Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lavender Scented Lemonade

I've already written about my trip to Bald Mountain in Napa, CA in my post about seared prosciutto wrapped scallops, but I didn't mention the lemonade. We had some pretty hot weather while we were there, but none of that sticky heat we are stuck in here in St. Louis (and, as I understand, the whole Eastern half of the country). Still, it was good weather for lemonade. And right out the kitchen door in the rock garden, there was a beautiful, flowering lavender plant all covered in honey bees. Instead of leaving all the good stuff to the bees, I took my scissors out and cut off some fresh fragrant buds to steep in simple syrup.

And that is the secret to amazing lemonade. Fresh lavender steeped in the syrup. Of course, you can try other herbs too. Rosemary works in the same way. Basil is good, but you don't want to cook it all, so you can just stir in strips of basil leaves.

But back to lavender. If you grow it, of course use it fresh, when the buds are not yet opened. Also pick off some of the flowers that already budded and set them aside for garnish. To really make it pretty, I like to slice a lemon really thin and put in the lemonade at the end.

One more thing: ALWAYS use fresh lemons in lemonade. And in everything. Just keep a bag of lemons in the fridge. Seriously, that bottled pre-juiced stuff is more expensive and tastes like plasticky vinegar, compared to the tart fragrance of fresh lemons.

This lemonade is an elegant and delicious thirst quencher on a hot summer's day. And if it's getting further towards evening and it's still lemonade weather, a splash of vodka is just what this lemonade needs.

Lavender Scented Lemonade
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dried lavender, or small bunch of fresh sprigs
3 or 4 cups cold water
1 cup lemon juice, approx.
1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish
fresh lavender flowers, for garnish

Heat the sugar and water to a simmer so that the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lavender, remove from the heat, and cover. Let the syrup steep for 20 to 30 minutes, then strain the lavender out and let it cool completely (you can stir in ice if you want, just reduce the water accordingly.

Stir together the syrup, the water, and the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the sugar and lemon to your taste. Fill a pitcher one third full of ice, add the lemon slices, then pour the lemonade over the ice and lemons. Top with the flowers.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tomato, Avocado, Arugula, and Mozzarella Salad

After "Bacon Day" at Infuz, I needed a light dinner. Turns out there's really only so much bacon you can eat in one day before it becomes too much. So I got home and put together this salad as dinner. I had a ripe avocado, some tomatoes I got from the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, a couple balls of mozzarella, some arugula, and a lot of basil. I figured all those together plus dressing would be a good meal. Because of the richness of the avocado and mozzarella, this salad can hold its own as a main course. (Of course in smaller portions it can also be a side dish or an appetizer.)

I decided to use the basil not as whole leaves or chopped bits, but as basil oil. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you will notice that I have been using a lot of basil oil recently. That is because it is delicious, easy, versatile, and keeps for about a week in the fridge. Also because I recently bought Skye Gyngell's book A Year in my Kitchen (surprisingly, this is not about the trials and tribulations of a poor woman trapped in her kitchen for a year, as the title might lead you to suspect--it's actually just a cookbook organized seasonally). Her book uses a lot of basil oil, which is what got me going on basil oil.

To round out the dressing, I added some balsamic reduction. If you don't already make balsamic reduction, try it out. Especially with cheaper and newer balsamics, reducing it by simmering in a small pan for about 10 minutes can really add to the flavor by concentrating it.

I also make a different version of this salad as any easy lunch at work. I just pack a big tomato, an avocado, a mozzarella ball, a ziplock baggie of herbs from my garden, and mini tupperware of oil and balsamic dressing. Take everything out, cut it, and arrange it on a plate. I love this type of lunch--it's healthy, filling, fresh, and feels like summer. On top of all that, it's very easy to get together in the morning--a huge benefit for someone like me, who is definitively not a morning person.

*A note on tomatoes: If you can help it, never refrigerate a tomato. It ruins the texture and can harm the flavor as well.

Tomato, Avocado, Arugula, and Mozzarella Salad
serves 2 as a whole dinner, or 4 as a generous appetizer

3 or 4 small very ripe tomatoes, or 2 or 3 large very ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 bunch arugula, washed
2 balls of mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup basil oil (see my chilled tomato soup recipe for directions)
3 tablespoons balsamic reduction (not reduced too too much), or 2 tablespoons aged balsamic traditzionale
salt and pepper

Spread the arugula out on a large platter. Arrange the tomato slices, avocado slices, and mozzarella slices on top of the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle the basil oil and balsamic reduction over top of the salad. Serve immediately, at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bacon Day at Infuz (Best Job Ever)

For those of you who don't know, I work at a digital agency called Infuz. One of the many reasons it is awesome is Summer of Random, which is basically a whole summer of completely random and never expected events that range from elegant (champagne cocktail party) to fun (magic show) to kind of creepy (clown and mime). But a couple days ago was the random day to top all (so far)--BACON DAY. Mosaic Modern Fusion catered a whole day of bacon. First came a breakfast that easily convinced me it was a good idea to have two breakfasts. 

Breakfast Menu (with my notes):

Bloody Mary Bacon Salad, Heirloom Tomato, Celery, Pickled Carrots, Bacon Vodka Dressing
This was a pretty solid tomato salad--not mind-blowing, but solidly good. I always love tomatoes at breakfast, whether in a salad or as the roasted tomatoes typical in English breakfasts.

Pig in a Hole: Bacon Toast, Farm Egg, Bacon Hollandaise, Pea Shoots
I only had a bite of this, but yum! Bacon hollandaise might be one of the better foods created. The bread was Companion Bakery brioche bread, I believe. The eggs had good flavor, but were cooked a little more than my liking. All in all, a delicious dish!
Duroc Bacon and Brown Sugar Grits, Caramelized Apple
This was my favorite. (Confession: I have been eating the leftovers for breakfast the past two days.) The salty bacon contrasted perfectly with the sweet apple, and the grits were creamy and delicious. It was sweet but not overly so. If Mosaic ever starts serving brunch (or if they do at another location already?), this ought to be on the menu.

Bacon and Corn Pancakes, Smoked Maple Syrup
Again, only had a bite, but as good as it sounds.

Bacon "Infuz'd" Melon
This one was a little weird. The melon was good, but the texture was slightly changed since they used a compressor to infuse it. And as much as I love bacon, I'm not sure it goes with melon. That said, I wouldn't have had it otherwise for Bacon Day. It's kind of awesome that even the fruit had bacon in it.

And there was plain bacon as well, in case we needed more. Which clearly we did, since it was on everyone's plates.

For lunch, we were also treated to five amazing bacon dishes. I was not as prepared with my camera, so you'll have to wait and see if pictures get posted on summerofrandom.com in the next few days. But I can tell you the menu.

Truffle Bacon Soup, Crisp Speck, Pea Shoots
This was delicious. It was a white soup, I'm guessing potato thickened though I'm not sure. It was subtly flavored with bacon and truffle oil. I didn't notice any speck, so I wonder if that was left off after the menus were written.

Pork Belly BLT, Heirloom Tomatoes, Bibb Lettuce, Spicy Bacon Mayo
Not my favorite. I love pork belly, but this was a little too tough to bit for a sandwich, which led to some messes. The tomato was good, as was the lettuce. The mayo was good, but not very spicy. (I feel a little bad critiquing this, since it was such a treat to have all this food, but I'm doing it anyway. If anyone from Mosaic is reading this, know that I absolutely loved the whole thing, despite a few minor critiques!)

Bacon Confit Potato Salad, Malt Bacon Dressing, Soft Quail Egg
I'm not a big potato salad fan, so this didn't speak to me. The egg was good, and for a potato salad the whole thing was good.

Bacon Bolognese, Linguine, Shaved Parmesan, Fennel Pollen
Yum!!! Great bolognese. I didn't notice the fennel pollen, but it wasn't necessary for the dish.

Bacon Rice Crispy Treats, Salt Caramel
Turns out bacon is a perfect addition to rice crispy treats. It adds that salty, fatty goodness that they otherwise lack. Great dessert!

So, are you all jealous? It was, after all, a pretty awesome surprise. For once in my life, I am not craving bacon--I've had enough for the week. Watch for salads in the next couple days.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prosciutto-Wrapped Caramelized Scallops on Rosemary Skewers

Last week Mitch and I went to California and stayed at my family's vineyard in the hills between Napa and Sonoma valleys (take a look some more of my pictures. Be jealous, or just come with me next year.). I had bought some scallops from Sunshine Grocery the day before, and I had some prosciutto and basil oil and the fridge, so I decided to combine those elements into a dish to serve alongside the chilled tomato soup I posted about the other day. But something was missing. A quick foray into the rock garden outside the kitchen gave me the answer--rosemary.

The view from the pool at Bald Mountain (the vineyard)
I learned to use rosemary sprigs as skewers during my time at The Herbfarm, and I have loved them ever since. They look elegant as well as imparting a delicate but not overpowering rosemary scent to whatever is on them. And there is the added benefit of crunchy amazing fried rosemary once you have eaten whatever was on the skewer. It's like the savory, more practical, and more delicious version of chocolate straws.

What you need to know about scallops: 
Bay scallops, sea scallops, day boat scallops, diver scallops, dry scallops, wet-packed scallops... It can be confusing to select scallops if you don't know what all that means. So here is the first key distinction: bay scallops are small and sea scallops are big. Both are good, but they shine in different types of dishes. Bay scallops tend to be slightly sweeter, so they work very well in ceviche or other raw dishes, as well as with some pastas. Sea scallops are meatier and have a more pronounced flavor. They are the ones you want to sear (bay scallops would overcook quickly and be nearly impossible to handle because of their size).

Sea scallops are often referred to as diver scallops or day-boat scallops. Diver means that divers collect them as opposed to a boat just using a net on the sea floor, which is bad for the sea environment. Day-boat means that the boat goes out and comes in in one day, therefore the scallops may be fresher (but no guarantees on how long it took them after the boat docked to get the scallops to the store). It's not easy to tell just from "diver" and "day-boat" which scallops to choose. In part it's just a style thing--"day-boat" scallops are very in right now.

The last distinction is between dry and wet packed. You want dry. What wet-packed means is that they are soaked in a phosphate solution as a preservative (which also implies that they are less fresh). The solution turns the scallops mushy and over-saturated with liquid, making them less pleasing to eat and much more difficult to sear. One more (obvious) point--always try to buy fresh seafood over frozen.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Caramelized Scallops on Rosemary Skewers
makes 12 scallop skewers (serves 6 as hors d'ouevres or 3 as part of a main course)

6 slices (very thinly sliced) prosciutto, about 3 ounces
12 large sea scallops, about 1 pound
12 woody rosemary sprigs, about 3 or 4 inches long
3 tablespoons olive oil
basil oil (see previous post for recipe) or balsamic reduction, for serving

Prep: Carefully tear each slice of prosciutto in half lengthwise, making 12 long strips. Don't worry if a few come apart--you can just layer them on each other. Prepare the rosemary skewers by stripping the leaves off the bottom 2 inches of each rosemary sprig. If the ends are rough, cut the tips off on a bias to create sharp ends.

Skewering: Take each scallop, and wrap one strip of prosciutto tightly around the outside. Take the rosemary skewer and push it through the wrapped scallop, securing the prosciutto in place.

Searing: Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat (avoid the temptation to use a nonstick pan--it will not let the scallops caramelize as well). When the oil barely begins to smoke, use tongs to lower the scallops into the pan. let the rosemary skewers either sit in the oil or go up the edge of the pan (uncooked rosemary is prettier, but it tastes delicious when it fries). Make sure to space them out well enough, and if you make a double recipe consider doing two batches. If they are too close together, liquid will not evaporate and they will braise instead of sear. After at least 3 minutes, flip them over and sear for another 3 minutes on the other side, or until both sides are well browned.

Serving: Serve with dabs of basil oil or balsamic reduction.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup with Basil Oil

This is one of the simplest recipes I will post, because recipes don't get much simpler than this. But, like many simple recipes, everything depends on the quality of the ingredients. In this case there are only three ingredients in the soup--tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. The tomatoes especially must be perfectly ripe and juicy. You want big red tomatoes that have ripened past the point of being too firm, are are naturally full of flavor and sweet. If you don't grow beefsteak tomatoes or the like, try your local farmers' market. If all you have are supermarket Roma tomatoes, I can give you other recipes that will make those tomatoes delicious, but skip this one. This soup is a vehicle for flavorful tomatoes to shine. And, let me tell you, the results are heavenly when the ingredients are good.

I made this soup because we had about a quart of sliced tomatoes leftover from 4th of July. The tomatoes were wonderful, but since they had already been sliced they were losing their texture and letting out juice. So to take advantage of that, I stuck them in the blender with some garlic and olive oil, chilled the soup, and served it with some basil oil. Yum!  But if you don't have tomatoes pre-sliced sitting around, what I would advise doing is slicing them a few hours beforehand, salting and sugaring them very lightly, and letting them sit at room temperature to let them macerate. Then come blending, chilling, and dressing the soup with basil oil (or pesto, if that is on hand).

This makes a fabulous starter soup for the summer months, especially at the beginning of an outdoor meal.

Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup with Basil Oil
serves 2 to 4, depending on serving size

4 cups thinly sliced perfectly ripe tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar, depending how sweet the tomatoes are (they should be sweet if you are making this soup with them)
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
basil oil (see recipe below), pesto, or thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Toss the sliced tomatoes with the salt and sugar in a non-reactive (ideally glass or ceramic) mixing bowl. Let them macerate until they have softened some.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the soup is perfectly smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour in the same non-reactive bowl, covering the soup with plastic wrap.

Garnish the soup with the basil oil, pesto, or thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, and then serve immediately. 

Basil Oil
makes around 1 cup

2 big bunches fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil, approximately
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, pulse the basil leaves until they are chopped. Start adding the olive oil in a steady stream until the mixtures reaches a texture much looser than a pesto. Adjust the amount of olive oil based on how thick you want the basil oil to be. When the texture is right, add salt and pepper to taste and process for another few seconds or until smooth enough.

Let the oil sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. After this, basil oil keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days to a week (after this it will still be good, but not as flavorful).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Ratatouille

The other night Mitch brought home an eggplant, a zucchini, and a big ripe tomato from the farmers' market. That combination of vegetables made me think ratatouille, but I didn't have a long time to make it, so I skipped the totally oven-roasted one I usually like. This combination of flavorful summer vegetables, red wine, and basil can't be beat. It would be a wonderful side dish with grilled flank steak or even barbequed chicken.

Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Ratatouille
serves 4

2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves of garlic (less if you don't like garlic, I suppose)
3 shallots, finely chopped (or 1 small red onion, diced)
2 small eggplants
2 zucchini
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine (any wine will do, including one that has been open too long to be good drinking anymore--the vinegar works in this recipe)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup basil, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmigiano

Cut the zucchini and the tomato into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Score the flesh of the eggplants without piercing the skin, then use a sharp spoon to remove most of the flesh while keeping the skins intact. Set the skins aside, and dice the flesh.

In a large skillet or saucier, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, and saute another 5 minutes. Add the tomato, wine, and vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together the bread crumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and parmigiano in a small bowl. Simmer the vegetable mixture until all the veggies are soft and the flavors are melding, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the basil.

Place the eggplant skins in a baking pan, empty side up. Using a slotted spoon, transfer as much of the veggie mixture as you can into the eggplant skins. Cover the rest of the vegetables (the ones that don't fit in the skins) and keep them for leftovers--they only get better the second day. Top each eggplant filled with veggies with the bread crumb mixture, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the topping is browned.

Serve each person one eggplant half, sprinkled with the parsley.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sour Cherry Gin Cooler

I bought sour cherries at the farmers' market with no concept of what to do with them. I have used them before in a wonderful Jerry Traunfeld recipe in The Herbal Kitchen for pasta handkerchiefs with goat cheese, sage, and sour cherries. Of course the standard use for them is in pies, but this time I wanted to do something different. I decided to boil them down into a juice to use in a gin drink. Lime emphasizes the tartness of the cherries and also balances their sweetness. I love a good tart gin drink on a warm evening or a hot late afternoon. It's like grown-up lemonade. I'm sure as the summer progresses I will be posting even more recipes for refreshing summer drinks, so keep an eye out!

Sour Cherry Gin Cooler
makes 8 drinks

1 cup gin
1/4 cup maraschino
1/4 cup triple sec
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup sweetened sour cherry lime juice
1 tray of ice

Stir together all ingredients in a pitcher. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve, and then serve over ice with a lime wedge or a sprig of mint.

Sweetened Sour Cherry Lime Juice
3 cups sour cherries (no need to pit them)
3 halved lime rinds (what is leftover after you squeeze the juice out)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Stir together all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes at least, or until the cherries are falling apart and fully cooked.

Place a strainer over a bowl, and strain the pits and lime peels out of the juice, pressing as much of the pulp through the strainer as possible. Let the juice cool before using it in the Sour Cherry Gin Cooler.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sesame Soba Noodles, Korean BBQ Pork, and Cucumber Salad

This is more of a meal suggestion than a recipe, since each part is pretty simple. But together they make a great meal, and not a difficult one at that. These are the sort of recipes that you just have to put as much of each ingredient in as you think tastes good, so I left out the quantities--you'll have to figure out for yourself :)

Korean BBQ Pork

Marinade from my Korean Pulled Pork recipe
Thinly sliced pork tenderloin

Coat the pork in the marinade and let it marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to a day, in the refrigerator. Heat a charcoal or gas grill. Grill the meat, turning once, until it is cooked through.

Sesame Soba Noodles

soba noodles
toasted sesame seeds
chili oil (or omit the chili oil and sesame seeds, and use some Japanese 7-Spice or Togarashi)
sesame oil
thinly sliced green onions
salt or soy sauce

Cook the soba according to package directions. Rinse them with cold water, and then toss with the rest of the ingredients. You can taste and adjust the seasonings as you want. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold--whatever you are in the mood for!

Cucumber and Radish Salad

English cucumber
a few radishes
rice wine vinegar

Thinly slice the cucumbers and radishes, and dress with the vinegar and salt before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beet Greens, Prosciutto, and Ricotta Bites, two ways

Baked bites
I had a lot of beet greens leftover from beets, and I wanted to try something new with them. I also really wanted to make fresh ricotta, so I thought I would try combining those two ingredients. Part of this idea came from how much I like Pi Bites at Pi, which are fontina and prosciutto rolled in bread crumbs and baked. I thought ricotta and beet greens, blended together and then mixed with some prosciutto might work well in a similar format. I'm sure they would also be good deep fried... but when something is good enough without being deep fried I try to resist the urge to add that much extra fat to it.

Pan-fried bites
Beet Greens, Prosciutto, and Ricotta Bites

1 cup fresh ricotta, handmade or store-bought
1 bunch beet greens
6 ounces prosciutto, in a small dice
lemon zest from 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
bread crumbs

Steam or saute the beet greens until they are fully cooked. In a food processor, puree the greens (they will look more red than green if they came from red beets).Add the ricotta and lemon zest, and blend just to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste (be light on salt since the prosciutto is salty), and then some bread crumbs if it seems too thin to form into balls. Stir in the prosciutto, and refrigerate the mixture so that it firms up some.

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmigiano, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and olive oil on a plate. Using two spoons, take a piece of the dough and drop it into the bread crumb mixture. Roll it around until it is coated, and then, put it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pan-fried bites
For baked bites: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the bites for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned and hot through. Serve warm, on a bed of greens if you like.

For pan-fried bites: Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Press the round balls into flatter cakes. Add the bites to the hot pan, and fry for a couple minutes on each side, making sure both sides are browned. Serve warm, on a bed of greens if you like.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Salume Beddu Bacon and Farm-Fresh Eggs (mmmmmmm... bacon!)

This really shouldn't be a whole blog post, but I just have to say how very much I love bacon. Normally I prefer the cheap, thinly sliced stuff, but that was until I discovered Salume Beddu's bacon. It's amazing. Not too thick, crusted with herbs and black pepper, flavorful, crisps very nicely when cooked... Yummy. Seriously, try it.

And eggs and bacon is delicious. Everyone already knows that, but I had to reiterate my support for the concept of eggs and bacon as a weekend breakfast. Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, both are good. But I have noticed that I can tell the difference in taste between different eggs. I think it has everything to do with what they are fed, because some have a really orange yolk and a lot have light yellow yolks. Orange yolks taste better, I think. Totally unnecessary to have the fancy eggs for using in baking and stuff, but for plain breakfast eggs they can be nice.

With a good glass of orange juice, or better, a mimosa, eggs and bacon make a great morning.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari, Snap Peas, Lime, Serranos, and Mint

To celebrate my getting a job, Mitch and I ate at Liluma. Even though it's really close to our apartment, we hadn't been before. Partly that had to do with prices, but also with the fact that everyone in the restaurant looked over 70--but when we did go we sat on the patio, so it didn't seem so crusty. I forgot my camera, so no review of that one, but I will tell you that, though it was no Niche, Liluma was delicious. But what I'm getting at is that Liluma had a chilled calamari, lime, and chili salad on the menu. I thought that looked great, and I spent half the next day thinking about how I could turn that into a whole meal.

What I came up with was this--a seemingly odd but quite delicious fusion of Southeast Asian flavors and Italian cooking. It's great for a hot day and would make a good lunch for company. Also it takes a very short time to prepare, making it a perfect week-night meal.

If you can't find squid ink pasta, don't worry--any pasta will taste great even if it won't look as striking.

Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari, Snap Peas, Lime, Serranos, and Mint
Serves 2-4, depending on appetites (usually closer to 4)

1 pound squid ink pasta
2 cups snap peas, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound calamari, sliced into rings
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional, but adds a delicious saltiness and fullness of flavor)
2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
1 small bunch of mint, leavers thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put the snap peas in a strainer, and lower the strainer into the boiling water for 1 minutes. Lift it out of the water and rinse the snap peas with cold water.

Cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water, following package instructions for timing.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the calamari and cook for a minute or so, until it is fully cooked. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, and serranos. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the snap peas. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the calamari and peas and place them in a separate bowl. By this time the pasta will be done. Strain the pasta in a colander, then toss it in the sauce. Toss the mint with the pasta, and then serve the pasta with the calamari and peas on top. 

Skip the cheese on this one--if you must have something like that use bread crumbs toasted in olive oil.