Salmon Chowder

It’s been cold. I mean freezing cold for over a week now with snow and sleet and all the things you might expect, or not expect for Portland. Winters here just aren’t normally like this. We’ve had three snowfalls so far this winter with more on the way in a couple days. Granted we don’t get a lot as it generally warms up and the rain washes it away, but nevertheless there have been quite a few “stocking up” trips to the store this year. The one thing that I do appreciate in cold weather is soup, or chowder, or stew. It can be the perfect meal. 

I made this Salmon Chowder over the weekend and it was just as good as the last time I made it. This recipe includes smoked bacon, but if you don’t want to use bacon I would switch out the fresh salmon and use smoked salmon. The smoky flavors in this chowder are what really bring the flavors together. Another plus about this recipe is that it’s a one-pot-cooking dish. Our dishwasher decided stop working last week and once that happens you start thinking about every pot, pan, and dish you’re about to use. We have a new one arriving later this week and I can’t wait. 

One more thing I want to mention here is that Salmon is a good choice for winter chowders. If you live in the north without much sun, like Portland, you are most likely not getting much, if any, Vitamin D. Salmon is one of the best ways to get it in the way of food. You will want to get wild salmon as it has higher content of Vitamin D than farmed salmon, which only has 25% of the Vitamin D you would find in wild salmon. Even with that I take Vitamin D3 supplements everyday. I’m not one to promote specific vitamins or anything like that in this space, but I would recommend getting your vitamin D levels checked the next time you have a visit to the doctor. Most people are deficient because even during the summer months you can be deficient if you are using sunscreen. Ah, summer, sunshine, seems so far away right now as the ice slowly drips off the trees. Until then enjoy some soups and stay warm :)

Salmon Chowder

  • 3 slices thick smoked bacon, chopped in 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 pound skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives for garnish

Brown bacon in a deep, heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook onion and celery in the bacon fat in the same pot until onion is translucent. Add potatoes and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not brown. Add carrots and broth and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add milk, half-and-half, salmon, parsley, dill and pepper. Simmer over low heat 5 to 8 minutes or until fish is cooked through and liquid is steaming, but not boiling. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with crispy bacon pieces and chives or parsley.

Adapted from Whole Foods recipe

Palm Springs Date Shake + Joshua Tree

Last weekend Jeff and I spent a few days in Palm Springs. We planned this trip a while back for our winter sunshine getaway from Portland. And it almost didn’t happen. It snowed here in Portland the day before we were supposed to leave and it doesn’t take much to shut down the city, since snow is rare they don’t clear the roads, so you never know how it’s going to go. But we got lucky and only had a slight delay with our flight. I can’t tell you how happy I am the trip didn’t get canceled. And while it wasn’t as warm there as we had hoped for, there was sunshine and date shakes! It rained our first day there, followed by strong winds from a coastal storm. The palm trees were bending with branches scattered in the streets. The feeling of not being able to escape crazy weather was overwhelming, we spent time around the hotel bar for sure. But it passed. And the next day greeted us with brilliant sunshine. We headed up to Joshua Tree National Park, then detours! Flooding! can you believe this? Will we ever get there? We did. What an amazing and unworldly place. I’ve been through desert before but nothing like this. I’ve never seen this variety of Cactus and Palms. It’s a magical place and I would highly recommend it. We stayed at Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, the Date Shake was quite memorable. I had to make it. They offered it with a shot of espresso and we would share one in the morning. Ice cream shakes in the morning! The recipe is based on the menu description at Ace Hotel and a bit of research. The variations and ratios are all over the place, but this is very good. Some say to soak the dates beforehand, but I don’t think you have to, I like the texture and bits of pieces of dates in the shake, but it’s up to you. Here are some photos I’d like to share with you.

Joshua trees and Skull Rock

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A tiny birds nest in a cactus shrub

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Cholla Cactus Garden

Nightfall in Joshua Tree National Park

KIng's Highway at Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Date Shake

  • 1 cup Medjoool dates, chopped and pitted
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1  1/2 - 2 cups vanilla bean ice cream
  • Espresso (optional)

Place dates and almond milk in blender, blend until smooth, then add ice cream and blend again until smooth. Optional, but recommended, add a shot of cold espresso along with the ice cream!

Apple Galette

Left over pie dough? Not quite enough for a whole pie? Other than making mini pies a galette is a great option. It doesn’t need to conform to any baking dish size, it can be round, square or rectangle, and you can use just about any fruit you like, or go savory and make a vegetable galette. I’ve been craving apple pie lately so I picked up a bag of apples and improvised a bit. I left the peel on the apples because I liked the colors so much, but if you don’t care for the texture you should peel them. 

Apple Galette

  • 3 apples
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pie dough, recipe here
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

Core and slice the apples 1/4” in thickness. In a large bowl combine the apples, sugar, spices, flour and bourbon, mix until well combined. In a large saute pan heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, add the apples to the pan and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. 

Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out the pie dough in a rectangle. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange the apples down the middle of dough leaving a one inch border. Fold the dough edge over the apples. Bake for 35-40 minutes until dough is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. 

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter Sage

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter Sage. This is a good one. And very easy to make. Even easier if you pre-bake the squash whole. If you’ve ever cut and peeled a butternut squash you know what I’m talking about, even with the sharpest knife it can be a challenge, my heart races as I try not to lose fingers. So I wondered if people roast it whole, and ya know what, they do. And I did. It’s a much easier process and doesn’t take that much more time. You basically put the whole squash in the oven for about 20 minutes, allow to cool enough to handle and then peel and cube. It was a much calmer experience. I decided to make this recipe since we still have quite a bit of sage in the garden. But it’s reaching the use it or lose it stage. This is a delicious side dish, sweet and flavorful, you can also top it with some feta cheese and/or toasted walnuts.

Pre-baking the squash whole makes it easier to peel and cut

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter Sage

  • 1 butternut squash, medium size 
  • 1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 15 sage leaves (about 1/4 cup)
  • olive oil
  • Feta cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°. Place the whole butternut squash on baking sheet standing upright. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. When it is cool enough to handle, peel, cut in half, remove seeds and cut into cubes. Place cubes on parchment lined baking sheet, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt, then bake for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside. In a sauté pan melt the butter, add the sage leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter browns and sage leaves have curled a bit. ( I over cooked my sage a bit but it still tasted great). In a large bowl toss the squash and brown butter mixture together. Serve warm, can be topped with feta cheese or toasted nuts.