I recently glanced at my small collection of cookbooks and realized that I was pretty uninspired by all of them. I don’t buy cookbooks often, as I find I can usually get a good recipe on the internet or by checking out a cookbook at the library; thus, my cookbooks are dated and I rarely find myself cooking from them. And to be honest, I don’t cook from recipes all that often anyway – I find it’s simpler to throw together a stir-fry, pasta dish, salad, or tacos by “feel.” But this holiday season I began to feel like it was time to trade out some of the old for a few fresh new titles for my cookbook repertoire, so I treated myself to a Christmas present: Alison Roman’s Dining In.
I have so many fond memories of helping my mom bake chocolate chip cookies when I was growing up. She made chocolate chip cookies so often that she actually had the recipe memorized and she let my brothers and me taste the dough at every step of the baking process, culminating in the licking of the beaters. We Disharoons are definitely purists when it comes to our chocolate chip cookies: we wouldn’t dare add oats, nuts, or (God forbid) raisins. And now that I’m an adult, this is still my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and they are always a crowd-pleaser; they are chewy and delicious, and they go great with an ice-cold glass of milk.
A couple weeks ago I spend a weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona with a group of women friends. On our first night in town we ate at Citizen Public House in downtown Scottsdale and were blown away by “The Original Chopped Salad” on the menu. I never would have selected the ingredients that make up this delicious salad, but it works in some magical symbiotic way.
Jack and I have been wine club members at Williams Selyem for several years now, and one thing we always look forward to with our biannual wine pickup is the seasonal recipe that is included. We always make a point of trying out these recipes, and they have yet to let us down. Each recipe also includes a recommended Williams Selyem wine pairing.
The first (and favorite) recipe we tried was for Holiday Cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco’s North Beach (“Little Italy”) in the late 1800’s by Italian fishermen (mostly immigrants from the port city of Genoa). It is traditionally made from the “catch of the day,” which typically includes Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish (all from the Pacific Ocean). The seafood is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with toasted bread (preferably local sourdough).
Jack has made this Holiday Cioppino on several occasions: Thanksgiving for the two of us (when I had to work), dinner parties with friends, and (just yesterday) Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family (nine of us total). Jack has made modifications to the recipe over the years, but the base of the soup has stayed pretty much the same. It’s a great treat on these cold winter nights!