Monthly Archives: January 2014

Herbed Meatballs

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I’ve been on a meatball kick lately.

Made these a few months ago, stashed a few in the freezer and quickly depleted that stash. Last time I made these I used Italian sausage and I guess for that reason I felt I needed to eat them Italian style with Sunday gravy, also known as tomato sauce.

They were awesome, but they are also equally awesome on their own, served with some roasted kale and potatoes or just as snack food – there is a football game this weekend you know!

A few things to note for this recipe. DO not substitute dried herbs here. The brightness of flavor – and color- of the fresh herbs really makes these stand out from your everyday ball of meat!

If you do use sausage instead of ground pork, then I would go easy on any additional salt. If you’ve never made meatballs before and you are wondering how to check those seasonings – and I highly recommend that you do so – just heat a pan over med-high heat, take a small round of the meat mixture and form a mini patty, cook it up, taste, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Another key, DO NOT over mix. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times if you’ve ever watched a cooking show, but the idea is to create a bite that is fluffy and light in texture bursting with flavor. This is not a mini burger. It should not be heavy and dense! And hands are the best tool around for this.

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HERBED MEATBALLS

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork or Italian sausage

2 eggs, lightly beated

1/3 cup almond flour

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1/2  bunch fresh cilantro, chopped OR basil

3-4 TB fresh oregano, chopped

3 green onions, chopped, including greens

1/4 cup half & half or milk

red pepper flakes, to taste

smoked salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

In large bowl, combine all ingredients, mix gently with your hands until combined.

Using a small cookie scoop, form 2-inch meatballs and place on a large baking sheet. I stick them in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before cooking, or freezing, this helps them hold a round shape instead of flattening out.

You can pan fry or bake these. If baking, cook at 375 for 20-30 minutes. For pan frying, cook until well-browned on all sides.

And GO BRONCOS!!!

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Collards with Beans and Bacon

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If you read any food magazines or watch the food shows, especially the competition ones, you might have noticed a lot of kale bashing going on.

Personally I loved kale before it was ‘in’ to love kale. In fact I’ve always loved all greens. Being a Southern girl I grew up on collards and mustard greens, slow cooked with ham hocks and served with vinegar, it was a staple at my nana’s. They were soft, silky, peppery and, yes, woefully overcooked by today’s standards. Don’t misunderstand, I still love my extra-soft greens, smokey with ham flavor, cooked to a flat, dark green and topped with sherry vinegar and crispy bacon. In the past couple of years, once I started participating in a CSA, I started treating those fresh-from-down-the-road greens with a much lighter hand.

I say this a lot and it bears repeating over and over again until you pay attention. Eat LOCAL!! You simply have no idea the difference in taste of something shipped across the country versus just down the street. You make think those greens from the supermarket are fresh and they are, but they are not flavorful. Again this is something you may not notice until you have tasted local produce, eggs and meat!

Now that I’ve said all that, I don’t want you to stop buying all of the green food you can find at the grocery store each week, I just encourage you to seek out local food whenever you can and please, please join a CSA for this spring-summer or fall. In fact the recipe below came about because my Kroger was out of kale, but had loads of collards. So instead of bailing on the recipe I was craving, I simply gave the collards the same treatment I was planning for the kale and ended up with something so wonderful and satisfying.

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Collards with Beans and Bacon

4 slices uncured bacon, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, sliced

large bunch of collards, tough stems removed

smoked salt

1/3 cup water or chicken broth

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

juice of 1 lemon

Heat large stock pot over med-high heat. Add diced bacon, reduce heat to med, and cook until bacon is crisp.

Add greens, garlic, water and salt. Partially cover and cook 10-15 minutes, until greens are soft, but still bright green.

Add beans, lemon juice and more salt as needed. Cook 5 minutes more.

The greens will cook down a lot, so stuff the stock pot to overflowing and then add more as they cook down if you want to. I can eat this on its own as a meal, but of course it is a great accompaniment to steak, chicken, pork chops…

 

Yet Another Version of Brussels Sprouts Soup

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I made my first version of this soup a couple of years ago and it has remained one of the most popular dishes I have ever made. Since that first version I have continued to tweak and adjust the recipe not because I feel like it needs constant tweaking, but because the recipe can easily be altered using whatever you have on hand.

Below is the latest version I put together on a recent chilly Tuesday night.

I added one of my favorite spices that you may not have heard of, berbere spice. This is an Ethiopian spice using a combination which includes paprika, red pepper, ginger, coriander and cinnamon among others. It has a deep earthy, smoky quality and adds a terrific rich red color. You can purchase it online at My Spice Sage.

In a pinch go ahead and substitute smoked paprika and a dash of cinnamon.

Brussels Sprouts Soup – the latest version! 

4 cups gluten free chicken broth

2-3 medium golden potatoes, diced

15-20 Brussels sprouts, quartered

3 pieces uncured bacon or pancetta, diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 heaping teas Berbere spice

red pepper flakes to taste

salt to taste

Heat large dutch oven over med-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp.

Add garlic, spices and potatoes. Toss to coat potatoes with spices, cook for a couple of minutes.

Add broth, Brussels sprouts and bay leaves, stir. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes and Brussels sprouts are tender.

Gluten Free Pasta with Artichokes

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Nothing beats fresh local veggies, but those are pretty hard to come by in the winter months. And even if you socked away a few of your summer CSA goodies in the freezer, the supplies may be dwindling.

There are a couple of things I always have in the freezer – peas and artichoke hearts. They are terrific additions to risottos and pastas any time of year. I haven’t done a pasta dish for the blog in a while. Haven’t made one at all in quite awhile. So the other night as I stood in the kitchen feeling a bit uninspired but very hungry I remembered the box of artichoke hearts on the freezer door.

Please keep in mind these are frozen artichoke hearts and nothing more. These are not the poor jarred hearts drowning in oil and a marinade that makes those old powdered Good Seasons packets seem good – my apologies to the 1970s and yes I ate my fair share of those dressings! Yuk!

This dish comes together very quickly and makes for a great weeknight comfort meal. One note if you are not used to cooking with gluten free pasta. I tend to like the quinoa pastas the best, they seem to cook to a true al dente a bit better than some of the rice pastas, but this is truly personal preference. The key to all of the gluten free pastas is constantly monitoring the cooking. These go from perfect to mush in a flash, so until you get used to the timing I urge you to do lots of taste testing as it is cooking.

Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Pancetta

1 box quinoa spaghetti or other gluten free pasta

3 pieces pancetta or uncured bacon

1 box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained

1 leek

1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine

red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

olive oil

fresh parsley

Romano or Parmesan cheese

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Generously salt large pot of boiling water. Add pasta, stir and cook to al dente.

Heat large saute pan over med-high heat. Add 1-2 TB olive oil and diced pancetta. Cook until crispy.

Clean leek, slice in half lengthwise and then into thin half moons. Add to pancetta, add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until leeks are soft.

Dice artichoke hearts and add to pan, heat through.

Add vermouth and cook until bubbly and reduced. Add a ladle of pasta water to create desired amount of sauce. Add cooked pasta to pan, remove from heat and toss. Top with chopped fresh parsley and a generous amount of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.

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