If you have seen or read Julie and Julia

you may remember that the Julia Child task that filled Julie Powell with the most fear was BONING A DUCK. 

For me, the dish in the Cooking With Columbo book that most gave me the heebie-jeebies was this one, Cioppino.  Why? Because I fear the shellfish.

I just do not have a clue what I am doing around prawns, crabs, clams, mussels and all that jazz.  For this reason, I invited Battenburgbelle round to assist me in cooking this dish.  

And who would be the perfect person to eat a Vincent Price Cioppino with?  Peter Fuller of the Vincent Price Legacy UK of course!  Here we are with Mary & Vincent’s Come Into the Kitchen cookbook…

Peter came packing champagne so we all got quite tipsy preparing the Cioppino and we had SO MUCH FUN cooking this together.

Luckily for us, Peter is from Australia and he knows ALL ABOUT shellfish.

Putting the dish together was quite easy really, once I’d stopped stressing about whether the mussels and clams were dead or alive.

Test cook Kelli Cline in Seattle had tried this recipe before me and she sent great feedback – I’ll post her report here soon. One of her comments was that she’d made her Cioppino with white wine, but would try with red next time.  So I went with red.  The sauce was soooooo tasty.

The sauce went over the fishy crabby prawny mix, then the clams and mussels went on top.  Here it is, fresh out of the oven.  

Here’s a little bowlful…

COR!  It was a mighty fine soup.  I ate ONE mussel and ONE clam.  I liked the fish, crab and prawns though.  We had it with big chunks of bread to dip in…

Peter is doing his Vincent Price photo face in this pic!

I am coaching Cathy about achieving the perfect photo face, here’s a good one…

and here are all four of us at the end of the evening, pissed and full of Cioppino.

Cathy made a Bavarian Chocolate Cream Pie for pudding and it was UTTERLY DIVINE.  This is in the Columbo cookbook too, as the suggested dish to have with the Sex and the Married Detective episode.  Cathy is soooooooo much better at puddings than I am, and she has made this twice to test the recipe. Aren’t I lucky to have her as a chum?

I am having a little party tomorrow for all of those who tested recipes for me, and the official book launch date is Tuesday 20th Feb.  It’s Columbo’s 50th birthday on that day too as the first pilot episode was screened on the 20th Feb 1968.

Yes, it’s only a few days away…  I am sooooo excited.  I’ve got the day off work and I will be making Johnny Cash chili as part of the cook-along during the day and there will be champagne in the evening!

There’s still time to join in – click on this link for the recipe – there are meat and meat-free versions…

Here’s Vincent’s Cioppino recipe…

A couple of notes.  Kelli pointed out that it’s best to cover your pot when you put it in the oven after adding the clams and mussels, this will help them open.  I would also add that you should add most of the parsley to the sauce, reserving a little to sprinkle over when serving.

Thanks, Vinnie, your Cioppino was probably the most expensive dish I’ve ever made, but it was definitely worth it!

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