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Sinful Salmon Chowder
dashed with Cognac


Total decadence--so intense, so aromatic, so beautiful in the dish--and downright aphrodisiac with all that fennel. Why complicate it with anything more that salad, bread, and a fruit dessert? Thanks to Jerry Newman for the inspiration. Serve hot as a meal to 4 people.

Garnish: minced fennel fronds

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, stir in the onion, fennel, and garlic, cover, and sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, frying them for about 5 more minutes. Then reduce the heat and stir in the flour (adding more butter, if necessary, to dissolve the flour); cook for a minute or two to lose the rawness of the flour. Whisk in the stock, let the soup thicken a bit, then add the salmon pieces, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and bring just to a boil. Season to taste with salt and butter. Hold on simmer until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, stir in the cognac, ladle into large bowls, garnish with minced fennel fronds, and guiltily carry to table.