Chowder bowls

It has been freezing here in the UK for the last few days. We’ve had snow, hail and lots of wind. It’s the type of weather which makes me want to snuggle up in front of a fire, with a patchwork quilt and a mug of hot chocolate. Perfect weather for this hearty, warming smoked haddock chowder served in rustic bread bowls.

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First of all make the bread. For convenience I used premixed ciabatta flour that I just had to add warm water to and knead. 

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I split the dough into quarters, shaped into balls and left to prove in the airing cupboard for about half an hour.

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Bake at about 200oC for 25 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped on the underside.

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Leave to cool before slicing the tops off and scooping out the middle. Retain all the innards for dipping in the chowder later.

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Once scooped out, brush the insides with a little olive oil and put back in the oven on a low temperature for about 20 minutes to crisp up.

Now on to the chowder. Pour about a pint and a half of skimmed milk into a saucepan.  Add four fillets of undyed smoked haddock, a halved onion, a sprig of fresh dill, a bay leaf and some thyme and bring to a gentle simmer for about eight minutes.

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In the meantime saute a leek, some celery and a peeled potato diced pretty small in some butter and olive oil. Stir regularly. After the haddock has simmered for a few minutes, add a tablespoon of plain flour to the leek mixture and cook it out for a minute or so.

Drain the haddock over the pan with the leeks in stiring continually to avoid any lumps.

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Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer. Once the sauce has thickened and the potato cubes are tender remove the skin from the haddock and flake into the sauce along with a couple of handfuls of sweetcorn kernels and some fresh spinach.

Ladel into the bread bowls and serve with the tops and innards for dunking. Sprinkle with a bit if fresh dill and enjoy!
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Slow cooker lamb and pearl barley stew with dumplings

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With the resident vegetarian serving at a local soup kitchen this evening, I took the opportunity to make something really meaty, really rustic and really delicious for dinner. The best bit is it’s really easy too, just a matter of throwing everything in a slow cooker and letting it do the work.

I chopped up some leek, carrots and celery, tossed in a handful of pearl barley, salt, pepper, some fresh rosemary and a couple of lamb leg steaks and covered with lamb stock.

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Let it cooked for a few hours then take the steaks out and shread them. Put the meat back in.

In a bowl, rub 180g of self raising flour with 60g of very cold grated butter. Add in a large pinch of salt,  some garlic powder, pepper and then mix with approximately 150ml milk until you have a dough. Shape into dumplings and place on top of the stew. Make sure there is still enough juice in there to stop the stew drying out. 

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Put the lid back on and the dumplings will start to cook and puff up.

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Half an hour before you’re ready to eat top the dumplings with some grated cheese and put the lid back on. Et voila,  you’ll end up with hearty yet light fluffy dumplings to mop up all the delicious gravy of the melt in the mouth slow cooked lamb. Delicious.

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