I had guests last night and I made cioppino (Italian seafood stew) and homemade rolls for dinner. My guests are Italian, so I was a little nervous because I'd never made cioppino before and it's an Italian-American classic. Well, I got some luck right off the bat, because the store had both the shrimp and clams on sale! In fact, large shrimp were only $3.99 per pound, so I bought an extra pound and it's in my freezer. So I started off prepping the shellfish:
(I may be a bit of a dork, but I think clamshells are gorgeous.) So I shelled the shrimp and gave the clams their "spa treatment." You have to soak clams in at least two changes of water and a little cornmeal to clean out the grit. (Sand is not my favorite condiment in my stew.) I also cut up a pound of red snapper fillets. You can use any mild white fish you like.
Meantime, I started the broth:
It involves crushed tomatoes, garlic, onions, red bell pepper, olive oil, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and red wine. I gotta tell you, this smelled great! I can't really tell you an exact recipe because the amounts were, as my grandmother would say, "by guess and by God."
When the broth came to the boil and smelled really great, I added the seafood.
My guests wanted crab in it, so they brought it. Can you say "yummy?"
I cooked it until the clams opened and the crab was hot, and served it with the rolls I baked. If I do say so myself (and I do), it turned out really well for a first attempt.
Of course, the best part of any meal is the people you share it with! My good friends Paolo and Diane said they really enjoyed the dinner.