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Friday, December 29, 2006

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.

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! =)

Bleu Cheese Cheesecake w/Onion Pear Jam

This large wedge was plenty for a crowd of 9 people, I served it with butter crackers and toasted slices of baguette..

Bleu Cheese Cheesecake slice
Peabody's Bleu Cheese Cheesecake with Onion-Pear Jam

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.

Individual bread pudding

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

Dear Sweet Jebus this was good!
Peabody's Croissant Bread Pudding with Pecan Toffee Sauce

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

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Comments on "I Did It! I Finally Did It! Also.. Peabody Rocks!"

 

Blogger Brilynn said ... (12/29/2006 11:12 AM) : 

Well done!

Yes, Peabody is indeed full of wonderful recipes, I've been wanting to try the cheesecake onion thingy for a while. I'm still somewhat skeptical on bread pudding, but I have confidence that if the two of you are giving it rave reviews, it's gotta be good.

 

Anonymous Ivonne said ... (12/29/2006 1:37 PM) : 

Lis,

I cannot tell you how happy I am that you finally recreated your father's sauce! I know how much these things mean, especially when we lose a person that we love so dearly!

I know that your father is so proud of you!!!

 

Anonymous peabody said ... (12/29/2006 2:44 PM) : 

It is so true about the taking for granted thing. My uncle makes the best pickles(that my great grandmother used to make). He makes a big batch every year. I really need to figure out when he does it and go learn how to do it.
I'm so happy that you were able to replicate your dad's sauce. What a nice tribute to your father.
Thanks for all the nice compliments...I'm just gald it all worked out! I had 9 people make the bread pudding for Christmas and all 9 came back saying it was wonderful :)_

 

Blogger D-man said ... (12/29/2006 7:20 PM) : 

Awesome! It sucks when you have to recreate something from memory because the source is gone, I feel you there. But congrats on figuring it out. Call it testament to the depth of your memory and how food can truly be a form of love being expressed (maybe the ONLY form in my grandmas growing up). I would love to have the recipe or at least see an outline. I recently posted something on a family red sauce that you might find interesting too.

 

Blogger Lis said ... (12/30/2006 11:08 PM) : 

Brilynn - This might be the best bread pudding recipe to start out with because of the croissants and Peabody's tip to bake it in a water bath - it was so rich and creamy, I just know you'll love it.

Ivonne - Thanks.. you make me smile. =)

Peabody - Yes! You have to.. good pickles are so hard to come by! And thanks for the compliment =)
We need to get Brilynn to be that 10th person to make the pudding ;)

d-man - Thanks so much for stopping by! Yeah it was a huge deal for me to get that right.. although it's truly an amazing sauce, I think what fueled me to keep trying over the years was because it was his. =)

I checked out your site and I'll be going back to read more! Take care!

 

Blogger Sara said ... (12/31/2006 12:24 AM) : 

How true Lis, life is short. I'm so glad that you were able to recreate your dad's recipe. I'd love to try it if you've got a second to email me!

 

Blogger gattina said ... (12/31/2006 12:48 AM) : 

Lis,
oh you're so clever! I really like your idea of baking bread pudding in small cup, ok, I'll be that 11th person in line, hehee.
Your/your dad's calamari sauce is a labor of love, it's a bliss for anyone has a chance to taste it :D

 

Blogger Garrett said ... (12/31/2006 2:02 AM) : 

Now thats an excellent post. Well done darlin'!

 

Anonymous Bruno said ... (12/31/2006 10:47 AM) : 

Sounds very yummy Lis... way to go!

 

Blogger gattina said ... (1/01/2007 7:24 AM) : 

Lis darling, after your inspiration, I made calamari sauce... I know I know, I should have asked you for the recipe, however, there is no way I can get very fresh calamari around here, only managed to get the frozen (and cleaned...) imported from Asia. Oooh, I added some clam in the sauce too... I think I was getting wild that time. I tasted my sauce yestersday which was fine, later I'll reheat again and see...
And will you post your gorgeous dark-red sauce? Who knows, I may go fish for squid later, hehee...

 

Anonymous Ellie said ... (1/02/2007 9:01 AM) : 

Ooo, good job on the bread pudding and cheesecake, they look as delish as Peabodys, and I really do have to give these a try!

And that calamari sauce looks amazing, such a beautiful colour!

 

Blogger Lis said ... (1/03/2007 12:20 PM) : 

Sara - Thanks! I read your comment the other day but I didn't register your request for the recipe - I'll send it as soon as I get home tonight! =)

Gattina - Aww thanks sweetie! I can't wait to see your sauce! :D

Garrett - Thank you! And thanks for stoppin' by =)

Bruno - Thanks :)

Ellie muh luv - YES! You must try both of Peabody's recipes.. you will not be sorry.

 

Anonymous veron said ... (1/03/2007 8:49 PM) : 

Lis, your post reminds me of my own efforts to replicate my dad's recipes from memory. The great food he cooked, I took for granted and then suddenly he was gone, I had regrets to this day that I did not learn how to make the wonderful food that he cooked. Congratulations for figuring out the calamari sauce , I could just imagine your joy !

 

Blogger Julie said ... (1/05/2007 11:24 AM) : 

It is so amazing when you can recreate a family recipe that is in danger of being lost. Cleaning squid for an hour was a truly sweet way to honor your dad. Thanks for your comment on my blog. New blogger is hell. I am going to try to migrate to wordpress this weekend. My computer geek hubby put up my latest post through my ftp program directly onto my server(at least I think that's how he did it). It did not get posted through blogger, so that's why the comment function doesn't work. I've had it with them! Thanks for bearing with me and visiting anyway! Happy New Year!

 

Blogger Kirsten said ... (1/07/2007 1:42 PM) : 

What a wonderful post - I wrote you a little note in the comments on my blog, but this was such a touching reminder to take the time to ask our loved ones about treasured recipes so we don't lose that part of our family history!

 

Anonymous Tanna said ... (1/12/2007 11:05 AM) : 

That is a wonderful story and result!

 

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