I Did It! I Finally Did It! Also.. Peabody Rocks!
|For the past 3 (or is it 4?) years I've been trying, very unsucessfully, to recreate my Dad's Christmas Calamari Sauce. And lemme just tell yas.. this process has been very lonnnngggg, disasterous and heartbreaking. So let this lil post be a lesson to all you kids out there - Life is short! Do not take ANYTHING for granted! My Dad made this sauce every single Christmas Eve of his life (well his life with his family) and my Mother and I never, ever watched him do it. We never asked him to show us how to make our most favorite sauce in the world. And then he was gone.. and although we didn't even want to celebrate Christmas without him for a few years, when we were ready to bring back the traditions the way he would want us to.. we had no way of making the sauce. *sigh*|
After last year's disaster, I decided that I would research any and all old Italian seafood sauces that I could get my hands on.. surely there is some Italian family out there that enjoys this sauce, eh?? By God, you'd think not after all of my failed attempts to find anything. And then one day, my Mom said to me, "You know, he cleaned squid for hours and when he boiled it, the water turned purple." Bingo! I had no idea he cleaned his own squid.. I had been buying it already cleaned and all I had to do was slice it. Duh! So this year, I bought whole squid and Hubbs and I spent an hour or more cleaning about 3 lbs. of it. Now THAT was an experience. If you've never cleaned squid before, you have no idea how many steps there are to it - as well as the ick factor. Nothin' like chopping heads off right below the eyeballs, my friends! heee!
Okay - without getting into more gorey details.. after we cleaned the squid, I managed to save a few very tiny ink sacs. We boiled the tubes and the tentacles with the ink sacks until we saw that the water was turning purple! Woo!! Frankly, I don't think the ink sacs had much to do with it though, as after I took the pieces out of the water, the sacs were pretty much still intact. I believe the color comes from the skin left on the tentacles. Anyhoo.. the rest of the process was quite easy.
My family's marinara sauce calls for tomato puree and after you dump the puree into your pot, you fill each can up with water to dilute it a bit. So I did that with this sauce as well.. only I used the water that we boiled the squid in to fill up those cans. I know he didn't season it like he did our regular marinara so I only put in salt and pepper along with all the calamari pieces parts.. and after a good 5 hours of simmering.. I had my Dad's Calamari Sauce. Finally.
This picture was taken only after an hour or two of simmering so the sauce was still bright red.. when it was finished it had turned a beautiful dark red and the calamari was melt in your mouth tender.
Rather than post this recipe here, because I realize not many people are going to be interested in a tomato sauce that features squid, hehehe, and because the steps are quite lengthy to type out - I will offer to type it all up for you and send through e-mail if you are interested, just drop me a line. This sauce really is magnificent :D
And now on to the appetizer and the dessert! Both recipes are from Peabody so I will just link you to her beautiful pictures and recipes.. but I just had to share how mine turned out.. both were a smashing success and both recipes were asked for by everyone who attended. Thank you, Peabody - I am now addicted to bread pudding (which I'd never had before) and that excellent bleu cheesey/oniony-peary jammy spread! Oh! I also took the remainder of the cheesecake to work so it wouldn't go to waste and everyone there loved it as well! =)
This large wedge was plenty for a crowd of 9 people, I served it with butter crackers and toasted slices of baguette..
1 3/4 lbs softened cream cheese
8 oz shredded Asiago cheese
8 oz blue cheese, crumbled
5 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp white pepper
Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream cheeses together until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add cream and pepper. Combine.
Bake uncovered in a water bath until golden brown and center is set.About 45-50 minutes.
Cool Completely, remove sides of pan.
Onion Pear Jam
4 cups onions, diced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups pears, peeled, chopped
2 TBSP fruit vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Saute onions in oil until brown. Reduce heat and cook until glazed.
Add pears, vinegar, sugar, cayenne and salt. Cook till pears are crispy tender.
Remove mixture ans simmer juice utnil a thick glaze.
Mix pear onion mixture with glaze. Cool.
Cover cooled cheesecke with jam and serve with bread or crackers.
And here are the individual bread puddings.. when making this, I had to leave out the alcohol and the nuts. I subbed vanilla for the alcohol and MY GOD it was delicious! If making individuals like I did, the baking time was reduced by only 10 minutes or so.. just until the middles felt firm when inserting a thin knife.
Half way through devouring mine I realized I forgot to take a picture with the dreamy toffee sauce drizzled over it.. so this is all ya get to see. hehee
4 large croissants or 6 small ones
1 pint heavy cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350F.
1.Tear croissants into pieces and place int o baking dish. Sprinkle bread with the raisins.
2.Mix the egg yolks, sugar and nutmeg together in a bowl. Then stir in the heavy cream.
3.Pour the custard over the bread. Press down the bread pieces until the bread is soaked with the custard. You will most likely have extra custard depending on how stale your crossiants are. Don’t feel like you have to use all the custard.
4.Place pan into another pan that will hold a water bath. Bake the bread pudding for 45 minutes until golden on top. Cool 10 minutes and serve warm.
Pecan Toffee Sauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 TBSP Amaretto
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1.Stir brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.
2. Add cream and Amaretto and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then add pecans.
To see gorgeous shots of these two recipes, check out the loverly Peabody's site for the Bleu Cheese Cheesecake with Onion-Pear Jam and the Croissant Bread Pudding with Pecan Toffee Sauce - I can't describe how good both of these were.. you have to try them for yourselves! :D