Cioppino

CioppinoSo aside from the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cable Cars, San Francisco is known for quite a few food items. Top on my list (’cause it has it’s own jingle) is Rice-a-Roni a.k.a. the San Francisco Treat! Well, I can’t give you a recipe for something that comes in a box can I? Well, I mean I could, but it’s just so much easier to get a box of the stuff (or the kosher equivalent). So what else is SF famous for food wise? Cioppino and Sourdough Bread!

For the Sourdough, you need a starter or “mother” to start the dough from. You can make one yourself (though this takes some time and care) or buy some from a bakery store or online. Again, yeah, not much of a recipe for this blog. But Cioppino? Now we’re talking! Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco in the 1800’s. It was developed by Italian immigrant fishermen, who after taking their catch to market, would put together a stew of whatever was left over that wound up to be this wonderful dish. Normally, Cioppino is chock full of shellfish, but this being a kosher recipe, there won’t be any in this dish. This recipe will make a huge pot of the soup/stew, as it is definitely a one-dish meal. I suggest buying some crusty sourdough to serve with it!

Ingredients

⅓ cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
4 ribs celery, peeled
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 large onion, quartered
2 (2 oz.) can anchovies, drained and rinsed
1 fennel bulb, quartered, centres removed, sliced thin*
3 leeks, white/pale green parts only, sliced thin*
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
6 cups water
4-6 bay leaves
2 good pinches saffron
2 tablespoons paprika
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon anise/fennel seeds
Good pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
4 sprigs fresh thyme*
½ pound halibut, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound salmon, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound snapper, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound sea bass or cod, skinned and boned, cut into 1 ½ in pieces
½ pound flaked mock crab
1 large bunch flat parsley, minced*
Salt and pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse together the garlic, celery, red pepper, green pepper and onion so that it makes a coarse purée.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the rinsed anchovies and sauté so that they start to break up. Add the pureed vegetable mix to the hot oil, along with the sliced leeks and fennel. Sauté until the leeks and fennel become translucent.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, and then add the crushed tomatoes, water, bay leaves, saffron, paprika, tomato paste, anise/fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and thyme. Reduce to heat to medium, and allow the soup to cook covered for about 30 minutes.

Once the soup has come together, add the fish and about half of the parsley. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the fish has cooked through and become opaque. Taste for salt and pepper, and then ladle the soup into bowls, topping with the remaining parsley and served with some fresh crusty sourdough bread.

English Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce

Fish and ChipsA classic English dish is Fish and Chips, served with a side of Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce. The trick to this dish is making sure that the oil is HOT! As for the peas, it may sound strange, but it’s savoury flavoured peas, that have been mushed or mashed, hence the name! This dish will serve 6 and the tartar sauce recipe will make about a cup of sauce. I suggest serving this with wedges of fresh lemon and malt vinegar!

Ingredients:

6 cod fish fillets or 6 haddock fillets
2 ¼ cups flour, plus more for dredging
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
12 oz. beer (preferably a dark stout)*
1 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper
6 large russet potatoes, peeled & cut into chips
good quality cooking fat or oil

For Peas:
3 cups frozen green peas
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

* Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

General tips:

  • Keep whatever you’re frying cold until you’re ready to submerge it. This will help with the frying process, giving you crispness rather than sogginess. I would even suggest resting the bowl of batter in a larger bowl filled with ice, so that it’s kept nice and chilly.
  • Set your oven to 200 degrees to keep the ready pieces of fish and chips warm while you’re preparing the rest.

For Fish & Chips:
Heat oil up in a large pot or deep fat fryer, you’re going to want to get it to about 375 degrees (You can test this with a cooking thermometer). Peel the potatoes and cut into chunky sized chips. Rinse and DRY THOROUGHLY. Water and hot oil are a VERY BAD combination! Fry the chips for about 3 minutes until soft but NOT browned or golden. Drain and shake well and set to one side.

Put some flour onto a plate. Dredge the fish fillets in the flour thoroughly – this is VERY important, it stops the batter sliding off when fried! Leave the fish fillets in the flour whilst you make the batter.

Put flour, baking soda, salt and pepper into a large roomy bowl. Add the beer gradually, stop when you have a thick coating type of batter. Drink any beer that is left! Whisk thoroughly until it is smooth and there are no lumps. Add the lemon juice OR a splash of malt vinegar if desired. Mix thoroughly again.

Adjust deep fat fryer to fish frying temperature of 320-325 degrees for frying the fish. Take one fillet of fish at a time and holding it by the tail or thin end and swirl it around the batter until well coated – plunge into hot fat immediately. As soon as it has crisped up and set, add your other fillets one at a time, taking out the first ones as they cook – about 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Place onto a tray and keep warm in the oven.

Once the fish is done turn up the heat setting to 375 degrees again and cook your chips until golden and crisp. Once done, toss your hot chips with salt. Serve on plates or newspaper with salt & vinegar!

For Mushy Peas:
Bring a shallow pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add frozen peas, and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain peas, and transfer back into the pot. Add the cream, butter, salt and pepper to peas, and mash with a potato masher, until the ingredients are blended, but still thick with small pieces of peas. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve immediately.

For Tartar Sauce:
In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and the onion and garlic powders. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Poached Cod with Tomatoes and White Beans

Poached CodConsidering the amount of rain we’ve received here in Toronto lately, I thought it would be appropriate to serve up some fish dishes this week, in honour of the creatures that we will soon all turn into! Today’s dish, is one of those that looks elegant and fancy, but can be made any weeknight in a hurry. The simple act of poaching the fish in the sauce makes for a flavourful, moist dish that you won’t have to worry about overcooking. Worst case scenario? You leave the fish poaching too long, and it breaks up… and you have fish stew instead! See, it’s all good! I hope you enjoy this cod dish. It will serve 6.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
1 ½ red bell peppers, chopped
2 medium yellow squashes, chopped
6 large ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
generous pinch of saffron threads
½ cup dry white wine*
¼ cup water
1 ½ (540ml) cans butter, cannellini or white beans, drained and rinsed
6 (6-ounce) pieces boneless, skinless cod (you can substitute with halibut, haddock or tilapia)
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, chopped (for garnish)**

* If you don’t want to use wine, you can substitute with an equal measure of water with a little powdered consume added for flavour.
** Click here to learn about cleaning parsley.

Directions:

Place the wine, water and saffron threads in a small saucepan and let steep over a medium-low heat while you work on the rest of the dish.

In a large skillet or pan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the garlic and onions, and sauté until they become slightly translucent and fragrant. Do not brown. Add the bell peppers, squash and tomatoes, along with about ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down, and the sauce has thickened, about 10-12 minutes.

Once the tomatoes have broken down, add the wine mixture to the pan, along with the drained and rinsed beans. Stir to combine. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, and then gently place them on top of the liquid/vegetable mixture. Cover and simmer until the cod is opaque throughout, about 7-9 minutes.

To serve, ladle some of the vegetable/bean sauce into the bottom of a bowl, or deep dish, and then top with the fish, along with some more of the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

White Fish Étouffée

fish etouffeeSo here is another classic Cajun dish called Étouffée. Most commonly prepared with shellfish like crawfish or shrimp, it was back in the 1950s that crawfish etouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920s. Originally crawfish étouffée was a popular dish mainly just in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area, but in the early 80’s a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the crawfish étouffée dish into the limelight. Even amongst the French Creoles this Cajun dish was a hit. Our recipe uses firm white fish, rather than shellfish, but is just as good! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches green onion, sliced*
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound firm, white fish, cut into large chunks (like Cod, Halibut or Flounder)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ⅔ cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
rice to serve

* Click here to find out how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, stir in the flour until dissolved, and keep stirring until it turns a rich reddish-brown colour. Add the garlic, onion, green onions, green pepper and celery. Sauté until the vegetables become transparent, about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and Cajun seasoning. Once combined, add the chunks of fish, being careful not to break up the fish too much. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the broth into the vegetable-fish mixture, taste for salt and pepper, and then let simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Serve over rice.