Friends! How have you been? I know, I know, it’s been a loooong time since my last post. To be exact, over a month has passed by since I last penned something for Fluxi On Tour. No, I’m not giving up this creative space of mine, I’m just taking things a bit slowly and working on some other projects which require some more attention. More on that soon.
To mark the occasion and the returning of Fluxi On Tour I have something special to share with you. Something that’s been on my foodie mind since I moved to San Francisco and always wanted to try, but never got the courage as it seamed to required more than my cooking skills had offer. Now it’s accomplished and I cannot be more happy, not only because this dish tastes soooo good, yet more because I got to cook it with one of my dearest friends in SF. The lovely, sweet, patient and uber talented Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet.
We two got together and cooked a San Francisco original – The Cioppino. This juicy fish stew sounds Italian and true, it was invented by Italian immigrants, but the Cioppino as the World knows it, has it’s roots here, in the City by The Bay. Honestly I have never tried any Cioppino in a restaurant and without sounding pretentious, I’m afraid the restaurants edition will have difficulties to keep up with our version. Having Alanna being the lead cook, this dish had no other choice but to be awesomely tasty.
I met Alanna, now maybe a bit over a year ago, at an event hosted by Feastly, where she was talking, among other bloggers, about food blogging scene. She shared some really valuable insight into this fun, but sometimes crazy blog world and I loved how approachable and friendly she was.
I said “hello” after the panel, we talked a bit, got a coffee few days later and became friends.
Now we meet from time to time and I always get to try some of her sweet and savory creations. You should give these Black Sesame Kumquat Financiers a try, or this devilishly delicious Banana-Rum-Chocolate Tart, or make this Roasted Eggplant Curry. There is nothing on her blog that won’t taste.
For our cooking day we met at her home, shopped the ingredients at Whole Foods – they really have an amazing sea food bar, you should check it out – and started whipping up our own original Cioppino. There are few basics that go in every Cioppino, like different sea food, tomatoes, white wine, garlic, but you can mix and match the ingredients as ever you like. We added some fennel and saffron, just to give it a little twist. There is actually not that much to making this delicious stew. It involves some chopping and cutting, but that doesn’t stop us, right? You might need a steaming basked too, which is a cheap purchase and should be part of every kitchen. Cioppino is a great dish to make in a big bowl, have your friends over and serve it with rustic bread and red wine.
I guess the same way, the old Italian sailors did it.
While cooking, styling and photographing Alanna made sure we got fuelled on energy with yummy bites like sweet potato fries and other delicacies. I wonder, when does she find the time to make all that.
Her boyfriend is a really lucky guy. Who, by the way, made us an amazing salad to accompany our Cioppino. Thank again, Jay!
I also got to experiment for the first time with darker, moodier images, which I’m kind of lazy/afraid to start doing on my own, but which I also admire. I guess, I just need to start practicing. Right? Alanna is already a pro when it comes to dark and bright images. Have you seen her Pinterest Board? Pure eye candy.
Our long day of fun and food ended with a hot bowl of homemade Cioppino, relaxed conversation and a great experience how it feels like to cook with fellow blogger. Thank you, Alanna, for having me over and until next time! Hop over friends and admire Alanna’s version of our Cioppino!
CIOPPINO WITH FENNEL & SAFFRON
Feel free to mix up the seafood here. We liked this combination, but you could also use lobster, crab, or other fish such as halibut or cod. Be sure to serve this with a bottle of wine and some crusty bread for mopping up the broth.
Makes 8-10 servings
1 pound (450 grams) raw clams in their shells
1 pound (450 grams) raw mussels in their shells
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for finishing the soup
1/4 teaspoon gently packed saffron threads, crumbled
a handful of fresh thyme sprigs
1 large onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, fronds removed and reserved for garnish, bulb thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
broth from cooking the clams and mussels (see below)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound (225 grams) cooked, peeled shrimp
1 pound (450 grams) white fish (such as Tilapia), cut into 1-inch chunks
a handful of parsley leaves and fennel fronds
cracked black pepper
Place the clams and mussels in a steamer basket set in a pot over 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a simmer, steaming the mollusks until they open. Remove the mollusks and strain and reserve the broth.
In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saffron over a medium flame until the oil shimmers, then add the thyme, onion, and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, 10 minutes, then stir in the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and add the salt, tomatoes, white wine, mollusk steaming water, vegetable stock, and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
Add the fish and continue to simmer until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Add the shrimp, mussels, and clams and cook to heat them through. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you feel the soup needs it.
Ladle the soup into wide bowls and top with a good drizzle of olive oil, a shower of parsley leaves and fennel fronds, a few turns of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Leftover soup keeps well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 2 days.