Thursday, January 17, 2013

my new favorite meatball recipe

In the past I used to make meatballs with an extravagant ingredient list, and which took me most of the afternoon to get the perfect combination just right. I've tried a range of ingredients like bison and spinach or tofu, ricotta and  sun-dried tomatoes. They were all great, but required time and specific ingredients. I needed meatballs that were outstanding in flavor, but didn't require too much of my time. I never want to admit that I don't have all of the time in the world to invest in a batch of meatballs, but it's true. I came across a recipe by Mario Batali. I have tried recipes by Mario in the past and they have always worked, and they are always awesome. It was a no- brainer. Mario's recipe called for ground turkey for which I substituted lean ground beef, with great results. I adjusted quantities and used what I had on hand. I am sure that the milk soaked bread crumbs and large amounts of Parmesan are what made these meatballs really make the cut. They were tender, flavorful, and easy. EASY! Poaching the meatballs in marinara is a very good idea also, so don't dismiss it because it sounds unusual!

1 cup panko bread crumbs ( I used whole wheat panko)
1 cup milk
1 # ground turkey or beef
1 # Italian sausage, casings removed if not bulk ground
3/4 cup Parmesan
2 eggs
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce

You can mix these ingredients by hand, or with a stand up mixer.

 Soak the bread crumbs in the milk for about 5 minutes.

While the bread crumbs are soaking, add to a large bowl; the ground turkey or beef, sausage, eggs, Parmesan, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the bread crumb/ milk mixture and mix gently.

 Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and set aside.

Add the tomato sauce to a pan and bring to a boil. Place the meatballs in the sauce and return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or alternately, once you've added the meatballs and have brought it back up to a boil, you could wing the whole pot in the oven and allow those meatballs to simmer in the sauce for about 20- 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

This makes a large batch of meatballs, and we ended up eating meatballs spooned over pasta and then again tucked inside homemade fococcia with melted Gouda and sauteed peppers and onions. Both meals made us grin! Belly up!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a slew of thanks with a hot toddy

There is something to be said about the people in my life, and the little gestures they perform. For example, on my very recent trip to small town south of St. Louis to visit my fiance's family, we spent the last 50 miles of the journey driving 30 miles per hour through a freak, but never the less shitty to drive through, blizzard. It took us the better part of two hours to travel that last stretch and when we finally arrived at my future in-laws home, white knuckled and stiff from hours of way to intense driving, we were given lots of hugs, delicious food, and whiskey to calm our nerves. We welcomed all of those things with wide open arms!

On returning from that trip my daughter had taken on the cold of the century, and inevitably passed it onto me. I could do nothing but ache, cough, and sleep, leaving my still ill child deprived of the extra care I so wanted to give her. She was slowly recovering, and bored with my demeanor. My mother could see the signs, and jumped right in, not skipping a beat. She spooned out medicines, made tea, comforted us all the while giving Addie her full attention, cooked breakfast, did laundry, and allowed me to soundly sleep, alone, without a child bouncing on my back, which I hadn't experienced in a week. I am still in a groggy state, and still have no idea how she does that. But being able to sleep when you are ill and desperate for a good chunk of sleep time is non refundable. It is priceless.

Then there is Jeremy. His support for my cooking is relentless, which always leaves me feeling dumbfounded and wishful that I gave myself the same credit. He respects my distaste for pre-made foods, and no longer suggests we buy already- made- biscuits in a tube for future biscuit and gravy en devours. As I sat slumped over in a chair, fever raging and no energy to do ever the most mundane tasks, he made me chicken noodle soup. Not chicken soup from a can, but his grandmother's chicken noodle soup. While he chopped veggies and shredded chicken in the kitchen, occasionally appearing at my side to ask about mincing or not mincing the fresh rosemary, to taste the soup as it was in progress. To allow me to be part of the cooking process even though I couldn't make myself lift from my chair, that is what I am so grateful for. Sipping that piping hot soup while my fever was giving me the chills, and I couldn't keep my eyes open, was so comforting. Tasting the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs he so kindly prepared, forming a sweet and healing broth allowed me to slip into a coma of feverish sleep for most of a day.

These are the kindest of kind gestures that matter. They are the ones that I want to remember to do throughout the day, no matter how busy or distracted I may be. I am so thankful for the spare beds people have given us to crash on during our travels. For the food and drinks we share with them. For the warm hospitality they share with us. It's amazing, humbling, and keeps us human. It breaks us form our lives sometimes operating like well oiled machinery. It is life and it is good. Thank you to everyone for being a part of our lives, no matter how big or small, because it all has a lasting impact. I love and thank you all! To show some gratitude, I'm sharing a humbling but soothing hot toddy recipe that I have been making as a night cap for friends to ease the brisk nights.

1 ounce or so of whiskey ( my new favorite is an organic whiskey distilled in Chicago called, Lion's Pride)
A big wedge of fresh lemon
1-2 tablespoons of honey

In your favorite mug combine the whiskey and honey. Muddle and squeeze the lemon wedge into the whiskey and honey. Pour hot water over everything and allow the ingredients to steep for a minute or two. Give it all a good stir, sip, and have a wonderful new year! Belly up!!