Grilled Calamari on Bitter Greens
• 1 ½ pounds of cleaned squid
• 3 lemons
• ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• 1 pound of mixed bitter greens including arugula, radicchio and endive
• Salt, to taste
• Pepper, to taste
Squid varies in size. But keep in mind, while smaller ones are easier to prepare, larger ones give better presentation for a party focused on texture and detail.
Soak 20 10-to-12-inch wooden skewers in cold water for an hour. Set the grill to medium-high and allow to preheat. Rinse squid under cold running water and pat dry. Large squid require tentacles to be halved lengthwise. If attached, cut longer tentacles crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Pull attached flaps from squid and put them aside. Cut squid bodies lengthwise and open flat. Cut large squid with flaps lengthwise with a sharp knife. Make cuts close together, about 1/8 of an inch apart. Do not cut entirely through the squid. Halve the bodies crosswise.
Squeeze the juice from two lemons until it measures 1/4 cup. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges.
Thoroughly whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Place 1/4 cup of the dressing in a shallow bowl and save the rest. Add squid to the shallow bowl and coat with the dressing. Marinate at room temperature, flipping once, for 10 minutes.
Thread skewers through each squid body, near opposite sides of the body. This will help to keep the squid flat while grilling. Thread squid flaps onto skewers. Thread all of the tentacles crosswise — through the thickest part — on skewers, allowing for space between each and room for tentacles to drape over.
Once grill is ready, cook the squid on an uncovered lightly oiled grill rack. Turn once and grill for one to 1 1/2 minutes, until squid turns opaque, then immediately remove. Transfer to a cutting board, remove skewers and cut squid bodies lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch-thick strips. If they're large, halve them crosswise.
Place squid in a bowl and use three tablespoons of the reserved dressing to toss squid with salt and pepper. In another bowl lightly toss arugula, endive and radicchio with remaining dressing, then season with salt and pepper. Divide the arugula, endive and radicchio among serving plates, place squid on top and garnish with lemon wedges. Makes four servings.
Braised Cavolo Nero With Garlic
(Black Cabbage With Garlic)
• 6 heads of cavolo nero (Tuscan kale)*
• 2 peeled garlic cloves, finely sliced
• 3 tablespoons of olive oil
• Sea salt to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Extra-virgin olive oil for presentation
Remove stems from cavolo nero leaves, then blanch by submerging in boiling salted water for three minutes. Check often because it can be overcooked. It should turn bright green, not dull. Drain and rinse under cold water. (This can be done ahead of time.)
In a saucepan sauté garlic in olive oil. Add blanched cavolo nero leaves, season with salt and pepper and cook for five minutes. Remove from the heat, pour the leaves over a plate of extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
Makes six servings.
*found at Ellwood Thompson's
• 8 quail (two per person), with giblets and backbones removed
• 3 tablespoons of olive oil
• 1 tablespoon of dried crushed red pepper
• 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped
• Salt to taste
Pat quail dry and place on a baking sheet.
Mix rosemary, red pepper and oil together and rub on hens. Let them sit for one hour at room temperature.
Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt on quail. Add three quail, skin side down, to each skillet. Place a large, heavy pot on top of the quail in each skillet. Wrap a brick in foil and place it in the pot to anchor the pot on the quail. Cook four to five minutes per side, until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced. Makes four servings.
Pilaf of Ancient Grains
• 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons of pine nuts
• 1 cup of Wehani brown rice
• 1/2 cup of whole wild rice
• 1/2 cup of farro, a hulled wheat
• 5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, or half stock and half white wine
• 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
• 1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced (approximately 3/4 cup)
• 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
• 1 lemon
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon of fresh sage, finely chopped
• 1 cup of cooked black beans
Juice your lemon until you wind up with 1/4 cup of lemon juice. After that's done, set aside one long strip of lemon zest. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan with a securely fitted lid. Add pine nuts, constantly moving them around for two to three minutes. Then add farro, brown and wild rice, and stir with a wooden spoon. Toss in pre-cooked black beans. Once lightly toasted, stir in 5 cups of stock or half-stock-half-wine combo, add lemon zest, thyme and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. If rice texture is not tender, continue simmering for 10 more minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Remove the pan from the heat, throw in the sage and lemon juice, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Take out thyme, which is only used to add flavor, then stir in scallions and season with kosher salt and pepper.
Makes four servings.
Heart of Darkness Mini Cakes
Molten Chocolate Centers Ingredients:
• 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, in pieces
• 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon of butter
Molten Chocolate Centers Directions:
Place chocolate in a metal bowl. Heat cream just until simmering, then pour over chocolate to melt it. Add butter and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to cool, whisking occasionally to create a frosting-like consistency. Spoon out cherry-size portions and freeze until ready to insert into batter.
Cake Batter Ingredients:
• 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, in pieces
• 4 ounces of butter
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup of cake flour, sifted
• 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
• 1/4 cup of sugar
Cake Batter Directions:
Using a metal bowl, melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. While melting chocolate, use a mixer to whip egg whites with a pinch of salt and cream of tartar until they form soft peaks. Continue to mix while adding sugar, then set aside. When chocolate is melted, add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Gently fold in well-sifted cake flour until fully incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in egg whites — working in a third at a time. Carefully spoon batter into large nonstick muffin pans — about three-quarters full.
Push a "molten chocolate center" into the center of each muffin tin filled with batter. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. The toothpick trick will not work to test consistency. If the cake pulls away from the sides of the muffin tin, it's overcooked. You want the center to be "molten." Cool in pans about five to 10 minutes, then unmold onto wire racks. Best served warm, but can be microwaved to re-melt the centers. Makes 4 servings.
Cherry and Pomegranate Sauce
• 1 can of tart cherries (sour) in juice
• ½ cup of pomegranate juice
• ¼ cup of sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch
• 1 pomegranate's seeds
Combine cherry juice, pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Combine cornstarch with a little cold water to dissolve. Whisk some cornstarch slurry into simmering juices to thicken. When desired consistency is reached, simmer for a few minutes. If it gets too thick, add a little water or cherry liqueur to correct consistency. Add cherries, gently stir to combine and allow to cool.
To serve a Heart of Darkness, spoon a generous amount of cherry sauce on plate. Top with a warmed chocolate cake and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.