Friday, December 4, 2009

Cioppino---Fisherman's Stew

Today started out so gray and rainy, I decided it would be the perfect day to finally make some stock from all the fiddly little bags of shrimp shells I had saved over the past six months and stuck in the freezer. Besides, the natives were getting restless. Complaining that there were so many of those little bags in there that there was no room for important items, like ice cream!

So I dug through and found them all and chucked them in a pot and poured some water over them [about six cups] and set the heat on medium. Meanwhile, I chopped some onions, carrots and celery and added them to the pot, along with a few bay leaves, some peppercorns, some chopped garlic and some leftover tomato paste [about two tablespoons]I had in the fridge. Then I sliced half a lemon into the mixture, stirred it all together and simmered it for about an hour. Half an hour would work, but I had all day!

I turned off the heat, let the mixture cool for a while, then strained it through a sieve and discarded all but the liquid. While it was cooling, I googled "seafood soup" and found this great recipe for Fisherman's Stew, or, if you want to sound very fancy, Cioppino! It was on a site called New Italian Recipes, by a couple of characters calling themselves Aunt Aletha and Dear Old Dave.

Cioppino Ingredients:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 canned or bottled oil cured anchovies, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup diced celery
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 cup good rose or red wine
3 T red wine vinegar
1 quart homemade fish or shrimp soup stock
2 cups or more, (depending on how thick and how tomato-y you like it) homemade tomato sauce or a 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped or 2-3 T dried (add to seasoning mix if dried)
Dash or two of Tabasco Sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley
2-3 T fresh lemon juice

Seasoning Mix:

1 T salt
1 T black or mixed whole pepper
2 T dried oregano
1 T fennel seeds [since I hate fennel, I left this out!]
1 T fresh or dried rosemary leave


Just about everything works in Cioppino and Italian fish Stew or Soup recipes, but here are our recommendations:
1/2 lb. medium shrimp (save shells for making seafood stock)
1/2 lb. scallops
24 fresh mussels
1 lb. firm white fish, chopped in 1 inch pieces (cod, catfish, halibut, orange roughy, etc.)
16 fresh clams (optional)
(Fresh or canned oysters can be added if you like them)

Fresh bread of your choice, garlic baked if desired, and lots of it. (The juice is incredible)

Prepare the Cioppino:
Heat olive oil to medium and add anchovies. Add garlic after about 3 minutes.

Add bay leaves, onions, celery and bell pepper plus 1/2 of the seasoning mix. Sauté for 6-8 minutes.

Add wine, vinegar, Tabasco and Worcestershire and reduce by 1/2. Pour in the quart of shrimp stock, then add tomato sauce, basil and rest of the seasoning mix. Simmer about 5 minutes then add the lemon juice.

Add the fish and shellfish, cover and cook about 7 more minutes. Remove any of the mussels and clams that don't open.

Sprinkle the completed Italian fish stew with parsley. Serve with fresh, Italian bread.

This recipe serves four easily.

The Cioppino turned out delicious! I felt so virtuous using oregano, basil, rosemary and even a lemon from our own garden!

I'm not a big fan of anchovies, but they practically melted into the warm olive oil and just blended with the garlic for great flavour. If I hadn't made it myself I wouldn't have guessed there were anchovies in it.....

I used shrimp, scallops, mussels, and catfish, and since it was my first time making it, I stayed pretty much with the letter of the recipe. Didn't go off on any "creative" tangents!

We polished off an entire loaf of fresh Italian bread with the Cioppino. It was a huge hit with the OC, who is not given to superlatives, but I could tell he loved this one. Even when all the seafood is gone the juice is delicious mopped up with the bread.

The fact that I put it on here the same day I first made it is a testament to how good it was! I'll be making this again. It is a little pricey, but if you consider how much you'd pay for a meal like this at a restaurant, it's worth the splurge once in a while.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Apple Brined Turkey

Apple Brined Turkey

We found this recipe for turkey on the Weber barbeque site several years ago. It was the tastiest turkey we'd ever had, and has become a Thanksgiving stapleh at our house.

For the brine:

2 quarts apple juice

1 lb brown sugar

1 c. kosher salt

2 quarts water

3 oranges, quartered

4 oz. fresh ginger, thinly sliced (mandolin)

15 whole cloves

6 bay leaves

6 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 turkey, 12-14 lbs

Vegetable oil for brushing turkey

In a large saucepan, over high heat, bring the apple juice, brown sugar and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Cook for one minute, remove from the heat and skim off the foam. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a 5-gallon plastic bucket (Home Depot bucket works great) or other container large enough to easily hold the turkey, combine the water, oranges, ginger, cloves bay leaves and garlic (use a plastic trash bag inside the bucket to minimize the mess and cleanup). Add the apple juice mixture and stir.

Note: If you are in a warm climate you can use an insulated cooler instead of a bucket.

Remove and discard the fat from the turkey cavity. Reserve the neck and the giblets for another use, or discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out, drain, and submerge the turkey in the brine. If necessary, top with a heavy weight to make sure the turkey is completely immersed. Refrigerate for 24-hours (i.e. leave in your garage overnight).

Remove the turkey from the brine and pat with paper towels until dry. Tie the legs together with cotton string. Lightly brush the turkey with vegetable oil, and place on a roasting rack set inside a heavy gauge foil pan. To collect drippings for making gravy, pour a little water into the foil pan and replenish as needed to keep drippings from burning. Remove pan from under turkey about 30-minutes before bird should be done and make gravy. Continue cooking turkey until done.( we stuff the turkey with 2-3 quartered apples which are discarded when we carve the bird - they keep the inside moist) Grill indirectly over medium heat. When the wings are golden brown, after about 40-minutes, wrap them with aluminum foil to keep them from burning. Brush the rest of the turkey with vegetable oil. When the turkey breast is golden brown (after about 1-hour) cover the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent the skin from getting too brown. The turkey is done when the juices run clear, the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 180 degrees F, and the internal temperature of the breast is 170 degrees F. Figure about 11 to 13-minutes per pound.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board or platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 20-minutes before carving. Makes 12 to 15 servings.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Perfect Piecrust

I use this recipe and one other [Vinegar Piecrust] whenever I need pastry, whether it's for Apple Pie, Chicken Pot Pie or Meat pies. It never lets me down. The trick is to mix it just until it holds together. Over-mixing makes any pastry tough. I usually have to use a little bit more ice water than called for, but I add it sparingly.....

Flaky Pastry for a Two Crust Pie

Mix 2 cups of flour with 1 tsp salt.

Cut in 3/4 cup shortening [I use Crisco]until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle 5-6 Tblsps cold water, a Tblsp at a time, into the mixture, stirring lightly with a fork until pastry is just moist enough to hold together. Shape into a slightly flattened ball and chill until needed.

For a One Crust Pie use 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsps shortening, 2-3 Tblsps ice water and proceed as above.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This is one of my all time favourite dessert recipes. Got it from a neighbour when we lived in Montana, waaaay back in the mid 1970s. So. Thirty plus years. And I've easily made it a minimum of six times each of those years......Giving us a total somewhere in the 200 cake range? It's simple to make and it's always a hit!

Read the recipe all the way through before you start.


1 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese
2/3 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Cream the cheese with the sugar.
Add sour cream and vanilla.
Blend in the eggs.
Mix well and set aside.


Sift together:

1 cup of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl cream:

1/2 cup of butter with 2/3 cups of sugar.
Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Add 1 Tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and blend well.

Turn into a greased 10" pie plate [I use Pyrex.]Spread batter evenly over the bottom and up the sides.

Pour the cheese mixture over the batter.
Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 mins. until no longer jiggly in the center.
Cool on a wire rack. Top with strawberry glaze and chill until ready to serve.
Sometimes I skip the strawberry glaze. It's yummy all by itself! But for company it looks prettier with fruit on top....

Strawberry Glaze

You can keep this as simple as slicing strawberries and arranging them on top, if it's going to be served right away, and if your strawberries are nice and sweet. Or you can make a glaze from

2 cups of crushed or chopped berries
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Stir sugar and cornstarch together. Add water and berries. Cook and stir over medium heat until liquid thickens and becomes clear. Let cool slightly before pouring over the pie. Cool completely. After serving [if there's any left!] cover and refrigerate. As you can see from the picture, I wasn't quite fast enough with the camera....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tea Scones

My recipe for these scones is on an ancient piece of lined copybook paper. It is worn thin with age, all brown-spotted and tattered, and I'm afraid, if I don't get it on the blog here soon, it may just get thin enough to disappear altogether! Don't count on these scones to make you, or any part of you, disappear though! With fully one and a half sticks of butter there's very little chance they'd help anyone lose weight! But it's okay to indulge once in a while!

3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter [1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz.]
3/4 cup dark or yellow raisins, or currants, washed and dried
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light cream

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk to blend well.
Cut butter into flour mix with knives until it looks like coarse meal. I switch to a pastry cutter to finish the job.
Add raisins or currants.
Gradually add buttermilk, mixing only enough to wet the dry ingredients. If needed add a little more buttermilk until the ingredients hold together.
Turn out onto a well floured surface and pat gently [or use a rolling pin]to 1/2" thickness.
With a sharp floured knife cut into 2" -2 1/2" strips, then crosswise into squares.
Place on a buttered cookie sheet, leaving a little breathing room between!
Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, until golden .
Serve warm with more butter, jam, marmalade, cheese, or all by themselves! With a big cup of tea, of course.

Whenever my mother made scones she wouldn't let us eat them 'til they cooled off. "They'll sit like stones in your stomachs," was her rationale. What a waste! They're best eaten warm from the oven, though there's nothing wrong with toasting them next morning for breakfast-if they last that long.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sometimes the best medicine for soothing the soul and calming ruffled feathers is chocolate! I made a batch of this last night [I had actually meant to make it for Christmas..... So goes my life!] Then, this morning I spent a few hours at HQ with the Ancient Ones. Listening to my father-in-law refusing to listen to anyone because no-one could have as tight a grip on the facts as he does. Oy! So, when I came home, I was delighted to find the brickle in the fridge, and ate way more of it than was prudent. But,it made me feel much better!

40 Saltine crackers
1 cup [two sticks] butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 12oz pkg chocolate chips
chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Cover cookie sheet with foil.
Place whole saltine crackers in single layer on foil.
On stove, melt butter and brown sugar. Bring to a full boil and cook 3 minutes.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.Leave until melted. Spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers and sprinkle with nuts.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.Break into pieces.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eat Your Broccoli---Again!

This recipe is a tiny bit more complicated than the first broccoli salad, but still very easy and delicious. They are both best eaten the same day they're made, as if kept too long they turn soggy. That's not a problem around here, ever! You might wish there'd be a little left for lunch the next day......

Broccoli Delight Salad

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits and softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-5 cups broccoli florets
1 cup raisins
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar,mustard and cornstarch.

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk in the egg mixture and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and mayonnaise. Cover and chill the dressing.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, raisins, mushrooms, onion, and bacon [if using.]

Pour the dressing in and toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and the pepper before serving. Makes about eight servings.

Eat Your Broccoli!

One of my favourite ways to eat broccoli is in broccoli salad. If you're on the fence about this vegetable, don't decide you don't like it until you've tried it this way....

Broccoli Delight Salad---Fast, easy and delicious.

1 large bunch broccoli [about 5 cups cut up.]
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
10-12 strips bacon,fried, drained and crumbled [I leave this out more often than I include it.]

3/4cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp vinegar
5 (scant) Tbsps sugar

Combine dressing ingredients. Whisk until creamy.

Put washed, well drained broccoli in a large bowl. I like to blanch the broccoli briefly [approx.3 mins.] so it's not quite so crunchy, but you don't have to. The important word is "briefly!" Nothing is less appetizing than over cooked, mushy broccoli....After the 2-3 minutes, remove the broccoli and plunge it into cold water [to stop the cooking.] Rinse, shake out excess water and proceed.

Add raisins, sunflower seeds and red onion.Puor dressing over this mixture and toss gently.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours.

Even the OC, who is by no means crazy about broccoli, will eat this without complaint!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Corn Chowder

The first time I had this soup was when I visited my oldest son after the birth of his [now] four year old son. Their neighbours brought a big pot of it over one evening and I thought, if there is a food that defines heaven, this is it!

Best Corn Chowder Ever!

8 ears [or more] fresh corn
8 cups of vegetable stock [can also use chicken stock if you prefer]
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 leeks or scallions or ramps [I must admit I have no idea what a "ramp" is, other than a way to exit the highway!]
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1" cubes
1 or two zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1 bunch of fresh chives sliced into 3/4" strips

Slice the kernels from the corn into a large bowl and set aside.

Simmer the cobs, vegetable stock and garlic in a large pot, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove cobs and discard. Set the stock aside for now.

Melt butter in another large pot. Add onion, celery, leeks and red peppers and sweat for four minutes, until tender. Add thyme, bay leaves, salt and cayenne and stir to coat the vegetables.

Next add the corn kernels and potatoes and reserved stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add zucchini and simmer 5 minutes more. Stir in heavy cream. [I've also seen recipes that add up to 2 cups of milk at this point instead of, or in addition to, cream.]

Remove bay leaves.

Puree about a quarter of the chowder in a blender or food processor [ use an immersion blender if you have one.] Return the puree to the pot and mix well. Remove from heat and stir in garlic. Ladle chowder into bowls and sprinkle with chives.


The menfolk around here like to add Tabasco and more cayenne to spice it up, but I like to actually taste the vegetables! If I have day old French bread around I break it into the soup. Old habits die hard! Whenever my mother made soup we always broke chunks of bread into it.....