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Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

17 Feb

Our refrigerator was on the fritz a couple of days back.  I went to pour myself a glass of milk on Valentine’s morning and it was curdled.  Ew.  And our landlord was out of town.  So, basically anything in the fridge was of little or no use.  Luckily, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot in the fridge to begin with, since I’ve been way too busy to do much shopping.  And the freezer was still okay, which means I had to think about what was in the freezer and the pantry to comprise a colorable Valentine’s Day dinner.

This delectable finger food was a really delicious explosion of flavors and textures.  I had originally planned to use scallions in place of the chiles, but Zak requested I mince up a few of the hot peppers and it turned out to be a really excellent substitution.  Beware – these chiles are very hot, so be careful when handling and reduce the amount or remove all of the seeds if you aren’t a huge fan of spice.  Alternatively, you can substitute a milder chile such as a jalapeño or poblano.  We both really enjoyed this, however, and I thought the flavor worked well with the brightness of the lemon juice and earthiness of the garlic.  The calmari had a really nice crunchy bite to it, and alongside some rice, this made for a light and delicious dinner for two.

Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

1/4 cup canola oil

1 lb. squid, bodies and tentacles, defrosted if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ rings

3 tbs. all-purpose flour

3 tbs. cornstarch

4 cloves garlic, grated

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2-3 Thai chiles, very finely minced

In a cast iron pan, heat canola oil over high heat until oil is shimmering, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large brown paper or ziplock bag, add all flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Shake until calamari is well coated.  Shake off extra flour and add calamari to pan, working in batches if necessary, and cook 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add the chiles the last thirty seconds or so, and cook  until calamari is cooked through but tender.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

While the calamari is draining, toss together garlic and  lemon zest.  Toss with calamari and serve with lemon juice.

Sweet Pickled Daikon Radish

28 Nov

These daikon radish pickles are pretty, delicious, and different.  I had an absolutely ginormous daikon radish from the CSA, as you may remember, and needed to use it up ASAP a couple of weeks ago.  As I stated, I had been planning on bringing a relish tray along to Thanksgiving, so I thought pickling the radish would be a wise move.  I chose this recipe because I guessed – correctly, which is more than I can say for the last constitutional law quiz I took – that the turmeric would impart a lovely yellow color to the radishes that would look pretty next to some pickled beets and dill pickles.  They also tasted lovely, with a hint of sweetness and a really interesting umami from the sesame oil.

Sweet Pickled Daikon Radish

Adapted from Tyler Florence

1 cup rice vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. sesame oil

1/4 tsp. tumeric

About 1 lb. daikon radish, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds (or half moons if your radish was huge like mine)

1/4 cup kosher salt

In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil, and tumeric over medium-high heat to a boil.  Whisk to make sure all sugar is combined.  Let cool.

Meanwhile, toss radish slices and kosher salt together and let drain in a colander for about an hour.  Rinse the daikon.

Place daikon in a canning jar and pour cooled sugar and water mixture over.  Seal tightly.  Refrigerate at least over night before serving.

Pickled Beets

25 Nov

While pickled beets may not be for everyone, if they are something that you think – even oh-so-slightly – you might be interested in, you should try this recipe.  Especially if you have an abundance of beets from your CSA and an itch to use up some pickles in your fridge by making a relish tray (it’s the holidays, after all!).  These beet pickles are incredibly easy to make.  Just roast some beets, slice them up, boil some stuff, and put it all in a canning jar.  Leave it there for a week or so and you will have really earthy and delicious pickled beets with a kick of vinegar.  As a bonus, the onions are also a really delicious treat and are a beautiful burgundy after a few days in the jar with the beets.

Pickled Beets

Adapted from Alton Brown

3 roasted beets, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick

1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup beet juice (from boiling beets or defrosting in water), or water

Arrange beets and onions in layers in a canning jar.

Meanwhile, bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.  Whisk to make sure sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

Pour over beets and tightly close lid.

Let refrigerate 3-7 days before serving.

Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas

7 Oct

Empanadas = adultspeak for super-awesome hot pockets.  These empanadas are absolutely addictive and delicious.  The earthy sweetness of the sweet potatoes plays well with the spicy peppers, savory pork, and umami of the soy sauce.  Once ensconced in a flaky, delicious dough, this filling really sings.

These empanadas are equally delicious both hot out of the oven and cold out of the refrigerator.  I served them with soy sauce and garlic hot sauce mixture as a dipping sauce, but they would be good with absolutely nothing or pretty much anything you could think of.  I loved the combination of soy and hot sauce because it worked with the flavors that already existed in the empanada.

Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas

Empanada Dough:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup cold water

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 tsp. vinegar

3 tbs. shortening

Lightly whisk together water, egg, egg white, and vinegar.  Set aside.

Add flour to a food processor.  A little bit at a time, while pulsing, add shortening.  If necessary, add more shortening or flour to get a crumbly, moist consistency.

With machine running, slowly pour in egg and water mixture until dough just forms.

Remove from food processor and knead until dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24 hours.

Pork and Sweet Potato Filling:

1 1/2 cup baked sweet potato flesh

1 cup leftover pork, chopped (I used the pork rib roast from the pork and pepper jack stuffed peppers)

1/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2  very  hot pepper, such as a habanero, minced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tbs. paprika

1 tbs. soy sauce

Mix together all ingredients.

Assembled Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas:

Makes about 6-8 empanadas

Empanada dough, see above

Pork and sweet potato filling, see above

2 tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º

When making empanadas, work with a floured surface and rolling pin.  Roll out dough and, using cookie cutter (or, if you’re like me and don’t have them, a round bowl 6″ in diameter), cut into circles.

Place a heaping tbs. of filling (see above) in the center of the empanada dough.  Brush edges with water and fold in half to form a half moon.

Crimp edges on both sides with a fork.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Add empanadas.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Pan Fried Corn Fritters

16 Sep

These pan fried corn fritters were absolutely delicious.  They had that addictive crunchy/soft dichotomy that is characteristic of a round, deep-fried corn fritter but with a lot less of the oil (and trouble, if you ask me).  These had a light heat from the Old Bay that worked perfectly with the slightly sweet flavor of the corn.  There was a really lovely variation in flavors from the juicy corn, crunchy bell pepper, and soft batter, all encased in a crispy, salty outside layer.  The beer added an effervescent fluffiness to the batter that rounded the whole thing out.

I served these alongside an oven-baked spicy whole red snapper initially, but ate them as leftovers heated up in the oven with an over easy egg the next day as an early lunch/late breakfast and they were to die for that way, too.  They would make a great appetizer at a party.  If you scaled them down and decreased the cooking time proportionately, you could even have a bite sized finger-food – maybe topped with a small dollop of sour cream or a few different dipping sauces.

In other news, I’m about to head out the door to South Bend, Indiana with my dad to cheer for Notre Dame against Michigan State tomorrow afternoon.  So, I will be posting my weekly CSA update on Sunday.

Pan Fried Corn Fritters

1/2 cup all-natural, whole wheat flour

Large pinch baking power

Large pinch salt

1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup beer (I used some of Zak’s homemade red ale)

1 1/2 cup corn kernels, from roughly 1-2 large cobs of corn, boiled for 5-6 minutes

1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

Freshly cracked black pepper

About 1/4 cup corn or canola oil

Using a whisk, mix together flour, baking power, salt, and Old Bay seasoning until well combined.  Add egg and beer.  Continue stirring with the whisk until smooth. Using a spoon, gently fold in corn and green bell pepper until just combined.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.  Gently spoon in 2-3 tbs. of batter, patting down with the back of a spoon as soon as it’s in the pan.  Repeat, spacing the fritters out by about 1/2″.

Cook, 3-4 minutes per side, until deeply golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Repeat with remaining batter until all fritters are cooked, adding oil if necessary.

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