Return of the Niners

29 01 2013

I have a confession to make.  If I don’t make it now I’m sure my sister will point it out in the comments, thus shattering my credibility.  So here it is: I didn’t watch football this year.  Not a lot, anyway, and none during the regular season.  But neither did half the media descending on New Orleans this week for a company sponsored vacation masquerading as work.  (Hmm.  Some bitterness in that last statement.  I must make a note to edit it later.)  It doesn’t matter.  My Super Bowl predictions are never based on actual football anyway, but how well I prepare a certain dish from the region my chosen team calls home.  This time it is San Francisco because, well, the Ravens are evil.

So, after I spent a very long time describing an event in which nothing happened, I must make good food and post the results for the sake of the Bay area.  Wait.  Baltimore also has a bay.  Let’s hope the football gods don’t get confused with this one.

I mentioned somewhere in my last post that there are two San Francisco foods that I’ve always wanted to make but never have.  I still have not made sourdough.  But the other one is right up my alley: Cioppino.  See, it’s a soup (Or is it a stew?  It’s my blog, it’s a soup.) and I love soup.  I’ve never made a fish soup before.  Can you believe it?  What kind of food blogger am I?  Oh wait.  Never mind.

ANYWAY, this year I will be taking on the role of Colin Kaepernick, the renegade-but-very-inexperienced quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

WEEK OFF: The 49ers choose their strategy.
I saw two recipes for cioppino that I really liked, and in the end used a little from both.  They both called for many of the same ingredients but some were different, so I took a bit from each to make something I thought sounded good.  Honestly, with the fish it came down to what we could get here in central PA, and what we could afford.  Here be the recipes used for reference:

Cioppino from Saveur magazine

Cioppino from Epicurious

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The 49ers change their strategy.
See, here’s the deal.  Both recipes call for crab.  Dungeness crab, which I found out hails from the Pacific around the latitude of San Francisco Bay.  They also say any Pacific crab will do.  DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE THAT STUFF IS IN PENNSYLVANIA?!?!?!?  I’m not doing it.  I live an hour and a half from Baltimore.  The only affordable crab I can get comes from the Chesapeake and, if you haven’t noticed, I really want the Ravens to lose.  So, no crab.  Got it?  Here’s the take from the local market:

Hooray for Fish!

Shrimps, clams, salmon, and scallops.  Thank you, this makes me happy.

SUPER BOWL WEEK: Lots of practice.  Lots of film study.
Making a fish soup, as it turns out, doesn’t take a lot of time.  Fish cook quickly.  The prep, however, does.  Cleaning and deveining the shrimp, cubing and skinning the salmon, and scrubbing and soaking the clams (YES I realize the clams also came from the Chesapeake, leave me alone.)  Also I had to prepare the vegetables. The results of all this prep are seen in the previous picture.  That picture is doing a lot of work.

GAME TIME!  FIRST QUARTER: The 49ers do what they do best, run the football.
I may not have seen a lot of football this year but I know that they run the ball well.  How can you not with Frank Gore?  So this is my equivalent of the 49ers’ running game.  Sweat the aromatics.  But here’s the twist: Epicurious called for onions and garlic, followed by green bell pepper.  Saveur called for more, and I used some but forgot other ingredients.  Wow, going back and reading now what is on their ingredients list I’m kind of sorry I forgot about the celery and carrots.  Anyway, some olive oil met some heat and in went onions, leeks, fennel bulb, garlic, green bell pepper, oregano, and bay leaf.  See?

It's making me hungry just writing about it.

SECOND QUARTER: The game becomes a defensive struggle, with neither offense doing anything interesting.
See, I added in the tomatoes, the stock, the clam juice, and the wine, and let it simmer for a half hour.  It may be interesting to me, and it’s certainly making the house smell good, but it’s not exactly playing with fire like last year.

Yes, it smelled wonderful.

THIRD QUARTER: The Ravens’ defense fails them.  San Francisco scores two unanswered touchdowns.
Well, the clams DID come from the Chesapeake, didn’t they?  Well, they got cooked first.  Shall I predict Ed Reed trying for an interception and instead giving up a touchdown?  Yes, I shall.  Goodbye, clams:

Clams Alive

FOURTH QUARTER: Baltimore’s defense comes up big, but it’s too little, too late.
After the clams are cooked you have to take them out to make sure they are all good, and throw away any that aren’t opened.  In all I only had to discard two clams out of the whole batch so we were very pleased.

Clams Dead

FINAL TWO MINUTES: San Francisco’s offense comes back on the field and puts the game out of reach.
Let’s see, Colin Kaepernick is the salmon, Frank Gore is the scallops, and Randy Moss is the shrimp (it’s funny because he’s really tall).  After removing the clams I put in the rest of the seafood to cook, for about 5 minutes, and when it was done the clams went back in.

FINAL: San Francisco 28, Baltimore 17.
You see that?  That’s goodness right there.  The clams, the salmon, the scallops and shrimp (and chopped basil added at the last minute) were all excellent.  Add in the tasty-but-ugly bread from my previous post and you have yourself a meal.  There were so many stars in the bowl it was hard to pick an MVP.  In the end, though, I’ll pick Randy Moss because he’s “old” (younger than me) and it would be kind of cool.


Also, Jerome Bettis will be elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday.  Go Bus!