Cioppino – San Francisco Fish Stew

Our Austintatious Life

Here is our stew, ready to eat.

I’ll admit, I’d never had this fish stew. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been to San Francisco before and we live far enough from the ocean that good fresh seafood is hard to come by. However, I do love fish and I was looking forward to this dish.

Cioppino is a stew that originated in San Francisco by Italian immigrants. The story is that the immigrant fishermen would use the catch of the day to make a stew while on the boats. As Italian restaurants started becoming popular, the stew became popular with everyone else. There are a ton of recipes online for this stew and, apparently, one of it’s best attributes is that is very versatile. We used the recipe provided by Luke but made a couple modifications based on what’s in our pantry and creativity. For example, some of the online recipes…

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Fusion Hot Pepper Sauce

Here’s an interesting hot sauce from one of the bloggers I follow in Italy. I can’t wait to try this one out.

Being Britalian

Each year I grow hot Italian chillies and as I harvest them I sun-dry them in batches for use throughout the year. Once dried they store in an airtight jar for a year or so. Just make sure when you pick some out that your fingers are dry, a tiny drop of water in the jar will spoil them. As my chillies in the orto are almost ready to harvest I decide to use up some of last years to make way for the new crop.

I’ve also been growing some Jamaican Scotch Bonnets, the plant is in its second year and after a not so good season last year, I took advice and potted it up to restrict the roots and it’s bearing lots of bright orange fruits this year. So using these two varieties I thought I’d create a Caribbean-Italian fusion hot pepper sauce.

The ingredients I used…

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Shrimp Stock

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When we were getting the shrimp ready for our ravioli, I saw a recipe mention that you should use the shells and tails for a stock or broth. I’d never heard of this so I thought it would be easy, since we had a big ole pile of shells and tails.

If you have the shrimp heads, rinse them before using. Then put the shells, tails and heads into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add some pepper corns, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf then simmer for about 45 minutes.

When it’s done, pour the water through a strainer and then you use the stock right away or freeze it for later use.

I can’t wait to use it then next time we make gumbo.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Movember, 2012

Moustachery

As some of y’all know, Movember is a fundraising and awareness raising campaign that goes on around the world. This fundraising organization is focused on men’s health issues, especially prostate and testicular cancers.  Money is raised by supporting your Mo brothers as they grow a mustache through the month of November. The other purpose is raising awareness, which comes from the discussions that inevitably come from growing out a mustache.

This is my second time to grow out a mustache for Movember and I will tell you that friends and family do ask about it and gives you an opportunity to tell people why you’re growing it. Awareness is key to men’s health issues because we all know that men (yes, me too) avoid acknowledging health issues. By giving information about health issues men face, hopefully, some will make lifestyle changes or at least visit their doctor and discuss their risk factors.

If you’d like to make a contribution, please feel free to make one on my Mo Space. At the very least, please go to the site and take a look at their resources for health issues. At the bottom is a link for men’s health that has tons of information for you.

Homemade chicken stock

This is a more complex chicken stock that came with the recipe I found for the chicken potpies in a pumpkin. It does turn out great, but I usually don’t have the time so I use what ever is available. Sometime, I use some stock that we have have in the freezer and other times I just use a good quality canned stock.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 sprigs fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 leeks, washed, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 1/3
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed, cut into 1/3
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/3
  • 1 (4-pound) chicken, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken backs
  • 2 (48-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth, about 12 cups
  • 6 cups cold water

Instructions

Place peppercorns, dill, parsley, bay leaves, leeks, carrots, celery, chicken, wings, and backs into a large stockpot. Add stock and 6 cups cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a very gentle simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Liquid should just bubble up to the surface. A skin will form on the surface of the liquid; skim this off with a slotted spoon, and discard. Repeat as needed. After 45 minutes, remove chicken from the pot, and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, set the meat aside, and return the bones to the pot. Shred the chicken, and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. Continue to simmer the stock, on the lowest heat possible, for 3 hours, skimming as needed. The chicken bones will begin to disintegrate. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a very large bowl. Discard the solids. Place the bowl in an ice bath, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to airtight containers. Stock may be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 4 months. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. If storing, leave fat layer intact to the seal the stock. Before using, remove the layer of fat that has collected on the surface. Yield: 5 quarts

Black Bean Chili

I’ve been cooking this for years and we love it. I found it in a cookbook that I got for Curt back in 1997. The book is “Cooking with Too Hot Tamales” and I gave it to him for our first Christmas.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1 cup beer (or 1/2 can)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 hot peppers diced – jalapeno or serrano peppers are best (if desired)
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Chili Powder mix, recipe follows
  • 1 (12 oz) can diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • juice of 1 lemon

There is also a chili powder mix. Just mix these ingredients together and you can adjust this as you prefer:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

There are a lot of things that go into this so take a list with you to the grocery store. I will also admit that you can add or delete ingredients as you see fit. I usually modify this on New Years Day to create a black-eyed pea soup. Also, it’s really helpful if you get all your ingredients ready before you start, otherwise you’ll be rushing to get them all cut and diced before you have to add them to mix.

Here are the general instructions:

First get your beans ready. You can use canned beans but why would you want to do that when beans are so easy to prepare. Follow the instructions on your beans to soak them and get them ready. Once you’ve soaked them, drain the beans and rinse under cold running water. In a large soup pot, combine the beans with the water and bring to a boil, skim off and discard the white scum that rises to the top.

Add the beer and return to a boil. You can use any kind of beer but Shiner is what I prefer. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Keep an eye on the beans and add water if you need to in order to keep the beans covered with water.

When you’re done, drain the beans in a colander and save the cooking liquid for use later.

While the beans are cooking your going to get the vegetables ready. The first part is essentially a sofrito base. To start, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat and then add the red onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook for a couple minutes to get them starting to soften. Once they start to soften, add the garlic, green pepper, celery, carrot and jalapeno peppers and cook about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until these start to soften. Don’t over cook these vegetables because they are going to continue to cook while the mixture simmers. The original recipe has you cook them longer at this stage but the time you’re done, they are all mush, so I prefer to reduce the cooking time and keep the vegetable firmer.

Add the zucchini and red and yellow bell peppers and cook about 8 to 10 minutes longer, until all vegetables are nicely softened.

Now you are going to stir in 4 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, the vinegar, half of the parsley and the spice mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained black beans, tomatoes, corn and lemon juice and cook 15 more minutes. To make it more soupy, add the beans a little earlier so they are softer and start to break down.

Stir in the remaining parsley and serve. You can garnish this with sour cream, scallions and some Monterrey Jack cheese.