Last night I made Stephane Gabart’s recipe for Calamars à l’Américaine, an ironic name since there’s nothing American about it and I’ve never had anything like this in the USA. One of the keys to the recipe is a full cup of cognac, which you then flambé with the just sautéed squid. A note: It takes quite a while to burn off the alcohol from a full cup of cognac, so don’t be intimidated if it burns for two full minutes.

With our upcoming trip to France, and knowing that we will be staying with Stephane, I am preemptively taking some “minceur” steps in my cooking: Preserving as much of the flavour as possible but lightening up the dishes by avoiding the cream and butter. In fact, I found that the sauce had thickened up so perfectly that it didn’t need the cornflour/butter thickener, nor the cream at the end. But of course, Your Mileage May Vary. Everything else was pretty much entirely on spec.

The outcome was truly extraordinary, my supertaster wife going back for seconds – a rare and telling tribute indeed since she almost never does so. I would have taken my own photos, but two points intervened:

  1. Stephane’s food photography is far superior to mine
  2. We were crazy hungry and couldn’t wait to start!

The “After” photo is pretty accurate except that our plates were even cleaner!