Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A warm welcome back to reality...

Just back from tying the knot and honeymoon-ing in was an incredible whirlwind of a dream and now the only thing that I wanted to do all weekend long was eat comforting, home-cooked foods and settle back into reality. The jet-lag was taking longer than expected to recover from, even after trying to strategically plan our sleeping patterns by drinking copious amount of espresso (my Italian jones) on the long flight home. Two of my friends wanted to do a Sunday night dinner so I (obviously) convinced them to come over so I can cook for them instead. We opened a bottle of Chianti and sat around nibbling on fresh fig, prosciutto and clover honey. After some gossip, I started to make the Cioppino, a San Francisco fisherman's stew with fresh lump crab meat, large prawns, halibut and clams. It's good to be home...


(Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves, broken in half
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) diced tomatoes
3/4 cups Chianti wine
1/2 cup sauvignon blanc wine
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3/4 lb firm white fish, like halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 lb littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lb Dungenuss crab claws, or lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
20 large shrimp (prawns), peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and bell peppers and saute until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and red and white wines and bring to a simmer. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.Remove and discard the bay leaves. Add the oregano, thyme, fish and clams. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the crab and shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp and fish are opaque and the clams have opened, 3-4 minutes. Discard any clams that failed to open. Stir in the Tabasco sauce and season with salt and pepper.

Divide among the bowls and serve at once.
A warm piece of baguette is always good to soak up the juices at the end. Please do stay tuned for a future post on our wedding and Italian travels...Ciao for now!


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