Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Party

What better to do when a hurricane looms in the distance? Cook, eat, and catch up on DVR of course.
What to cook, what to cook, what to cook?  I love those times when dinner is a blank slate and you can literally choose anything you want.  After some serious deliberation, we finally decided on...Blueberry spinach salad with goat cheese, fried calamari, and penne with sun-dried tomato cream sauce with chicken.  mmmmkay?
This salad was so good, and actually just thrown together on a whim.  I visited a new store in Raleigh recently, which is amazing by the way, called Midtown Olive Press.  I picked up some blueberry balsamic and lemon olive oil while I was there.  
Don't get me wrong, both of these are so delicious I would have no problem turning up the bottles and just straight drinking them, BUT since I have guests and all, I needed to decide on a vehicle of consumption.  So, I opted for a flat out blueberry explosion.  I really cant give exact measurements here because we just through stuff in a bowl and hoped for the best.  But I will tell you, it didn't disappoint.  

Blueberry Explosion Salad:
Sweet Onion
Toasted Walnuts
Blueberry Goat Cheese (I found this at Trader Joe's)
For the Dressing:
Blueberry Balsamic
Lemon Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Salt and Peppa

For the next course, we turned up the heat a little.  Sue (sous) here, handled the dirty work.  

Due to the dietary restrictions of the one and only EmC, we looked for a gluten free calamari recipe.  Come on, once you batter this stuff up, submerge it in hot oil and dip it in marinara, are you really going to miss the gluten? I think not.  You can find the original recipe here.

Fried Calamari

1/3 lb calamari, cleaned
1/2 c rice flour
1/2 c cornmeal or fine polenta
1/2 t salt
1/2 t paprika
1 egg
1 T milk
oil for frying (I used only 1/2 inch in my pan and flipped them halfway through)

Slice your calamari tubes into slices about 1/3" thick, across the tubes so you make rings. Cut the tentacle parts in half. Combine the rice flour, cornmeal, salt and paprika in a ziplock bag. Zip closed and toss to mix. Beat the egg with the milk. Dip the calamari parts into the egg, then drop them in batches into the bag, seal, and shake. Repeat until all calamari is coated. Heat the oil until a bit of flour dropped in sizzles, then fry the calamari until lightly browned. It will only take a minute or so. Sprinkle with salt when they're still hot.

Last but not least, the good stuff.  Sun-dried tomatoes. cream. pecorino romano. spinach. pancetta. chicken.  
O M G.  It is exactly as good as it sounds.  This recipe had been submitted to the newspaper by a local restaurant.  Why they let this one slip I'm not sure.  But I am so glad they did.  Unfortunately I didn't get a great picture, but you will get the idea I think.  Yum.

Penne alla Casa
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1/4 cup freshly chopped garlic
2 C heavy cream
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
1 1/2 C marinara sauce
Salt, pepper and granulated garlic, to taste
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1/2 C grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente and drained (we used brown rice pasta which was actually really good)
Grilled chicken or shrimp

Heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat.  Add pancetta and saute until crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Add garlic, and saute until it just begins to brown, being careful not to burn, about 1 minute.  Add cream and sun-dried tomatoes and bring to a boil.  BE CAREFUL!  It will boil over if you get distracted :)  Add marinara sauce.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced by one fourth.  Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.  Fold in spinach, pecorino, pancetta, and shrimp or chicken.  Heat just until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted.  Toss with pasta and serve hot.

                                                                           And thats all folks.


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