Cioppino

Cioppino is pretty much a fish stew. Contrary to popular belief, cioppino did not originate in Italy. It’s an Italian-American dish. It’s traditionally made from the catch of the day, so you should use fish you can get fresh and is hopefully local when possible. The seafood is combined with tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread. The various combinations of ingredients are up to you.

With seafood reminiscent of summer and hot flavorful broth that welcomes fall it is a perfect September meal. It is extremely flavorful, light, fresh and filling- you can’t beat that! Pair with a salad and a side of garlic bread and you have yourself a perfect meal.

Ingredients

Cioppino-
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Tomato paste (1 tbsp plus)
  • Anchovy paste (1 squirt)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 5 cups fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets, we used cod, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley

Garlic Bread-
  • Fresh Italian bread, cut in half
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 4-5 cloves chopped garlic
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Some ingredients I didn’t use that might be good additions: fennel (sautéed with the onions), capers, halibut (instead of cod though pricier), fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and some marscapone cheese in the sauce for a creamier flavor. Celery is optional.

Directions

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato and anchovy paste.

Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

If your fish is thick like ours was, you should put it in first. Keep in mind none of the fish will take long to cook.

After 2 minutes or so, add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and scallops. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open).

Optional: Add a tbsp of butter for a nice finish.

Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Garlic Bread:

Simply place the butter, garlic, oil and parsley in a small pot and heat on medium. Don’t bring to a boil or simmer. You just want the garlic flavor to flavor the butter and oil.

Spread on the garlic bread, add salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. An optional treat: add some fresh mozzarella!

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Potato Salad Two Ways

I love the summertime for all the fresh produce readily accessible. Fairfield county has numerous farmers markets and many of my family members have their own gardens.

This weekend we went to Kyle’s parents house and his mom sent me home with a large shopping bag full of red potatoes, onions, cucumbers, kale and string beans from their garden. My mom also just brought me a large bag of hot peppers from her garden. After seeing all the ingredients at my disposal I decided to make potato salad two ways. The first was a warm Italian style potato salad with roasted hot peppers, string beans and oil and vinegar.  Because Kyle doesn’t like as much heat as I do, I made him the old-fashioned style recipe. The first is warm in temperature and hot in flavor, the other is cold, creamy and crunchy.

Ingredients

Warm Italian Potato Salad:

  • Red Potatoes, boiled until fork tender and cut in large pieces
  • 1/4 Red Onion, sliced thin
  • Hot Peppers
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
  • String Beans
  • Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Celery salt

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Place your hot peppers in a baking dish.  Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with a fair amount of salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano.  Mix well, cover with tinfoil and let roast for at least an hour.  You really can’t over cook them.

Set the hot peppers aside. Cut up 3 peppers and add to a large mixing bowl. (Save the extra peppers in your fridge for later use on sandwiches, with eggs, over a nice pork chop, etc.)

Place string beans in the same pan the peppers were in. Mix the string beans in the sauce and add a drop of water. Place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or you can add them to a saute pan and cook that way.  I like the string beans to be the crunch in the salad so I don’t cook them any further than that.  Pour the entire dish with sauce into the mixing bowl.

Add the potatoes. Then sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and celery salt.

American Potato Salad:

  • Red Potatoes, boiled until fork tender and cut in large pieces
  • White onion, diced thin (normally I use red onion but I couldn’t turn down these fresh onions!)
  • Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 3-4 Celery Stalks
  • Celery Salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Light Mayo
  • 1 tbsp Reduced Fat Sour Cream

Instructions

Chop celery into bite sized pieces. Add to large mixing bowl with the potatoes.

Add mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, celery salt, parsley and onion. Mix well.

“Mom!”s Monday Meatloaf

In our house, at a time when we were all grown up but still living with my parents, Monday Meatloaf became somewhat of a tradition.  If you’ve seen the movie Wedding Crashers then I’m sure you remember the scene when Owen Wilson visits Will Ferrell and they are talking in his mother’s living room. You know what comes next… you might then imagine how Monday nights went in our house when the meatloaf was taking its time in the oven and Kyle and Marc were getting impatient and citing lines from the movie. “Mom! The meatloaf!”  I won’t include the expletives; you get the idea.

So boring old meatloaf turned into somewhat of a fun Monday night for us (if a Monday night can be fun)! And it’s an easy meal to make when you are tired after work on Monday to start off your week! It’s a comforting dish during the winter and you can opt to keep it pretty healthy. I chose to leave off the delicious strips of bacon on top that my mom added for an extra crunch and burst of flavor.

My meatloaf usually varies depending on what fresh vegetables and herbs I have on hand but it usually has an Italian flare. I’ve also done it cajun style which Kyle loved (Cajun seasoning, fresh cilantro, spanish onion, you get the idea).  But here’s how I made this week’s Monday Meatloaf.

I apologize I don’t have a better photo of the final product!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Lean ground beef
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 medium onion (I prefer the sweet yellow onion)
  • Mushrooms (baby bella or whatever you have)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • About 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (I usually use whole wheat but was out tonight)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Take your ground beef out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Roughly chop the garlic, onions and mushrooms and saute in 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Season with S&P.
  • Meanwhile add your parsley, salt and pepper in the blender with your bread to make Italian bread crumbs. (Skip this step if you have Italian bread crumbs).  Pour into a large metal bowl and add your vegetables to the blender.  Chop your vegetables until they are small enough to blend in with the meatloaf.
  • Combine the bread crumb mixture, sauteed vegetables and egg in the bowl and mix well.  Add a few dashes of worcestershire sauce.
  • Add the chopped meat and combine all ingredients well using your hands. Add some more s&p to your meat.  Form into a loaf and place on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl combine ketchup and worcestershire sauce with some fresh grated parmesan cheese. Brush the sauce on top and sides of the meatloaf.
  • Place in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how big your meatloaf is.
  • Serve with brussels sprouts and home made baked potato chips!

SIDES:

Baked Potato Chips

Wash and dry a russet potato.  If you have a mandolin I suggest using one or you will get different sized chips like mine! Cut your potato into very thin slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, add fresh cracked salt and pepper, and for an extra kick, add some lawry’s seasoning. Mix the potatoes so they are evenly covered.  Bake in the oven with your meatloaf.  The result?  Tasty and crunchy potato chips that are healthier than the alternative!  One potato serves 2 people.

Brussels Sprouts

Clean and prepare brussel sprouts and place in a baking dish.  Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a few crushed garlic cloves. Baked in the oven with your meatloaf and potato chips.  Half way through I added the last of a bottle of white wine for some extra flavor but it’s optional and not necessary.  Cook until tender yet firm.  I still like them to have a crunch!

Mac n’ Cheese

What’s better than hot, cheesy mac n’ cheese with a nice crunch on top? Try this recipe and know it’s just as delicious leftover!! It’s up to you what cheeses to use- there are so many options! In my experience, Trader Joe’s has a huge selection for the best prices.

Image

Photo Courtesy of Snap Photography

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2lbs Cavatappi (make sure you pick a noodle that can hold the cheesy sauce)
  • Milk
  • Stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups) I used two different kinds of gruyere
  • 8 ounces white Cheddar, grated
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pancetta chopped up real tiny, sauteed in olive oil with garlic clove (to be removed later)
  • Bread crumbs (I use half panko and half italian bread crumbs. The panko is great for the crunch)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Truffle oil to top it off!
This made 7 ramekins. If you aren’t as lax with your ingredient amounts as I am, check out Ina Garten’s recipe which I modified: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/mac-and-cheese-recipe2/index.html

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Put on a pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook just short of al dente. I don’t like mushy pasta and remember it will keep cooking after you take it out of the water and put it in the oven.

3. Saute pancetta in olive oil until crispy (not burnt) and set aside. Save the olive oil to wet bread crumbs with later.

4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, some parmesan and salt & pepper. Add the pasta and stir well. Pour into a casserole dish or the ramekins seen above.

5. Chop fresh parsley and mix together with the breadcrumbs. Pour in the pancetta and olive oil. Combine and sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese. You can always add some melted butter for extra flavor! Instead, I topped it with truffle oil for a luxurious twist. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

ENJOY!!