Recipe Review: Big Seafood Soup from Amalfi (Zuppa di Pesce)

There are all sorts of  seafood stews – bouillabaise from Marseilles, cioppino from San Francisco.  In Molto Italiano, Mario Batali published a recipe for Zuppa di Pesce, an Italian seafood stew from the Amalfi coast.  Unlike bouillabaise, which requires fish stock and the bread-based thickener rouille, this Zuppa di Pesce is simple to make.  First saute some aromatics (onion, celery, garlic) with some red pepper flakes.  Then add two cups of tomato sauce, two cups of white wine (Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck is what I use for cooking wine) and whatever combination of fish and shellfish you want.  The recipe calls for red mullet, langoustines, shrimp, clams, and mussels, but I used what was available at the local grocery store: a whole red snapper, scallops, shrimp, and clams.  The seafood cooks for about 5-10 minutes.  Top with some parsley (and marjoram if available) and serve with some toasted fresh bread rubbed with a little bit of garlic.  The whole fish broke down in the soup, leaving a lot of bones, which add flavor but make the eating a bit messy.  An alternative would be to use some cut-up fish fillets.  I used Chef Batali’s basic tomato sauce, which is a really good version that adds carrots for sweetness and is (untraditionally) seasoned with thyme.  I add about a tablespoon of salt to the basic tomato sauce recipe.  Simple, healthy, fresh, and lots of flavor.

Link to recipe here.

Link to Molto Italiano here.

Recipe Review: Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese

The local farmer’s market had some beautiful zucchini flowers that I was able to use in a recipe from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano cookbook, which has over 300 “simple” Italian recipes to cook at home.  The zucchini flowers are washed and the flower stamen is removed.  The flowers are then stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, egg, and scallions.  The recipe calls for goat ricotta, but I used a soft goat cheese, and regular ricotta would probably also work, although I like the tanginess of the goat cheese.  The stuffed flowers are then lightly sauteed until golden.  A simple tomato vinaigrette and fresh basil finishes the dish.  Beautiful, bright, fresh, easy appetizer.

Link to recipe here.

Link to Molto Italiano here.

Restaurant Review: Aperto

Aperto is a neighborhood Italian restaurant in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.  On the menu were Italian dishes that make use of seasonal ingredients: Early-Girl Tomato Soup, Bruschetta with Roasted Figs, Melted Teleme, Proscuitto, and Balsamic Reduction.  The pasta is all made in house, including ravioli, oriechetti, fettucini, and tagliolini.  The menu is divided into a traditional categories, antipasti, paste, secondi, contorni, dolce.

The meal started with some complimentary warm foccacia with olive oil.  For starters I had the Roasted Summer Stone Fruit Salad with Pork Belly, Frisee, Arugula, and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette.  The pork belly was roasted perfectly and was complemented by the acidity and sweetness of the roasted peaches and cherries.  The gorgonzola vinaigrette added another flavor note that worked well with the overall dish.

Continuing with the bacon theme, I had the Taglioni “Pepati”, Garlic, Smoked Bacon, Jalapeno, Roast Tomato Sauce, Arugula, Butter, Pecorino, and Grana Cheeses.  The spicy tomato sauce was quite good, sticking to the strands of taglioni.  The portion sizes were very generous, and the pasta was reasonably priced. I left feeling quite satisfied.  We were going to a dessert place afterwards but the cherry and almond clafouti and strawberry shortcake looked like interesting desserts.

The service staff was very welcoming and attentive.  The place is small and a bit noisy, but overall I would definitely recommend Aperto for its bold flavors and reasonable prices.

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