Italian Celebration Feast
Hey New Year’s Eve! An excellent excuse to dress up, dance, sing and embrace with strangers in dark rooms, with expensive drinks and minimal possibilities of getting home!
Or...the much better option which is cooking a slap up meal with your loved one :)
Only this year I was caught by surprise. It was NYE morning and I realised I hadn’t planned...the menu! *The shame*
I asked a colleague for suggestions and I was given this recipe for a delicious baked risotto. All the flavour of risotto, without the work.
But what to have as our starter?
I searched online for Italian starters. Many, many (naturally gluten free, but not very inspiring) recipes for salads, seafood and roasted vegetables.
And then I remembered my meal at Bruchetta! Crunchy calamari, stone baked pizza and gnocchi. Could I replicate the calamari at home?
Once I’d hunted down the wicked squid, (it’s almost impossible to find in the supermarket the week after Christmas! I found frozen rings but I would have preferred fresh) I looked up a gluten free batter recipe.
I decided on 2 batters, one found on Google (recommended for calamari) and the other which is my very own fish batter from a previous blog post.
We battered up and deep fried some mushrooms to start, as not to waste the precious seafood. The first batter was interesting, quite chunky and robust but not at all tempura like. We felt it was better suited to chicken and it worked well with the mushrooms. We also knocked up some naughty deep fried chicken livers. They looked like hell so we ate them up before the sight spoiled our dinner. They were yummy and I will definitely make them again!
The First Batter
40g rice flour
40g cornmeal or fine polenta
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 egg or egg substitute
1 tbsp milk
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine the egg and milk in another bowl. Put the calamari into the flour mixture and coat thoroughly. Then cover in the egg and milk, then back into the flour. Deep fry in sunflower or vegetable oil until golden brown.
Next, onto the second batter. Crunchy and light and delicately flavoured, the seafood could shine through. This batter was also less greasy. At this stage our oil was quite dark which gave the end result a darker hue than is normal but the flavour wasn't affected too much.
My Tempura Recipe
40g Rice flour (or gluten free plain white flour)
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
This quantity will make enough batter to coat around 20-25 pieces of calamari.
Mix the flours with the salt and baking powder and stir in enough water to form a batter of double cream consistency. It should hold onto the thing you want to batter, yet still be quite runny. (Hard to explain but you will know it when you see it!) For the calamari, I added extra salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
We ate our calamari with a slice of lime and a smile on our faces.
The risotto that followed was also a success. Thick and unctuous with bursts of flavour from the Bath Pig Cooking Chorizo (gluten free and best chorizo outside of Spain), the saffron and the prawns.
We would have followed with a bowl of Bessant and Drury chocolate ice cream (dairy free, fabulous and found in a very big branch of Tesco) perhaps with a dash of coffee - but we were both stuffed.
All in all a very successful meal for two.
If you’ve got a fussy eater to spoil, give this a go. You can thank me later.