Lunch by the coast: Cruderia Al Porto, Cierva

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Our third day in the Emilia-Romagna area we drove to the coast for lunch. It seemed like all Italians had made the same plan for Easter Sunday as us, so it took us a good half an hour to even find a parking space about a 15 minute walk from the restaurarant. But it was a nice day for a walk so we didn’t mind.

We started our lunch with some thinly sliced raw fish (tuna, salmon, octopus and two types of white fish) served with a grassy olive oil and lemon juice – nice and fresh!

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Thinking of the lovely red prawns from the night before we decided to also share a red prawn tartar with endive, fried garlic and saffron. It was nice but sadly not as fantastic as we had hoped.

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The restaurant was full to the brim with guests, and the staff was very busy looking after all the guests, but between our starters and our main courses it took about 45 minutes. I honestly think they had forgotten about us, and as we were absolutely starving (the starters made us more hungry if anything) it was a long wait.

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My ravioli with burrata (inside the ravioli – such a brilliant idea!) with large prawns and the most amazing tomato sauce with both depth and sweetness, was well worth the wait. It was one of the best dishes I had during our trip and it was just fantastic. So wish I had the recipe so I could recreate it at home.

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Sadly Carolines squid ink pasta with squid and bottarga wasn’t as impressive. In fact, we couldn’t understand how it was produced in the same kitchen as my delicious ravioli.

OK, the actual pasta was well cooked and the squid was nice, but it lacked a lot in flavour and didn’t really come together as a dish. Such a shame!

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Even though we were (finally) full after our pasta dishes we couldn’t resist the mini tiramisus we saw carried around the restaurant on trays, and it was just a perfect ending to the meal. It was great in flavour but a little more crunchy than your regular tiramisu but I liked it!

I’m a bit ambivalent in my opinion of this restaurant; my ravioli was extraordinarily good and I really want to come back to eat it again, but at the same time I don’t think the other dishes we had quite measure up, but since they can produce that amazing ravioli I’m willing to give them another chance. They were incredibly busy, and the potential is there, I just wish that all the dishes were as good as the one I had.

Al Porto, Lungomare D’Annunzio 2 – 48015 Cervia Ra, Italy

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Fried squid with coconut milk, noodles, lime, chilli and mint

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I absolutely adore squid and try to mix my recipes up a little; one can only have so much calamari… This dish with crispy squid with the bold flavours of lime, chilli and mint contrasting the soft noodles in coconut milk is really tasty and one I will make many times in the future.

Fried squid with coconut milk, noodles, lime, chilli and mint, serves 2

2 nests egg noodles

300 g squid, cleaned and sliced

1/2 red chilli, chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 tomato, chopped

1 handful chopped mint

2 limes, zest and juice

200 g coconut milk

salt, pepper

Cook the noodles according to the packet. Heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the tomato and chilli. Fry for a few minutes then add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Season with the zest and juice from 1 lime, salt and pepper. Let the sauce thicken, then mix with the noodles and add some mint. 

Heat up olive oil in a frying pan on high heat. Add the chilli and then the squid and flash-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and lower the heat (so it doesn’t burn). Add the juice of 1 lime and scatter with mint. Season. 

Place the noodles in a bowl and top with the squid. 

Squid with samphire and lime herb butter

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The past weekend was a complete write-off with a terrible flu, hay fever and the badly, for me, timed heat wave. In general I love heat and am always cold, but not when I am poorly. So apart from staying in bed and trying to keep cool I did little else than alternate between reading Gone Girl and watching series.

Luckily I had a well-stocked fridge so at least I could treat myself to some nice suppers. This ridiculously simple and summery dish was such a treat. I love that samphire taste like the sea and frying squid only takes a minute or two.

Squid with samphire and herb butter, per portion

80 g samphire

120-150 g squid, either just the tubes or baby squid with tentacles 

salt, pepper

Lime herb butter:

50 g softened salted butter

3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs; I used mint and parsley

1/2 tsp lime zest

some ground black pepper

Mix together the herbs, zest and butter and put aside. Clean the squid and slice the tubes. Quickly fry the squid in some neutral oil. Season using only a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 

Steam the samphire for 2-3 minutes. (No need to season as salty in itself). 

Serve with a wedge of lime and some nice bread. 

Squid with chorizo, cannellini beans, spinach and aioli

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One reason I love living in London is of course the restaurant scene. It is ever changing and evolving and I love (and hate!) the fact that I can’t keep up. Eating out inspires me a lot as a home cook but it is not always the most impressive and technically difficult dishes that appeal the most.

Since I had a similar version of this squid dish at Terroirs in October I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to cook it since. So when Laura, another squid lover, came for dinner the other week I knew exactly what to cook.

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The Terroirs original has chickpeas instead of my cannellini beans but other than that I think I hit quite close to home. My homecooked dish was just as satisfying and although this is a straight-forward recipe with simple ingredients the combination is just utterly wonderful. (Chorizo is a bit like bacon – whatever you add it to tastes wonderful.) All it requires is some crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.

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Squid with chorizo, cannellini beans, spinach and aioli, serves 4

400 g squid, sliced into rings

150 g chorizo, sliced

1 tin (400g) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 

250 g fresh spinach

oil for frying

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, black pepper

To serve:

chopped parsley

aioli (see below)

crusty bread

Fry the chorizo in the oil. Remove from the pan but keep the oil to flash-fry the squid. A few minutes is all you need. Put the chorizo back in the pan and add the beans. Wilt the spinach in a separate pan and add it to the big pan too. Squeeze with lemon juice, season and serve! 

Aioli, serves 4

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

150 ml vegetable oil

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, white pepper

1 garlic clove, pressed

Place the yolk in a mixing bowl and start whisking. Add the oil drop by drop and gradually in a thin beam. Once the mayonnaise has thickened, add the lemon juice to loosen it. Then start whisking again and incorporate the remaining oil. Add more lemon for flavour as well as salt, pepper and garlic. 

Calamari, wild garlic mayo, asparagus and potato wedges

We had this lovely supper one day in the middle of the week, last week. Why? Because we can. No, but squid is so cheap, and it makes such a lovely summery meal.

The best mayo I’ve ever made is the wild garlic mayo, and thanks to mum who dried some leaves for me I can enjoy this all year round. It didn’t work as well with the dried stuff as the fresh leaves, so next time I will try it with the frozen ones my mum has gathered for me. Mum – you’re the best!

Calamari, serves 2

4-5 squid tubes

3 tbsp semolina

2 tsp paprika powder

a pinch of salt

neutral oil  (vegetable oil/ground nut oil)

For serving:

lime and/or lemon wedges

mayo of some sort

Cut the squid into rings. Pour semolina, paprika powder and salt in a large ziplock bag and shake it. Add the squid rings and shake so the rings get coated by the mixture. Heat up 2 cm high of oil in a large pan. Check that it is hot enough by throwing in a small piece of bread. If it browns it is hot. Remove the bread and add a handful calamari. Beware of the oil splashing about. Fry until the calamaris are golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon or tong, drain on some kitchen towel. Fry the remaining squid in a few batches. Serve immediately!