Make this to Impress Your Guests

Believe it or not, sometimes what looks difficult can be easy. Like this seafood concoction I like to call Heaven on Earth. (OK. Wait … for those who have known me a long time, you might recall that I used to refer to Starbucks as Heaven on Earth … while I’m still a  fan of my daily cappuccino, it seems far too many of the baristas have forgotten that a cappuccino comes with foam so until the siren can retrain her padawans, I have to take it’s onetime honor away. Sorry. Now … moving on.)

If you eat more than your fair share of shrimp cocktail at weddings, you will LOVE this!

Often referred to as cioppino, my version of Heaven on Earth is basically a fish and shellfish stew or soup, with a spicy tomato-based broth. And while there are a number of ingredients, making it is beyond easy and it’s fun and wickedly delicious. Bonus, make it for friends and they will think you’ve slaved all day long. True.

So backing up a little to the “seafood stew” part … I know, a lot of you are thinking BLECK! Fetch me the iodine. It’s like Lucy when Snoopy kissed her … but … just hear me out—and try it for yourself. (And if you want an exact recipe to follow? Check out my previous post on cioppino.) And if you do make this little bit Heaven, be sure to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram; I’d love to see your results 😉

Heaven on Earth aka Cioppino or Seafood Stew/Soup

Olive oil
Onion
Celery
Garlic (remember, I don’t like to give exact measurements … everyone’s tastes are different, I use waayyyyy more garlic than most so do what’s right to you. Start with 3-4 cloves and go from there.)
Crushed or petite diced, tomatoes in juice, 16-ounce can
Fish stock, 1-2 cups (or you can use vegetable stock)
White wine, 1-2 cups (nothing sweet)
Bay leaf
Parsley
Red pepper flakes (these go a long way)

15-20 each of the following:
Mussels: Get these from your local fish monger. Make sure they’re stored on ice and ask that they pick through and discard the bad ones. Your fishmonger should pack them on ice in a well-sealed bag for transport.
Clams: You can get bags of these in the freezer section, or use fresh.
Prawns: Medium size, again, you can use frozen ones. I typically use leftover ones from another recipe that I’ve frozen after cooking. I like to leave the tails on, but most people remove them.
White fish, 2 lbs: I use halibut but and white fish is good to use. Cut to 1-inch thick pieces.
Optional add-ins: calamari rings, lobster, crab.

Sauté onion, celery and garlic in olive oil for about 7-10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, fish stock, white wine and bay leaf. Note, you can always add more stock later depending on how much broth you want. Bring to simmer. Add clams and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add mussels and fish, simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add shrimp (already cooked), parsley and red pepper flake. Cook for an additional 6-7 minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat.

Ladle into bowls, serve hot with crusty French bread or a hearty Italian loaf on the side to soak up all that marvelous broth. Option to serve over linguine. Serves 4 without the pasta add in.

A note about my recipes … most of what I cook isn’t a precise science. It’s look, taste and feel. And I encourage you to cook the same way. Add a little more of this, or a little less of that … and pay attention … and before long you’ll be a wiz at cooking seafood.

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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