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!

 

10. Sidetracked: Mussels Oreganata

Did I tell you that I get sidetracked sometimes? Well I do! When I was making my mussels with tomato broth appetizer for my previous post, I thought of another dish that would be perfect for my menu. I saw a version of it on Food network and decided that this was something worth trying! Rather than cooking the mussels in a broth, you just steam them so they can open up, and then you make this herby, garlicy paste (with lots of oregano!) that you put on top of the mussel and lightly broil it. Its just as easy and just as good as the previous dish.

By the way, I love seafood! Mussels, oysters, clams, fish, shrimp.. So delicious! I grew up right on Lake Michigan, so seafood was very present with a lot of food I ate!

Here’s what my version of Mussels Oreganata looks like:

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The bed of salt keeps the mussels from moving and sliding around and the parsley is just a nice garnish! Adds good color to the dish! I think the next dish I’ll post will take us back on dry land!

9. Mussels in a spicy tomato broth

Definitely ran into another roadblock as I was trying to upload my awesome picture of this appetizer from my menu! It wasn’t allowing me to upload! How frustrating right? Oh the joys of running a food blog!  Especially when it worked all the other times. But it got fixed thank goodness!

You know one of the cool things about making a food blog is that you get forced (in such a good way!) to eat food that you might not usually eat often. For me, it’s mussels. I love them but always thought I could never afford to purchase them from a seafood store! I think I always thought they were really expensive, so I only order them when I’m out at a restaurant. Surprisingly, they’re not expensive at all and you can get a lot of them for not that much, since they weigh next to nothing!

Take a look at this amazing dish. Amazing photography right? And it’s SO flavorful and rich, with a nice salty briny (fishy) taste! I bet it would go great with a nice bottle (i mean glass! 🙂 of white wine and a crostini.

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What are your favorite seafood dishes??

Oh and since this is a test kitchen, I’ve come up with another appetizer that involves mussels. I’m going to try it out and post it in the next few days! Stay tuned.

Stay tuned for the recipe as well. Making some final touches on it.

Share with your friends, family and tell me what you’re favorite seafood dishes are!

5. Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus

Well, I did it! The first of many challenges. Today we have a delicious appetizer from my menu: pancetta wrapped asparagus with a fried egg and a delicious, creamy hollandaise sauce. It was delicious. I was very proud of myself! I’ll let the pictures do the 1,000 word speaking!

BEFORE                                                                                                                                    

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 AFTER 

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I have to admit, I was super nervous this morning when I was thinking about how to prepare it, plate it and if the pictures would turn out good! Whew! Glad there wasn’t much to worry about.  This all in all, was a fairly easy dish to make and it turned out beautifully right? The recipe for this was pretty simple as you’ll see.

First, I took the asparagus and washed them. I cut off the ends, grouped them in “4’s”  and set them aside. Next, I took the pancetta (2 slices for each group) and wrapped it around each group of four. I sprinkled each group with olive oil, salt and pepper, put it on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 400 degrees for approx 30 min.

Next, I made my version of hollandaise sauce. You’ll need (for 1 cup serving) 3 egg yolks, dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, 1 tsp of cumin (gives it a savory and nutty flavor), 1 tsp of cayenne pepper (more if you like spicy!) and 1/2 a cup of melted, hot butter.  Start by pulsing the eggs, orange juice, cumin and cayenne with a hand held mixer for 30-35 seconds. Slowly add the butter; you’ll start seeing the sauce thicken and get creamy. Once all the butter is added, set sauce aside.

Finally, I made the egg. Here’s a nice tip: cook the egg on medium low in vegetable oil and spoon the oil in the pan over the yolk and whites and you’ll get a nice shiny yolk and firm white area, which makes it look great and easy to handle.  Then just assemble how you want to!

That’s it! Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus. Tell me what you think of it! Leave a comment, share with your friends/family and for once, try this at home!