Franglais: Fried Calamari Persillade

RECIPE: Fried Calamari Persillade
Fried Calamari Persillade

Fried Calamari Persillade

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Somewhere in the bowels of the Natural History Museum in New York City there is a giant squid.  I’m not sure if the room still exists today as it did back in the Eighties, but as it was then, or at least as I remember it to have been then, there was a huge blue whale hanging from the ceiling, and a Mad Men-esque cocktail bar from which I always ordered a ginger ale with a maraschino cherry.  The whole thing had a sunken-Nautilus aspect: a dim blue lighting, and curiosity tanks filled with things like an old twist-on metal deep-sea diving suit.  And a giant squid.  Not as they are, I imagine, in reality, but as they are in Captain Nemo’s nightmares.

Enter calamari.  I wrote last week that this week’s recipe is inspired by my childhood summers in Woodstock.  It was there that I first encountered not the giant squid of Natural History, but the crispy, golden, miniature squid of an upstate Italian restaurant.  My father, my constant Natural History blue room companion, ordered me a basket, remembering, no doubt, how I stood entranced, marveling at Nemo’s nemesis.  The waiter whisked it from the kitchen, over to me.  My eyes flared open.  In my little hand I clutched the now-crispy tentacles that had haunted so many oversized childhood nightmares.  The long body cut into perfect rings, to be dunked in a boiling sea of marinara sauce.  I knew I never wanted to meet a squid after Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  But from that moment on, above the sea, with the tables turned, I have met them quite happily, and quite often.

Persillade, in French cooking, refers to a topping or combination of parsley and garlic, often packed onto shellfish or lamb or any meat really.  It has such a strong and overwhelmingly delicious and simple flavor.  Here, I very simply fry calamari and toss it with grated fresh, strong garlic, and a confetti of parsley.  I serve it, optionally, with a roasted garlic mayonnaise, but really, the combination of the hot, crispy calamari slowly, gently cooking the garlic and parsley onto each individual piece is so good, it needs nothing but an eager eater.  Of course, I am always happy to oblige.  Bon app.

Fried Calamari Persillade Zoom

Fried Calamari Persillade
serves 2 to 4

Fried Calamari Persillade ZoomINGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of garlic, whole, plus 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 pound calamari tubes, sliced in ½- to ¾-inch rings
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ lemon, zested


Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut the top quarter horizontally off the head of garlic, and wrap the remainder in foil.  Roast for 1 hour, and allow to cool.  Remove foil, and squeeze out roasted garlic cloves.  Mash together with mayonnaise, and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet with high sides, heat 1 to 2 inches oil to 375 to 380°F.  Meanwhile, in a large Ziploc bag, shake the calamari rings with the flour, cornstarch, and salt to coat.  Shake off extra flour, and then fry in 3 batches until crisp and just turning golden, about 3 minutes.  Drain very quickly on paper towel, then toss hot calamari with grated garlic, parsley, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Cut the zest lemon, and serve along with the calamari and roasted garlic mayonnaise.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Eat, Fish, For a Crowd, Franglais, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

London’s Calling: Kasteel Cru

Kasteel Cru

Kasteel Cru

Rarely does a beer make such an impact on me.  Not that I don’t like beer.  I know what I like, and I know what I don’t.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever found true love.

I had this Kasteel Cru a couple of days ago with a fish and chips lunch at Fish! near Borough Market.  I love the label.  I don’t know if it’s real beer-ology or just marketing, but the idea of “sparkling bière brut” made it sound so much like fine champagne.  And the light moonlight color, and the fine bubbles.  Also like champagne.  And then the waiter told me the beer is made with champagne yeast.  I’m not sure what that means, but I loved the delicacy of the beer, its dry finish, and its, yes, elegance.  Ale drinkers may shrink back in horror, but I just loved it, and if you like something light, but still with character, I think you will too.

Kasteel Cru

Available from Asda, Ocado, and Sainsbury’s

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Categories: Finds, London, Voyages

The Secret Ingredient (Black Pepper) Part III: Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

RECIPE: Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce
Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There was a point in the last few years when the combination of strawberry and black pepper became quite trendy. In fact, I believe the reason I got into business school is because I wrote a strawberry-black pepper tart recipe for my interviewer. Except I never tried it! Never tried the tart, never tried the combination.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Frozen, Fruit, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian

London’s Calling: Magic Corn

Magic Corn Standg

Magic Corn Stand

This is what I least expected to find in London: a street cart selling nothing but steamed corn.  But yesterday, touring around with Mr. English and Mr. and Mrs. Miami on the South Bank, I saw this stand.  Magic Corn, it read on the sign strapped above the cart.  “Magic corn?”  I thought.    What can it do?

Magic Corn Flavors

Magic Corn Flavors

It was that question that I asked the salesman behind the cart.  He showed me a huge sac of frozen corn kernels, that instead of putting into an oil popper, he put into a huge vat steamer.  No added fat.  I was excited!  Then, he asked what flavor I wanted.  I was torn, but I told him cheese.  He added some suspicious orange cheese spread, and that kind of cheddar popcorn topping to some hot corn in a thermos, and started shaking it like a martini.  He gently poured the nuggets of cheesy corn in a little Styrofoam cup and handed it to me.

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Categories: London, Restaurants, Voyages

French in a Flash: Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

RECIPE: Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I love eating pasta.  And I love eating pasta in France, because they do Italian with such French flare.  Ratatouille over rigatoni.  Roquefort cream sauce over ribbons of pappardelle.  Brick-red pistou slathered on spaghetti.  It’s just so good, and somehow, so French!

This pasta dish is sort of a giant mushroom duxelles piled on top of fettuccine.  I always write that crème fraîche is a magic ingredient, because it just refuses to separate.  You can do anything to it, and it is completely resilient.  Add some in with the mushrooms in this dish, and you have an instant cream sauce, full of woodland flavors of mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme, that wraps itself around the expectant pasta.  I love this dish because it is earthy, and easy.  Perfect as a side next to some seared and sliced steak.  Or on its own with a drizzle of truffle oil.  Magnifique.

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine Zoom

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine
serves 4 to 6

Creamy Mushroom FettuccineIngredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium organic chicken stock (use water if vegetarian)
  • 1/4 ounce dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut in eigths
  • 1 extra large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • The leaves from 2 large stems fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound dry fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan


Bring a large pot of water to boil.  In a small covered pot, heat the stock and dried mushrooms together over medium heat, to reconstitute the mushrooms.  In a large, high-sided braising pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.  Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté on low until the shallot is soft, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove the reconstituted dried mushrooms from the stock.  Add the stock to the fresh mushrooms and shallots, and cook until almost absorbed, 1 minute.  Turn of the heat, and cover the pot.

Salt the boiling water, and cook the fettuccine until al dente, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining.

In a mini food processor, blend together the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the crème fraîche.  Add the mixture to the fresh sautéed mushrooms, and stir to melt the crème fraîche into a sauce.  Toss in the pasta, and add just enough pasta water for the mushrooms mixture to lightly coat the strands of pasta.  Toss with Parmesan, and serve alongside a sliced seared steak, or on its own with a drizzle of black truffle oil.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

Great Restaurant: Mercadito in Miami

Holy Molé!

There seems to be two schools of Mexican food.  The first is the kind of Mexican food you go to, to eat as much chips and melted cheese as you can until you pop like an overblown balloon.  Which I totally love.  And then there’s Mexican food, said with gravitas, made fresh fresh fresh, and with so much flavor it punches you in the mouth.  Which I love even more.  Both are hard to find in South Florida, which is surprising, given our population’s affinity for seafood and spice.

I grew up an hour outside of Miami, but now that many of my friends, including my best friend, Mrs. Miami, have moved there full-time, I have the occasion to venture in, and try some of the city’s hopefully best restaurants.  We’ve had some hits and we’ve had some misses: last Friday night at Mercadito was a HIT.  Imagine three Mexican-starved twenty-somethings–me, Mrs. Miami, and her fiancé Mr. Miami–, finally finding aqua fresca in a midtown oasis, inhaling guacamoles, other moles, and basically everything within the limitations of our table.  We were pretty hilarious in our enthusiasm.

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Categories: Restaurants, South Florida, Voyages

Great Ingredient: Microarugula

RECIPE: Tortellini with Cheese, Microarugula, and Pepper


If you’ve been reading my Serious Eats columns, you’ve probably been seeing this in a lot of posts.  I love microgreens: they’re like the powersuit of a home cook.  Use some in a dish and you look instantly professional.  They’re not cheap, about $6 at my local Whole Foods, but they’re perfect for something special.

Microarugula Tortellini Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian