Winter Feast For The Soul
New England Clam Chowder
Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Capers
Blackhawk Tenderloin Tips in Dijon Sherry Sauce




1 pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 large slicing tomatoes
olive oil
1-1/2 cup of leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 pounds of fish filets
4 teaspoons of capers
3 tablespoons dry or semi-sweet white wine
2 tablespoons butter
lemon
1-1/2 - 2 pounds tenderloin tips -- 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces wild mushrooms -- sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed
1-1/4 cups beef stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and sear the meat well on all sides.  Remove from the pan, and reserve.  Add mushrooms, onion, and peppercorns, and saute until onion is tender, about 7 minutes.  Deglaze pan with a bit of the stock, scraping up the fond.  Add remainder of the stock and the rest of the ingredients, whisk to combine.  Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to sauce consistency (~15 minutes.)  Return beef and any juices it may have released to the pan, and continue simmering until beef is warmed through, just a few more minutes.
Choose a firm fleshed, white fish for this, cod works well, so does flounder.  You could use, snapper, or another fish if you prefer, as long as it doesn't have a lot of oil, or strong flavors.  The seasoning on this one is light, to let the character of the fish move up front.  Something like salmon, would play as unbalanced.

Place the tomatoes, leeks, and garlic in an oiled baking pan, and roast them at 400 degrees until they are soft and blistery.  If using large tomatoes, cut them into a few pieces.  Lightly salt and pepper the fish and add it to the pan.  Sprinkle with the capers and add the wine, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Return the pan to the oven and bake at 350 degrees until the fish is opaque and flaky.  Finish with the butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Serve the filets with a spoonful of the vegetables and some of the pan sauce.

Perfect for a cold winter dinner, exceptionally satisfying and restorative when you're fighting a cold.  Well worth the modest amount of time it takes to bring together.
In a stockpot over medium heat, cook the bacon until done, and fat has rendered.  Remove bacon and all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot, and reserve.  Add the vegetables and saute until tender crisp.  Deglaze with wine, add clam juice, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer. In a separate pan make a roux with flour and butter, cook to a very light brown.  Add the bacon back, and remaining ingredients, and when it reaches a simmer, add the roux until a nice creamy consistency is reached.  Continue simmering until vegetables are tender.  Check seasoning after everything has come together and adjust if necessary.

If using canned clams, don't add them until the vegetables are almost done.  Overcooking clams makes them rubbery, and the canning process par-cooks them.

Serve naked, with a sprinkle of Old Bay and a shot of Tabasco, or some bread cubes, tossed in olive oil and sea salt, and toasted in a 350 degree oven, turned occasionally, until golden and crisp.

2 ounces smoky bacon, 1/4 inch cubes
1 small onion
3 stalks celery
2 medium yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1 cup white wine
8 ounces clam juice
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint milk
1 pound clams, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne

2 quarts apple cider
3/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
2 quarts cold water
6-8 Cornish game hens
Cider Brined, Roasted Game Hens
Mix the brine ingredients in a container large enough to hold it and the birds.  Clean the hens and place them in the brine.  Hold refrigerated for about four hours.  Remove the hens from the brine, rinse and dry them.  Brush them with a little olive oil or melted butter, and roast uncovered in a 400 degree oven until done (start checking at about 35-40 minutes.)  If they start to brown too quickly, tent them with foil and continue cooking.
Once again, a rarely roast fowl any more without first brining it.  It is such a simple thing to do, that pays off in so many ways.  This recipe was adapted from one written for turkey, and has a satisfying wintry feel from the cider.  I've found it to be a nice alternative to the traditional bird for holiday meals.

Buying the whole tenderloin of beef saves you money, but after taking the filets from the center, you are left with a couple of tender and tasty, but oddly shaped end pieces.  Those bits are perfect for this recipe.  After trimming, a 4-1/2 - 5 pound loin should yield 6, 8 ounce, center cut filets, and a pound and a half or more of tip meat.