Friday, January 28, 2011

Don & Cindy's Amazing Cioppino

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup diced red onion
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
4 ounces tomato paste
28 ounce whole tomatoes, hand crushed with all their juices
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
3 chopped hot jarred peppers (with seeds)
1 package frozen mixed seafood blend from trader joes (shrimp, scallops, and calamari), defrosted
1/2 cup graded parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package small cheese tortellini

1. Melt butter over medium high heat in large stockpot. Add olive oil and onions. Saute two minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. Saute 3 minutes. Add tomatoes & stir to incorporate. Then add whole tomatoes, chicken stock, white wine, salt, thyme, basil, olives, hot peppers, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add seafood mix, and cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat until done.

2. In a separate pan, boil hot water and cook tortellini to al dente.

3. Serve cioppino over Tortellini and garnish with fresh grated parmesan and cilantro.

The recipe made quite a lot of stock, so we portioned off about three cups of the tomato broth and saved in the freezer for future use before we added the seafood mix. Can't wait to enjoy it again soon with the first few steps already done. In the future, adding a nice fillet of white fish portions would be a really fabulous addition and add some more depth. But no complaints with the finished product. We used Mount Baker Vineyards Viognier for the white wine which was absolutely divine, both in the broth and on the side. Most of all, we had a blast making it. One the best date nights in a long time.

Don has a few words to say about this also:

Just to be clear, Cindy and I didn't set out to make this today. This is not one of the recipes she so diligently plans ahead for. No, this was pure improv. Cindy didn't get around to doing the crockpot recipe she had planned, and so we began milling around the kitchen. She pulled out the package of mixed seafood from the freezer and asked, "Can you do anything with this?"

So we got to looking at perhaps an alfredo sauce with pasta... except we ran out of cream. We had the makings of a tomato-based something, but I wasn't sure if we had the stuff to do anything exciting. Then, as my palate usually does, I thought of spicy, and I was reminded of my favorite dish at our favorite Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks. They make a Cioppino that was over $30 a bowl, and served with a half lobster in it.

Cioppino, except we still were thinking pasta. So maybe it would turn out thicker. Cindy started pulling out kalamata olives, and stuffed green olives from the fridge. We also had this jar of awesome hot peppers, the thin kind, almost like green beans. From there we printed off a couple recipes from the internet for a base, and began the great improvisation. By the time I had reached the point of reducing the heat in the broth to cook for 30 minutes, we stole a taste... and nearly cried at its true marvel.

Sometimes when two people love each other, they get together and make something truly special. And when it's all done cooking... they eat it.


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