Il Forno Caldo Calamari Salad

Although there are many good things to eat at this restaurant in Beverly Hills Ca. this salad is my favorite. This is my version and I am not giving precise amounts as they will vary depending upon how many you are serving. In deciding the proportions, think of this as a salad where the calamari, shrimp and the lettuce are the are the stars, and everything else plays  a supporting role. You really can't go wrong.

  • Equal amounts cleaned calamari bodies (cut into thin rings plus their legs if attached) and small                    uncooked shrimp
  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Slivered red bell pepper
  • capers
  • Pitted Kalamata olives
  • Lemon vinaigrette (made with 1 part lemon juice and a little red wine vinegar to soften the flavor                   to 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some chopped parsley and a                     little chopped dill)

Simmer water with lemon juice (and some lemon wedges) and salt for about 1/2  hour . Place calamari rings in a steamer above the simmering water, cover and cook 2 minutes; turn them over and add the legs (if you have them) and the shrimp sprinkled with a little salt and steam 2 minutes more. Turn and salt again and steam another 2 minutes. Remove calamari and also shrimp if done (though it might need a little more time depending on their size). Toss the warm seafood in some of the vinaigrette and refrigerate to chill. Just before serving toss chopped Romaine with the dressing and the remainder of the  ingredients except for the calamari and the shrimp. Plate the salad and serve with the seafood on top.

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Chinese Chicken Salad

The original recipe without all of my notes was given to me by my friend Momo. This salad has been consumed at many a pot luck and remains a favorite of my friends and family alike and is included here a the request of my daughter, Lauren. The recipe includes crispy fried (maifun) rice noodles, but at the end, I am suggesting some substitutions and additions for those who prefer not to use them. 

Serves 4 as a main course

Salad Ingredients

  • 5 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves cooled and shredded-they be seasoned with                salt and pepper poached in the microwave in some chicken stock, grilled or sautéed-or you                    can substitute store bought packaged cooked chicken breasts from the regular deli section or              chicken breasts prepared and in the service deli section of a supermarket.
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (Do not use the shredded lettuce in bags from the market as                they are too finely shredded. You need to have more texture in the salad.)
  • 1/8 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (You can omit this if you like, but I really love the flavor it adds.)
  • Thinly sliced red pickled ginger to taste (I use the kind in a jar, but you can slice it if you can't              find it in the jar and you can only find it in larger pieces in the sushi section of your                                  market) 
  • 1 package Maifun (rice noodles) broken into pieces, fried and puffed*

To fry the noodles, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a pan until very hot (375-400 degrees). Only after the oil is very hot, add the noodles in small batches. They should explode and puff up immediately if your oil is hot enough. As soon as they are puffed, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and continue doing this until all have been fried and puffed. Do not use any that are not puffed as they will be hard and unappealing. Warning-This is a messy project!

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. dry hot mustard ( Do not use prepared mustard-I prefer Chinese mustard-Dynasty makes               some- but you can substitute English dry mustard)
  • 4 Tbs. sugar
  • 6 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil

To make the dressing use a container that has a lid. Combine the mustard, sugar and soy sauce and mix to form a paste. Add the vinegar and mix. Pour in the sesame and vegetable oil, put on the lid and shake to combine. (If not using immediately, you will need to shake again before using it).

To Assemble the Salad

Just before serving, combine all of the salad ingredients except for the fried, puffed noodles, and toss with the dressing. (you might not need all of the dressing so you can add it in increments and taste as you go along.) Add most of the noodles and toss gently to combine with the salad. Serve the salad with the remaining rice noodles on top.

If you plan to bring this salad to a pot luck you can combine the salad ingredients, but keep the noodles and dressing separate, and combine them as directed above just before serving.


If you prefer, instead using the fried maifun noodles, you can substitute fried wontons or crispy chinese fried noodles (sold in packages the market). Some people also like to add peanuts or toasted sliced almonds, and some people like to add tangerine segments. That is where you come in!

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