There isn't too much happening in my exciting life this week, so it affords the opportunity for me to revisit some old principles of mine regarding cooking and food preparation. I should emphasize here that the 100% Italian portion of my family is rapidly diminishing. I was born into a family that was all Italian including aunts, uncles and cousins. Over our years in America, we all married people who weren't Italian or were only partially Italian so that now I have daughters, granddaughters, cousins, nieces and nephews that range from being half- Italian to not being Italian at all. Indeed, the reason for this blog in the beginning was to put down some of the principals of Italian cuisine that I learned from my parents and grandparents generation for those family members and friends that would not have the benefit of having an "Italian Grandmother".Since I married my Guyanese Indian wife, the blog has become more about living with and cooking for her, since, well, that's what I do.I say all this because one of my non-Italian nieces just became a follower of my blog and asked the question of me, "What should I cook tonight?"
Well first of all, I really don't intend for my blog to be just another cook book that one pages through to find recipes. Rather, it is more of a food diary which I hope will elucidate the principles of shopping, cooking and pantry development that my grandmother and mom used in preparing food for their households. There is nothing inherently Italian about these principles. It's just that in today's culture, people seem to rely on finding recipes from TV or cookbooks rather than using the principles I learned. One of my kids recently remarked to me that I have tons of room in my refrigerator. That's because I plan my meals on what I find to be freshest, and most appetizing in the market, and I store certain ingredients on a constant basis, so I'm never buying things for one meal only and wasting the food that's left over. So, for example the escarole I put in my pasta fagiole will be part of the greens, pork and pasta I cook for dinner the next day. These meals don't always find their way into my blog, but my readers should know that using the food I have on hand is what guides the decision on what to cook for dinner tonight . That's the main reason my recipes often seem"unique". I'm not trying to be different. I'm just cooking with what I have.
So this dinner of Seafood Stew comes from the fact that Trader Joe's and Stop and Shop had some nice frozen seafood in recent weeks and I've been stocking up. We eat fish once or twice a week so there is always some kind of seafood (usually shrimp) in my freezer, but this week I had in addition, scallops and yellow fin tuna. I had to buy one addition to the meal which I usually don't include in my pantry, that being fish stock which I found under the "Kitchen Basics" brand in my local KeyFood.
As you've seen me do often, I start as I would for any soup
combining onion and celery in the pot and letting them cook lightly
with salt and red pepper flakes till they soften. Then I add garlic
and cook it till I can smell it. After that, I mix in my carrots and
diced potatoes and let them sweat covered under a low flame for awhile
depending on how finely you cut them.
To these I add some dried thyme ( about two teaspoons)
Now I add about one and a half to two cups of the seafood stock
(remember this is for two of us with enough left over for my lunch),
and a 1/2 can of tomatoes (28 ozs.) hand crushed. Bring everything to a
boil and add some fresh basil, then start adding the seafood. I added the
cut up tuna first, then the scallops and finally the shrimp waiting for the
soup to come back to the boil before each new addition. For this dish, I
used one of the tuna fillets (about 6 ounces), 10 scallops, and 10 of the
large (21/25) shrimp. Bon apitito!