Crispy Panko Calamari

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Calamari 1

This is a super easy recipe, the key is finding good quality squid. I bought fresh tubes at the Whole Foods Seafood Counter, if you like tentacles you may have to buy them frozen. Always look for cleaned calamari/squid.This recipe is for a main dish for two or an appetizer for four. It is easily doubled for larger servings. The combination of flour, polenta and panko assure a crispy crust. Furikake adds some umami and the sesame in it adds another element of crunch.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound squid

4 egg whites

1/4 cup milk

2 cups panko

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup grits or polenta

2 Tablespoons Furikake Wasabi seasoning (Japanese seasoning for rice) to taste

4 Tablespoons Sweet Onion Sugar

Sweet Chili Sauce and Seafood Cocktail Sauce for dipping

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Method:

  • Slice the calamari into rings.
  • I like to soak my calamari in buttermilk before cooking, salt water is another option. Soak for about 30 minutes then rinse and dry.
  • Heat a wok and add canola or peanut oil to a depth of about 2 “. You want it about 350 degrees.

Calamari 2

  • Mix the egg white and milk in one pan/bowl
  • Mix the dry ingredients in another pan/bowl
  • Set up a draining pan or use a plate with paper towels
  • Dredge the calamari through the egg white mixture, making sure to open the rings so they get coated on the inside too
  • Dredge them through the breading mix, also getting the insides coated.

Calamari close up

  • Work in small batches of about 8-10 rings and fry, turning once. When both sides are golden brown, move to draining tray.
  • When finished serve with sauces and chopsticks.

Calamari plated

Smoked Pork Butt Porchetta Style

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This is one of the most delicious recipes and the meat can be used in so many ways after the original meal. You can make pulled pork and porcini gravy over grits/polenta, pulled pork sandwiches with BBQ sauce, tacos, as a topping for fresh pasta, empanadas, tostados and tamales among other things. The spices in the porchetta filling are distinctly Latin and permeate the meat along with the smoke. Keep in mind that “Latin” includes Italy as well as Latin America. If you do not have a smoker, you can get the flavor by Braising the butt with liquid smoke and beer in a slow cooker or oven before you add the bourbon and do the second braise.

I have not posted in several weeks. I had a knee injury that kept me from doing a lot of cooking. It is getting better or at least the cortisone injection is making it feel that way. It is good to be able to stand for more than a few minutes again. Meanwhile the Low Country is in it’s early summer glory after we suffered through an unusual plant killing winter. It is so great to see green and blooms again.

Smoked Butt Porchetta Style

Ingredients:

  • A large, well marbled pork butt (shoulder) with the fat on one side. Bone in is fine.
  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup corriander seeds
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Cup of Bourbon for braising

Method:

  • Put the seeds in a dry non stick pan and toast till you start to hear them pop. Remove and allow to cool

Porchetta seeds

  • In a food processor place the parsley, garlic, cooled seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Pulse till a thick paste is developed. You may need to add more oil to make a paste.

Porchetta seeds.in blender

  • Place one inch deep and wide slits all around the meat about 1″ apart.
  • Fill each slit with the paste. If there is any paste left, rub it all over the meat.

porchetta ready for smoker

  • Place the butt fat side up in the smoker on lowest temperature. I used apple wood this time, but I often use maple or cherry.
  • Smoke for 8 hours do not let the heat get higher than 250.

Porchetta in smoker

  • Remove to a dutch oven or slow cooker pour the bourbon over the meat and cover. Bake on lowest temperature the oven will go to for another 8 hours or if using a crock pot, leave the lid slightly ajar. Cook on low for 10 hours.

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I made a gravy using porcini mushrooms the drippings from the meat (removed fat by chilling) and some cornstarch. For the first meal I served it with polenta/grits and it was delicious. Then on the next day we had pulled pork sandwiches and a few days later, we are having pulled pork tacos!

Bucatini two ways!

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Bucatini

Bucatini is one of my favorite pastas. It is a long noodle (#6) and it is hollow. This makes a chewy and delicious pasta dish. The first method is with bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil and herbs, topped with cheese and bread crumbs. The second has a sauce of butter roasted tomatoes with anchovies and garlic. Both are super fast and easy. Both have two layers of garlic flavor, utilizing fresh garlic and Vik’s Garlic Fix, one of my favorite products.

garlic

Bucatini with breadcrumbs

Bucatini with Bread Crumbs and Garlic, serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh bread (Italian or sourdough is best for this) crumbs toasted in a pan with 2 TBS butter
10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBS Vik’s Garlic Fix
1 TBS fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch of fresh parsley or 1/4 cup dried parsley
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup parmigiana, grated
1/2 package bucatini pasta, cooked al dente

Method:

garlic and oil

The sauce is made as the pasta cooks. While your pasta is boiling place the olive oil, Vik’s and the red pepper in a frying pan and sear till the garlic is soft and lightly browned.

breadcrumbs

When the pasta is done strain and toss with the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add the cheese and top with bread crumbs and parsley! It is delicious!

Bucatini with breadcrumbs
Next method: Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce, serves 4

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Ingredients:

8 cloves of garlic
1 TBS Vik’s Garlic Fix
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes (and juice)
6 small anchovies in olive oil
1/4 cup Sweet Onion Sugar
2 Tbs Italian Herb Blend
6 Tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces
Salt and Black pepper
1/2 package Bucatini Pasta, cooked al dente

Fresh Italian Parsley or Basil for garnish.
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In an oven proof pan with deep sides, place all ingredients. Roast at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. After removing from the oven, smash the garlic, tomatoes and anchovies with a fork to achieve a thick chunky sauce. Toss half of the sauce with the bucatini and a ladle of pasta water. Then dish up and put remaining sauce on the pasta. Garnish with the fresh herbs.

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Irish Soda Bread Pudding with Cheddar

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Soda Bread and Irish Cheddar Bread Pudding w logo

This bread pudding recipe is a sort of a “two fer”, as it also includes a recipe for really great Irish Soda Bread. Soda Bread does not use yeast, it somewhat resembles a very large biscuit. It is easy to make and you will only use about half of the loaf for this recipe. Try toasting the leftovers with butter and jam.

Ingredients:

For the Soda Bread:

2 Cups all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons for dusting

1 teaspoon baking soda (be sure it is fresh)

1 teaspoon non aluminum baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

2 Tablespoons chopped dill

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 Cup of buttermilk (shake before pouring)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Pudding:

4 large fresh eggs

2 cups whole milk

½ cup of heavy cream

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups grated Irish Cheddar Cheese

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Paprika

6 6 ounce ramekins or a 2 quart baking dish

Method

Soda Bread before cooking

FOR THE SODA BREAD:

Preheat oven to 350°

In a food processor add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pulse a few times. Add the caraway, pepper and dill, pulse a few more times. Add the buttermilk and butter. Pulse again till it just begins to form a ball.

Place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth ball and flatten into a 6 inch flattened round. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

With a very sharp knife, cut an X in the top of the dough about ½ inch deep. This assures even cooking.

Use a small sieve to dust the top with additional flour.

Bake on middle shelf (I also use a baking stone for even heat) for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a hollow sound is made when tapped.

Cool on a rack. This can be done one day ahead.

Soda Bread

FOR THE PUDDINGS:

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray the ramekins with olive oil

Cut ½ of the bread into cubes and place them in the ramekins about half way up. Reserve remaining cubes.

Make the custard by whisking the eggs, milk, cream, salt & pepper. Stir in the cheeses. Pour into a pitcher.

bread pudding in water bath

Place the ramekins in a hotel pan or 9 X 13 baking dish, cover the bread with custard, making sure some cheese goes in. Then add additional cubes to the top of the ramekin 3/4 of the way from the top. Pour all of the mixture into the ramekins, filling them to the top. Sprinkle with a little paprika. Add about 2 inches of water to the hotel pan and bake 35-40 minutes. They are finished when a knife is inserted and comes out clean.

Iriish Soda Bread Pudding

Remove from the water and place on a towel or rack and allow to rest for 15 minutes or more.

Share with your favorite leprechauns.

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Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes, Olives and Meyer Lemon

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best shot

This dish is simple and yet one of the best dishes I have ever made. The flavors come bold and subtly, rich and satisfying and engagingly interesting at the same time. The inspiration came from Jerusalem by Yytam Ottolenghi and Sami Tammi. I added Meyer lemon, olives (black oil cured and green pitted) and used half of the chicken of their recipe. I also used more olive oil and less water than their recipe. So you can just add more chicken if you want to serve four people. You can Also use a whole chicken cut up instead of thighs.

Before oven

Ingredients:

  • 1 # Jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes) peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (I used Meyer, but any lemon juice is fine)
  • 4 bone in chicken thighs
  • 6 large shallots cut in half
  • 12 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 medium Meyer Lemons, cut in half and then sliced thinly (you can use other kinds of lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons pink pepper berries crushed
  • A hand full of olives (I used black oil cured and green)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves (I used lemon thyme)
  • 1 cup (yes that is a lot) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I used Murray River)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper corns

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Method:

  • Put the chokes in a sauce pan, cover with water and add half of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, the chokes should be just barely cooked. Strain and allow to cool.
  • Mix together all of the remaining ingredients reserving 1/2 of the tarragon.
  • Put the chicken in a bowl and pour everything over the chicken and chokes.
  • Chill for 1-24 hours. I only marinated for 1 hour and it was extremely flavorful.
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees
  • Place the chicken skin side up in a roasting pan or clay pot
  • Spread the remaining ingredients all around the chicken
  • Roast for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and roast another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the reserved tarragon sprinkled on top.

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Crusty bread is good with this as there are fantastic brothy juices.

Saffron, Blood Orange, Chicken and Herb Salad

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Fennel chicken salad blood orange

You are going to LOVE this. It is so good, full of herbs, honey, saffron and grilled chicken… flavor, flavor and more flavor! the original inspiration came from the fabulous cook book, Jerusalem. I added more herbs and changed the oranges to blood oranges.

This is easy. You can do it with blood oranges, regular oranges or tangerines. The honey, saffron and reduced orange pieces make for a fabulous sauce/dressing. This serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of your favorite honey
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron threads
  • 2 TBS champagne vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more to cover oranges) water
  • 2 chicken breast halves (boneless/skinless)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBS Sumac
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small fennel bulbs sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves torn
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves chiffonade
  • 1 red chile thinly sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees If using a grill, start it.
  • Trim and top the oranges. Cut one into wedges of 8ths with the skin on, remove the peel and make supremes on the other. Reserve the supremes for the salad.
  • Place the 8ths of orange into a saucepan with the honey, saffron, vinegar and water to cover the orange pieces.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour, till a thick syrup forms.

Blood orange and honey

  • Allow to cool slightly then put into a food processor and process till a thick syrup results. You may need to add a tiny bit more water.

Blood orange and honey food processor

  • Put the chicken on a grill pan or grill and sear till golden and char marks form (2-3 minutes per side, then put in the oven to finish, till interior measures 150 degrees and then remove and allow to cool.

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  • When cool enough, tear apart chicken into bite size pieces, add to a large bowl and then add the herbs, oranges, fennel, chiles, lemon juice and the orange syrup. Toss, add remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Easy Tabbouleh (Tabouli)

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Tabouli

This is such a nutritious and delicious thing to have on hand. It can be served with grilled pita bread, rustic breads, slices of radishes, carrots or cucumbers or eaten as a salad on its own. There are a lot of recipes out there, this one is based on a Palestinian version, basically a parsley salad. Chop and stir! This keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. I used fresh and dried parsley to get different levels of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat, soaked for 2-4 hours in boiling water, then strained
  • 1 pound of grape tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large bunches fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried parsley 
  • 2 large bunches mint (not peppermint) finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs Baharat seasoning (see below)
  • 1 Tbsp Sumac (more if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper (I use a four peppercorn blend)
  • Sea salt to taste

Baharat Spice Mix

To make spice mix: Toast all but the nutmeg in a dry pan, being careful not to burn. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind to a fine powder).  Add the nutmeg and stir. Keeps for 8-10 weeks

To make Tabbouleh:

Add all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Taste before adding salt and pepper. Serve with additional lemon quarters.