Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Instant Pot Salmon Dill Sweet Potato Chowder

My wonderful wife gave me an Instant Pot programmable slow cooker for Christmas!   I didn't even know such things existed.   These things are so cool, and once you have one, you'll wonder how you ever lived without one.  It isn't just that things cook much more quickly in them, it's that they cook so evenly and perfectly!

My stepdaughter Silvia got first whack with it, as she had some experience with these things previously.  She made hard boiled eggs.  They all came out perfectly cooked and peeled effortlessly.  Wow.

I had the second go with the pot, making wild rice for Christmas Dinner.   25 minutes in the pot and they came out perfectly cooked.

We had thawed a big package of Salmon just before Christmas that we were too tired to make for dinner on the intended evening, and through the rush of the holidays, had to use up, so I thought a good Salmon chowder was in order.  Looking at some other recipes for chowders in the Instant Pot and taking stock of ingredients we had on hand (at the holidays our refrigerator was bulging already so I wasn't going to go out and *buy* anything!), I came up with this tasty and warming chowder.  I hope you enjoy it, I did!

1 lb Fresh or Frozen Salmon (even canned would work, I suppose, I used frozen)
2 T Butter
3 Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 QT hot water for broth
1 1/2 T "Better than Bouillon" brand Lobster base, mixed with above
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 can sweet corn, drained
2 bay leaves
1 pint half and half
2 cubes Dorot brand frozen dill (in larger supermarket frozen sections, Woodmans has near frozen organic)

Remove skin from fish with a sharp filet knife.  You don't have to be pretty about it.

Set the Instant Pot to Saute medium, melt the butter, add the garlic and onion and saute til onions start to clear, then add celery, continue to saute until the celery is softened.

Add broth, sweet potato, corn, bay leaves and fish, seal the pressure cooker and cook on 'manual', high pressure, for 5 minutes.   Let the pressure release naturally, when it has released, open and stir in the dill cubes and the half and half, remove the bay leaves.   Set to "Saute" again and stir while bringing to heat, then either serve or set to slow cook for the shortest time period (on mine it's 30 min) with 'keep warm' setting and serve when ready.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stollen...It's Not Just for Christmas Anymore!

Mmmm...stollen, that wonderful German fruit bread cake thing.  I don't know if it's a bread or a cake or what, and I don't care.  I just like it...a lot!

When I was a kid, there was an elderly couple living next to us who ran a restaurant before they retired.  "Ma" Strehlow baked everything fresh every day for her husband Bill.   Daily, she made homemade donuts, homemade bread, and at Christmas time, stollen.

My mom was a terrific cook, but she always was frustrated with the results of her Stollen, even though Mrs. Strehlow had bestowed upon her 'the recipe' before they moved into assisted living in the late 1970's.

After my mom passed away, I decided to have a whack at making Stollen myself...someone had to do it, right?   I looked at 'the recipe' and compared it to many others in cookbooks and online and figured out what Mrs. Strehlow probably intentionally left out (she had a habit of doing that before handing out a recipe).

And it's NOT just for Christmas!  This past year I got frustrated with the crummy "king cake" recipes I had tried for Mardi Gras, so I just made stollen, formed into a ring and decorated as a king cake instead!   It's too good to have just once a year.  And it's not that hard.

You will need:

Stand Mixer (like a KitchenAid or similar)

For the Fruit:
1 C mixed candied fruit
1 C raisins
3 T Brandy

For the Sponge:
1 t or 1 package active dry yeast
1/4 C warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2/3 C milk
1 t honey
1 C unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Dough:
1/3 C honey
1 large egg, beaten
1 stick butter, softened
1 T grated lemon zest
1 t salt
1/2 t ground mace
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 C chopped almonds, toasted
3 to 4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
Oil, for coating bowl

For the Filling:
2 T butter, melted
2 t ground cinnamon
3 T granulated sugar

For the Frosting:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Milk, to thickness
Green and/or Red Candied Cherries

Start by combining the mixed fruit, raisins, and Brandy. Set aside. Stir the mixture every so often to coat the fruit with the Brandy.

In the stand mixer bowl, sprinkle the yeast in the water to soften. Heat the milk to 110 degrees F and add it to the yeast along with the honey and 1 cup flour. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and let rise until light and full of bubbles, about 30 minutes.

Now add the fruit mixture, honey, egg, butter, zest, salt, mace, nutmeg, 1/2 C almonds, and 2 cups of the flour to the sponge. Using the paddle, beat the mixture on medium low speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Change to the dough hook. Continue to add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just begins to clean the bowl. Knead 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low.

First rise: Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shape and Fill: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Roll the dough into a 9 by 13-inch oval.  Brush the melted butter over the top of the oval. Combine the cinnamon and granulated sugar and sprinkle over one lengthwise half of the oval(s). Fold the dough in half lengthwise and carefully lift the bread onto a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Press lightly on the folded side to help the loaf keep its shape during rising and baking.

Second rise: Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven: About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake and cool: Bake for 25 minutes until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.

When cool, mix up some frosting and frost.  Sprinkle remaining toasted almonds over the frosting and run a line of candied cherries down the middle.   Mmmmm!