Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry "Full Cold Moon and Cioppino" Christmas

From our home to yours, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Not since 1977 and not again until 2034, the Full Cold Moon this Christmas Day.



Last night, Christmas eve, we had a special meal_ a fish stew, aka Cioppino. I must say, it was delish! We made some earlier in the week with mussels, and yesterday decided instead to use fresh clams.  I would also note that wild Pacific Cod is readily available, about one-third the cost of halibut, and a favorite mild white fish for this. 

Cioppino or Fish Stew from Diana’s kitchen

3 TB olive oil
3 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 -2 teaspoons fennel seed that has been toasted and finely ground
3-4 bay leaves
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 TB dried basil (or cube of freshly frozen basil, thawed and chopped)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large lemon, juiced
6 cups canned tomatoes with juice (1 quart and 1 pint)
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2 cups dry white wine
* 12 clams, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that have already opened) 
and/or 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that have already opened)
2 – 2 ½ lbs skinless wild U.S. Pacific Cod (or halibut), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb large shrimp, uncooked, peeled, deveined (or 2 lbs Dungeness crab, cracked and cleaned)
1 lb Pacific northwest razor clams, cut in pieces (add any clam juice into the broth) 
2 TB chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, fennel, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and sauté until soft_ 7-10 minutes. Add garlic, fennel seed, bay leaves, thyme, basil, pepper flakes, Old Bay and cook for another minute. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, tomatoes with juice, clam juice and wine and bring to simmer; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the flavors meld.

* Should you decide to use clams, add them now and cook covered for 3-5 minutes until the shells open. Remove the clams and set aside. The same goes for mussels. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.

Add the fish, shrimp (or crap meat), the razor clams, and cover and simmer for just a few minutes and until the shrimp is pink and the fish is opaque. Add the clams back in and heat through. Taste for any additional salt and pepper.

Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in parsley. Serve:  dividing fish, shrimp, clams, mussels… into large bowls. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil if you like, and serve with a crusty sourdough and a glass of red wine.

Cook’s notes: you can make the broth ahead of time, refrigerate and then bring back to simmer and add the seafood as above. Remember to not overcook seafood.