Calamari Steak

Was roaming around Whole Foods the other night looking for something to make for dinner and came across something I hadn’t seen before — Calamari Steak.  I’ve had rings and thin calamari tubes, but this stuff was amazing. About 1/2″ thick and 1/2lb per steak. Had to give it a try.

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Unfortunately neither of the guys at the seafood counter had any idea how to cook it so did a little research while waiting in line to check out.  I found info that said season and pan sear for about 1 minute per side.  That sounds easy enough.  I just used for garlic salt and Florida Seasoning from Penzey’s for seasoning.

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To pair with this, I also sauteed some kale and mushrooms in sesame oil.

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When I was at Whole Foods I also came across some Manchego that was on sale.  Love Manchego because I can actually eat it because it’s made with sheep’s milk vs. cow’s milk.  Lactose intolerant folks can bear it!

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So, with all said and done, enjoyed a great meal of calamari steak — which was a bit chewy, in a cool way, kale & mushrooms, manchego and olives.  Not too shabby, at all.

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Let’s Get Crack(er)in’

Pre-dinner, appetizers, crackers.  Go to store, reach for X box.  Get home, open cardboard then bag (or just rip open the bag of pita chips — don’t lie).  Why must we always do this?

I am crafting ideas for an event in a couple weeks and wanted to do a test pilot recipe for homemade super crisp crackers.  Did some googling and an Alton Brown recipe came up on Food TV‘s site.  How can you go wrong with Alton?  I used the basics and threw in some lemon zest and vodka to complement some of the fish I aim to serve the crackers with.

Ingredients
5 ounces whole-wheat flour
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
<used all whole wheat because I was out of regular!>
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 1/2 ounces water
<used 1.5 ounces vodka and 5 ounces water>
added 1.5 teaspoons lemon zest
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I went with the awesome Penzey’s dry lemon peel for my zest that I wanted to add.   Add water, 15 minutes later, voila!
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Then, you just mix the dry ingredients, blend in the wet ones, knead a few times and break into 8 small balls of dough.
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You let them sit for 15 minutes then roll them out to desired thickness, based on what kind of cracker you’d like.
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Put the entire piece of dough in the oven.  You’re supposed to flip them half way but I love baking stuff on oven-proof racks to avoid the flipping need.  After 6-15 minutes, depending on what you choose (based on Alton’s specs), take the crisps out of the oven, let cool, then break into desired size of crackers.
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The recipe (online) got rave reviews.  I think my effort to put my own flavor into it altered it a bit in an off way (the vodka made them a bit ‘soggy’) but they are still darn edible.  I just always love tweaking things.  But, give them a try!  Very easy to make and a fun alternative to store-bought crackers.

There’s no place like home

I have been out and about the past few days and as much as I love it, I have been tapping the heels of my ruby red slippers together to get back to my kitchen.

Tonight I was finally able to do so.  With the amazing weather I wanted to make something light and refreshing and one of my favorite salads is Nicoise.  But, I love just making spinoffs of it.  So, after walking around outside for hours and doing a mental inventory of my kitchen, I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up the balance of ingredients I needed to make the ideal dinner.

My relaxing night preparing ‘Nicoise’ included making a vinaigrette with:

-Lemon olive oil

-Italian herb vinegar

-Dijon mustard

Penzey’s Sunset Spices

-Garlic

-S&P

Then, the ingredients for the salad ended up being:

-Arugula

-Pan seared shrimp

-Green beans

-Grape tomatoes

-Artichoke hearts

-Greek olives

-Peanuts

-Generic triscuits on the side

Oh yeah, red wine, too.  Had more of what I was enjoying while writing the post about the wine bar in Annapolis — Anakena Pinot Noir from Chile.  It’s about $13/bottle in the DC-area.

All in all, delicious and refreshing.  Trader Joe’s has great fresh, frozen and canned ingredients.  Actually, there is VERY little that isn’t great at TJ’s.  I will say, don’t go generic for triscuits, not worth it (I didn’t get the crackers at Trader Joe’s).

Great way to end the week.  And tomorrow is Monday, it’s supposed to be in the upper 70s, and work calls.  I digress…

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Testing…1,2,3…Testing

herbThe kitchen is my playground.  My parents brought my brother and me up in the land filled with spoons, forks, knives, blenders, mixers (go KitchenAid Stand Mixer), stoves (gas is the only acceptable type), BBQs & more.  And, we had to eat everything.  I have therefore learned not to waste anything.  In order to not waste, I love just making stuff…testing.  I know various flavors and what can and can’t, or shouldn’t, go together.

  I have some fresh herbs left from a dinner last week that I don’t want to them go bad/waste.  What to do with them?  Thick pesto-like dip, cheese-free is what I came up with.  So, ingredients I pulled from various areas of the kitchen, along with the essential mini-prep food processor:

All quantities are ‘some’ — who really measures?  It’s all about taste!

-fresh basil

-fresh flat leaf parsley

-1 lemon (ok, measured, but still could be big, could be small)

-garlic — I cheated and used stuff from the jar

-walnuts

-almonds

-S&P

-a great Penzey’s spice with lemony-Italian flavors

-olive oil

Blended, sampled, added more stuff, blended, sampled.  Good!  Now, will get final reviews after it’s been in the fridge for about 24 hours.  Plan to serve with chips, tomatoes and/or mushrooms for dipping.

Testing…1,2,3…Testing.