Thursday, November 12, 2009

So, Curt and I have only been married for a couple of months, but I absolutely love being a newlywed. Things have been very busy for us. This year, we had 7 weddings to attend, 1 major career change and 1 major company change. All of these changes have been for the better, however, we have both been extremely busy!

One of the reasons I love being married to Curt is that we always make time for each other. We always have weekly date nights where we make sure that whether we order a pizza, snuggle up with a movie, or go out for a drink, we are together. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, having at least one night to ourselves is pretty important for us.
Last week was pretty cold outside. It was the perfect type of weather where you need to sit at home with sweats on and snuggle under a blanket with big bowls of soup and crusty bread! I decided to make a big pot of Cioppino for dinner, along with some fresh rosemary bread, and Curt's favorite dessert- chocolate mousse.

I found a recipe for Cioppino on one of my favorite websites:
I cut the recipe in half and still had PLENTY of soup left.
Here's my take:
* 4 tbs butter
* 1 onion, minced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1 can stewed tomatoes
* 3 cups chicken stock
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 1/2 cups chardonnay
* 1/2 lb fresh shrimp
* 1/2 lb fresh sea scallops
* 1 lb fresh cod fillet
* 1 lb mussels
* 6 large topneck clams

First, I melted the butter in a large saucepan. I had made this soup before with minced onion, but the onion pieces were still apparently too big, so this time, instead of mincing the onion and garlic, I threw them in my mini food processor and pulsed for a few seconds. This resulted in teeny tiny bits of onion and garlic that Curt couldn't possibly pick out! Anyway, once the butter was melted, I threw in the onion/garlic mixture along with the parsley, and cooked that until I could start to smell the aromas.

Next, I added the chicken stock. The original recipe called for chicken broth, but I had made some fresh chicken stock the week before and I think it adds a much richer flavor, so in that went! I also added the can of tomatoes, bay leaf, herbs, and wine. The original recipe called for water, but I just increased the amount of chicken stock used. Once everything was in the pot, I covered it and let it simmer for 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to really infuse and make the house smell great!
While the broth was simmering, I prepared the seafood. There was definitely a large selection at Grand Mart, so I just picked out my favorites. I started by peeling the shrimp. I kept the shells because I know that you can make a really good shrimp stock with them (keep your eyes out for a posting about my experiments with them!!!).
Anyway, once the shrimp were cleaned, I started on the mussels and clams. A couple of the mussels had died, so I tossed those. I ended up cutting the scallops into quarters because they would hav been too big for 1 bite of soup. I would have used bay scallops because they are smaller and a good size, but they didn't have any at the store.
Once all of the seafood had been prepared, I just sprinkled some kosher salt over all of it and began tossing them into the soup. First, I added the clams. Since they were big, I knew that they would take the longest to cook. Next, I added the mussels.... next went the shrimp... then scallops... and lastly, the cod.
I was watching an episode of Julia Child (I NEVER really watch her but she's apparently amazing, so I tuned in for a minute)... she was making a fish chowder and she said not to cut up the fillet of fish before putting it in the soup. The fish is so delicate that it will naturally break up, and if you cut it first, it would break up into even smaller pieces. So... I put in the entire piece of fish and covered the pot.
The seafood only took a few minutes to finish. I let the soup sit until the fresh rosemary bread was out of the oven and served big bowls of the soup with big chunks of fresh, warm bread.
It was an amazing meal! Next time, however, I think I might add a bit of red pepper flakes to give it a little kick :)
Here's all that was left haha! Just a bunch of empty shells :)

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