Night of the Cephalopods

We missed our Tuesday sushi night. But the Schneiders were hungry and still wanted to eat. So we switched over to Wednesday, and at Monica’s suggestion, changed the menu to Greek.

IMG_5425

I was pleased, as I’d been craving Greek food and had even purchased stuff to make a Greek dinner. Earlier that week Don had even accidentally smashed a plate at our house — all signs were pointing toward Greece.

Monica, she of Irish/Dominican heritage, knows her way around an octopus prepared Greek-style. So I was excited to hear that would be on the menu. My pal Ernie was going to contribute a leg of lamb which he’d cut into cubes, skewered and marinated to throw on the grill. Because I like Greek dishes with the most complicated names possible, I decided to make macaronia me loukanika ke tiri and kolokithokeftedes — or, in plain English, pasta with sausage and blue cheese, and zucchini fritters. I had some Cypriot grilling cheese I would cook and serve with chopped oregano and olive oil, and also picked up a bottle of ouzo.

Monica's octopus marinating, and...

Monica’s octopus marinating, and…

Cooked

Cooked

A few days before, I’d picked up a large package of squid tubes and tentacles to put in a large pot of Provençal fish soup I was making for my father. I used mostly the tubes for the soup, and had saved the tentacles — my favorite part — for something else. It seemed to me a nice contribution to the cephalopod theme to do something with them — so I dusted them and some strips of zucchini blossom with rice flour and fried them in olive oil. I kept the presentation simple, squeezing a bit of lemon over them and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I guess they could just as easily been from any part of the Mediterranean the way I cooked them — an Italian cook might’ve been proud to call them calamari. But in the context of Greek meal, my mouth cool with iced ouzo and the scent of oregano infusing the air, they were decidedly of Greece.

My squid

My squid

I could give you the squid recipe, although that seems like cheating since it was so darned easy. (Dust some squid with a mixture of flour and corn starch, fry in some hot olive oil, drain, squeeze some lemon and sprinkle some salt… There you go.) So I decided instead to share the macaronia me loukanika ke tiri recipe — hard to say, easy to make!

Get some ouzo, cook up with the cephalopods of your choice, smash a plate or two and ring summer out on a Greek note! Enjoy…

*    *    *

Greek pasta with sausage and blue cheese
(Macaronia me loukanika ke tiri)
serves 4

1 lb. penne
1 mild sausage, Greek, Italian or otherwise
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, slivered
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Remove sausage from casing. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add onions. Then add sausage and cook, pressing with a wooden spoon to break apart as it cooks, for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove from heat.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil, add a tsp. of salt and your pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes.

While pasta is cooking, finish your sauce. Add wine, blue cheese, cream and oregano to pan with sausage, and return to medium-high heat. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and then toss in with sauce. Adjust seasoning and serve, sprinkled with crushed red pepper if you’d like.

The Two-Livered Chicken

I often get feeling like I should be eating more offal. I’ve gotten okay with pig ears and cracklings, and will plow my way through a plate of sweetbreads. But I’m still a bit skittish when it comes to brains, stomachs, kidneys and so forth.

Crostini with beet pickles

Crostini with beet pickles

I love the idea of eating the whole animal. And when I purchase a duck, for example, I’ll be mindful to get five or six separate dishes out of the bird — breasts, leg confit, liver pate, bone stock and demi glaze, skin cracklings, and rendered fat. More

Burger Saturation

Heading to lunch at a local restaurant called Plan Check with my friend and business associate Greg, we got talking about burger saturation.

A special — the "smokey and spicy PCB" (Plan Check Burger)

The “smokey and spicy PCB” (Plan Check Burger)

Our local Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, Jonathan Gold, named Plan Check #71 in his 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. 2014. It is the poster child of the now overused designation of “gastropub.” A superb restaurant indeed, it served a delicious selection of craft beers — including my current favorite, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — a variety of fingery bar foods and artisan pickles, and several carefully curated hamburgers. More

And to Think It All Began with a Pan

I was blogging along happily one day, when I realized I was approaching my 400th post.

I launched Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise on August 8, 2010, with a volley of posts I had written and prepared — there were posts on the great Yucatan pork speciality, cochinita pibil, and how with it I’d converted two vegetarians; the spectacular torta cubano; the importance of salt, and the unimportance of quinoa — a grain that would, for the purposes of this blog, play Lex Luthor to my Superman. I wanted the blog to look like it had been around for awhile, so within the first week I published a total of nineteen posts.

The old pan

The old pan, circa 2014

One of the earliest posts was about an old pan I had inherited in my 20s from whomever lived in my Santa Monica rent control apartment before me. Some two decades later, I still had the pan. And still used it more than the various Emile Henry, Le Creuset and other fancy bakeware I now had in my cupboard. More

To Avoid Starvation, and to Procreate

Being of an inherently inquisitive nature and surrounded, as I am, by every imaginable philosophical position — an atheist father, a recovering Catholic mother with Taoist leanings, Evangelical in-laws, Jewish and agnostic and pagan friends, yogis and rednecks — I spend a fair amount of time trying to figure things out.

A neighbor

A neighbor

Being also surrounded, as I am, by beautiful nature, my musings are often influenced by the wild. One recent morning while running in the state park, I happened past some coyote scat. Coyote scat, for those unfamiliar with the stuff, is an amalgam of fruit stones, tiny seeds, light colors and dark colors, presumably some meatstuff. More

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