cook long, low and slow to develop flavours.
vegetable oil
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 lg sweet onion
3 garlic cloves
375 g smoked ham, sliced 1/4” thick (like Bayonne, if possible)
5 plum tomatoes
1 small eggplant
1 lg green pepper
3/4 cup cured black olives, whole
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid.

Brown the chicken and then remove to a plate. Soften the onion and garlic for about 3-4 minutes. 

Chop the tomatoes, eggplant and green pepper into large pieces and then add to the pot. Cut the pork slices into 1” squares.

Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add, with the remaining ingredients, to the pot. Cook, covered for 40 min, and then uncovered for 20 minutes more.

By the end of the last 20 minutes the liquid will have reduced to a delicious, thick sauce.

Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Serve on top of white rice in soup bowls.


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekend Baking: Sourdough Potato Bread

To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy. – Bette Davis 

A bit of messiness, with a very liquid dough. But manageable and
a great result. Can you smell it?

Let’s get messy! Just remember I have warned you up front. 

This looks like another of my impossible doughs – perhaps the most impossible-looking one yet, but the result speaks for itself.

The potato/flour mixture before kneading and 8 hour rest.
Why make potato bread?
You know, I haven’t really found any aesthetic reason why anyone would add potato to bread. I did find a reference to Peru where at one time it was encouraged because of a spike in the cost of wheat. The scarcity/cost of grain may be a reason.

Of course, you do get whatever heath benefits that are in the potatoes. Depending on where you check that’s a double edged sword: either you get more iron, folate, etc., or you get a slice of bread that heightens your heart attach risk and/or causes you to get fatter than normal bread would cause…

I do know that many nations have their own version of potato/wheat bread, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Poland and several other European states.

I also know that making potato bread is more work than plain white flour bread. So you sort of will have to want do this. But why...

This is the autolysed potato/flour in the morning.
Oh, right. I just realized why you should make potato bread – it’s delicious.

So what exactly is it?
Potato bread is made from dough in which potato supplements or replaces the regular wheat flour. The ratio of potato to flour varies greatly from recipe to recipe.

The bread can be cooked in several ways, including baking in a hot pan or conventionally in an oven. It may be leavened or unleavened, and may have a variety of other ingredients baked into it. 

Some recipes use "riced" potatoes, while others use dehydrated potato flakes. I would imagine those recipes aren’t great-grandma’s.

A "ricer" is something that you press potatoes through, kind of like a garlic press. It's not a common kitchen device. Potato flakes are quite new, being invented by a Canadian in 1962.

This recipe isn't great-grandma's either. With my newfound confidence in sourdough preferments and autolysed dough I decided to turn a classic recipe on its head.

This is the pre-ferment in the morning.
It looks like bubbly spider webs.
Potato bread is available in some stores in some countries. This potato bread tastes nothing like what you buy in the store – if you even can. It also tastes different than regular bread. You get hints of the starch that’s in it from the potatoes.

The potatoes make this bread have a wonderful small crumb and the interior is very “luxurious.” It took me a while to come up with an appropriate word. That’s pretty close.

The smell while baking can’t be beat either. My spouse came back from the store and the first words I heard were “It sure smells like a bakery in here.” (That’s something I aspire to.)

My original starting point was an old-fashioned classic recipe. Generations have enjoyed its simple, wholesome flavour. This version continues the tradition. I would make it again in a second.

The dough all combined and risen for 2 hours. Very wet.
Sourdough Potato Bread
Inactive: 8 hours, plus 3 hours  |  Bake: 50 minutes  |  Yield: 2 loaves
3 medium white potatoes, whole (russets are a good choice)
2-1/2 cups warm (110°F) potato water
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
6 cups bread flour
2-1/2 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
1/4 cup 110°F water

Cook whole potatoes in enough water to cover for 30-35 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a fork. Let the potatoes cool down in the water. Peel and put through a ricer if possible. If not, mash very, very well. (That means NO pieces of potato if possible.)

Let the potato water cool down to 110°F before proceeding. Measure the water and reserve 2-1/2 cups. If you have less, top it up with water.

Believe it or not, you can get it into two "semi" solid pieces.
In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp yeast and 1 cup of the warm potato water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise overnight. This is your sour pre-ferment.

In a large bowl mix the riced potato, 1-1/2 cups potato water, butter, sugar, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead until it all comes together. You will have a mass that just barely sticks to your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit overnight.

In the morning, proof the remaining 2 tsp yeast in the 1/4 cup of water. Combine the pre-ferment, potato mixture and yeast together. Mix with a spoon and then knead until smooth.

“Knead” at this point is a relative term. You will be dealing with a very wet dough. The best way to “knead” it is to run your fingers down the side of the bowl and “lift” the dough up onto itself turning the bowl as you go. Do this for about 5-7 minutes.

The dough, flopped into the buttered pans.
Resist the urge to add more flour. This is NOT your grandmother’s potato bread dough.

Wrap the surface of the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about two hours. Generously butter two 9” x 5” x 3” bread pans and set aside.

At the end of the first rise, “pour” the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Using a dough scraper fold the dough up onto itself until it begins to hold a shape for a short time before relaxing.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces and pus each half into one of the pans. Let rise, uncovered, for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F 1/2 hour before the end of the second rise. Place a pan of water in the oven. 

Lightly dust the top of the loaves with flour. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove the water pan after the first 10 minutes and continue to bake until well browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

The end result. Not too shabby.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to: Mexican Fajita Marinade

Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate. – Emily Dickinson

Citrus, chilli and garlic marinated pork (in this case). The marinade can be
used for beef or chicken as well.

Here’s a delicious and easy “how to” that I’ve been doing for years.

Every so often I like to do fajitas. They’re fast and easy and probably a little on the healthy side. The thing I don’t like (quite so much) is the packets of fajita spice that you can get at the grocery store to flavour your meat.

It’s unnecessary for a normal fajita. If you do it right.

This marinade gives you spicy, garlicky, citrusy meat that goes perfectly with all the usual fixin’s you would put on a fajita.

The brown pieces are kumato tomatoes. Unusual.
It may take a little time on the counter but if you do it in the morning before work you’re all ready to go when you get home.

It’s your choice if you grill, fry or barbecue. Just make sure that your meat is cooked through.

When I pan-fry (as I did this night) I like to pour all the marinade in the pan ad let it evaporate. It adds an extra lime-pepper kick that we really like.

To round out your fajitas try romaine lettuce, avocado, tomato, green pepper, jalapenos and lots of cumin seed. And don’t forget the sour cream.

Dare I say this is a filling meal that the whole family can enjoy.

When I pan fry I usually let the marinade evaporate in the
pan. It lets you get all the garlic, lime and chilli.
Fajita Marinade 
1 lb pork, beef or chicken
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt

Whisk together the lime juice, oil, garlic, chilli flakes and salt in a non-metal dish or zip-lock bag.

Place the meat in the marinade. Coat on both sides and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours on the counter, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Turn the meat at least once during marinating time.

Remove the meat from the marinate and either broil, grill or fry.


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Friday, December 28, 2012

Snowy Day Food: Tuscan-style Beef Soup

Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen. – Willa Cather 

Last night was evil. Howling wind, driving wet snow – everything you would expect from an early winter storm. Interestingly this morning it was all washed away, the result of temperatures increasing to well over 0°C overnight.

But it didn’t negate the nasty weather at dinnertime. You need something homey and comforting for nights like that. Something “country.”

I have an answer. Zuppa Toscana. Tuscan soup. Simple, hearty and something that can feed a crowd without breaking the bank. By the way, Tuscan soup is more than the chicken and cream variety you get at Olive Garden.

Simplicity is central to Tuscan cuisine. Beans, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are common ingredients in everyday cooking. Traditional Tuscan cuisine, regardless of if it’s served in a Milanese restaurant or farmhouse kitchen, has is roots in peasant cooking.

Because of this simplicity the dishes are very hearty and filling. They are also frugal. A good example is the use of thickening of soup bases by the introduction of day-old bread. Nothing goes to waste.

There are many diverse recipes for Tuscan soups, from vegetable minestrones (I make a mean one with no tomatoes) to seafood soups. Each area has soups that are traditionally prepared in their kitchens. 

Much of what we call “Italian cuisine” actually has its roots in the cities, towns and villages of Tuscany.

This soup is a great one. It takes a bit of time (slightly more than an hour) but the result pays off for watching a pot.

If possible, use kale for the green in the soup. It has a slightly bitter taste that works well with the other ingredients. I had to make do with broccoli rappini – not quite the same, but when you’re in a pinch...

Tuscan-style Beef Soup
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 60 min  |  6-8 servings
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
2 cups beef broth
28 oz can of diced plum tomatoes, with juice
1 tsp dried rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1 bunch kale, chopped (or broccoli rappini)
14 oz can chickpeas, drained (or cannellini beans)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion begins to become translucent.

Add the beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the beef broth, tomatoes and their liquid, the rosemary, thyme and oregano, and some salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

Wash the kale and rinse the chickpeas. At the end of the 30 minutes, roughly chop the kale and add it, and the chickpeas, to the pot.

Cover the pot again and let cook for 20 minutes. Then add the grated parmesan and grated bread. Stir in and let the mixture cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper and adjust.

Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices.


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recipe: Spicy Korean Pork and Kimchi

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer. – W. Somerset Maugham

Very easy to adjust the heat in this. The sour of the kimchi is
an unusual, and delicious, introduction.

I hope you all had a great holiday full of the traditions your family loves. 

For many of us this is the first normal day back. Yesterday doesn’t count as "normal” in Nova Scotia because everything is shut up the same as on Christmas Day. 

Marinate the pork for at least 1/2 hour.
Because of this second no-shopping day I believe we have started a family tradition in our household: Asian Food Boxing Day. A few years running makes for tradition, right?

There’s reasons this new tradition makes sense to us. First, it’s about as far away from turkey leftovers as you can get. Second, it’s fast and third, unless you want turkey leftovers it’s about all you can get your hands on in Halifax.

Nova Scotia is one of the few places in Canada where stores are not allowed to be open on Boxing Day. Our Boxing Day Sales are actually on the 27th. Strange, don’t you think? It seems the entire rest of the world is open for business but not Nova Scotia.

I suppose, it gives many families who have to travel far one more day to be together before dispersing again, some until the next big holiday at Easter, or even Canada Day in July.

Not even grocery stores are allowed to be open on December 26. So if it wasn’t for our hardworking immigrant grocery operators I bet many of us would be eating leftovers on Boxing Day.

But not us. Everything for this recipe is readily available at any Asian grocery, except for the ‘regular” items like onions, pork, etc, although larger ones will have those too.

It’s a refreshing change from the heavy, European holiday fare of turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. They’re good, but I wouldn’t want to have them over and over.

I guess that’s what makes Asian Boxing Day food such a good idea!

Spicy Korean Pork and Kimchi
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook 15 min  |  Serves 4
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb pork loin, thinly sliced
1 cup kimchi, bite sized
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, julienned
for the marinade
1 to 4 tbsp chilli paste
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp powdered garlic
1 tbsp powdered ginger
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Combine the marinade ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. Remember more chilli paste means hotter so use your own discretion. I used 2 tablespoons.

Slice the pork and toss with the sauce. Let marinate for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Heat one tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok. Fry the pork in two batches until it is no longer pink. This should take about 4-5 minutes per batch. Remove to a bowl.

Slice the carrot and chop the onion. Add to the wok with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the kimchi and fry for another minute or two. 

Add the pork back to the wok and let cook until heated through.

Serve with white jasmine rice.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Recipe: Almond Apricot Ginger Bark

Whoever thought a tiny candy bar should be called fun size was a moron. – Glenn Beck

Toasted almonds, apricots and canided ginger. Yum...

That’s probably the only time I have ever agreed with Glenn Beck. There’s a first time for everything, so they say.

It’s December the 26th. If you’ve yet been able to move yourself from your favourite chair you may have made your way over to the chocolates that were given to you as a gift.

But – horror of horrors – what if you didn’t get any? Although hard to believe, I do have the answer for you in case you’re in that predicament. Homemade almond bark.

This is the first time I’ve made a bark. There’s all kinds of recipes out there. Some take almonds or any other nut. Some have no nuts at all, like candy cane bark. Some combine white and dark chocolate in a decorative swirl.

Since it seems to be open season on what goes into bark, I decided to put my own particular twist in mine, as you would expect.

This all started because I found myself in possession of a cup of candied ginger. It was a by-product of making ginger syrup. I couldn’t just let it go to waste. 

If you don’t have any candied ginger just hanging around other candied peels can be substituted. I believe you can purchase them pre-candied at the grocery – possibly ginger as well.

I saw a recipe that contained apricots and almonds and I though a great accompaniment would be my ginger.

Almond bark is unbelievably easy to make. Some recipes call for melting the chocolate over a double boiler and other complicated procedures. I did a work around by adding cream (just a little) to my chocolate.

No need for a double boiler and the end result is a bark that is a little softer than the just chocolate variety that shatters when you bite it.

This isn’t an instant gratification type of recipe. You have to wait for the chocolate to re-harden. But it’s worth it.

Just in case you don’t have enough cookies and candies hanging around, give this a try. The bits of hot sweet ginger are an unexpected pleasant surprise.

Almond Apricot Ginger Bark
Prep: 15 min  | Cook: 8 min  |  Yield about 36 pieces
1-1/2 cup toasted almonds
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup candied ginger slices
16 ounces (squares) semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract

If using non-roasted almonds, toast them slightly in the oven until the skins begin to brown slightly, about 5-6 minutes. Crush slightly.

Chop the apricots into thin slivers. Chop the candied ginger into fine pieces.

Melt the chocolate by placing the cream in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the chocolate and stir constantly until completely smooth. Do this slowly. the mixture will just barely be steaming.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Then add the almond, apricot and ginger.

Mix well and spread out to about 1/4” thickness on a foil lined baking sheet.

Let cool on the counter until set. Then cut into approximately 1-1/2” squares. 

If you wish, hurry the process along by refrigerating the bark. Make sure you gut it before it's too cold!


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Special Christmas Gift

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11

Today is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, without a doubt the most famous child in the history of mankind. Part of the celebration is, of course, the giving of gifts.

I could wax eloquently about the many gifts I am blessed with every day, which I truly appreciate. But instead I want to write about a very special gift we received a few weeks ago in our mailbox. A gift from an unknown child.

It was a homemade Christmas card, in a pre-stamped envelope all ready to be posted. No name, no nothing on the envelope – just the stamp.

Blank inside, it contained a note on a separate piece of paper, written by who I assume is the child’s mother. It said:
Now’s your chance
Spread the cheer
Send this card
To someone dear!
Happy Holidays!

The card featured carefully cutout Christmas trees on the front decorated with sequins. I’m sure it took quite some time to make. And I bet we weren’t the only ones in the neighbourhood to receive this most wonderful, charming and unexpected gift.

I have my suspicions who made it. There’s a little boy who lives with his mother about six houses down on our street. They seem to be very down to earth, gentle people, from the few times I have spoken with them. It’s exactly the thing I would expect them to do.

Pause for a moment and realize what she is instilling in her child for life lessons. Care for others, selflessness, the joy that can come making others happy, the giving of one’s time as opposed to just money – and that you don’t need to seek pomp and attention when doing for others. 

He's getting a great start in life, wouldn’t you say?

There’s two verses from the Book of Matthew that correspond with what I think that mother is teaching her child. I’m not needy, but you’ll get the point.

Matthew 6: 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I believe that giving of ourselves is one of the greatest things we have to give. And it’s probably the hardest. Most of us are too busy in the rush of modern life to do more than toss a few coins in a bucket in December and call it a day. But need is present the other 364 days as well.

On this day, more than any other, we should take the time to reflect on the non-material gifts we have been given, and appreciate them more than what is under the tree. After all, we’re celebrating the greatest gift of all: “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son…”

We should give, as we have been given, and expect nothing in return. Not just this time of year, but the whole year through. And it's never to late to start. I should heed my own advice.

I’ll close with the last lines of the Christmas classic by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol:

"Many laughed to see this alteration in him [Scrooge], but he let them laugh and little heeded them, for he knew that no good thing in this world ever happened, at which some did not have their fill of laughter. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

Merry Christmas to you all.


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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve: Decadent Lobster Chowder

I have always thought of sophistication as rather a feeble substitute for decadence. – Christopher Hampton

Golden yellow with notes of truffle. Fantastic.

Here’s a little decadence for you to think about serving for Christmas Eve dinner.

Many families gather together the night before for a celebration. Almost everyone who’s coming home for Christmas has arrived – and they have to be fed.

The meat from three lobsters.
Lobster is very popular at this time of year in Europe. Many of us here serve lobster as well. It’s doubly something to think about this year since the cost is so low. One local grocery has them for $5.99 per pound and it's cheaper if you buy from a lobster fisher from their truck. That’s low.

This recipe is a good way to really stretch three of the beasts into a veritable feast. This recipe makes eight bowls and the lobster only cost $21. There’s only one problem with lobster – shelling them. It takes time, and some effort. Oh, well.

I didn’t list the time for cooking and cleaning the lobsters. I cheated and bought mine pre-cooked but still in the shell. Hopefully you’ll have some help to shell yours. Choose carefully. It takes some will power to stay out of it as you clean!

This recipe started out life as a down-home lobster chowder, but I tarted it up. The carrot adds a sweetness and colour that usually isn’t there and the truffle oil… well it’s truffle oil.

The vegetables simmer in stock.
Truffle oil has a thousand uses in the kitchen and the cost isn’t astronomical, even at $4 for a small bottle. It only takes a little to impart its truffle flavour.

This chowder has a healthy does of butter so a little will go a long way due to its richness.

If you’re thinking about making something with lobster this holiday season give this recipe close consideration.

It may even become a family tradition.

Decadent Lobster Chowder
Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 8
2 lbs lobster meat (from 3 whole lobsters)
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grated carrot
5 medium potatoes, in 1/2” dice
5 cups chicken stock
2 cans evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper

Clean the lobsters and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Heat half the butter and all of the oil in a large stock pot. Sauté the onion, garlic and carrot until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the peeled and diced potatoes and the stock. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Knead the remaining butter with the 2 tbsp of flour so that it forms a paste.* Set aside.

At the end of the time add the evaporated milk and bring back to heat. Add the butter/flour mixture and stir until the liquid in the pot thickens. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the lobster to the pot and bring the chowder back to full heat. Serve in bowls with crusty bread.

*  Kneading butter with flour is a great secret for smooth gravy as well. No lumps!


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