Bong, Bong, Bong…….Squidly.

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This just in…..say hi to super fresh squid or calamari. All you have to do is reach in and remove the mottled sheat- like membrane off the squid and you are good to go. I like a fish-monger who has expectations from me. A hands on view of the food chain in your kitchen. I like lots of garlic and I like it spicy warm . The spice mixture is a north African blend called Ras el Hanout.

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But first, a simple bowl of tomato and bean soup, finished with a grassy olive oil. I used the end of my tomatoes and shell beans from last year’s garden. The olive oil is from Sicily.We have had or are having a late and resistant Winter in New England. That translates into a late start for any gardening activity. In the meantime, it is simple Winter cooking, plan a garden and get seeds.

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Brocolli Rabe is one of my favourite vegetables. I eat it the southern Italian way, tricked out with garlic , chili flakes and lemon.

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Morocco seems to get all the credit for Ras el Hanout. Up to thirty different spices can be used. I think that there are many regional variations and that cooks would have their own interpretation, based on location, availability, the occasion for cooking and whats for cooking. My Ras el Hanout included: ginger, cardomom, cinammon, allspice, coriander, nutmeg, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, anise and clove. There is a bay leave in there somewhere too. I simmered this particular tomato based sauce for about 45 minutes. There are two ways to cook squid, either very fast or nice and slower. Deep-frying or grilling versus simmering and stewing.

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I tossed the squid with pasta, linguine. But rice or cous-cous would have been great too. I pulled the pasta about a minute early, drained it, then added it to the sauce and finished cooking it in the sauce. I used reserved pasta cooking water to re-hydrate the sauce as needed. This allows the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce.The trick with eating pasta is by the time you are done eating the pasta there is no more sauce. It is not over sauced or under sauced..Thanks for reading.

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