Category Archives: Home Cook

Home Cook: Amazing Seafood Stew

my seafood stew

It has a bunch of names: cioppino, fisherman’s stew, zuppa di pesce, bouillabaisse, but they’re all variations on a tomato-based seafood stew.

This is one of those dishes that looks really impressive, takes almost no effort, and is actually good for you. For the stew above, I riffed off a recipe from Molto Mario (Batali’s cookbook), and I keep it simple (some recipes call for lots of different fish and veggies and herbs).  I use good canned tomatoes, white wine (which I cook down a bit before adding fish) or white wine sauce, cod fillets, shrimp and clams.  This time, I had some olives and fennel, so I threw that in.  It takes 30 minutes from the moment you step into the kitchen, and it’s incredibly flavorful but light.  Before serving, grill up some good bread that’s been brushed with olive oil and garlic, to mop up the sauce.  Here’s a good base recipe from Cooking Light, which has everything but white wine in it.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  prechopped onion
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  pound  mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 8  ounces  sea scallops
  • 8  ounces  peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/2  cup  clam juice
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper to pan; sauté for 2 minutes. Add mussels, scallops, and shrimp to pan; sauté for 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup clam juice, parsley, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until mussels open, and discard any unopened shells.

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Summer Snack Time

There are fewer things better than a summer ripe tomato. In my stepfather’s garden the tomatoes vines have grown into a thick tangle, producing a shocking amount of the sweet, juicy fruit. Every time I get hungry, or perhaps when I imagine hunger, I go into the garden for a tomato and some basil. I toast a baguette, drizzle some olive oil over it, scavenge for cheese, and snack. Good sea salt provides a beautiful balance to the tomato’s sugars.

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On the Grill: Fresh Pizza!

On our weekends upstate, we’ve been using the grill for nearly everything.  We know the blissful window of opportunity for cooking and eating outdoors is short, so we’re making the most of it.  Yann has become quite good at grilling pizzas.  If you’ve never eaten a grilled pizza, you should immediately make a reservation at Al Forno in Providence, RI and order the original with chili oil.  Then you will see that there is a delicate love connection between dough and your grill.  We made a pizza topped with grilled asparagus, gruyere and truffle oil, and tossed a runny egg on top, a la Ino and Inoteca.  We’ve used crushed tomatoes and mozzarella to make a simple margarita, and we’ve used sweet balsamic onions with dollops of ricotta.  Pizza blanca is a triumph: charred, crusty dough topped with fresh rosemary, sea salt and olive oil.

The hardest thing about grilled pizza is getting the dough to the right thickness, and grilling it without too much char.  You may have a few bombs.  Don’t worry.  The first good one makes up for it.

It’s REALLY good.  Try this recipe from epicurious.

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Cold+Wonderful

photo by Nigel Cox for epicurious.com

A few days ago, on an 82 degree and sunny day as I jumped out of a pool and into a hammock, I declared I love summer.

Commensurate with my return to the 90+ degree city, I take it back.  Sweat gathers in places it shouldn’t.  Sticky palms are fantastic at collecting city grime.  The subway smells.  And there is the mother of all insults, which most women can appreciate, when the inner thighs somehow expand and rub against each other.  Gross.  I avoid the outdoors, I live in the dark, I dream of the coldest, most refreshing thing I could do.  And where there is not a pool to dive into, there is a GRANITA you can make.

Granita is a much prettier-sounding slushy. You puree/mix/pour liquid into a glass dish, let freeze, occasionally scraping it so it doesn’t make a giant ice cube.  My friend Michael did it with fruit punch Gatorade.  My friend Lucy’s mom does a lovely sounding granita of melon and port.  Epicurious turned up 71 granita dessert recipes.  I found this one, and it ROCKS.

Campari-Grapefruit granita is refreshing, a touch of bitterness mixed with sweetness, ice cold and delicious.

Enjoy.

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Fava Bean Dreamin’

Look here at these fava beans I saw at Dean and Deluca.  Spring is really, truly here. I would take this basket of favas and sit down at this sun-dappled table outside a rambling Tuscan villa, shelling the beans and when that was done, I would call my friends and say, hey, come over.

fava beans on display at D+D, left. A villa in Tuscany, left

We would toss the favas with a nutty pecorino, some torn mint and grassy olive oil.  We would break big loaves of bread and few bottles of wine and spend the afternoon here, at this long table under the shade.  We might get hungry again, so we make crostini with the leftovers.  I’ll tell you the recipes after the break.

That’s what I thought about when I saw these fava beans at Dean and Deluca.

Continue reading

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On the Table: Seared Scallop Salad

Here’s an idea for a super easy meal that can only get better depending on the quality of the ingredients you use.  I was standing in the Union Square Greenmarket recently, completely unprepared and slightly overwhelmed as usual, and ended up with a bag of crisp, peppery mesclun greens (you can’t believe how much better they taste than store bought containers), a jar of Rick’s Picks pepi pep peps (if you haven’t tried Rick’s Picks collection of deliciously pickled things, you MUST, it’s worth the $10 I promise), and fresh scallops from the fish dudes.

The next day, I made a seared scallop salad that took about 27 seconds to throw together and tasted so fresh and so good I think it’s worth repeating.  Really, you can throw anything in your salad, the most important thing is cooking the scallops right and getting them right on the salad so the greens can absorb the pan juices and get a little wilted and delicious.

Toss the scallops with salt, coarse black pepper and curry powder.  Set aside.

Clean the greens, slice up the pepi pep peps (red peppers pickled with chiles and ginger, yum), throw in some avocado (which I had sitting around, and I love) and whatever else you want.

Slice half a shallot nice and thin, mince the other half (for salad dressing)

Get about a tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed) nice and hot, shimmering but not smoking over medium high heat in a nonstick pan. You want the pan covered, but not swimming, in oil. Throw in the shallots and let them get crispy (I like crispy bits, plus it flavors the oil)

The pan should be sizzling when you add your scallops.  Let the first side get golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, and flip them to the other side using tongs.  You want the heat high because you’re cooking it for a short time, so it captures all the flavor on the outside, and the inside will cook, but it will remain juicy (and they’ll cook a bit after you remove them from heat).

Place them over your salad, and if you want, pour the pan juices over the salad.

For the dressing, an easy lemon vinaigrette is great: you need good extra virgin olive oil, the juice from a quick squeeze of half a lemon, mix in the shallots, some salt and pepper, and shake it until it emulsifies.  Done.

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Superior Foods

Sometimes the things that make me stop and say wow are so simple.

Saturday morning, raspberries sitting on the kitchen counter.

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