Archive | November, 2012

Fried Calamari Tacos with Fried Caper Pickled Shallot and Lemon Aioli

16 Nov

This was a fun twist on a normal fish taco.  I made it on a week night, and it came together surprisingly quickly – no more than forty minutes from start to finish.  The aioli was creamy, with a punch of lemon and some heat from the raw garlic.  The pickled onions were slightly sweet, interspersed with a salty pop from the fried capers.  The calamari was tender and not at all rubbery, ensconced in a crunchy coating.  The spice from the cayenne was subtle, but added a nice bit of flavor to the calamari itself.  It made use of flavors that traditionally go well with fried calamari – lemon and garlic – but presented them in a different way that made this really interesting.  I would definitely make this again, especially the tarragon and garlic lemon aioli.

Fried Calamari Tacos with Fried Caper Pickled Shallot and Lemon Aioli

Fried Calamari Tacos:


1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbs. dried parsley

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Lemon aioli (see below)

Fried caper pickled shallot (see below)

Six 6″ flour tortillas

In a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed  sauce pan, heat about 1″ of oil over medium heat until it just begins to bubble or reaches a temperature of 350º.

Mix together flour, dried parsley, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and pepper on a shallow plate.  Working in small batches, toss the squid in the flour mixture to coat.

Working in small batches, add the squid to the oil and cook about 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Place about a tbs. of the lemon aioli on a tortilla.  Top with a handful of calamari and a handful of onion and fried caper slaw.  Serve immediately.

Lemon Aoili:

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 large garlic cloves, finely minced

2 tbs. fresh tarragon, finely minced

1 cup extra version olive oil

3-4 tbs. lemon juice

Put egg yolks, garlic, and tarragon in the bowl of a food processor or the bowl of an immersion blender attachment.  Process until the egg yolks get frothy and lighter in color.

With the machine running, very slowly pour in the olive oil, at first drop by drop and then in a thin stream.  Once the yolks have absorbed all of the olive oil, add lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.

Fried Caper Pickled Shallot:

2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tbs. capers, thinly sliced

1 tbs. white sugar

1 tbs. rice wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Toss together shallots, sugar, and vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Using the oil from above (before your fry the calamari), add capers to the oil.  Fry about 1 minute, using a mesh or spider strainer to remove.

Toss shallots with capers.  Serve on top of fried calamari.

Mushroom and Roasted Broccoli Risotto

13 Nov

Sorry for the prolonged absence, ladies and gentleman.  School is really kicking my ass right now, and it’s about to get worse.  Having evening classes three days a week has really detracted from cooking new and fun things to share with you all.  Zak has been a beast in the kitchen, making everything from his own spin on mujaddara to a whole grilled mackerel.  Last night, after coming home in the freezing rain from grocery shopping, I just wanted to crack open a beer and do something in the kitchen.  Risotto is perfect for those evenings – it takes a lot of attention, but it’s totally mindless attention.  I pulled up the current chapter of (my second read through of) Game of Thrones, preheated the oven, put some stock on to simmer, and spent the next forty five minutes reading, stirring, ladling, and over all unwinding.

The pay off was huge.  Comforting, creamy, flavorful risotto is the perfect fall or winter meal.  It’s filling and can be gussied up with any vegetables or add-ins you choose.  The caramelized broccoli worked beautifully with the sharp cheddar cheese and rich, unctuous homemade beef stock.  It also reheats really well, either on the stove top (add a few extra tablespoons of stock or water) or in the microwave.

Mushroom and Roasted Broccoli Risotto

8 cups homemade beef stock

1 large sprig fresh tarragon

2 tbs. butter, divided

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup dry vermouth

1/4 cup milk

1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

3 tbs. olive oil

1 head broccoli, chopped into florets, stalks discarded (about 2 cups florets)

 Preheat oven to 400°.

In a medium stock pot, bring beef stock and tarragon sprig to a simmer.  Cover and reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer.

In a large, shallow sauté pan, melt 1 tbs. butter over medium heat.  Add onion season with salt.  Cook until translucent, stirring a couple times to ensure even cooking.  Add mushroom and season with a bit more salt.  Cook until slightly golden brown.

Using a wooden spoon, push all the vegetables to one side of the pan.  Add arborio rice and toast 1-3 minutes until just starting to turn opaque.  Mix together the vegetables and rice, and deglaze the pan with vermouth.  Cook over medium heat until vermouth is mostly evaporated.

Add one ladle (about 3/4 cup) of beef stock.  Stir vigorously.  Stirring almost continuously, allowing thirty second breaks every now and again, until beef stock is mostly absorbed.  Add another ladle of stock, and continue to stir.

On one of your short breaks in stirring in the first few rounds, toss broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a tinfoil lined baked sheet.

Transfer to oven and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through and caramelized.  If the risotto isn’t done, reduce oven to warm or lowest heat setting to keep warm.

Continue to repeat process of adding stock and stirring the risotto.  The risotto should be expanding and starch should be coming off the grains, making the mixture seem creamy.  After about 45 minutes, when risotto is creamy and last stock is almost totally absorbed, add remaining tbs. of butter.  Stir to combine.  Add milk and stir to combine.  Stir continuously about one minute, until milk begins to evaporate.  Let simmer untouched a minute or so before continuing to stir another minute or two.  Once milk is about half evaporated, add cheese and stir to combine.

Serve in a bowl, topped with a handful of broccoli florets.

French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

2 Nov

My house smelled frickin’ amazing last weekend when I made this.  I made the beef stock on the same day – which happened to be a cold, rainy, dreary fall day that was absolutely perfect for simmering stock and standing over the stove caramelizing onions.  I used a couple of oxtail bones and a stewing bone, which added a ton of flavor and body.  The homemade beef stock was rich and unctuous, balanced perfectly by the sweet, slowly caramelized onions, pungent cheese, and subtle beer flavor in the bagel.  In fact, the beer bagel is what really takes this over the top in deliciousness, adding just enough of a small spin on a classic to make this dish truly exciting.  It was the absolutely perfect meal for a gloomy fall evening – totally warm you from the inside out comfort food.

French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

French Onion Soup:

Adapted slightly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1 1/2 lb. or about 5 cups of yellow onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2″ pieces lengthwise

2 tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar

3 tbs. all purpose flour

2 quarts homemade beef stock

1/2 cup dry vermouth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tbs. cognac, optional

2 beer bagels (see below), halved and toasted

1 cup gruyere, finely grated

1 cup Swiss cheese, finely grated

In a medium Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat with the fat.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise the heat to moderate, and add salt and sugar.  Cook for forty minutes or longer, until onions have turned an even, deep golden brown.  It is important to stir the onions every 2 minutes or so, scraping up any brown bits (hopefully, not burned bits) from the bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon.  Keep a very close eye on the onions, because if they burn, you have to start over.

Toward the end of the cooking process, bring beef stock to a rolling boil.

Stirring constantly, sprinkle in the flour and stir for three minutes.

Turn off the heat under the Dutch oven.  Add the boiling liquid while stirring.  Add the wine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Simmer, partially covered, for at least 40 minutes, skimming occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir in cognac, if using (I didn’t).

Preheat broiler.

Ladle into four oven proof bowls.

Float one half of a bagel in each bowl.  Top with a small handful of each type of cheese.  Transfer to broiler and broil 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Beer Bagels:

Adapted from

Note: Clearly, this makes far more bagels than you need for the soup.  They are excellent in any way in which you would normally eat a bagel.

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 (.25) oz. packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm beer (we used an American pale ale brewed by my favorite home brewer, Zak)

4 tbs. white sugar, divided

1 tbs. salt

Preheat oven to 375º.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast.  Mix beer, 3 tbs. sugar, and salt together and add to the dry ingredients.  Beat with a hand mixer for about half a minute at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean.  Beat at a higher speed for about three minutes.  By hand, mix in enough flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn out onto a lightly flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  Cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cut into 12 portions, shape into smooth balls.  Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape.  Cover, and let rise for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start a large pot of water boiling.  Add remaining tbs. of sugar.  Reduce to simmering.

Put 4-5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once.  Drain them.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.

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