Fried Baby Octopus & Squid

Fried Baby Octopus & Squid, served with Baked Zucchini Flowers & Smashed New Potatoes
Time: 15 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1/2 lb each baby octopus and baby squid, cleaned and washed
1/2 Canola oil (or any other neutral oil of your preference)
1 tsp crushed garlic
Sea salt & Pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
Lemon wedges
Extra virgin olive oil

After cleaning and washing the octopus and squid, pat them dry in several layers of paper towels.
Using a large skilled, heat the oil on high until very hot.
Add the squid and fry, turning from time to time, until golden. Remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the extra oil.
Add the octopus and fry until golden, then add them to the plate of squid. 
Reduce the heat to medium, strain out all the oil and replace the seafood into the pan. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, cilantro and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, combine well. Saute for about 1 minute. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon. 
(This dish is also great cold, as an appetizer or served on top of a fresh green salad).

Matane Shrimp & Avocado Mousse Verrines

Matane Shrimp & Avocado Mousse Verrines
Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 6

Ingredients
2 cups fresh or frozen cooked Matane shrimp*, thawed and well drained
2-4. tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 ripe avocados
1/2 tsp. garlic paste
Salt & pepper to taste
6 lime slices for garnish

Once the shrimp have thawed, or if using fresh, squeeze out the excess liquid using your hands - careful not to crush the shrimp as they are delicate!
Place them in a medium bowl and add 2 tbsp. lime juice, spring onion and salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside to marinate.
Halve the avocados and scoop out the pulp into a blender or food processor. (I used a food processor this time) Add 1 tsp lime juice, the garlic paste and salt. (no pepper) Puree until smooth - making sure to scrape the sided while pureeing. There shouldn't be any lumps at all. Taste. You may wish to add more lime juice or salt or both. 

To serve: Using transparent glass verrines spoon in enough shrimp mixture into each one until it fills each verrine half way. Then, using a small spoon, gently spoon in the avocado mousse to fill to the top. Make a slit into each lime slice and drape over the edge of each verrine and serve. (You can refrigerate them for a few hours if you wish, but make sure to cover with plastic wrap otherwise the avocado mousse will turn brown on the top).

*Matane shrimp are wild shrimp that come from the Gaspe region of Quebec, Canada. They are very small and have a unique sweet/salty/sea flavour and should not be overpowered with too many seasonings. You can substitute them with salad shrimp if you wish.

Beet Shooters with Evoo & Creme Fraiche

Beet Shooters with Evoo & Creme Fraiche
This is a deliciously light and almost fat free soup that can be served cold or hot, in shooter glasses or in bowls. Garnish with or without the Creme Fraiche or use a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley. Be creative!

Time: 20 minutes max.
Effort: Easy
Serves: 6 (2 shooters each or 1 bowl each)

Ingredients
1 small shallot minced
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. neutral oil (eg Canola)
1 19oz. canned whole beets, with the juice
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Water as needed
Salt and Pepper
Evoo for drizzling (extra virgin olive oil)
Creme Fraiche (or heavy cooking cream) for drizzling

Method
Heat the 1 tsp. neutral oil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Add the shallot and caraway seeds and saute until transparent. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a blender or food processor. Strain the liquid from the beets, saving it for later. Add a couple of beets to the shallot/caraway mixture and puree until smooth. Add the rest of the beets and puree again. Make sure to scrape the sides from time to time while pureeing. Once the puree is very smooth, with the machine running, slowly add the beet juice, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. The soup should be of a medium thick consistency. You may add a little water if you find it too thick.
Pour into shooter glasses and just before serving, drizzle with a little evoo and creme fraiche.