The weather has taken a distinct turn for the worse this past week and after having images of a scorching hot end to May, I'm resigned to the fact that it's typical British weather again.
Far from being the pessimist I actually prefer it when it is a little cooler anyway. Exercise and sleep become easier and I can put my legs away for another year, which is always a plus for family and friends.
Food becomes more sustainable too and I love a good homemade soup or broth. A chowder is more of a complete meal than a soup, a kind children's food for adults if that makes any sense, what with chunks of half processed solids floating in a liquid.
They can take on many forms, using a multitude of vegetables but generally always containing sweetcorn. Smoked fish works particularly well with a chowder, as does shellfish such as clams, mussels and crab.
So if it is feeling a tad nippier where you are in the world, warm yourself with good chowder. It is simple to make, perfect for the whole family and makes you feel a little bit better if you are British and you suspect that sun catching is over for another year...
Salmon and Crab Chowder
3 rashers of smoked bacon, sliced (optional)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large potatoes or the equivalent in new potatoes, cut into 2 cm chunks (skin on or off)
1 medium tin of sweetcorn or the fresh kernels of 2 cobs
500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
100ml crème fraiche or double cream
2 pieces of fresh salmon, skinned and cut into chunks
The brown and white meat of 1 crab
A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 - Heat the oil in a large pan and add the bacon if using, the onion and celery. Cook for 10 minutes until softened and beginning to colour. Stir in the garlic.
2 - Add the potatoes, sweetcorn, bay and stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
3 - Take a handheld blender and blend for a short while until you have broken up some of the potatoes to thicken it, or remove half to a blender and do the same before adding back to the pan.
4 - Stir through the salmon and crabmeat and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the cream or crème fraiche and taste for seasoning. Serve with fresh parsley and some good crusty bread.