The Mailbox: Dreamy French toast, memorable cioppino

Dreamy French toast

Several years ago The Bee published a recipe for Grandmère’s Inn stuffed French toast. It was from a bed and breakfast located in Grass Valley. I have since lost the recipe. Does anyone have this recipe?

Karen Buckner, West Sacramento



If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916) 321-1109. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

Tides Wharf Restaurant’s crab cioppino

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serves 8

E. J. Caluza of Sacramento and his family and friends have been camping at Bodega Bay for twenty years. Part of their tradition has been to eat at the Tides on their way out of town. Many order the cioppino as it’s the best they’ve ever eaten anywhere, according to Caluza. They were hoping for the recipe.

D. Stevenson of Elk Grove shares this recipe that was featured on “California Living” with Aprilanne and comes from former executive chef and general manager Carlo Galazzo of the Tides Wharf and Restaurant and the Inn at the Tides, Bodega Bay. Barry Madden of Roseville also shared the recipe.


Fish stock:

2 pounds fish trimmings: the heads, tails and bones of any firm, white-fleshed fish

6 cups water

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 medium-sized bay leaf, crumbled

6 whole peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

Fish stew:

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 medium-sized firm, ripe tomatoes, washed, coarsely chopped and puréed in a food mill, or substitute 1 cup canned puréed tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Two 1 1/2 pounds precooked Dungeness crabs, thoroughly defrosted if frozen

3 dozen large mussels in their shells

2 dozen small hard-shell clams in their shells

2 pounds fresh halibut or ling cod steaks, cut into 8 equal portions

8 large prawns

8 large scallops

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dry thyme or oregano to garnish


To prepare the fish stock, combine the fish trimmings and water in a 4- to 5-quart enameled or stainless-steel pot and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam and scum that rise to the surface. Add the coarsely chopped onion and the bay leaf, peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Strain the contents of the pot through a fine sieve into a bowl pressing down hard on the fish trimmings with the back of a spoon to extract all of the juices. Measure and reserve 4 cups of the fish stock.

Wash the pot, add the oil and heat it over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the cup of coarsely chopped onions and the garlic, stirring frequently. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Stir in the reserved stock.

Place the crab on its back and, with the point of a small, sharp knife, pry off the pointed flap or apron. Cut away the head just behind the eyes. With a cleaver or heavy knife, cut the crab into quarters. Shell, clean and quarter the second crab in the same manner and set both aside on a plate.

Under cold running water, scrub the mussels and clams thoroughly with a stiff brush or soapless steel-mesh scouring pad and remove the black tufts from the mussels. Season the halibut/ling cod on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set the mussels and clams and the halibut/ling cod aside on wax paper or plates.

To assemble the cioppino, arrange the pieces of crab in the bottom of a 6- to 8-quart enameled casserole. Lay the mussels, clams and scallops on top and pour in the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pieces of halibut/ling cod and prawns. Cover the casserole again and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes longer.

The cioppino is done when the mussel and clam shells have opened and the halibut/ling cod flakes easily when prodded gently with a fork. Discard any mussels or clams that remain closed. Sprinkle a pinch of dry thyme or oregano on top. Serve at once directly from the casserole or spoon the cod and shellfish into a large heated tureen and pour the broth over them. Serve with garlic bread.

Per serving: 523 cal.; 77 g pro.; 12 g carb.; 14 g fat (3 sat., 8 monounsat., 3 polyunsat.); 217 mg chol.; 1,402 mg sod.; 1 g fiber; 27 percent calories from fat.