Thursday, August 09, 2007

Relief from the Heat! Finally!

Will it last? Probably not but a cool summer day means it's time to think chowder! I have no idea who invented this rule but I follow it like an old medieval maritime religion. And since Tim slept in his long sleeve pajama top last night (this from a man who doesn't like to wear so much as underwear to bed in the middle of winter) I think we are definitely in chowder territory. Now, I went to mecca (also known as Halifax) earlier in the week and did nothing but eat out. So I'm looking to veggie-load today. And tomorrow I have lunch and dinner plans out... yikes. Okay, I really need to pack on the healthy food today!

Now I love a good traditional chowder but with respect to my need to veggie-load - I'm stepping outside my traditional definition of chowder. Yup, I'm going Manhattan inspired. The bonus with Manhattan versus New England (or just plain old chowder around these parts) is that Manhattan is tomato based. And, surprise! Tomatoes are a veggie. Okay, technically they are a fruit but they are part of that healthy section on the Canadian Food Guide that none of us ever get enough of. So Manhattan it is. But I just got Jamie Oliver's new cookbook "Jamie's Italy" and it has some great, simple and delicious recipes in it, including one for zuppa di baccala which is salt cod soup. You don't have to use salt cod. In fact I'm going to use frozen haddock. Of course I won't actually follow the recipe. I typically only use recipes for inspiration unless I'm making something completely new for company. I cannot wait to further dissect Jamie's book. Poor people in Italy are far healthier than most of us in North America and they keep it simple. Sounds good to me! But once again I digress. Back to tonight's dinner.

Okay so I have a plan. I got chunks of pancetta and prosciutto yesterday in Mecca (aka Halifax) so I'm going to start by dicing up a little bit of this (see the need for healthy eating as mentioned above) and browning it in the pot. I'm going to go with the pancetta. Then I'm going to add some sweet onions and then some garlic. Now the questions is where do I go from there? I don't have any potatoes in the house so I was thinking I would use Orzo (rice shaped pasta) but I don't have any of that either! Which surprised me and had I known I would have gotten some yesterday at the Italian Market. I do have small bow tie pasta and filini which is like angel hair broken in 1/2 inch sticks. Then I was thinking brown rice would be nice instead. I'm still not committed. I am going to use a small can of tomatoes and low sodium V8 juice for the broth and a nice smack of veggies. If I add some dried herbs - I'm thinking parsley, basil and bay leave- it would be nice to let it simmer to get those flavours melding. Which would work nicely with the brown rice. Both pastas I have are really small and would only take a matter of minutes to cook. I'll decide when as I make the soup.

And then there is the matter of veggies. Using the V8 juice means there is already a good amount of veggies in the dish. I do have frozen homemade roasted corn that I could add in. I was also thinking about adding in some frozen spinach. But Jamie's recipe is really simple, mirepoix (carrots, onion and celery), garlic, broth, tomatoes and fish. There is much to be said for simple. Conveniently the V8 contains the mirepoix with the tomato juice! That's something to keep in mind as we soon turn into stew and soup season... Just remember to get the low sodium version. Jamie's recipe doesn't have potatoes, pasta or rice. But brown rice would be a great fiber boast and would give us some of that great slow burning whole grain carbohydrates. However it is the first televised football game of the season and I've already requested Tim make his fantastic hummus for snacking on during the game. So we could afford to go with the lighter version. Something else I'll decide as I'm making the soup.

For the seafood I have a haddock fillet and some bay scallops. I keep them frozen and will cut the fish up right before I put it in the pot. It's a thin fillet so I can cut it easily without defrosting. This way I don't over cook the seafood and the fish tends to stay in chunks better.

I'll let you know how it turns out and hopefully I'll remember to take a pic. Here's wishing you one day of coolness during this very hot summer!

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