for challenge number 2 we've been asked to create a classic dish from another culture - something that you aren't familiar with cooking, and something that's a little out of your comfort zone.
i have chosen to recreate some of the greek dishes i had when we went to athens and the islands last year. i've already tackled hummus and moussaka - in fact i'd cooked these before i even went. but there was one dish in particular which i've always been a little terrified of cooking, but that i adore eating and ate on so many occasions when i was on the islands. that is calamari, aka deep fried squid rings.
calamari is a pretty classic mediterranean dish, which you can get in Greece, but also in Italy, France and Spain... the list goes on. we just never ever have it in the uk. so, on my quest to perfect calamari i started with my favorite cookbook, Falling Cloudberries, which always has fantastic and legitimate flavour combinations - from here i found great ideas for flavours to pair the dish with - fried red peppers with garlic and vinegar, garlic and lemon mayonnaise and tomato feta salad.
i also looked over some of the photos of when we were in Greece (see here, here and here) - almost everything was garnished with parsley and lemon wedges, served with a green salad and came with a dip. so, in true style i knew my meal had to reflect that!
so, armed with my ideas, i headed to my local Waitrose to find the ingredients. on my search for squid i came across a few different options, and in the end i decided to pick the freshest possible. i walked up to the fish counter and asked about the squid tubes - it's a strange thing to ask for if you never have before. and to my delight they weren't particularly expensive; less than £1 for one, which was pretty good going, perhaps we can eat them more often (somehow i thought squid tubes would be of a similar cost to most other seafood). i got 3 tubes, enough to serve two generously.
when i got back home i started to assemble my ingredients...
♥ fried red peppers is a recipe that i took from the book Falling Cloudberries. it's easy to make, and a delicious way to eat red peppers. it makes them sweeter, juicier and just tastier in general. they are fried in olive oil vuntil soft and then you add in garlic, rosemary and a dash of red wine vinegar.
♥ creating a feta salad is something that i am now quite familiar with. but i've never made it with our own homegrown cucumber and tomatoes before! simply chop large chunks of both vegetables and add some feta cheese to the mix, drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
♥ and now for the tough part; i was attempting to follow this recipe, for Kalamarikia Tiganita. i started by slicing up the tubes - weird consistency, but very easy to chop - not as rubbery as i thought they would be. then dredge in flour, sieved off the excess and threw into a big pot of exceedingly hot sunflower oil. i've never deep fried anything before in my life - i'm more of an oven baker or fryer. so, for me this was a totally new experience. after a minute or two out they were nice and golden and ready. ok, not so difficult at ALL, then! this may in fact be a recipe that children can even make...
♥ presented on the table, it kind of looks like an authentic mezze platter, don't you think?
♥ and last but not least, the dessert. i think this may be the best cake i have ever made actually. it was moist and yet not crumbly. it was light and yet dense somehow. it also had the most delicious flavour. greek yogurt cake was one of the first things i ever baked as a child, and it was fun to create a more adult version. here is another falling cloudberries recipe - i must have an addiction to that recipe book! it's full of rose water, almonds, yogurt and semolina, and i am so chuffed with it!
so, in conclusion, calamari is not expensive, it's not difficult, it's actually really easy. and it doesn't take a genius to make it. it is also pretty healthy too - another good reason to make it more of the time - check out this article about it's health benefits.
i loved creating these dishes, so thanks foodbuzz for the opportunity to push my comfort boundaries that little bit further!
have a glorious day x
currently listening to: the sisterhood of the traveling pants soundtrack - it reminds me of santorini!