Saturday, November 18, 2006

Elaine: Braised Stuffed Calamari

After lugging home a luggage full of used cookbooks from my NYC trip to The Strand and Bonnie Slotnicks, I looked up all the stewed stuffed squid recipes I could find. I just picked up The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan from my trip and love this book. Definitely a book to add to your collection. Anyway, 2 lbs of squid seemed a little much for Mike and I. So I halved the recipe and ended up with 8 stuffed tubes of squid. To my stuffing, I finely chopped the tentacles and added garlic, onion, parmesan, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and some jarred roasted red peppers I wanted to finish from the fridge. I sauteed onions, garlic, more roasted red peppers, ripped up the can of tomatoes, white wine, finely diced carrot and celery before adding the raw tightly packaged tubes of squid. I couldn't wait an hour. So I took them out a little earlier. They were so delicious. I served it as an appetizer.

I'm thinking about putting the leftover squid-ees on a grill tomorrow, charr them and serve on top of arugula salad. The next time I make it, I'm going to try adding pancetta into the stuffing. I paired this assignment with some fetuccine with white clam sauce, as Marcella Hazan suggested in her book. A dozen littleneck clams, finely diced red onion, olive oil, garlic, 1 dried red chili peper, white wine, and butter. I threw in thinly sliced discs of lemon at the end. Talk about fast food. That dish took under 10 minutes from the cutting board to my mouth(not including the time it took the pasta water to boil).
For this meal I had all 4 burners going. Mike said he wanted to start a blog for dishwashers. He wanted to take a pic of the dirty pots and pans, my mess of a countertop and everything else I throw into the sink in between. I should really clean as I go like most of you do.
Jer, thanks for choosing this recipe. Next time when Mike's not in the kitchen I'll try and sneak in some anchovies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ashley: Beef Stock

Sorry gals for being so delayed in getting my beef broth completed and posted. I made the beef broth this past weekend and used short ribs and oxtails that I had picked up from the Asian market. I roasted the bones and then made the broth by adding onions studded with a few cloves, carrots, celery, garlic cloves, peppercorns and bouquet garni. The stock definitely took time to develop the right flavor and did need occasionally salting. After 5-6 hours of simmering it did taste fabulous though. I do have to say that there was a good amount of skimming to do and you can see from the picture that I probably could have done a bit more. This stock seemed much more greasy than chicken stock that I've made in the past. I took the stock and made some pho, which was very easy and tasty! Thanks for the challenge!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cath: Beef Stock

Hi everyone. I am sad to report my beef stock did not turn out well! And my attempt at homemade Nyeng Myun was a complete disaster--honestly one of the most disgusting things I have ever put on the table! My first mistake, I think, was my choice of bones. I bought three bags of nearly meatless and definitely mysterious (it was all unidentifiable odds and ends) frozen bones. As Elaine asked, "Did they look like dog bones?" Yes! Which shouldn't have been a bad thing I didn't think--I've made chicken stock with just bones before and it's turned out great. For whatever reason this just never ended up tasting good. I roasted the bones for probably half an hour to forty-five minutes. Then I added them to a giant stock pot (yes, I made A LOT of this really disgusting stock!) with an onion and a few cloves or garlic and some peppercorns. I deglazed the roasting pan and added that too and then brought it all to simmer and let it do its thing for 4 or 5 hours. I kept tasting and thinking, "Maybe it needs salt." Salt definitely helped but not enough. It just tasted like burned bones to me. I don't know. Maybe it was the lack of meat, maybe I roasted the bones too long, who knows! YUCK!

I still ended up trying to do the Nyeng-Myun with this stuff. Biggest mistake there (besides the stock tasting terrible!) was I overcooked the noodles. I tried dressing it up with some julienned daikon and a dollop of kimchi and the hardboiled egg but it all just tasted so gross! I'll try again sometime but so much for this attempt!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Recipe 13: Braised Stuffed Calamari

I love seafood. But inflation is really starting to annoy me. With shrimp, good fish and scallops of servable quality all selling from $15 to $30 a pound these days I am embarking on a mission to begin cooking some amazing meals with much less expensive seafood. A few months ago I started experimenting with fresh trout (~$3.99 a pound) dusted with Wondra flour and pan roasted in butter. Wonderful. Yesterday I was at Whole Foods and beautiful fresh calamari was only $6.99 a pound. This was the inspiration for our next recipe.

From my research I learned that braised stuffed calamari is a classic Italian preparation near the Romagna region. I love ordering calamari in restaurants and we have had some amazing grilled calamari dishes recently at nicer Mediterranean restaurants. But I tend to shy away from cooking with it at home given the need to cook it very quickly at a very high heat else its rubbery and unpalatable texture. However, last weekend, three great friends spent the weekend with us and we made a seafood stew in which the calamari was cooked for over an hour at a low simmer. The resulting squid was very tender and piqued my interest in slow cooking more of this very affordable seafood.

This recipe is a bit of a hybrid between Biba Caggiano’s and Judy Rodgers’. The trick with braising calamari seems to be in slow cooking it for almost an hour until fork tender. I have never ordered this dish in a restaurant but it sounds comforting and delicious and reminds me of a squid adobo (braise using vinegar, garlic and soy sauce) my grandmother used to make. I hope everyone here likes squid!

1 pound whole squid body
1 pound squid tentacles
Italian parsley
Few garlic cloves
2-3 anchovy fillets, minced
1/3 – 1/2 C parmigiano-reggiano
1/3 C dried bread crumbs
Olive oil
Small onion
1/2 C dry white wine
Can of San Marzano tomatoes

Chop tentacles very fine by hand or in a processor and mix with parsley, garlic, anchovies, parm, bread crumbs, red pepper and olive oil and season to taste. If too dry, add more olive oil. Fill each squid body with the filling (but only fill half-full as the filling will expand during cooking). Some recipes call for an egg to bind the filling. Others don’t. Your call on whether you want to use it; I will likely not use it so not to dilute the calamari flavor of the filling. Some grated lemon zest added to the filling might also be nice. Close openings of the bodies with wooden toothpicks.

In a skillet that can accommodate all the squid in a single layer, cook onions, parsley and garlic and a squeeze of some lemon juice. If you are in the mood, add diced fennel, leeks or capers to the onion mixture (additive, not necessary). Add squid and season with salt/pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute or two.

Add wine and bring to a boil. Then add tomatoes. If you have the ink sac from the squid, place them in a strainer over the pan and pour a few spoonfuls of the sauce into the strainer, pressing to extract the ink from the sacs. Reduce to very low and simmer only turning the squid once or twice. Cook on low for just under an hour uncovered. Add more tomatoes if sauce gets too dry. Adjust seasonings to your liking.

If you wish, finish stew by mixing in spoonful of cooked lentils or blanched chard leaves. (again, additive but not necessary). Serve over white rice or polenta on a cold November night.