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Feed on Friday in a Flash with Fried Calamari and Puttanesca Dipping Sauce

Michelle has been away on business all week so it has just been Sean and myself home for dinner each night and I let Sean choose some of the meals we would have this week. Naturally he chose things like burgers and pizza but he also wanted us to have some fried calamari this week for dinner. I love fried calamari myself, whether as an appetizer or as the main course, so  I decided to make some for dinner for us and I found this recipe from Chuck Hughes on the Cooking Channel that was some calamari with a nice puttanesca dipping sauce. It seemed very easy to make and looked delicious so I decided to give it a go.

Fried Calamari with Puttanesca Dipping Sauce

For the Calamari:

1 pound fresh calamari

2 cups milk

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 eggs

Vegetable oil, for frying

Lemon wedges, for serving

For the Puttanesca Dipping Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1/4 cup pitted, diced black olives

1 tablespoon capers

3 tomatoes, diced

Pinch of chile flakes

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the calamari, clean the calamari and cut the bodies into thick rings, reserving the tentacles separately.

Mix the milk and the lemon juice in a large bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the hot sauce. Add the calamari and allow it to soak in the buttermilk for up to 4 hours.

In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the paprika and the cayenne pepper until blended. In another separate medium bowl, beat the eggs.

Remove the calamari from the buttermilk and allow it to drain. Dip the calamari into the beaten egg and then into the flour mixture to dredge it.

Fill a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven with 2 cups of vegetable oil and heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 360 degrees on a candy thermometer, or if you are using a deep fryer, set the deep fryer to 360 degrees. Fry the calamari, in batches, until they are golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes. Place the calamari on a plate and pat them dry with paper towels to remove any excess oil. Sprinkle the calamari with salt and pepper. Serve with the puttanesca dipping sauce and lemon wedges.

For the Puttanesca dipping sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, anchovies, chopped olives, capers and tomatoes. Saute the mixture, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and the chile flakes to taste. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a little bit of water and mix to thin out the sauce. Stir in the parsley and the lemon zest and serve.

you end up with crispy and tasty calamari and the dipping sauce was great. The mix of the anchovy, olives, capers and tomatoes were perfect and made a great compliment to the calamari. Of course, you can always just use buttermilk if you have some on hand instead of making your own as the recipe does, but many people do not always have buttermilk on hand so this is a good quick fix for that.  As I said, this is great as an appetizer or an entrée, and we had it for dinner with some rice and vegetables to round out the meal. I forgot to take a picture of the sauce, but trust me, it comes out very tasty and fragrant.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Sauce, Seafood

 

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A Ballpark Treat at Home – Homemade Soft Pretzels

Sean has been asking me to try to make my own pretzels for a while now. I had seen a bunch of recipes and I was always a little reluctant to try it. A lot of them seemed pretty time-consuming and called for a lot of space for rolling out dough, which I do not have. I finally came across one recipe that seemed easy enough to try. This one is from Chuck Hughes on the Cooking Channel and also includes a recipe for a cheese sauce. I personally didn’t make the cheese sauce, but I’ll include it here if you want something to go along with the pretzels.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons melted butter

Vegetable oil

2/3 cup baking soda

2 egg yolks beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Coarse salt

Cheese Sauce:

1 bottle beer

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup cream cheese, diced and softened

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeno, minced

Salt and pepper

Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the dry yeast on the top. Let the mixture sit until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and butter. Using the dough hook attachment for the mixer, mix on low-speed until everything is well combined. Change the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil the bowl with the vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, toss the dough so it gets oiled, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in a warm location until the dough has doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly brush the parchment with vegetable oil. Set the tray aside.

When the dough is ready, lightly flour your working surface and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U shape with the rope and, holding the two ends, cross them over each other and  press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place the pretzels on the baking tray and leave it at room temperature for 1 hour. This helps to dry out the surface of the pretzels and makes them easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In an 8-quart saucepan, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Lower the heat and slowly begin to add the baking soda to prevent overflowing. Bring the water back to a boil and add the pretzels, one at a time, to the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water using a large flat spatula or a spider and put them back on the tray. Repeat the process with the remaining pretzels. The boiling will help to create a shiny, brown crunchy pretzel shell.

Beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the top of each pretzel. Sprinkle he pretzels with coarse salt. Bake the pretzels until they are a dark, golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer the pretzels to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

For the cheese sauce, in a saucepan over medium heat, bring the beer to a simmer. In a separate bowl, mix the Cheddar cheese and the cream cheese with the flour. Add the cheese mixture to the beer with the remaining ingredients. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the texture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep the sauce warm until you are serving.

I have to say the pretzels took a little bit of extra work, but they were worth it. The first batch I tried I had the water too warm, killed the yeast, and had to start over. The second batch I ended up having to add more flour to, about 2/3 of a cup, to get a dough that held together well. Once I did that, everything else went along according to the recipe. The pretzels came out great with a really good flavor that we all enjoyed. The recipe only makes 8 pretzels, so if you were planning for a party, you might have to double the recipe. As for the cheese sauce, I didn’t make it myself but it would seem to me that it would be a good sauce to use not just for pretzels, but for vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower, for tacos, nachos or any other time you want a cheese sauce. You could also use other things instead of salt to cover the pretzels, like a  cinnamon sugar, or some Parmesan cheese if you desire.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I’ll be trying out some new slow cooker recipes this week, so keep an eye out for those. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Cooking, Sauce, Snacks

 

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Jennifer Probst

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Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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