Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back





Nothing was more important to me than my dearest Memphis – above.  Nothing.  He was a little rescued gift from the universe after my 4-year-old pug, Grisbi, died suddenly & mysteriously.  Then – on June 20th – Memphis left me the same way – suddenly & mysteriously – at 4.  I am bereft.

It has been difficult to get into cooking & blogging.  Everything reminds me of Memphis & then everything seems so pointless and so trivial.

Anyway, I have had this cuttlefish ink in my fridge forever – but I never tried it because I gave up seafood three years ago.  Today – I decided to break my no seafood thing (for the second time in a week) and make this risotto.  Early this week – I made Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta – seen below.


People are often intimidated by risotto but I do not understand why.   It is simple to prepare & only takes about 20 minutes.  This black risotto here is no exception.  It is simple & delicious.  What people should be intimidated by is scallops.  They are often fishy & too often overcooked into rubber.  I managed to pull the scallops here off perfectly & I will share how.  It was not difficult.



Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops



Fresh jumbo scallops – maybe 3 or 4 per person

1 cup Arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

3 TBS butter

3 TBS olive oil

1 large shallot (or small onion) – diced

1-6 garlic cloves (I used 6) – chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

Squid ink (or cuttlefish ink) – about 3 or 4 teaspoons

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – or to taste (optional)

10 cherry tomatoes – halved (maybe extra to quarter & use as garnish)

2 red chilies (optional) – diced – some reserved as garnish


Parsley – chopped – as garnish







Wash the scallops in cold water & pat VERY dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle with S&P.  Set aside.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil & reduce to a simmer.

Heat TWO TBS of olive oil & TWO TBS of butter in a stock pot over med-high heat.  Add the shallots or onion & saute until soft & just beginning to brown.  Add the rice & tomatoes & stir for a minute or two.  Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the wine & then the ink & red chilies & crushed red pepper(if using).  I added the ink in increments until it got the nice rich black.  You may or may not use all the ink suggested – your call.  Add the stock 1/4 cup at a time – letting it get absorbed before adding the next cup.  Stir the rice the entire time.  Reserve about 1/2 cup stock.   Season with S&P.  Test that the rice is cooked & then cover it & remove it from the heat.







In a frying pan, heat 1 TBS olive oil & 1 TBS butter (more if you have more than 4 scallops) and heat on high until very hot.  Add the dry scallops.  They should sizzle upon contact with the oil.  Do not fumble with them.  Let them sear 1-2 minutes each side – depending on their thickness.  Ideally – they should only be moved once – when you flip them.  They should be crusty on two sides by a bit translucent in the center ( bit rare) – unless you like them cooked well done.  Leave them on longer for a well done scallop.  Know they will keep cooking a bit even after removed from the heat.

Stir the remaining stock into the risotto & stir.  It should be what the Italians cal “all’onda.”  That means “wavy” or “with waves.”  The risotto should be creamy enough that tapping the bottom of the plates makes it spread out.

Plate the risotto, top with scallops & chopped parsley (and chopped red chilies or tomatoes) as garnish.





Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

This is my first recipe posted since June 16th.   On June 20th, I came home from a 14-hour day at work to find my beautiful, 4-year-old pug, Memphis, dead.  Without explanation.  My world shattered.  Posting recipes seemed so trivial & like an insult to my loss.  I still cry almost every day.  I cried when I opened this blog & saw my last post – explaining my absence here.  He was one of the very, very special ones & I miss him agonizingly.  So – please pardon me if I just post this recipe & have nothing much more to say.

This is VERY easy, very spicy (but you can adjust that) and a very rare seafood recipe from me.  I gave up seafood three years ago or so – but I could not resist this squid ink pasta when I saw it & shrimp seemed the best way to serve it.  So – without further adieu – let me present my Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta.




Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta

Serves 2


1/2 lb squid ink pasta (or any pasta of your choice)

1/2 to 1 lb raw shrimp – shelled & cleaned

1 TBS olive oil

5 oz – 10 oz cherry tomatoes – halved (reserve a few for garnish)

1-6 garlic cloves – sliced, crushed or whole (or to taste)

1-3 jalapenos – chopped (or to taste)

1 tsp to 1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1 cup pasta sauce of choice


Chopped parsley










Cook the pasta.

Meanwhile – heat the olive oil & ad the jalapenos & tomatoes.  saute over high heat until the tomatoes soften a bit.  Add the crushed red pepper & garlic & saute one minute.  Add the tomato sauce & heat until bubbly.








Add S&P to taste.  Just before the pasta is done – add the shrimp to the sauce & cook through – being careful not to overcook the shrimp.

Drain the pasta & toss with the sauce.  Serve garnished with fresh, chopped parsley & quartered, raw cherry tomatoes.





Grilled Lemon & Garlic Calamari


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


There is no real recipe here.  A shoe box would taste good with garlic & lemon & parsley.  Calamari really comes down to those that like it & those that do not – and maybe those that can only tolerate it breaded & fried.

The best calamari I have ever had in my life – and I’ve had the pleasure of having it on repeated occasions – was served to me as a non-menu special a my favorite Manhattan restaurant – Il Bagatto in the lower east side.  Here is the picture they post of it on their site:


Holy fuck.  It is a glorious thing.  Glorious in its fresh simplicity.

The key to pulling this off at home is a real grill rather than a grill pan, lots & lots of garlic, lots & lots of lemon, lots & lots of parsley (yes – as an ingredient – not just a pretty flourish) and very fresh squid.  When you buy squid – buy it cleaned!  Cleaning squid is labor intensive & really fucking gross.  It will turn you off the whole thing.  But – cleaned – it looks so pure & innocent.  I got $3 worth at my local Ralphs & the stuff was practically angelic looking.


However – THIS squid did have a definite bleachy, funkified aroma so I couldn’t get it into a garlic-lemon marinade fast enough.  I am not sure if all squid smells sketchy raw – but I ate this all up both grilled and in my stuffed calamari recipe and I was not rendered ill.

Again – the non-recipe recipe is – marinate your CLEANED squid in a combo of a little olive oil & lots (a dozen cloves – minced) of garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P.   Marinate for a least 4 hours or overnight.

Then – on a very hot grill – char these bad boys.  I found they took quite a while to cook through.  Every time I turned them, they poured water out of their little belly cavities.  I didn’t like that so I cooked them until that stopped.

Serve with lots of fresh lemon & lots of freshly chopped parsley.  Practically zero calories, too!  Cheap & dietetic.  And kinda fancy.  It’s just a win-win-win!


Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


Ok – I confess – I just could NOT get a decent shot of this dish.  This is becoming a frequent issue – caused, most likely, from my lack of continued inspiration photographically.  My lighting & plating options are limited & largely exhausted.   I need to start going to yard sales & junk stores & buy up some new cutie little dishes etc to maybe restore the fun of photographing the foods I prepare.

At any rate – this was a really satisfying dish to prepare.  I felt like an old Italian mamma in my kitchen, expertly filling squid with stuffing & braising them.  Braising, by the way, is defined on Wikipedia like this:

Braising (from the French “braiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.

This dish takes a few steps but is well worth it.  If you use boxed pasta & jarred sauce – this dish is downright easy!

I found fresh squid at my store the other day, all cleaned & pristine looking, and I got two packages for under three dollars combined.  There were probably 20 little squid in there – each only about 3 inches long.


I, personally, preferred the littler guys but you could do this with larger squid & have less work to do with the stuffing of them.

I marinated the squid in garlic, olive oil & lemon overnight – but this is unnecessary.  I did that, primarily, because I thought they had an odd smell & I wanted to get rid of that.  It wasn’t a smell like they had spoiled or were fishy but, rather, kind of a musky, bleachy scent which I found super gross.  The marinade cured that & these guys cooked up as mildly & inoffensively as any squid I’ve ever had.


Also – I used baby kale because that is what I had.  You could use regular kale or spinach or broccoli or whatever in the stuffing for these.  Other recipes I looked at for this kind of thing suggested a course chop for the shrimp.  I opted to puree the whole lot & that resulted in a stuffing mix that could be inserted into the squid with a pastry bag or, as I used, a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off.  THIS was a lifesaver!  Trying to stuff these fuckers by hand – even with my green puree – was crazy-making so definitely have a zip-lock bag handy.


Also – I only had these foiled sandwich toothpicks around.  If you use these, be sure to cut off the plastic fringe with kitchen scissors before cooking the calamari.

Also – I used my 5 Minute Arrabiata Sauce for these. You can do that, too, or use your own favorite red sauce, whether homemade or jarred.  I used whole wheat spaghetti from a box


because I really like whole wheat pastas & was too lazy to make fresh pasta.  This, too, is open to your interpretation.  Make some pasta (I have posted lots of recipes for that) or simply boil up your favorite brand & shape of the boxed variety.

Lastly – definitely buy CLEANED squid.  I tried to clean squid once in the late eighties & was scarred emotionally by the experience.  It took until this week for me to ever attempt squid again.  So – if your grocer has squid in the case but it isn’t cleaned – pay whatever it takes to get them to clean them for you.  Trust.

When these little bad boys are cooked up, they are so tight & neat & resilient – you can slice them up with a knife & they do not fall apart.



Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti


1 lb pasta of your choice

15 -20 little 3″ squid or lesser quantity of larger ones

3/4 lb shrimp – peeled & deveined

6 garlic cloves

2 cups baby kale (or other vegetable like maybe spinach or broccoli or arugula)

3/4 cup panko (or other breadcrumbs)

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 TBS crushed red pepper

1 TBS dry oregano

6-7 fresh basil leaves

S&P to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper?)

Olive oil

1 tomato – diced (optional)

Parsley as garnish

Marinara or Arrabiata of your choice



I marinated my squid in a little olive oil, 10 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P overnight.  This is optional.

Prepare your red sauce or simmer your jarred sauce in a large saute pan.

For the stuffing – put any tentacles you might have from the squid into a food processor with the shrimp, garlic, kale, eggs, panko, cheese, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil and S&P & pulse to puree.  You might need to scrape the sides a few times.


With either a pastry bag or a large zip-lock bag with one corner cut off – squeeze your puree into each of the squid.  Only fill about 2/3 of the way because squid shrinks when it cooks & it will shrink wrap your stuffing quickly & begin to squeeze it out.  Secure the open end by simply piercing through with a toothpick.  If using fancy tipped toothpicks – cut the fancy part off with kitchen scissors.  Pierce each squid once or twice in the fat part with the tip of a sharp knife to vent them as they cook.


I had extra stuffing so I just made little “meatballs” from it.

Heat a frying pan & add 2 TBS olive oil.  I used my marinade to sear the squid & you can, too, but know that the garlic burns a bit.  When hot, place the calamari in there & sear them a bit all over, on high heat, until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat.  You can sear your “meatballs” in this process, too.



When your red sauce is ready, place the seared calamari into that pan.  I added a little water to my sauce to thin it but that is just a matter of taste.  I also added 1 diced tomato.  Cook for about 15 minutes over low to medium-low heat without disturbing them.  Then turn them & cook another 15 minutes.  If you have extra stuffing “meatballs, add them to the pan for the second 15 minutes.


Cook your pasta & serve it smothered in your red sauce & evenly distribute your stuffed squid.  Remove the toothpicks!  Garnish with chopped parsley & maybe extra crushed red pepper.