Dec. 27th, 2006

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The story goes there was a Provincetown chef (in the 70s, maybe?) who kicked ass, whose restaurant kicked ass, who did all the parties. This cioppino is a version of his cioppino passed down to me by a friend who still misses the east coast, sometimes. I don't miss it a bit, so I'm glad this cioppino has been transplanted like we have.

G's Holiday Cioppino

1. Go to your local fish market. I went to Fisherman's Terminal. When the funny, cute fisherman asks, "Who can I help?" push to the front if possible, because this shopping for fish business is going to take awhile. You're going to need ~6 pounds of fish. Tell the cute fisherman you're making cioppino and then use the following ideas along with his advice to determine exactly what kinds and quantities of fish to get.

1.5# white fish
1# shrimp
1# bay scallops
1# squid
12-15 mussels
12-15 clams
jar o' oysters

While you're there, pick up some fish stock. I used shellfish stock, which turned out to be a really, really, really good idea.

2. Tear yourself away from the cute fisherman and go home. Heat 3/4 C olive oil in a large soup pot. Add as many kinds of onion as you can think of. I added:

1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
about 7 T garlic, chopped

3. Saute until soft. Add 2 C chopped mushrooms and a heaping cup of parsley.

4. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the spices, to taste: hot Hungarian or Spanish paprika; fresh basil; dried oregano; dried chili in some form; a bay leaf or two. Saute a bit longer, then add a large can of tomatoes and a tiny handful of sugar and cook for at least a half hour.

5. While the tomato yumminess is cooking, prepare the fish. Set the clams in salty water so they spit out their salt. Run the mussels under cold water and pull their beards off. (Poor mussels!) Steam the prepared clams and mussels in 2 C white wine. Peel the shrimp. Chop up the white fish and the squid.

6. When the tomato yumminess is nicely cooked, add the fish stock (4-6 cups, depending on your taste and the consistency you're going for and the amount of fish you ended up with) and add the wine you used to steam the clams and mussels. Bring to a simmer.

7. Add the fish, in the following order: white fish, prawns, scallops, oysters, squid. Add the clams and the mussels in their shells. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for maybe ten minutes.

8. Add more parsley, as much as you like. Serve super hot with huge crusty bread.
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I was a late comer to caffeine, which is maybe why I still can't have tea past noon if I expect to be able to sleep later that night. That said, I had tea while preparing cioppino on xmas eve, which explains why I was up at 5 am on xmas morning, trying to figure out how to entertain myself while also not waking up my small child. I decided the best thing to do was make blintzes.

Early Morning Xmas Blintzes*

1. First, make the filling. Drop the contents of a bag of frozen blueberries into a small pot set over medium heat. While that begins to heat, peel and dice an apple or two and add that to the blueberries. Cook for several minutes (maybe ten?) and then add a T of lemon juice.

2. Combine 3 T flour, 3 T sugar, and a good dose of cinnamon, and then sprinkle that on the fruit. Add some almond extract. Stir pretty constantly until the apples are soft and the filling has thickened, which should mean about 10 minutes.

3. Set the fruit aside to cool and make the blintz batter. Blintz batter is crazy difficult to make. You have to combine 3 eggs, 1 1/3 C soymilk, 2 T melted butter, 3/4 C flour, and a big pinch of salt, and then you have to - oh, wait. Nothing. That's all you do.

4. Cook the blintzes. Here's what I did: I heated a cast iron tortilla pan over medium-low heat. I sprayed it verrrrrry lightly with organic, overpriced, butter-flavored canola oil. I dropped about 1/4 C of blintz batter onto the hot pan in the way I've seen the crepe makers do it. I let the very thin pancake cook until it began to curl up on its edges.

5. After each blintz is cooked, add about a tablespoon of your fruit filling and wrap/roll it up. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. They can be served (apparently) any time within the next four hours or so, and they make a particularly good accompaniment to homemade espresso drinks and present-opening.

*Adapted/stolen from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
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