After all the heavy food, sweets and rich baked goods at holiday time, I decided to bake some nice healthy loaves of bread and make some soup with local North Coast seafood. OK, the chowder has a good dose of cream in it, but I used a recipe without bacon, so it’s dietetic compared to my usual.
The bread is Hamelman’s Whole Wheat Multi-Grain, a 50% whole wheat sourdough with just a touch of instant yeast and some honey. In the soaker, I used only rolled oats as that’s what I have on hand. I added toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. The seeds plus oatmeal equaled the weight of the mixed grains in Hamelman’s formula. I used the total amount of water the formula calls for. The dough was dense but extensible, very easy to handle. I made three loaves, semi-retarding one on our 50 degree porch while the first two baked. All came out nicely. The crust is dark but not crispy, and the crumb is moist and wonderfully wheaty with the nice feel, smell and taste of seeds.
The Salmon and Crab Chowder was adapted from a Food Network recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/salmon-chowder-with-crab-whole-grain-croutons-and-pinot-glaze-recipe/index.html), but I added several pounds of salmon trimmings to the stock and added garlic to both the stock and the chowder; I also added a couple sliced leeks to the chowder. I skipped the croutons and the drizzle. It is quite a production with lots of steps, but the result was very well-received. Rich, hardy chowder with lots of well-melded flavors. It makes me grateful for the bounty of our local fishery. Sorry, no photos of the lovely chowder.
Now, my holiday story of The Hannukah Miracle of Christmas Dinner.
In case you don’t know the story symbolized by the Hannukah Menorah, it is told that when the Jews recaptured their temple from Greek occupation, there was only enough oil left to light the holy lamp for one night. But miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights. Thus Hannukah is celebrated as the eight night “Festival of Lights”.
Cat and I have a mixed marriage (we joke that we’re a born-again Druid and a lapsed agnostic, but we don’t remember which of us is which). Cat’s family celebrates Traditional American Christmas with food, drink, a tree and presents, and drink. My family celebrates Traditional American Hannukah with food and presents, and food.
For the last several years, I have spent “The Holidays” with Cat’s Family here on the North Coast. Her brother is a good cook, and he cooks Christmas Eve dinner and I cook Christmas dinner, or vice versa. This year, for Christmas dinner I made a Rib Roast rotiserried on charcoal, with many side dishes, including caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and a potato gratin with shallots, Gruyere and cream. Several days later, after roast beef sandwiches, barbecue beef sandwiches, and several omelets of leftover potatoes gratin and caramelized onions, we realized that our Christmas dinner made EIGHT MEALS!! It’s a multi-religious miracle! It’s a miracle that we’re still standing.
I might also mention that my Hannukah stocking this year included two wonderful baking books—Ortiz’s The Village Baker and Hensperger’s Bread Bible. I’m looking forward to new experiments.
Happy New Year to all TFLers.