Cooking is a big way of how I show my love. It is a way for me to nourish and comfort those closest to me. I guess it was the fact that some of my fondest memories growing up was watching my grandparents cook for us every day. It takes a lot of love to come home from a hard day of factory work and cook a full big meal for a family. I loved hearing the sounds from the kitchen and quietly watching in my little chair as my grandmother mixed, breaded, fried, cut, chopped all the things that would go into our meal. And I was over the moon pleased when on those special occasions I got to be the taster. Those hours of sitting and observing my grandmother cook have translated into an adult that wants to know what every dish contains, how is it seasoned, and how is it prepared. When I went to San Fransico one summer I came back enthralled with a dish called Cioppino which is served almost everywhere in the city. I came back vowing to add it to my repertoire of foods.
This past weekend as snow fell outside and the wind raged I enjoyed a nice steaming bowl of cioppino chock full of my favorite seafood. Definitely the epitome of a great comfort food experience.
Make the stew base. Heat a large stew pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits in the pot. Simmer the wine until reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock; bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook the base, with a cover slightly ajar, for 30 minutes.
Bring the base to a simmer. Add the crab and cook for 1 minute. Add the mussels, shrimp, scallops, and white fish. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mussels open, the shrimp curl, and scallops are just firm, about 3 minutes.