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17 April 2014

Squidy Delciousness

I told y'all I'd be back soon with a recipe right? Back soon = 2 weeks. Sorry. Basically this recipe is stolen from Martha. It all starts with my favorite restaurant in Atlanta- Boccalupo. The chef of said restaurant has been my favorite ever since I first tasted his cooking at La Pietra Cucina which has since semi-shuttered (it's been renamed, rebranded, and rechefed as LPC). At La Pietra Chef Bruce Logue had this excellent app on  the menu that was one of my favorites Calamari in Sicilian tomato brodetto with pine nuts and caperberries.  Basically small rings of squid in this amazing thin tomato sauce with sweet bites of raisins, acidic caperberries, and the interesting flavor profile of pine nuts. There were some tiny pearl like pasta in it as well. For about a year in between La Pietra and Boccalupo the Chef wasn't cooking, which means I was deprived of this delicious dish. When he opened his new restaurant it just so happened to be situated less than 1 mile from my house (OH Happy Day!). I was so glad to see the calamari made it back on the menu; first as an entree then as an app. I wish it would be offered up in either sized portion. I typically make it there once a month... its not the cheapest place...and I generally have to get one homemade pasta dish, if not 2, an appetizer (typically the calamari), and a glass of wine (or 2 or 3).  I was trying to cut down my spending lately and it occurred to me that I should try and make the calamari at home.  I went on the internet in search of tomato/squid recipes and stumbled across two that looked similar.  Martha's recipe happened to be the one I tried first and the one that most reminds me of the dish at Boccalupo.  Now that I make this bad boy at home I don't ever get it anymore at the restaurant, but Chef Bruce should worry not because I still have yet to make a promising homemade linguine or pappardelle.

Sauteed Calamari with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, and Raisins
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup and 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced salted anchovies
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
One 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
1 bunch basil leaves
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 tbsp golden raisins
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and trimmed, and bodies cut into very thin rings
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thinly slice the garlic cloves. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic,anchovies, and red pepper flakes; cook until garlic has browned. Stir in tomatoes; transfer to oven and roast until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add capers, basil, pine nuts, and raisins; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper; place over low heat to keep warm.

Heat a large skillet and add 3 tablespoons olive oil; heat until smoking. Add squid, cook, stirring constantly, until squid rings begin to open up and become firm, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato sauce to skillet, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until squid is opaque and sauce is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide calamari evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest and parsley. Serve immediately with toasted bread to sop up the delicious sauce.  

**I buy my squid already cleaned and prepped in the frozen section at whole foods.  You can buy just the body and cut them into rings, but I prefer bodies and tentacles.

02 April 2014

A Minute

Yeah, yeah, yeah it's been a minute or five since I lasted posted. It never gets old does it? Loads have changed since I last spoke with you friend.

The biggest, and by far the worst, is that Bella is now in doggy heaven. Just thinking about it makes me tear up. In some ways I'm lucky that she lived with my parents this last little bit.  It sucked that I didn't get to see her on the daily, but it has made the mourning process a whole lot easier.  After all I mourned her absence from my daily life for a long time after she left. I experienced all those moments of coming home and not being greeted by my best friend. However, I did get to go over to mom and dads and get the most loving welcome ever. The end came because she basically lost use of her back end...she could no longer stand or walk. My parents called me on Valentine's Day and told me this  It didn't make for a good day. I went over the next morning to hang out with her and assess the situation. I helped her get around by wrapping a towel around her back end.  She was so miserable trying to move like that and hadn't eaten in 2 days. It was time; I knew it, as did she. Of course my vet was out of town (of course) so I made an appointment with another vet I knew. I stopped on the way and got Bella a steak and egg biscuit. She wolfed it down, which made me quite happy. As we continued on my car died on the side of a highway. I proceeded to call my dad to come pick us up and take us on, and then I had a meltdown in my car. Being trapped on the way to do something you don't want to do, but know you have to is the worst! We made it to the vet and I spent some time cuddling my girl in the car. Despite it being a chilly day I decided I would rather the vet come out to the car then for me to bring Bella inside... she just gets too stressed out in the vet and I didn't want her to experience that. The vet came out and I stayed with Bella the whole time. It was hard as hell, but at the same time I am glad I was with her. To be with her in that moment helped me heal quicker I think. I also think your pet deserves for you to be there. It is a scary moment and the last thing you should ever do is leave them alone in that kind of situation  I don't care how hard it is for is obviously harder for them. At least be there with them to see them on through. They need your comfort.

Here is one of the last pictures I took of the best dog I will ever have:

And here is my mini eulogy to her:
My best friend Bella past away. She was 12 years old. It hurts so much. She was the most loyal companion dog. She loved me over anything else and would always keep one eye on me to make sure I didn't go anywhere. She loved to rub her head against people in order for her eyes to be rubbed. She always slept in a tiny ball near the foot of my bed. She got a long well with all the foster dogs and cats who came in my house, but was also quick to put them in their place if they messed with her food or her while she was laying on her bed. She loved to go on walks, hikes, or for a ride in the car. She was my perpetual companion starting my senior year of college. She would sit in the car for hours perfectly content to wait on me. She rarely needed a leash because she would always stick on my side. She would go shopping with me and most shops would allow her to sit patiently in the changing room while I tried on different outfits. She had her faults- she'd bark at strange men and sometimes unstrange men, when I first adopted her she had horrible separation anxiety and clawed up my flooring, once she got old she got anxiety in my house due to pecans falling on the skylights. Even with the faults I can never imagine loving another dog as much as I love her. She was my buddy.

The next shitty thing that happened is my car. I had to go get it towed once we left the vet and then see it over to the mechanics. Turns out that my car was unfixable, unless I wanted to spend a couple of thousand on a new engine for an old car. I decided that was a bad idea and got a new one. Hello car payment.  The one positive is that if their is a doggy heaven the Bella is riding dirty with her head out the window and a look of pure contentment on her face. Here it is:

Now for the positives.  

I finished my whole30 and kicked ass. So much ass in fact that 11 lbs dropped off of it and other areas surrounding it. I have since put 5 lbs back on, but who's counting (me, I'm counting...Holy fuck, why do I keep stuffing my face with bread, pasta, and desserts!). I wound up winning the challenge and netted $250.  However that money is tiny drop in the bucket compared to the cost of that shiny new vehicle, but let's keep things positive.

Tommy and Moose have been doing pretty well. Moose has occasional upset stomach fits for no reason- sometimes in the crate which is no fun for me.  Here is a recent picture of the Moosinator.

That's all for now. Hopefully ( and I say hopefully with a large grain of salt) I will be back with some recipes soon.  I have the pictures, I just need to put the recipe together,