Dutch Oven · New England · recipe

Cioppino: San Francisco’s Fish Stew

 

Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew
Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew

Even though I haven’t visited The City by the Bay in years, I have never lost affection for all that San Francisco has to offer.  I don’t just want to visit again…I yearn to be there…and, yes, it’s that wonderful a place!

But here I am all the way over on the East Coast and every once in a while I just need something that is quintessentially San Franciscan.  What’s a girl to do?

I solved my dilemma–once again–by getting out my Dutch Oven and setting to work on an absolutely soul satisfying fish stew–that is known as Cioppino.

For the record, you pronounce Cioppino “Chip (soft p) Pee No” and it is a well known San Francisco treat.  The great thing about Cioppino is it influenced by whatever the fresh catch is.  For example, in San Francisco, which is on the Pacific, you’d probably always expect a nice amount of Dungeness in your bowl of Cioppino.  But–over here on the East Coast where crab is not as prevalent–we could use shrimp or even Maine lobster tails! That’s the true beauty of Cioppino!  It’s left up to you–dear cook–to find the best ingredients for your stew, so do keep that in mind when you are purchasing your fish for this dish.

There is one other important point I’d like to make about Cioppino or any other soup or stew, for that matter.  Most good soup makers know that almost all homemade soups, chowders, and stews benefit from a little aging.  With a day or two of resting, you allow all of the flavors to meld together, which gives the completed soup amazing depth.  With that in mind, I have broken the recipe up into two sections.  If you have the time, make the broth a day or two ahead.  When you are ready to make the full stew, reheat the broth and add the solid ingredients.

Don’t have time to wait? That’s okay, too.  Even if prepared all on the same day, this recipe is still a winner!

Let’s get to it, shall we?


Ingredients for the Broth:

  • olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice (located near the tuna fish and other canned fish)
  • 28 ounce can small diced or crushed tomatoes (I prefer the diced)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to your preference


How to prepare the broth:

  1. Begin by heating your Dutch Oven over medium high heat for a minute.  Add the olive oil and warm a minute more.
  2. Add the onion and cook until softened.  Once onion is softened, add the garlic, oregano, basil and pepper flakes and allow to simmer over low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a boil, cooking until the wine is reduced by half.
  4. Add the tomatoes.  Stir well and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat.
  5. When thickened, add the clam juice, bay leaves and the water.  Season to taste.
  6. Bring broth to a boil then return to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaves.

For best results, make your broth a day or two ahead of preparing the entire dish and allow it to chill.  You can, of course, use the broth immediately if you must.


 

Completed Cioppino ready for the bowl
Completed Cioppino ready for the bowl

Ingredients for Completed Stew:

  • Broth, prepared ahead of time and allowed to age for up to two days
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds of shellfish such as mussels, clams or cherrystones, de-bearded, rinsed and drained (I used fresh PEI mussels and some good looking cherrystones)
  • 1 pound of large shrimp, peeled (except for the tail) and deveined OR 1 pound fresh crab–or some combination of both to equal about a pound
  • 1 pound firm white ocean fish, cut into generous pieces (I used cod)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh sourdough bread


Completing the stew:

  1. Have your broth ready.  If you have let it rest, heat it to a low simmer…gently.
  2. In a large (7 quart) Dutch Oven or pot, heat your olive oil and then add the shallot.  Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until shallot is softened.  Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute or so–until fragrant–but do not let the garlic burn.  Hint: Use your big pot…you will need it at the end, trust me!
  3. To the pan add your mussels, clams or cherrystones and the wine.  Cover and cook until the shells open, which will take 4-5 minutes.
  4. Check your shellfish to make sure they have all opened.  Discard any that do not.
  5. Add the prepared broth to the shellfish and bring to a simmer.
  6. When at a simmer, add the fish chunks and shrimp.  Cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the butter cubes and check your seasonings, adjusting as necessary.
  8. Serve “family style” with fresh or toasted sourdough bread, which is used for dipping


Special note:

Although this dish can be a little expensive to make and requires some patience, it is totally worth it!

In fact…if I were a mermaid, I’d insist on it every night!

Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew
Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew

 

Dutch Oven · recipe

Quick & Easy General Tso’s Chicken: Another Dutch Oven Recipe

Who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Here’s a seriously quick and easy General Tso’s Chicken recipe that is way healthier than the take out kind, because the chicken is sautéed instead of fried before adding the sweet and spicy sauce.

My version is prepared in my trusty Dutch Oven (naturally!), but you can use a regular pan or even an Instant Pot for this one!

General Tso's Chicken in the Dutch Oven
A healthier version of General Tso’s Chicken prepared in my Dutch Oven

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 peeled and minced chunk of fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb
  • 6 tablespoons rice/rice wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce (use low sodium if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 3/4 cup prepared hoisin sauce (I used Oy! Vey! Hoisin Sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • a bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  • Oven medium heat and in your Dutch Oven, heat the sesame oil for a minute or so.
  • Add cubed chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes until the chicken turns white; chicken does not have to be cooked through
  • In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, pepper flakes hoisin sauce and brown sugar
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix together
  • Cover the Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked completely
  • Stir in the cornstarch and cook for about two minutes or until your sauce is thick and bubbly
  • Stir in green onion
  • Serve with boiled white or brown rice

 

Quick & Easy General Tso's Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Chinese takeout inspired recipe that's quick, easy and healthier, too.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 peeled and minced chunk of fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb
  • 6 tablespoons rice/rice wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce (use low sodium if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 3/4 cup prepared hoisin sauce (I used Oy! Vey! Hoisin Sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • a bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  • Oven medium heat and in your Dutch Oven, heat the sesame oil for a minute or so.
  • Add cubed chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes until the chicken turns white; chicken does not have to be cooked through
  • In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, pepper flakes hoisin sauce and brown sugar
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix together
  • Cover the Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked completely
  • Stir in the cornstarch and cook for about two minutes or until your sauce is thick and bubbly
  • Stir in green onion
  • Serve with boiled white or brown rice

Let me know if you try this recipe and how you made out.

I’m trying really hard to increase my readership, so please feel free to share with anyone that likes to eat!

Dutch Oven · recipe

Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven

Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven
Beef Stroganoff in the Dutch Oven

It was Sunday night–the day before my usual shopping day–and I found myself with some defrosted stew beef and not much else.  So I grabbed a few ingredients and whipped up a Sunday Supper of Beef Stroganoff in my Dutch Oven.  It was simple and satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • About 2 pounds of cubed stew beef
  • Some flour
  • Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • Some fresh white mushrooms (canned if you don’t have fresh)
  • Red wine, about 2 cups
  • Beef broth, about 32 oz.
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

 

Instructions:

  1. Pat your stew beef dry with a paper towel.  Make sure you dry all sides of the beef.  Salt and pepper the beef.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a Dutch Oven.  Add your beef–in small batches so as to not crowd the pan–and sear the cubed beef on all sides.  You are just searing the beef right now; you will cook it fully later.  Searing locks in the flavor of the meat.
  3. Remove the beef and add the sliced mushrooms.  Stir to cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the beef back in to the Dutch Oven.  Add the red wine and beef broth.
  5. Cover and allow to cook over medium heat for about two hours.  You want your stew to reduce by half.
  6. Remove about half a cup of juices from the pot and mix thoroughly with a tablespoon or two of flour.  When thoroughly mixed, pour into your pot and cook for about ten minutes.  This will thicken your sauce.
  7. Remove another half cup of juices from the pot and mix with sour cream.  When thoroughly mixed, pour the sour cream mixture back into your pot and stir to combine.
  8. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
  9. Plate up your stroganoff with some buttered noodles.  Be sure to add some of the delicious gravy to the plate.

A simple but delicious Sunday night meal!

 

 

Dutch Oven · recipe

Beer Battered Fried Pickles in the Dutch Oven…of course!

Beer Battered Fried Pickles
Beer Battered Fried Pickles, golden brown and fluffy

 

My son, MO, loves pickles and would do just about anything for them, too! Family members know this and often arrive at the door with jars of Mount Olive brand–his favorite–as a most welcomed gift.

Although MO loves to eat pickles straight out of the jar, he also loves fried pickles. I don’t make them very often, because–you know–fried food. But I must admit, these beer-battered pickles are pretty hard to say “no” to! Even my health conscience niece was sneaking one or two.

The puffy batter really knocks these fried pickles out of the ballpark.

And, of course, I used my baby Dutch Oven to fry the pickles up, because it is able to maintain the proper oil temperature for frying. Plus, because it is deeper than a skillet, there is much less splatter and mess.

Seriously…they are worth a try!

 

Here’s what you need:

  • 32 ounce jar of sliced dill pickles, drained
  • 1 can of beer (12 oz.), any kind
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • Enough vegetable oil for frying

 

Coat the pickle slices in the batter
Coat the pickle slices in the batter

 

Instructions:

  1. In a small Dutch Oven, heat the oil on high heat until at 375 degrees. To get to frying temperature, you can put the lid on, but keep an eye on it. Frying can be dangerous, so please exercise caution.
  2. Drain the pickles fully and pat them dry with paper towels.
  3. Mix together flour, egg, beer, baking powder and seasoning salt.
  4. Drop the pickle slices in the batter and make sure each side is coated with the batter.
  5. When the oil has reached frying temperature, drop the battered slices individually in the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. As the slices cook, flip them over. Each slice will puff, so give room for that.  Fry until golden brown.
  6. Drain and cool on a paper towel lined plate.
  7. Serve plain or with your favorite fry sauce.

 

Frying battered pickles in Dutch Oven
Fry pickles until golden brown and puffy.
Beer battered fried pickles
Fluffy and golden brown beer battered fried pickles
Dutch Oven · recipe

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Gratinee

French Onion Soup Gratinee
Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Gratinee

J’adore Julia Child!

I’ve been a fan of Julia Child for a VERY long time.  I developed a passion for cooking after watching her public tv show, The French Chef, as a teenager.  This was back in the days when watching cooking shows was something only really bored people did on a Saturday morning (read: me).  Yea, I wasn’t a super popular teen, but I managed to make it pay off.

Julia’s show, The French Chef, was the first of its kind.  It came before the Food Network.  It was before celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray and even Martha Stewart.  And it was definitely before the pompous chefs criticizing or even screaming at home cooks as they tried to make complex dishes.

Julia Child was never critical.  She was absolutely never pompous either.  Julia Child wanted us all to have “Courage!” and try to cook, even if we failed.

Through the magic of the internet, I was able to re-watch some of her first episodes of The French Chef and even some of her television appearances.  She made me laugh out loud.  She encouraged me.  And she showed me how to fail…and how to recover from a failure.  And that is what made her different than ALL the rest.

Today’s “celebrity” chefs have much to learn from Julia Child.  Not just technique, but also about humility and humor, encouraging and truly teaching people how to do things for themselves.

And, well, that’s all I have to say about that…now on to the second recipe Julia ever presented on The French Chef: French Onion Soup Gratinee!

Reducing the onions
Cook onions on the stove top initially

Ingredients:

  • 4 large or 6 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 32 ounces (1 quart) fresh or canned chicken broth, homemade is best
  • 32 ounces (1 quart) fresh or canned beef broth, homemade is best
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Fresh thyme with stems removed, about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • French bread, sliced thickly
  • Olive oil for brushing on the bread
  • Shredded Gruyere cheese
reduced onions
Reduced onions heading to the oven for browning
broiling the cheese
The finishing touch to a delicious soup!

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in Dutch Oven on stove top; allow the foam to subside before adding sliced onions to it.  Add the onions and stir to incorporate the butter.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft and have reduced in size by about half.
  2. Move the Dutch Oven to a 400 degree preheated oven.  Keep the cover on, but rest it so that it is slightly ajar.  Roast the onions for a total of one hour, checking and stirring them once or twice.  The onions will develop a nice brown color, which is fine.
  3. Remove the Dutch Oven from the stove to the stove top and add the wine.  Proceed to stir and scrape so that you are deglazing the pot.  Cook for about five minutes or until the wine reduces by about half.
  4. When the wine is reduced, add the chicken and beef stock, the garlic, the fresh thyme and the splashes of Worcestershire.  Simmer and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.
  5. While the soup is finishing up, brush the French bread slices with good olive oil and toast either in your toaster oven or regular oven, five minutes per side.  The croutons should be really well toasted, but not burned.
  6. When the soup is finished, ladle the soup into soup crocks or bowls (not rimmed soup bowls, but stouter crocks that can withstand heat).  Float one or two toasted croutons on top.  Gently sprinkle the floating croutons with a generous portion of shredded Gruyere OR Swiss (Julia used Swiss, but I prefer Gruyere).
  7. Using a baking sheet, transfer the very hot bowls to under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Watch for over-browning or burning.
Melting cheese on French Onion Soup
Keep watch over your cheese so it does not burn