‘Creamy’& Healthy Gluten Free Fish Chowder that doesn’t taste Gluten Free, nor Healthy!

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Its still running 30 degrees in ‘balmy’ Minnesota. Yeah, we do cold here in the upper Midwest. Here, it’s go cold or go home. HA!

Trying to think of what to serve up on this freaking frigid day, I hit the grocery store.

At my favorite grocery store they were tasting Atlantic Farmed Salmon. (I love tastings because I can ensured its not ‘fishy’ tasting) Next to the salmon was Alaskan Cod. Both were BOGO (buy one, get one free). I bought 2 packages of each! Tonight: Fish Chowder with Cod, potatoes, green beans and corn. Tomorrow: Salmon Croquettes. Seriously, it was a steal of a deal, and chowder sounds amazingly warm and comforting to me!

I did a quick google search in the store to get inspiration, and then came home with the intention of creating my own Gluten Free Chowder, that didn’t rely on flour.
So, here you go, a deliciously healthy version of a ‘cream’ chowder that is a snap to put together!
This chowder is VASTLY lower in fat than most recipes and it’s chalk full of protein. Is it ‘diet’ food? No, I’m not gonna lie. This is a healthier version of a normally calorie laden meal. I will confess, you will be temped to eat two bowls, just keeping it real. Cream-less never tasted so delicious!
This would be fantastic served with a fresh GF biscuits a GF French Baguette to mop up the last dribbles of broth!

**As always, read through the recipe and pay attention to my notes. If you spot an error or have any questions, please ask away in the comment section so I can fix it!

Notes:
*This recipe is flexible. Don’t like green beans or corn? Maybe add some carrots to the mirepoix, or add sautéed mushrooms, or heck, add peppers if you like them! You don’t have to use shallot, it just adds a slightly different savory note. Hate tarragon? Just use dill, or add some thyme.
*Don’t let your creativity be limited.
*I use red potatoes because they hold up a bit better under the simmer than russets or yukons.
*You can substitute halibut for the cod, or even salmon, but the flavors will be more assertive and need more assertive spices and seasoning.
*I will list ingredients I use in approximate amounts, but remember, this kind of dish is flexible. If you like onions, add a bit more. You hate them? Substitute shallots. The aromatics are there to build flavor.
**Don’t be discouraged about the length of the ingredients list. It sounds like a lot, but you likely have most of it in your pantry, and if – for example – you don’t have olive oil on hand, use all butter or try substituting coconut oil. I like the flavor of butter in this dish.
*And lastly, please, try to find sustainable fish. We want to be able to enjoy this bounty from the ocean for a long time!

Gluten Free Fish Chowder

1-1.5 Cup Onion, small diced
1 Large Shallot, small diced
1 Cup Celery, small diced
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour (just shy of 1/2 cup)
Old Bay Boil and Seasoning – just shy of 1 Tsp.
.5 Cup White Wine (I used chardonnay. Make sure its wine you’d drink!)
1 Tsp GF Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
2-3 Tsp Lobster Bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon brand) ((while this is optional, it really gives the broth a depth of flavor and seasoning that salt will not))
(optional: splash of Bragg Liquid Amino Acids, it adds a bit of savory salty, but not necessary)
4 Cup Fish Stock (boxed or homemade)
1.25 Cup Whole Milk
Dried Tarragon
Dried Dill Weed
White Pepper
Fresh Dill (also optional, but adds another fresh dimension and eye appeal to the dish) approximately 1-1.5 tbsp.
3 Cups Red Potatoes, cut into nice, big, one bite chunks.
Green Beans, cut into 1-1.5 inch sticks, approximately 1.5 Cup. (if using fresh, add with the potatoes, if frozen, add with the corn)
.5 Cup Frozen Corn
1.5 lb Cod, preferably fresh, but frozen/thawed will work too, diced into 1 inch pieces (see note at bottom)

Let’s get cooking!

Melt the butter in a 4-8 quart stock pot or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, and when they begin to soften, add the shallots.
While the aromatics cook, measure wine in a 1 cup measuring cup, and add to it, worcestershire and splash of amino acids. Set aside.
When aromatics are softened (about 5-8 minutes), add the Brown Rice Flour and Old Bay. Stir, and add the olive oil if it looks dry, it likely will.
Add the wine mixture and whisk/stir to combine, letting the alcohol cook off while stirring.
Add seafood stock while whisking vigorously. It will look lumpy but keep whisking.
Add dried herbs. Start with a generous pinch of each. (A pinch is about 1/4 tsp)
Reduce heat to a bare simmer and let cook for about 10-15 minutes.
Add whole milk.
Add potatoes and beans.
Bring back to a gentle simmer, add lemon juice (really its like a splash, designed to add a bit of acid balance to the chowder).
Add 2 tsp of Lobster Boullion.
Stir to combine, then taste, and adjust seasonings, adding a dust of white or black pepper.
Let cook uncovered, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Taste and adjust the seasonings again. (the potatoes will absorb some of the salty seasonings.) At this point, you can add the additional tsp of Lobster Bouillon if needed to boost the flavor.
Add the Cod and Corn, reduce heat further to a bare simmer, cover and cook until the fish is no longer translucent. It will take 5 minutes or less.
Add minced fresh dill.
One last adjustment of seasonings, adding more White Pepper if needed.

Serve and enjoy!
My hubby always adds tabasco to his fish chowders, but this needed nothing. It was fantastic on its own.
This serves 4 easily.

****I was serving 3. I bought 2 pounds of fresh Cod, because I got one pound for FREE! I ‘guess-ta-mated’ my fish initially, at 1.5 lbs. After serving up my chowder, (making sure the bowls were chalk full of goodies) I was left with a generous amount of broth. I added the additional .5 lb back to the broth, brought it back up to temp to cook, then packed it away for another meal. You can use 1.5 lb and stretch it quite nicely to feed 4. But you can also make it protein laden and add the extra fish.

 

 


Shrimp Pasta in a White Wine reduction sauce

Shrimp Pasta in a White Wine reduction sauce

When I need a quick meal, I turn to my pantry and freezer, looking for what can be defrosted quickly.

Shrimp is a sure bet for a quick nights meal. I lay mine out on parchment on top of my granite. The stone pulls the cold out of the shrimp and defrosts it lickity split.

While your shrimp is defrosting, start the water in your stock pot over high heat and get your sauce going:

Chop a couple of large shallots in to a fine dice,

Melt a couple tbsp of butter in a saucepan and add the shallots, cooking until they are translucent. Add a good generous glug of white wine (about a cup). I used a chardonnay. It should be a wine you would drink, since you will be reducing it and icky/off flavors will only get amplified.

Reduce the wine by more than half, until it starts to look more golden in color and all the alcohol has been burned off. If you start with 1 cup, reduce to 1/3ish. I eye-ball it based on the starting level in the pan.

Add 1-1.5 cups of seafood stock, fish stock, lobster or shrimp stock; or in a pinch, chicken stock. Reduce this by half again.

Your water should be boiling by now, generously salt the water and cook the pasta according to package directions. If you are using Gluten Free Pasta, you will drain and rinse the pasta in hot water. You must generously salt the water or your pasta will taste flat. I use the palm of my hand for about 6 quarts of water.

Back to the stock, while it is reducing, prep your veggies. In this dish I used some leftover baby spinach, part of a leftover heirloom tomato, defrosted green peas, and a little finely diced red pepper. I put these in a large serving bowl with some fresh finely chopped parsley.

When the shrimp are defrosted (you can use a colander and running cold water to defrost, but be sure to pat dry), toss with a generous amount of fresh minced (or put through a press) garlic, salt, pepper (I used Szchewuan) and a good squeeze of lemon. Cook in a sauté pan over medium-high heat with a good dollop of olive oil. Don’t waste extra virgin oil, just use regular. They should be done in about 2 mins top. Set aside and keep warm.

When your sauce is done reducing, add a squeeze of lemon, some crushed tarragon, remove from heat and swirl in a couple tablespoons of unsalted COLD butter. Swirl until the sauce looks thick and glossy.

When the pasta is al dente (meaning it has a bit of bite to it, not super soft), then use your tongs and straight from the pot, to add the pasta directly to the sauce. You want some of that starchy pasta water to help thicken the sauce and add flavor. (If you are cooking GF, save a small amount of water, drain, rinse and then add the noodles. Add water if you need to loosen it up in the sauce) The heat of the sauce will continue to cook the pasta. Do not overload the sauce with pasta, you most likely will not use a whole package of pasta, eyeball it. Pour the entire thing over the top of the veggies and toss till the spinach wilts.

Serve with the shrimp on top, a glass of the white wine, and a nice salad on the side.

*See recipe modifications to make with GF noodles.


Leftovers Soup: Turkey-Spinach-White Bean

Leftovers Soup: Turkey-Spinach-White Bean

I know it sounds odd, but it’s what I call it. Leftovers Soup is a yummy and easy way to use up those leftovers so they don’t go bad nor go to waste. This particular soup used up the turkey leg meat from a previously roasted turkey; Turkey stock, made from the bones of previously mentioned turkey; and a half of a Costco container of leftover baby spinach.

I also added onions, celery, carrots (which I always have on hand), a package of mushrooms (which were on sale at the grocery, I can always find a use for reduced price veggies!), and precooked white beans pulled from my freezer.
(When you have time cook up beans and portion the beans in 2cup measurements into quart ziploc bags and freeze. This way you can have the convenience of ‘ready to use’ beans at a far cheaper cost than canned)

For spices I used Alleppo pepper for a bit of spice (you can use red pepper flake), 2 packages of Goya ‘Sazon‘ (it gives the soup that lovely red color and adds a distinct puerto rican flavor-buy it and keep it on hand!), a good heavy handed shake of PenzeysMural of Flavor‘ and a bit of salt & pepper to taste.

I garnished with this soup with parmesan cheese. (Which I buy at the big box retailer and keep in the freezer. I then portion some in a small container to be kept in the fridge)

With leftover soup try to think of combinations that go well together. For example, turkey and mushrooms are a natural pairing. I have a book ‘The Flavor Bible‘ that helps me with ideal food combinations and pairings.

Layer flavor by browning or sweating your vegetables. Add chili pepper flakes to the oil while sauteeing to ‘bloom’ the flavor and temper the heat. Add durable spices (like bay leaf) to the liquid in the beginning of simmering, and add fresh (cilantro/parsley) or delicate spices (tarragon/marjoram) near the end or as a garnish. Add dark meats early to eek the flavor out of them, delicate/white flesh meats near the end. Frozen peas or corn are added at the end also, so they don’t overcook and get mushy.

If using raw lentils, add at the beginning, they take some time to cook. Cooked beans, however, add and simmer just long enough to heat through, otherwise they tend to break apart.

For more of a chowder style soup that is gluten free, make a “slurry” – cornstarch mixed with cold water/stock/milk – and add, cooking to thicken. You may also use arrowroot, but only for dairy free soups. Arrowroot + dairy = slime. Use about 1 tbsp of starch for every 1.5-2 cups of liquid.

Tomato paste really deepens in flavor if cooked with the veggies in the beginning with the oil. Add when the veggies are soft, just before you add the stock, cooking it a bit to take the rawness off. It adds a complex depth and dimension and a bit of thickness to the soup.

Save those meat bones! If you don’t have time to make a simple stock from your chicken or turkey dinner, put them in a ziploc freezer bag and freeze them until you do have time. No need for defrosting, just plop them in with carrots, celery and onions, and simmer and let reduce. The stock can then be used or frozen for future use. As my grandmother taught me: waste not, want not. Use your homemade stocks as one of the layers of flavor foundation for your soup.

Depending upon my mood, what is in the fridge and what I have on hand, I save myself money, prevent food waste and feed my family food that I know is healthy and good for them.

As a side benefit, I always have a little leftover for hubby to take to work for lunch the next day, or an afternoon snack for a hungry child going returning from school and headed out to their athletic activities.

I hope this inspires you to look at those leftovers in a new fresh way: Transform turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn in to a chowder. Cubed leftover meatloaf can be the beginnings of a riff on Italian Wedding soup. Left over beets can be morphed in to a kicked up Borscht topped with healthy greek yogurt garnish. Leftover lamb makes a fantastic ‘curry’ with chickpeas and canned tomatoes.

The possibilities are endless!