Thursday, December 7, 2006

Italian night

The first time I ever had real Italian meatballs I was in college. One of my new roomates was from an Italian family (VERY exotic to white bread me-her grandmother spoke no English!), and she could cook like no one I ever knew. It was my first exposure to real garlic, to a block of Parmesan cheese (instead of a can), and fresh parsley. I was determined to learn how to cook this dish. But she was an instinctive cook- she never followed a recipe that I knew of, so I had to learn by watching her.
I have spent many years trying to replicate those first meatballs I ever experienced, and have finally gotten the proportions and ingredients right. Now that the temperature has gotten near freezing, it is a perfect time to make meatballs.

Take 1/2 pound of ground beef (best if it has SOME fat) and 1/2 pound of ground pork and put in large bowl (sometimes I use the beef, pork and veal mixture you can buy in some grocery stores).

Mince one small red onion and two garlic cloves and throw in bowl on top of meat. Chop 1/4 cup of Italian parsley and put it in. Next add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (shredded, not grated), salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (plain). Mix this with your hands a bit, and then add 1 beaten egg. Mix to break up big chunks, etc., but don't mix too much (and never, EVER use Cuisinart's suggestion of using the food processor to mix your meat- blech!) Adjust the texture by adding more breadcrumbs if needed. Make big meatballs- the size of racquetballs- and bake at 375 until done (about 25-30 minutes)-make sure you use a pan with an edge or you will set the oven on fire!

This recipe makes a small batch (8) because it's just the two of us and my husband doesn't like leftovers (what's wrong with him???), but you can double it if you like. That's what I did today so I can freeze some for a quick dinner later this month.

I love these with sauce and penne and a salad, and tonight we're also having no knead bread.

I almost tried using panko instead of the store bought breadcrumbs I usually use, but I chickened out!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When life hands you lemons

In honor of my beloved lemon tree that drowned in the floodwaters when the levee broke, I was on the hunt for some Meyer lemons, which make a heavenly salad dressing. I finally found some, but they were only sold in packs of four. I didn't think I could use all four and didn't want them to go to waste, so I hunted on. I couldn't find another store that carried Meyer lemons, so I went back and bought the pack of four. The next day a fellow foodie brought me a bag of four Meyer lemons that she had picked up at the local farmer's market (why didn't I think of that?)! I don't need to tell you what I did, do I?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

No knead bread

I knew right away that I had added too much water. Well, actually at first I took your advice and used 1 1/2 cups, but that seemed too dry, so I dumped in more. Dumped carelessly and without measuring, I might add. Without thinking- "hey, I'm baking". So the dough was a wet mess all throughout the process. BUT, I carried on. It ended up almost perfect, actually. A bit moist, yes. But the crust was nice and crispy and the crumb (I think that's what you call it) was dense and yummy. So unlike the light airy breads you find here. A very rustic bread which I will make again and again (though next time I will actually have butter in the house so as to recreate my childhood snow day memory of homemade bread, hot out of the oven slathered in DELICIOUS butter). And sooo easy.

I toasted the slices, rubbed them with garlic, drizzled them with olive oil, and sprinkled them with parsley. It will be a yummy breakfast tomorrow, too.

Thanks for the inspiration, Lou Lou!

Thanks for nothing!

No, I really mean it.
I am thrilled to have a day where the only thing I must do is make my dinner reservation at 6.

A day on which I stay in my pajamas until 2.

A day to dawdle.

This means lying in the sun and reading the paper, baking bread, going for a walk, and taking a nap.
All in all a pleasant way to spend the holiday.