Garlic-and-Herb-Braised SquidWhy not?” I asked myself, when I saw the recipe for “Garlic-and-Herb-Braised Squid,” in the January 2009 issue of Gourmet. I’m confident enough about my local fish monger, so I was able to easily buy 1 1/2 lbs. of squid. This amount included 9 hoods and 14 tentacles. The price of this squid collection was $9. I don’t often cook squid at home, although my family adores it. We always end up ordering some form of squid (fried calamari, anyone?) at our frequent pub visits. Squid preparation involves so little waste, and this alone is quite a gratifying experience. You need only pull out and discard the quill-shaped bone from the hood cavity -- everything else is cookable and edible. It’s too easy to cut the squid into rings and cook according to your planned recipe. And this recipe? A great triumph.

I chose to “chop” my parsley and garlic together in the food processor. I used a 2007 Argentinian Chardonnay. My squid cooked for 40 minutes, until it was tender enough. I added a total of 2 3/4 tsp. salt to my stew. It was a soupy mixture, reminiscent of the broth I associate with steamed mussels (another family favorite). The generous amount of garlic resulted in a slightly spicy stew. This was such a great meal. I did indeed serve it with pieces of crusty bread. My young child declared, “I love squid.”

Fennel in Wine and HoneyThe recipe for “Fennel in Wine and Honey,” from All Recipes, conveniently allowed me to use more of that same Chardonnay. This recipe fusses with fennel, including an odd mix of ingredients and a long stretch of cooking time. Is it all worth it? Well … not really.

This was a disappointing dish, under-spiced and tamely flavored. Did it need salt? After all the invested time, I realized -- once again -- that fennel excels as a raw vegetable. It needs nothing more to be exhilarating.

RECIPES: It’s time to make squid and to lavish in its fine rewards. Use scrutiny in your fennel preparation.
PREP TIMES: this meal needs an hour to come together
TASTES: spicy garlic swims a winning lap in a tomato soup with the squid; under-spiced fennel needs a kick of something after all that cooking

I’m ready to use the remaining amounts of my crusty bread to accompany another meal. Next time, I’ll cook “Vegetarian White Bean “Alfredo” with Linguine,” from See what happens when you come back to my site on Sunday, July 26.