Cioppino and our trip to Cinque Terra, Italy

“Favorite Son” came home from college for the weekend, and requested one of his favorite dishes called “Cioppino”.  He and his dad have ALWAYS LOVED this dish, and since we were celebrating several things that evening with a very nice bottle of Champagne, I agreed.

Cioppino, (pronounced chə-ˈpē-nō) actually came to the U.S. by way of Italian immigrants who had settled in the San Francisco area.  If a fisherman came back at the end of the day empty handed, he would take his pot and walk around to other fisherman asking for any leftover fish they could “chip in”.  Whatever ended up in their pot would become their Cioppino! The dish later became a staple as Italian restaurants started popping up all over San Francisco.

Today, similar dishes are found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean. Generally, the seafood in the stew is cooked in broth and served in the shell. You can also serve what is called “lazy man’s cioppino”, referencing the fact that all shells have been removed prior to serving…not as much fun, but much less messy!!

My fondest memory of enjoying Cioppino is from our trip to Cinque Terra in northwestern Italy.  Vernazza, one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terra region is one of the most quaint little fishing villages on the Italian Riviera…just breathtaking!  Hubby and I hiked from Monterosso al Mare (the first of the villages) up one side of the mountain and then down to the next village of Vernazza.  We lunched at a little cafe called Taverna Del Capitano and had the most wonderful Cioppino we’d ever tasted!

This particular recipe is one I’ve adapted from Chef Tyler Florence after trying several different styles.  While it’s not necessarily authentic due to the added Spanish chorizo, it makes for a much heartier broth, and my boys say it’s their favorite!  Please don’t mistake Spanish chorizo for Mexican chorizo–it’s definitely not the same!  Click on this “link” for a wonderful Spanish chorizo that’s actually made right here in my own home town of Boerne, Texas! Serve with a nice crusty loaf of french bread for soaking up all that delicious broth! Bon Appétit!!

Cioppino

Cioppino served at Taverna Del Capitano in Vernazza

Monterosso al Mare

We hiked up Monterosso al Mare…about a 3 hour hike!

 

Cinque Terra

It’s a beautiful hike meandering through lots of vineyards, and the locals living along the hike are so friendly!

 

Vernazza

HELLO Vernazza!! Once you’ve hiked to the top of the mountain, this is the view you feast your eyes on! Just breathtaking!

 

Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy

Each little inlet is it’s own fishing village only accessible by boat or train.

 

Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy

Isn’t this just GORGEOUS?

Cioppino-Seafood Stew

adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 5 links “Spanish” chorizo
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Marzano tomatoes, drained, hand-crushed with juice reserved 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 clams, scrubbed
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed
  • 16 large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12-15 bay scallops
  • 1 small filet of cod (cut into 4 pieces approx 3-inches each)
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley, chopped for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

In the bowl of a food processor, place chorizo, onion, garlic, celery and tomatoes, and pulse until pieces are small and well ground up.  Transfer this mixture to a Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat until well colored and fat is rendered. Once cooked, add the flour, thyme and bay leaves, and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes (this forms the base of a roux). Add red wine, reserved tomato juice and chicken stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. With 10 minutes left go, bring to a boil and add the clams and mussels.  Cover and steam until mussels and clams open (5-7 minutes) and discard any that don’t open. Reduce the heat to simmer, nestle fish into bottom of pot, add scallops and shrimp, cover, and simmer just until cooked.  This will only take a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook.  Remove the bay leaves, ladle into large shallow bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Serve with a crusty french bread!

Bon Appétit!

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Any mixture of seafood will work in this stew, so choose your favorites! Throw in some crab legs or maybe try a couple of whole Dungeness crabs (cut into about 6 pieces).  If you don’t like cod, try halibut or any other firm white fish.  Just add all the seafood at the last part of cooking so it’s not overcooked!
  • I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using “Spanish” chorizo and NOT Mexican chorizo.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

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Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

While perusing the internet, I ran across this chipotle-pomegranate glaze over on Simply Scratch.  She had roasted a pork tenderloin in the oven and glazed it with this sauce.  It looked and sounded delicious, but I had salmon out to cook that evening and wondered how the glaze would pair with my salmon. Just when I thought I had eaten salmon every way possible, I tried this and loved it! The smokiness of the chipotle chilies combined with the sweetness of pomegranate juice is just a party in your mouth!

Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

 Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Adapted from Simply Scratch

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for searing
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from a can), roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ½  teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  •  juice of half a lemon
  •  salmon filets (6-8oz each, skin off) **See Liz’s Tidbits**

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about a minute, taking care not to let it burn. Add chopped chipotle peppers and adobo, tomato paste, dark brown sugar, dried mustard, molasses and pomegranate juice to the skillet stirring to combine all ingredients. Simmer, and let reduce for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice.

Heat an oven proof, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush tops of salmon filets with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. When skillet is hot, add about a tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, put in salmon seasoned-side down, searing until a light brown crust forms, 2-3 minutes. Turn filets over, and immediately place into the preheated oven. Roast 3-5 minutes or until cooked to your preference.  Remove from oven, and top with glaze.

Any unused glaze can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • This would also work as a glaze for a whole side of salmon either roasted or grilled.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Still Haven’t Made Valentine’s Reservations?

By now, if you haven’t made dinner reservations for Valentines, it’s a pretty safe bet that you won’t be dining out! Don’t sweat it, though, as I have a few last minute ideas for cooking at home! Let’s face it, restaurants are going to be packed, and even if you could get reservations, who wants to fight the crowds? Stay home, light some candles and enjoy a nice dinner with your sweetie!

How about

Steak with Brandy Mustard Sauce

Not in the mood for steak?  How about

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

or

Pan Sautéed Redfish with Corn Tomato Avocado Relish

For dessert, this might just satisfy your chocolate craving!

Easy Chocolate Kahlua Mousse

 

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Double Heart

If you like this post, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Pan Sautéed Redfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Relish

Redfish just might be my favorite fish.  My boys are all about salmon, and I like that as well, but there’s just something about a nice piece of redfish that I love.  Also known as Red Drum, it’s very similar to Black Drum and Grouper.  It’s a moist fish, mild in flavor and flaky.  If I’m grilling it, I’ll get it “on the half shell”, meaning the skin and scales are left on (great for protecting the fish from the grill).  For sautéing in the skillet like I did with this dish,  I’ll ask for skinned filets. Chuck, at Groomers, is a master when it comes to cutting and filleting fish!

I recently made up a batch of Emeril Lagasse’s “Essence” spice mix, so I decided to give it a try on my fish.  Not knowing just how spicy it would be, I thought a cool avocado, corn and tomato relish might work to tame the spices a bit. I seasoned the redfish liberally with the “essence”, sautéed it in a skillet, then presented it stacked with the relish. It worked! The fish had a nice spice to it, and the relish worked beautifully to cool things down. It was absolutely delicious and definitely a dish I will add to my repertoire!

Blackened Redfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Relish

 Redfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Relish

Pan Sautéed Redfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Relish

Serves 4

Fish:

  • 4 redfish filets (6-8 ounces each)
  • Emeril’s Essence (recipe follows) or your favorite seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Relish:

  • 1 ear fresh corn, cooked and cut from the cob
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, firm and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Emeril’s Essence

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in airtight container.

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients for relish in large bowl. Season with salt & pepper, and set aside.

Pat fish dry with paper towel, and brush olive oil on both sides.  Season with Emeril’s Essence or seasoning of your choice.   Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat until hot.  Place fish in skillet and cook 3-4 minutes or until nicely browned.  Turn fish over and cook another 3 minutes or until flakey (will depend on thickness of filet).  Fish will continue to cook once off the heat, so be careful not to overcook.

To plate, you can either top the filets with the relish, or present it like I did but cutting the fish into pieces and layering with the relish.  Bon Appétit!

Liz’s Tidbits:

Feel free to use any fish you’d like for this recipe.  The relish is delicious, and will pair nicely with any fish. Just remember the rule of thumb for cooking fish…10 minutes per inch of thickness.  Obviously a 1-inch thick piece of salmon will take longer to cook than a – ½-inch thick piece of talapia.

Try and find a ripe but firm avocado.  You want the dice to stand up to the rest of the ingredients and not become “mushy” when combined.

Fresh corn really makes a difference in the relish, but if you don’t have it, frozen corn will work just fine.

Sablefish with Orange-Fennel Relish

I always love making trips to my favorite seafood shop, Groomer Seafood here in San Antonio.  Everyone is SO friendly and eager to help you decipher your way around all the fish they carry.  I always seem to leave far more knowledgable about fish than when I walked in.  For this particular dish, I wanted something really nice but wasn’t necessarily in the mood for seabass.  Rick (Groomer) asked if I’d ever tried sablefish, also known as black cod.  It’s one of his favorites, and now I know why.  It was, without a doubt, the most silky & buttery fish I’ve ever eaten.  Few fish are as rich in omega-3 laden fats, which actually makes it very forgiving to the novice cook.  The fat acts as a buffer against overcooking…all the better!

Sablefish are found in the North Pacific, mostly caught in the Bering Sea.  They’re quite abundant, and while quite similar to Chilean seabass, the sablefish is not only easier on your wallet but is also the environmentally superior choice since seabass is threatened in some  fisheries. It’s also one of the top choices of high end restauranteurs and foodies and was made famous by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa in his signature dish “Black Cod in Miso”.  Next time you’re looking for a delicious, special fish, head down to Groomers, and give this one a try.

Sablefish with Orange-Fennel Relish

Sablefish with Orange-Fennel Relish

Sablefish with Orange-Fennel Relish

adapted from Best of Cooking Light 2013

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 (12oz) fennel bulb
  • 1 cup fresh orange sections
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup  Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 4 (6 oz) fillets of fish (I used sablefish aka black cod)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter

Preparation:

Combine first 4 ingredients, 1/8 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper in medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Remove fronds from fennel bulb; chop fronds to measure 2 tablespoons.  Remove and discard stalks.  Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise, discard core, and thinly slice remaining bulb.  Add sliced fennel, orange sections, onion, and olives to orange juice mixture tossing gently to coat.  Stir in fennel fronds.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining salt and pepper.  Add butter to pan and swirl until melted.  Add fish to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Serve with relish.

Liz’s Tidbits:

The original recipe called for sustainable white sea bass (not to be confused with Chilean sea bass).  While I used sablefish, any mild white fish would work equally as well.  It also called for halved Castelvetrano olives.  The only ones I could find were whole olives with seeds, so that’s what I used.
To produce the orange segments called for, you’ll need to “supreme” or segment 2-3 oranges.  See this post for instructions.

Spicy Fish with Olives and Tomatoes-Perfect for Weeknights or Weekend Entertaining

By the time I had a chance to look up from my desk yesterday, it was 7:00pm!  YIKES…where does the time go?  I had some redfish filets out for dinner, but honestly, I hadn’t given much thought as to how I’d prepare them.  After a quick look into the fridge, a container of Kalamata olives were begging to be used as well as some really pretty cherry tomatoes on the counter.  Perfect!  I sent TBP (Teenage Bottomless Pit) out to snip some flat leaf parsley from the garden, and I put MM (Marlboro Man) onto the task of picking out a nice wine (he’s SO good at that!)  I sautéed the fish, made a quick sauce of garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, tomatoes, olives and a splash of white wine, and voila!…dinner was served.  This was so easy, absolutely packed with flavor and would be great for entertaining as well as a quick weeknight meal!  Use whatever fish you like…tilapia, snapper, cod, halibut, etc.  It’s a great way to incorporate more fish into your diet!

Spicy Fish with Olives and Tomatoes

Treana Wine

Spicy Fish with Olives and Tomatoes

Adapted from Bon Appetite

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 fish filets
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preparation

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly season fish with salt and pepper (or your favorite seasoning).  Sauté fish in batches until just opaque in center (this will depend on thickness of fish…tilapia will take 2-3 minutes per side).  Transfer to a platter, tent with foil to keep warm, and repeat with remaining fish.

Lower heat and add garlic, parsley and red pepper; sauté about 1 minute and add the wine, tomatoes and olives.  Sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2-3 minutes.  Spoon over fish and serve.

Liz’s Tidbits:

Good quality canned tomatoes can be substituted for fresh if preferred.

Chili Crusted Tuna with Citrus Avocado Sauce

Our friends, Stacey and Danny, brought back some fantastic fresh tuna from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Fortunately, we were some of the lucky ones who got to share in the bounty! Since Danny is such a fantastic cook, he came home and re-created this dish they had tasted down in Cabo. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and hot from the citrus and chili and cool and creamy from the jicama and avocado. It’s also, without a doubt, one of the best tuna dishes I’ve ever had!  Thanks Danny & Stacey!  Isn’t it time to head back down to Cabo and get us some more tuna?  🙂

Chili Crusted Tuna with Citrus Avocado Sauce

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