Calamari with a spicy mustard Aioli

I’m back! And continuing with my menu challenge, here’s another appetizer: Fried Calamari with a spicy mustard aioli.

I’m a big seafood fan and calamari is just the best! I had to do some hunting for it though, it’s not always available but it was worth it! I put it in a cornmeal flour crust to make it extra crispy and because I love heat, added some cayenne pepper! I first tried calamari when I worked in an Italian restaurant. The initial thought of it grossed me out! Eating squid?! yuck! I guess I was told what’s what!  Here’s the finished product:

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This mustard aioli fairly easy too. You can sorta make this aioli to taste, but I put 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard, 1 tsp of finely minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper and a dash of salt and pepper and oregano. Let it sit in the fridge for a little bit to thicken. This will be enough sauce for a half pound of calamari rings.

I’m becoming very impressed with myself at my ability to search out food that I usually don’t look for and actually do this whole ‘cooking’ thing! Plus, it’s really fun. Most of my cooking has been self-taught other than learning from my parents and family friends; (for which I’m forever grateful!)

I think my next post will be something about cheese and wine, as that is one of Italy‘s finest gems!  Thanks for reading and share with your friends!

 

8. Italian French Fries with Rosemary Aioli

Who knew that french fries could be so difficult? I had the hardest time taking a good picture of these things! Nevertheless, I found a way to show the yumminess of these fries. Everything is homemade, including the aioli, which was indeed my first time making it.

French fries make me happy though. I usually always order them if I go out for happy hour or if there’s a bar menu. It’s always exciting to see what kind of aioli restaurants and cooks come up with to pair with fries. I’ve seen all kinds: saffron, truffle, rosemary, anchovy (yes, from the little smelly fish anchovies!) and spicy. I love them all! You can also use aioli for sandwiches instead of plain mustard or mayonnaise. And making it from scratch is kinda exciting! Eggs and oil, simple as that. I’m not sure though how the store bought mayonnaise is so white! Every recipe I’ve seen gives it a yellowish tint from the egg yolk, unless your adding a ton  of olive oil…. hmm.. Mysterious!

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What I learned is to cut the potatoes the long way into semi-thin slices, then stack them on each other and cut into fries. I like leaving the skin on, it adds more flavor! I deep fried these in oil and then dressed them up with Italian seasoning, swiss cheese, salt/pepper and  drizzled the aioli ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil very slowly added as your beating the eggs on pretty high speed. You can add 1 tsp. of garlic and cayenne or more to taste!) on top.

 

4 appetizers down, just a few more to go! Then we move onto Salads, then soups, then entrees and finally desserts!

 

7. Citrus Marinated Olives

To be honest, I’m not a fan of olives! I’d eat them if I had to, but I’m not crazy about them. Being a chef though, you’ve got to remember that it’s about the people’s likes, not yours! Olives are extremely vital to Italian cuisine.. hmm I wonder why?? Haha.

This appetizer off of my menu combines salty, briny Sicilian Green olives with  garlic, citrus (oranges), olive oil, peppers with a dash of cumin and parsley.  It’s got an interesting taste, maybe one that needs to be acquired, especially if your not an “olive” type of person. I imagine they would go great with a cold dirty (or clean, since you’re eating olives!) martini.

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The idea here is to let them marinate obviously. If you’re planning on eating them the same day, leave them out at room temp. for 2-3 hours in the marinade. If you need them tomorrow or another day, put in them in a container, covered and chill for up to 4-5 days. I assume the longer you marinate them, the better they are!

Take 1 Cup of Sicilan Green Olives (like from an olive bar at a local grocery store)

3/4 cup. Olive oil

1 Orange, cut up into slices (plus save the rind for zesting)

1/2 tsp. cumin and parsley (each)

A few julienned slices (cut into long thin strips) of red  pepper

A few julienned slices of banana pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

Cooking on low heat, put everything except the oranges and olives in a pan for 16 minutes, letting the mixture become aromatic and stirring occasionally. Pour the olives in a bowl and put a few slices of the orange in it as well. Set aside and let those marry! Once the olive oil mixture is cooked, let that sit for 30 minutes and pour that over the olives/oranges. Zest the rind of the unused orange over the olives and either let sit for 2-3 hours or cover and chill for up to 5 days. Grab a martini and enjoy!