Cioppino (Le Castagne)

Fish stew with pancetta, fennel, onion, tomato and celery.

Yield 8 servings

1 Head of celery
1 lg spanish onion
2 bulbs fennel
6 oz pancetta
5 plum tomatoes
1 lb fresh calamari
1 lb shelled mussels
1/2 lb monk fish
1/2 lb rock shrimp
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
fresh basil leaves

Julienne all vegetables and reserve. Dice pancetta into 1/4" cubes. Start by heating a pot with no oil until very hot, add pancetta then lower heat. When pancetta is lightly colored add all vegtables and cook slowly for about a 1/2 an hour or until tender. Add diced tomatoes and let cook another 10 minutes. In another pot, sweat garlic over low heat. Add calamari and slowly cook. Add the remaining seafood when the calamari becomes tender. Let cook in its own juices. When all fish is cooked add together and adjust seasonings. Serve with grilled bread.

Billy Weaver's Cream of Mushroom Soup (FridaySaturdaySunday)


1 lb. Kennett Square "cream" mushrooms
1/2 stick of butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 qt. chicken stock
1 qt. heavy cream
cognac to taste
salt & white pepper to taste

Don't worry if the mushrooms are not "brand new fresh" - all the better. Mushrooms that have browned slightly add color and taste to the soup.

Chop the mushrooms into a fine dice. Place in a large sauce pot with the butter and saute until most of the liquid in the mushrooms is "cooked off". Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture. Stir while cooking for a few minutes, then add the chicken stock and mix well.

Allow the mixture to reduce over a medium flame to half its original volume (about 1/2 hour). Refrigerate until just before dinner.

Before serving, heat mixture while adding the heavy cream. Add cognac and salt & white pepper to taste. Serves 6.