A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Norm and Jane from Washington came for dinner and to spend the night. Norm is a vintner and brought two delicious bottles of his wine, an unusual Petit Verdot and a Voignier. Here was our Valentine menu.

Homemade Bread
Salad from the Garden
Strawberry Ice Cream
Fresh Blackberries

This soup is wonderful for guests because you can make the broth ahead, and then throw in the fish for five minutes right before serving. The flavor of the broth is lovely, starting with fennel and leek instead of the usual carrots, onions, and celery. The recipe is mostly from the 1997 Joy of Cooking.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, cut into 1/2-inch half rounds
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
Peel of 1/2 orange
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil and butter and gently saute the above ingredients for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Then add

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Saute a further 2 minutes, then add

1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white vermouth

Boil gently for 3 minutes. Stir in

1 one-pound can diced tomatoes
3 cups Fish Broth*
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of your broth

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. You can stop at this point if you want.

Just before serving time, stir in 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of mixed fish and shellfish, cut in similar sizes so they will cook in the same amount of time--or else put the larger items in first. Cook up to 5 minutes or until just cooked. For this batch I used:

1/2 pound shrimp (I used the shells in the broth)
1/2 pound cod in 1-inch chunks
3/4 pound bay scallops
2 Australian lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
1 can chopped clams

*I made this particular fish stock by simmering the shrimp shells, the juice from the can of clams, and a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce with water.

PS: We had the leftover soup for lunch today with Grandma and it was still excellent. Be careful not to reheat too much.

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