fat free opinions on a food centric life

Spicy Duo: Breaded Calamari and Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

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I’ve been so jittery the last couple of days.  I know it’s the election — waiting, and waiting to find out.  The feeling is strangely like I felt waiting for Christmas morning to arrive when I was a kid, the anticipation just about doing me in.

But it’s not just the election.  Having to pack four rooms in our house to prepare for a big remodel isn’t helping.  It’s great to be busy, though,  since the time is flying by.  Each book or knick knack I take from the shelf to pack is accompanied by my nagging alter ego which is reminding me I should have gotten rid of this crap a very long time ago.

And then there’s the little matter of a trip I’m taking in a couple of days, leaving the hunkster to finish what I’ve not managed to do to prepare the house.  Maybe that’s why I’m giddy with excitement as well.  I’m headed to the Midwest to meet with several food bloggers.  In fact, it’s for a wedding:  Lis’ wedding.  You know Lis, right?  Co-founder of The Daring Bakers? La Mia Cucina Lis.   And guess who’s making the wedding cake?  Helen.  Helen, Tartelette Helen.  Now how exciting is that?

Seriously exciting if you ask me.  So I’m pretty much a basket case right now, stomach in nervous knots and finishing almost nothing that I start.

Wait.  That sounds somewhat like a normal day now that I think of it.  The not finishing anything I start part.  Whatever…

So food is definitely in the low maintenance zone at our house right now and since the hunkster wanted to know what was on the Election Day menu, I figured Batter Fried Calamari & Jalapeno Poppers would work just fine.  And I have the perfect accompaniment for both — a sauce made with a bit o’ spicy love.

My friend Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants would be proud of me today since that’s exactly how I put these two recipes together.  It’s the epitome of “winging it,” right Jerry?

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Batter-Fried Calamari

Frozen calamari rings, thawed
flour for dusting on two separate plates
eggs, beaten in a small bowl
salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning you like
fresh lemon
vegetable oil

Equipment:  Deep narrow pot, slotted spoon, cooking thermometer OR an electric wok or skillet OR a good old fashioned cast iron skillet.  Two baking sheets:  one for before frying and one lined with paper towels for after frying.

Organize your counter in an assembly line like so:  bowl of calamari rings, plate of seasoned flour, bowl of eggs, second plate of flour, baking sheet to set the rings before frying.

Make sure you keep one set of fingers clean and I highly recommend using a fork for as much dipping as possible.

Method:  Dust each ring in the seasoned flour, flipping to dust all surfaces.  Dip in the mixed eggs, flipping once, then drop in the second plate of flour and flip once.  Remove to the waiting baking pan.  Give a final shake of salt and pepper over the rings.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F.  Dunk one or two rings into the hot oil and let cook until golden brown.  Remove to drain on paper towel-covered baking pan and repeat.  Keep an eye on the thermometer to ensure that the temp returns to 375 before dropping more rings into the oil.

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Jalapeno Poppers

2 fresh whole jalapenos per person

cream cheese (or other soft cheese)

grated cheese like sharp cheddar (anything will do)

bacon

milk for dipping

flour for dusting

bread crumbs for rolling

salt & pepper

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Equipment:  See Above

Organization:  Line everything up as stated above.

Method:  Slice jalapenos carefully from just beneath the stem to the end.  Ease the halves apart and with your fingers, remove membrane and seeds.

Cook bacon and drain well. Crumble or cut into very small pieces.

Stuffed full of cheese and bacon.

Mix softened cream cheese with shredded cheese.  Season with salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you may like.  Add the bacon and mix well. Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture and press closed.

Rolled in milk then flour...next comes the breadcrumbs...

Dip in the milk first, then the flour, then the milk again, then the bread crumbs.  Set on a baking sheet until finished and fry at 350 degrees F until golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel covered baking pan to drain.

Breaded jalapenos read for hot fat...

Look at those cute little jalapenos...little tail sticking out...

Dipping Sauce

mayonnaise

sour cream

hot sauce

Salt & Pepper

Mix equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream.  Add several dashes of hot sauce and use seasonings to your liking.

Rustic looking, isn't it? But oh, so yummy.

Notes:

  • I’m by no means a proficient deep fat cooker person.  My husband seems to love it so he mans the pot and thermometer.  I’m sure it’s because it has numbers on it.  I do the dipping, but one person could get this done just fine.
  • I’ve used a wok successfully to make both of these — it was electric and had a dial I could set the temp on.  Nice.
  • The calamari was HUGE.  I’ve never seen rings this enormous and wondered, but couldn’t pass them up.  Plus they were quite the bargain.  I found them at Food for Less which always has a great selection of frozen seafood I can’t pass up.
  • You will seriously regret making both of these if you don’t keep one hand clean.  Really.
  • Use any mix of cheese you have in your fridge.  A bit of soft and bit of hard is good.  The bacon was genius.  I wish it had been my idea.  Make sure you season the cheese mixture well.
  • Use packaged breadcrumbs.  Add some minced rosemary or parsley or whatever you want
  • Our jalapenos weren’t the slightest bit spicy.  It was sad.  They were large peppers, so who knows.  Often, the large ones are not as spicy.  But maybe you enjoy them less spicy!

I am going to try to get a couple of quick posts done before I leave, but am usually not very good at the whole post ahead thing.  If I don’t succeed, have a lovely rest of the week, and I’ll be thinking of you while I’m gone.  Trust me — with several food bloggers in one place, what else will be talked about?