I haven't made a nice "date" meal for Michael and I in a long time. Things have been busy like I said last post. Since I didn't work Friday, I decided I would do a nice meal for hubby and I. I wanted to do things he liked but also add in a new little twist. So, I decided to go with a "surf n turf" idea and go with huge steaks for dinner and fried squid for an appetizer. I also did grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie for dessert. I have never worked with squid before, but I thought it would be fun.
It was quite the challenge! But, I'll get there in a minute. First, let me show you the rest of our meal.
I made a marinade for our meat to sit in for a few hours I always like to add some type of sour - either lemon or vinegar - to help tenderize the meat. Then I add oil as a liquid and often soy sauce just as a salt. Then I add whatever spices I am feeling. This time I used parsley, basil, pepper, garlic powder, and minced garlic.
Vinegar has SO MANY uses which is why I buy the large bottle. I use it to clean house, dishes, laundry and a myriad of other things. It's cheap, environmentally friendly and kid friend (when that becomes an issue).
Then I plopped my huge steaks into a gallon freezer bag and popped it in the fridge. It ended up sitting in there for about 5 hours.
I also made a similar marinade for my asparagus except I left out the vinegar and just used olive oil, soy sauce and spices.
While waiting for the marinades to do their job, I began the crust for my pumpkin pie. I had a huge battle about whether I should just buy pre made crusts or make my own gluten free crusts. My oat flour crusts are great for savory pies like quiche or meat pies, but they really don't fit the bill when it comes to sweet pies. They are much heavier and don't take on the fluffiness I need for a pie. The issue was that I knew if I went ahead and got a pre made crust and had a piece, I would feel super sick and probably ruin the romantic evening with my stomach ache and other nasty issues accompanied with consumption of gluten. But, at the same time, I really had no idea how to make a crumbly crust suitable for my pumpkin pie. After texting a friend and running multiple ideas by her, I finally decided to take a risk and follow a pretty high rated recipe I found online. It was pretty simple and I felt like I could pull it off.
You can find the recipe here but as always, I changed it up a bit.
Firstly, I doubled the recipe because one of the reviews mentioned it really wasn't enough for a 9 inch pie plate. They made a two crust pie and tripled the recipe, and I only needed one crust so I just doubled it. I also used cold butter instead of vegetable shortening. I followed everything else, except when I finished mixing the batter up, it was super dry and still looked like rice flour. So I added some milk. I thought that might help make it a bit more pie like instead of just adding water. I think I added about a quarter of a cup. I just dumped some in, mixed it up, and kept dumping until it was the consistency I wanted. Then, I pressed it into the pie pan.
It looked SUPER white compared to regular pie crust, but I just kept hoping it would turn out tasting somewhat pie crust like.
Then I made the pumpkin pie filling. The filling doesn't have any gluten in it, so I didn't need to do any substituting. Just eggs, evaporated milk, sugar, pumpkin, and spices all mixed together and you get pumpkin filling. Then I dumped the filling into the crust and baked it in the oven for about 70 minutes 350.
I also made a little piece of pie crust and sprayed it with coconut oil and then sprinkled cinnamon and sugar over it just so I could taste the crust and see if it could possibly pass as a regular pie crust.
I forgot to take a picture of it - sorry. But after finishing cooking (about 15 minutes) i took it out, let it cool, and took a bite. OH MY GOODNESS! It was SO delicious! And, it was crumbly like a pie crust should be! SO delicious! After that original try, I was much more confident my pie would turn out edible, even for Michael.
When it was dessert time, we put some whipped cream on top and served it up. We loved it! And it was so nice not having the nasty side effects of gluten in my system. It doesn't look all that great because the lighting was terrible and I didn't feel like turning the lights on or making it look more pretty. Just believe me, it was pretty and delicious!
After making the pies, I moved onto the squid. I had to look up some directions on how to prepare and clean squid since I've never done it before. I just looked up How to Clean Squid on YouTube and got a perfect video with step by step instructions and now I'll give you step by step instructions with pictures!
If you are squeamish about anything having to do with eating animals, don't keep reading.
Ok, so firstly, I had to buy the squid from the supermarket. They were really cheap - $2 for 8 squids. Once I got home, I opened up the container and rinsed all the little squids off.
Then, I began to do the cleaning. First, I had to remove the head and tentacles from the body. To do that, you grab hold of the head with one hand and grab the body with the other hand and just pull it apart. It's a lot harder than it looks because they are SO SLIMY!
When you pull out their heads, this whole inside part should come out too. I think it's their brain and heart and all that. All I know is that I had to get that part out and it was HARD!
So then you have to gut the inside of the body. It has one bone or piece of cartilage. It runs all the way up its back and I guess it gives the squid its shape. I had to pull it out super carefully so that it would break all over the inside of the body as i was pulling it. It was basically this clear plastic looking feather thing. I thought at first that the squid had been pre-cleaned or something and the piece of plastic had been put in, but actually, that's the squids bone!
Then you have to skin the body of all the spotty stuff. This was HARD! The actual taking off of the skin wasn't hard, but getting my fingers to grasp onto it and find a place where I could start peeling was hard. The whole body was ridiculously slimy and so my fingers had no traction what so ever. Once I got a hold of the skin, it was actually pretty fun skinning it!
Once all the skin was off, it looked just like this white slug. But it was so smooth and so much fun to run my fingers over. Then I yanked off the little fins at the top. You can kind of see them in the picture below. I forgot to take a picture of them.
Then I rinsed out the whole inside of the body. I think this was my favorite part because the squid body actually held water! It was fun to fill it up with water and then close off the top and see it take shape. It looked like one of those fancy tools bakers use to decorate their cakes. SO much fun!
After dealing with the body, I went back to the head. This was the easiest part. I just chopped off the tentacles right below the huge eyeball. Those eyeballs were pretty cool, though. I liked the shape that the tentacles made after the were separated from the head - like a beautiful star!
Here's all the insides on display just for you. It was a lot of work, but a great learning experience!
Just so you know, squid have black ink to scare off predators and there was a LOT of black ink on my counter.
Finally! Everything was cleaned, gutted, and ready to be cut up.
After cutting up each body and rinsing them all off again, I dumped them in a zip-loc bag full of at flour and shook them up. You can see a bit of a tentacle sticking out from all the flour.
Then I fried them up and even though they took a LONG time to clean, gut, cut up, and fry, it was worth it. They were delicious!
So there you have it - how to clean and fry squid.
The evening ended up turning out a huge success. Dinner was super delicious and dessert was amazing, especially since it was gluten free crust! Over all, we had a fantastic date night dinner.
Have you tried cooking anything crazy lately?