Posts Tagged ‘appetizers’

Jose Duarte’s Spring Squid Ceviche

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Calamari Season!

While woody Chilean strawberries continue to mock the seasons from their shelves in large chain grocery stores, more and more farmers are tilling local soil. More and more farmers’ markets are setting up on town greens and in parking lots allowing us to purchase local, seasonal food. The principle of eating from the calendar, eating seasonal local foods, has thankfully, at least in some communities, survived big supermarket’s grip.

Not so much for fish.

Rarely anymore does a fish market or the fish counter of a grocery store reflect what is seasonal and local. Most fish markets fill their cases with haddock, cod, Chilean sea bass, tuna, swordfish, and some shrimp and oysters all year long. Almost never do we feel either the absence of a fish out of season or the arrival of a fish in season because there is always Norway, Iceland, and Southeast Asia to fill the gaps. The local food movement is leagues ahead of the fish local movement, but the same principles apply.

In southern New England, late April – early May is squid season, as regular as lilacs. New England fishermen say that when the buds pop out on the trees the squid “come in,” and all the fish follow. Longfin Inshore Squid (Doryteuthis pealeii also known as Loligo pealeii) spend their winters in deeper waters along the edge of the Continental Shelf. Their arrival inshore – they come to spawn – marks the start of spring for those living close to the Nantucket Sound waters. For the fishermen, the squid are like the gunshot in the air declaring the start of the year’s fishing season.

In Nantucket Sound in early May, if the fishermen they aren’t landing squid they are landing fluke with bellies and mouths full of squid.

It’s described as “a sweet time,” because everything is coming in from off shore or coming North. The water temperatures are up. The Cape Cod and Rhode Island boats all head to Nantucket Sound, because the squid have arrived there, and with them everything else.


Jose Duarte’s Spring Squid Ceviche

With local spring ramps from the Boston Public Market and traditional Peruvian ingredients, chef Jose Duarte created a May in Boston edition of  “leche de tigre,” the classic Peruvian ceviche classically made with lime, salt, onion and garlic.  The cool freshness, the brightness of the sauce over the creamy squid makes this a winning dish for even squid-squeamish; sweet potato, a sweet, earthy counterpoint to the verdant sauce, confirms the win.  

“In Peru ceviche is cooked, marinated fish,” Duarte says, describing the process of flash scalding the squid as “scaring the squid.”  They are plunged into boiling water for just under a minute, then removed to an ice bath.  

No bow to Peruvian cuisine would be right without Ahi Amarillo, the Peruvian word for peppers, essential in that cuisine.  Peruvians have cultivated peppers for over 7000 years.  Over 300 types of chili peppers find their way into modern Peruvian dishes, but Ahi Amarillo, the Pervuian yellow pepper, is the most familiar.  

Duarte uses Ahi Amarillo Paste and Huacatay –  dried black mint paste, flags of his native land..  Ahi yellow peppers are a medium-to-high heat pepper with a unique fruity flavor.  Haucatay is a fragrant Pervuian herb described as a combination of basil, tarragon, mint, and lime.  They are difficult to substitute, and Duarte recommends you don’t.  The point of this dish is to frame this beautiful local squid in some Peruvian and New England tradition.  Both products can be found in ethnic grocery stores, and in some standard grocery stores with Brazilian ingredients.  




serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as an entree, is easily doubled


For the Squid

1 pound cleaned, skinned squid, body cut into 3/4” rings, legs whole

boiling salted water

ice bath


For the Sauce:

4 limes

3 teaspoons ahi paste

1 teaspoons black mint

2 spring ramps or small spring onions (1 ounce)

1 bunch cilantro, leaves only

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil



To Finish:

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 sweet potato, baked, allowed to cool (room temperature), peeled, and cut into cubes

2 tablespoons chopped roasted pecans (optional)

1 sliced radish to garnish



  1. Clean squid, and cut into 3/4 “ rings, leaving tentacles intact.
  2.  Prepare ice bath beside boiling water.  Drop squid into boiling salted water for exactly 1 minute.  Remove immediately to ice bath.  After squid is cool, about 3 minutes, remove to paper towels and pat dry.
  3.  To make the sauce, put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on high for 3 minutes, or until everything is highly processed.  Set aside.
  4.  Put squid in a medium bowl, and toss with diced onion.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of sauce at at time, and toss well.  Add more sauce to taste.
  5.  Serve squid in bowls or on small plates, placing cubes of sweet potato around.  Sprinkle pecans over all if desired, and scatter 3-4 radish slices around plate.  

About Frozen Fish:  Freezing can break down the cell structure in a fish.  The frozen liquid expands in the cell structure, slightly breaking down that structure.  When the  fish is defrosted, the water runs out.  Some suppleness is lost because your are left with mostly a connective-tissue like flesh, which results in either a mushy or tough texture.   Charles Draghi



To Prepare Squid:

  1. Lay your squid out beside each other on a cutting board.  They should be a beautiful gray-white-to pink color with no aroma.  Pick up the first squid, holding the body in one hand, and the tentacles in another.  Give a gentle tug, pulling the tentacles away from the body.  The guts should have pulled out of the body, remaining attached to the legs and tentacles.  
  2. Now you have the body and the legs and tentacles (with guts attached) in two parts.  Pick up the body, and remove anything left inside.  Feel the wider end of the body for the hard, plastic-feeling quill or pen, actually pointy at the end.  Find that, and give a tug.  The pen should pull right out of the body in one piece.  Discard.  
  3. There is a pink outer skin with flaps still on the squid body; simply pull that away and off, and discard.  The wings can be cut off at this point.  Reserve them.  
  4. The tentacle section is a length of parts:  guts (with ink sack within), eyes and then tentacles.  First cut off the tentacles right in front of the eyes.  Feel the top of the tentacles for a hard, white, 3/4” sphere.  That is the beak.  It pulls out easily with your fingers.  Remove and discard.


Gorgonzola and Mache Sandwiches from Marcella Hazan

Monday, September 30th, 2013


My mother’s generation had their love affair with Julia Child.  Mine, perhaps in response to watching the pots and dirty dishtowels stack up, as our mothers mastered The Art of French Cooking, fell in love with Marcella.  Marcella Hazan, who passed away yesterday at the age of 89, became the voice, famously authoritative, of excellent Italian cooking.  As Julia introduced Americans to coq au vin, Marcella sent spaghetti and meatballs back to the Italian/American restaurant kitchens, and taught us that Italian cuisine is as varied as the country itself.  Julia ruled complicated French recipes with her high-pitched giggle and a sip of the cooking wine; Marcella reigned over Italian simplicity with a sharp mezzaluna, and stern words.  And she liked whiskey.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of Marcella-isms that have lead me in the kitchen:

If olive oil is the fat in the sauce, add a bit of it as you toss the pasta;  if butter is the fat in the sauce, add a couple of teaspoons of butter into the pasta and sauce as you toss.

Egg pasta must be tossed in a wide platter, because it is too delicate to toss in a deep bowl.

That old trick we had proudly acquired of adding a tablespoon of pasta water to the sauce to thicken it?  Marcella says, well, it’s ok in some recipes, but “when the practice becomes routine it ends up being boring.”  – too gelatinous tasting for her.

Discipline the garlic, Marcella demanded.  “The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking,”.

In respect to Hazan, many writers have recalled her magical three-ingredient tomato sauce, a potion of all that is Marcella, and all that is therefore Italian cuisine:  economy plus simplicity plus good ingredients equals astonishing deliciousness.  In this case, butter plus canned tomatoes plus a halved onion equals the only tomato sauce you will ever need.


Here is another Marcella recipe that echoes the magic above.  For years I’ve been making these little tramezzini – sandwiches served in Venetian bars as small bites with which to quaff prosecco.  Four ingredients combine to make a bite of something in which all you taste is excellent ingredients and care.  A paste is made with the gorgonzola (at room temperature!) and olive oil, and it is slowly and gently tossed into the mache – (or arugula), keeping the arugula crisp and fluffy.  A small pile of the mixture is mounded on a slice of crustless white bread, made into a sandwich, and carefully sliced in half to save from squishing the mound.  It sounds silly, but this is just the kind of detail that takes this from being just a sandwich to being a light, flavor-packed delight of an appetizer – astonishing delicious.  Grazie, Marcella.


Gorgonzola and Mache sandwiches

makes 8 sandwiches


1/4 pound Italian Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound mâche (lamb’s lettuce or arugula), roots trimmed, leaves washed and dried

8 slices firm-textured white bread, crusts trimmed


Put the Gorgonzola in a small bowl and break it into small pieces with a fork. Add the olive oil and mash until creamy.

Put the mâche in a bowl. Add the creamed Gorgonzola, a little at a time, turning the leaves gently with a fork until evenly coated.

Mound one-fourth of the mâche and Gorgonzola filling in the center of each of 4 slices of bread; top with the other slices. Position a sharp knife diagonally across the slice of bread; hold the bread down with your other hand so as not to flatten the filling and quickly slice the sandwich to produce two tramezzini.

Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Fried Sushi

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013



This blog is nothing more than re-declaring a recent New York Times recipe outrageously delicious.  Mark Bittman tells Jean Georges Vongerichten in the super watch-able video that this is the best thing he’s eaten all year.  “If I were an award committee, I’d give it “best of the year.”

Jean Georges goes on to tell Mark Bittman, “and it’s simple enough that even you can make it; I know you like things simple.”

Mr. Keep-It-Simple meets Mr. “Classic-French-Indulgence-With-Contemporary-Flair” (- Frank Bruni, NYT, 1997)  in this demi-tower of warm-crunchy, creamy-spicy, cool-velvety, sweet-salty.


I’ve made these sushi three times now, including tonight for dinner, which was the best version so far.  (I apologize to guests to whom I’ve served it; it’s finally perfected.  The rice made in the rice cooker works better, as it’s softer.  The creamy, soft rice makes a tender foil for the super-crisp exterior.  We made half with scallops and half with avocado, equally unctuous.  A dollop of sriracha heats things up one last time.)  Do watch the video; there are a lot of good tips there – like JG okay’s the Hellman’s and chipotle shortcut for the first sauce.

Once again, thanks to Sophia Padnos for pointing me in the fried sushi direction.  The only thing more exciting than this recipe is imagining what other combinations can float upon a crunchy raft of rice.




Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Fried Sushi


24 cakes, 6 to 12 servings



1 and 1/2 cups short-grain sushi rice

2 tablespoons mirin

1 and 1/2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar

2-inch piece konbu

1 tablespoon salt


1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar

1 and 1/2 teaspoons orange juice

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo, including some of the liquid

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup olive oil


1/2 cup light soy sauce

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar


Rice flour, for dredging (or substitute all-purpose flour)

Grapeseed oil

Coarse salt

Minced scallions

6 big scallops, each sliced into 4 pieces

minced cilantro


Combine sushi rice, mirin, rice-wine vinegar, konbu and 1 tablespoon salt in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid wrapped in a damp cloth and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until done. (Alternatively, use a rice cooker.) Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with plastic wrap. Firmly press the rice into the pan. Refrigerate until set, preferably overnight. Remove the rice from the pan and, using a chef’s knife dipped in hot water to prevent sticking, cut into roughly 1-by-3-inch rectangles.

Make the chipotle mayonnaise: Combine the egg yolk, red-wine vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, adobo and liquid and 1 teaspoon salt and purée in a food processor or blender. Add the 3/4 cup grapeseed oil and the olive oil in a drizzle and process until smooth, thick and creamy.

Make the honey soy sauce: In a small saucepan, bring the soy sauce, honey, sherry vinegar and 1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar to a boil and stir until smooth. Cool before using.

Heat grapeseed oil in a pan, deep enough to just about cover the rectangles. A broad skillet will require more oil than a deep saucepan, but will allow you to cook more pieces at once. Allow oil temperature to reach 350 to 360 degrees. Dredge the rice rectangles in rice flour and cook until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes total, turning once; transfer to paper towels and season with salt

Combine chipotle mayonnaise and scallions. Top each rectangle with a bit of the mayonnaise, then drape with a piece of raw scallop. Brush or drizzle with honey soy, then garnish with a bit of cilantro and a tiny pinch of salt.


Crudites in Jars

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012


Continuing down the trail of my jar preoccupation, I offer another interesting (easy!  attractive!  portable!) way to use them.  Collect various size jars, fill them with favorite crudités, spreadable cheeses, dips, and cracker-like things, set all on a tray, and call it appetizers if not light dinner.

Pictured in my photo are tiny boiled potatoes, roasted asparagus spears, steamed broccoli rabe, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, taramasalata, homemade aioli, and two kinds of crackers.


I threw this together quickly, but next time I will assemble with more artful consideration.  Still, add a beautiful sunset to a tray of vegetables, and it looks like a masterpiece.



Rosemary Knots with Blue Cheese and Honey

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Although I enjoy baking bread I don’t usually do it.  Alexandra’s Bread in Gloucester – their crusty cobbles and salty, crisp olive branches –  negates any regular messing around with flour and yeast in my kitchen.

But I grew up making everything.  Why buy it if you can make it yourself, was my mother’s creed.  We made the bread, the croutons in the salad, the salad dressing, of course the dinner, the dessert, and we whipped the cream.  Their was a time when we even made our own herbal tisanes for after a meal.

I have to confess, all that is still in me.  Every time I walk into Alexandra’s I secretly feel like I’m getting away with something.  I still can’t buy croutons or bottled salad dressing, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought dessert in my life.  (- usually when I was traveling in France or Italy because those civilized women know baked things are best left to professionals.  Then again, they HAVE professionals.  There was no patisserie on my rural Cape Cod lane.)

And my mother just did that.  She made the jam, the pickles, the quince paste.  She made yogurt and tried making cheese.  She didn’t churn the butter, but on holidays we had those cute, little patterned butter balls.  Did I mention she was also a single mother who worked full-time?  Nope, no inadequacy here.  No type-A challenges.  I’m fine.  Just fine.  My conscience inwardly clicks its heels together when I leave Alexandra’s with a bag of warm cobbles.  Every time, Mom.




BUT, while John and Alexandra make a delicious rosemary foccacia, they don’t make rosemary knots.  My mother and I made these for a killer appetizer once.  Their unique charms reveal themselves pretty fast:  First, they’re shaped like a knot.  Cute.

Second, their flavored with fresh rosemary.  Fragrant.

Third, they’re served hot from the oven with a small hunk of blue cheese and a drizzle of honey.  Surprising.  Delicious.  Smile-inspiring.  Worth making yourself.

Of all the recipes I’ve been picking through in my mother’s files, this is the one I’ve been longing to make.  It may be that I can still smell the bread hot from the oven – nothing so memory-stirring as fresh bread and rosemary.  It may also be the simple fact that across time rosemary has symbolized remembrance.



Rosemary Knots with Blue Cheese and Honey

16 rolls or 8 appetizer servings



1 package active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading dough

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for oiling bowl

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


The Topping


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or sprigs

1 tablespoon coarse salt

Blue Cheese, either Gorgonzola or I used Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue

warm honey



To make the bread, whisk together the yeast and water in a large bowl until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of the flour and the salt.  Stir in the olive oil, rosemary and pepper.  Gradually stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.  While kneading the coudh, add as much additional flour as needed ot deep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface.

Lightly oil a large clean bowl.  Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place it int the bowl, turning it once to coat the top with oil.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place unilt the dough has doubled in bulk about 1 hour.  Punch the dough down and reshape into a ball.  Cover and let double again, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Punch the dough down and divide it into 16 equal pieces.  On a barely floured surface, roll each piece into a ball.  Use your fingers to rol each ball into a rope about 6 inches long.  Tie the ropes loosely into knots and place on 2 parchment lined baking sheets.  Cover with a towel and let stand until the rolls double.

To top the rolls, brush them lightly with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with chopped rosemary, or alternately tuck a single sprig of rosemary into the knot.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake until the rolls are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

As a delicious appetizer, place two rolls on each plate along with blue cheese and a drizzle of warm honey.