Swedish Meatball Recipe

Meatballs, while seemingly simple, require a degree of skill to bring to the level of sublime. I have tried many times (ending in failure) and have finally found the way to make them sublime. Instead of throwing dry breadcrumbs into the meat mixture, this method soaks bread in milk, creating a somewhat undesirable looking slurry that binds and locks in moisture. The texture of these meatballs blew me away, and this template could be used to create any style of meatball whether that be Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc.

I should say a word about blending different ground meats. I am a proponent of this, for a few reasons. Darker meats such as beef, lamb, and venison, can make the meatballs too strongly flavored. Most recipes call for the addition of pork or veal. I have found that pork, while adding volume for less money, balances the flavors as well. The addition of pork fat is helpful too because it is a cleaner flavor. With the Swedish meatballs recipe, I think it is important to add a fair amount of pork or veal due to the richness of the cream sauce. Otherwise, it would be a little too much. I utilized a three-part mixture of beef, lamb, and pork.

 

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground lamb

½ lb of ground pork

1 medum onion minced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 cup of milk

2 eggs

2-3 slices of crusty bread

½ tsp allspice

Pinch nutmeg

Parsley

Salt and pepper

1 cup cream

3 cups beef stock

¼ cup flour

Olive oil

2-3 dashes Worcestershire

Egg noodles

 

Start by combining bread and milk. In a separate bowl, combine the meat along with the onion, garlic, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well to incorporate seasonings fully. Make a small patty to cook and taste for seasoning; adjust accordingly. Crush the bread and milk mixture into a slurry and combine with the meat mixture, along with the eggs. Mix well and form into large meatballs.

In a large pan, add olive oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs in a counter-clockwise fashion to better gauge timing. Brown evenly in batches, moving seared meatballs to a baking tray. When finished browning, remove any excess fat (there should be a couple of tablespoons). Add flour and incorporate into the fat, adding broth soon after and stirring to remove any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the meatballs back into the pan along with any juices that have accumulated on the tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until they are cooked through.

When the meatballs are finished, pour the cream along with a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce into the pan. Stir to incorporate the sauce. Be sure that the sauce is not boiling. Otherwise, the cream may curdle. Add parsley and serve, along with a couple spoonful’s of sauce over egg noodles.

 

Fennel Sausage Recipe

Fennel Sausage has shot to the top of my list for two reasons: it is insanely delicious, and amazingly quick to prepare. Fennel seed, as the name would imply, is the predominant flavor in this dish — just as sage is for breakfast sausage. Colissimos sausage is the brand that I used, and it made for a delicious result.

Fennel may not be a familiar ingredient to some, but it is delicious and can be used in a variety of applications. The nearest place to find it is Davis Marketplace in LaVerkin. The fun thing about this dish is that you are experiencing three different parts of the plant at once; seeds, bulb, and fronds (the thin leafy parts). If you could find fennel pollen to garnish with, it could very well send the dish soaring into the realm of the sublime.

At some point, I will try making the sausage myself. Expect a report back pending successful results.

Ingredients:

1 package of Italian Sausage

2 fennel bulbs

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves of garlic

2 red bell peppers

3-4 TBSP olive oil

1 cup white wine

Fresh basil

Chili flakes

Salt and pepper

Every ingredient is available at any local grocer. With everything gathered, you are ready to start cooking!

Instructions:

Start by adding olive oil to a dutch oven or tall sided pan with a lid that can be placed in the oven, over medium heat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the sausages to the pan and brown on both sides. While they are browning, prepare the other ingredients.

Prepare the fennel by removing the fronds from the small stalks in the middle of the bulb and set aside. Split the fennel root in half vertically, and slice. Thinly slice the onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. After the sausages are browned, remove from the oil and add the onions, garlic, and your desired amount of chili flakes.

Sauté for five minutes then add the fennel and red bell peppers, cooking for another five minutes. Add the white wine, deglazing the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sausages back to the pot along with any juices they may have released.  Put a lid on the pan and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

To serve, place the vegetables in the center of a plate, along with some of the cooking liquid. Garnish with fennel fronds and fresh basil.

Asian Salmon

With the beginning of a new year comes the inevitable push for a healthier diet: more fruits and vegetables, less junk food, exercise, and all the rest. One of the issues that come along with the goal of fostering a healthier lifestyle is finding recipes that are also flavorful. One of my go-to recipes is a riff on teriyaki salmon. While there is sugar in the teriyaki sauce, it contains other flavorful ingredients that pack tons of flavor into the salmon (or chicken, shrimp, or pork). The recipe begins with a marinade. Most of the marinade doesn’t end up being consumed, so the sugar is minimal. I pair the salmon with roasted vegetables, which can be prepared on the same tray as the fish, depending on how many servings you intend to make. Typically, I will use asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, or broccoli, either individually or mixed. It is delicious with some red bell pepper, carrots, and onions if you like some color and variety. The sky is the limit as far as variations go.

 

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup sake

¼ mirin

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 tsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp fresh minced garlic

1 tsp chili paste

 

4-inch salmon filet (should serve two)

2-3 heads of broccoli

1 carrot

1 small onion

1 red bell pepper

Sesame seeds

Vegetable oil

Sesame oil

Salt and pepper

 

The first step is to combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and brown sugar in a small saucepan, over medium heat. After the liquid comes to a boil, add the ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. In a shallow dish or bowl, pour in the marinade and place the salmon in meat side down. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours. The next step is to prepare the vegetables. Cut the broccoli into small pieces, leaving an inch or so of stem. The pieces should be about a ½ inch in thickness generally. The goal is to allow for relatively quick cooking. Cut the bell pepper into ½ inch strips. The onion and carrot should be cut into ¼ inch slices. Combine all of the vegetables in a bowl and put in 2 tbsps. of vegetable oil, 1 tsp of sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. This will allow for better caramelization of the vegetables.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. On a baking tray spread a tbsp. of oil in the middle of a tray, remove the salmon from the marinade, and place skin side down. Arrange the vegetables around the salmon on the tray. Sprinkle the salmon and veggies with sesame seeds. Dress the veggies with some of the marinade if you like, a couple tbsps. Place in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Fried Eggplant Spears with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

Eggplant can be a little intimidating to cook with. Its spongy texture, waxy skin, and seeds can be a turn-off. It is also known to have a bitter flavor at times. Depending on how you prepare and cook it, though, it can be delicious. It is important to cure the eggplant briefly in salt. This removes the bitter flavor and draws out some of the moisture, making it easier to work with.

I came up with this recipe at a dinner party and was very happy with the result. We had a box of eggplants that needed to be used and a few guests that had never tried it. It is usually a safe bet to deep fry an unfamiliar food item. It was well received, including all the guests who had never had it. I used a three-part breading setup and used panko breadcrumbs for the final coating which made them turn out well. I served this with a roasted red pepper aioli which is super easy to make.

 

2 large eggplants

4 eggs

2 cups of flour

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsps. finely chopped parsley

1 tbsp. finely chopped thyme

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

 

Aioli

1 cup mayonnaise

1 roasted red pepper

3-4 cloves roasted garlic

1 tsp chopped thyme

½ lemon

Salt and pepper

 

To begin, slice the eggplants into 1x1x3 inch spears. I like to separate the neck section from the bottom to make a more consistent set of fries. It’s important to cut them a little bigger so they don’t overcook. After they are cut, generously season with salt and leave to cure for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the three-part dipping station. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the mustard. In a shallow dish, mix flour with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In another shallow dish, mix panko breadcrumbs with thyme and parsley.

This is a good time to prepare the aioli as well. Roast the pepper by putting it directly over the flame of a burner or by broiling it in the oven. Peel and seed the pepper after roasting. Roast the garlic by peeling the cloves and roasting them in a pan with olive oil. That oil can be added to the aioli. In a blender, mix the ingredients and blend until smooth.

After the eggplant has cured, rinse them well to remove the excess salt and pat dry. To bread them, coat with the egg mixture first, dredge in the flour, back into the egg mixture, and then into the panko. In a deep sided pan, heat oil to around 365 to 375 F. Monitor the temperature with a thermometer throughout the process. Cook the eggplant until they are golden brown, season with salt immediately after they come out of the oil. Serve with the aioli and enjoy!

Pasta Cacio e Pepe

Everybody knows—and many love—the neon orange substance we call mac and cheese (the boxed variety). The “cheese” component of mac and cheese is a bit sketchy. It is indeed made of various milk derived products, along with a host of other ingredients, intended to bring the slumbering sauce back from its dry state and into a semi desirable liquid state. It does indeed have a color and flavor reminiscent of cheese. Something is amiss, though. Something, somehow, is just not quite right about the stuff.

There is a long tradition of churching up noodles through the addition of cheese, fat, pork products, and other lovely ingredients. There is a perception that follows good food: it is hard to make. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that many of these preparations are so simple and cheap that it may lead to a slight sense of anger. You can have a restaurant quality pasta meal ready in the time it takes to boil some pasta and mix it together.

Pasta Cacio e Pepe is one such preparation. Cacio e Pepe translates to cheese and pepper. Pasta with cheese and pepper. It is the adult version of mac and cheese that kids wont leave wasted at the table. It is so simple and delicious that more people should know about it. It is important to remember a simple maxim when preparing this and other simple pasta dishes: quality in, quality out. The better the ingredients, the better the outcome. Also, remember to look at it simplistically. While the technique may take a few attempts to master, you will find that it is typically a matter of doing less rather than more. I will try to explain the technique as best I can.

 

1 package of spaghetti (look for a sandpapery texture on the pasta)

1 ½ -2 cups of parmesan cheese

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 stick of butter

Salt

 

Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil, adding a generous amount of salt. Finely grate the parmesan. Once the water has begun to boil, add the pasta. It is important to take the pasta out just before it is done because it will continue to cook in the sauce. In a large frying pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add two cups of pasta water to the butter, bring to a simmer, whisking to emulsify. When the pasta is almost done, add it to the frying pan. As it continues to cook, the starches will thicken the sauce. If it looks too dry, ladle in a bit more pasta water. Test the noodles; if they are at the desired texture, remove from the heat. Immediately sprinkle the cheese and pepper and stir to incorporate. Again, if it looks too dry, add a touch more pasta water. Once the cheese has incorporated and the sauce is smooth, serve with a bit more parmesan and pepper if desired. The salt from the cheese, butter, and water should be sufficient. Add more salt if needed.

 

 

Green Chili Oysters Reckefeller

There are two foods that come close to being perfect in and of themselves, in my opinion; eggs and oysters. Eggs, when sourced and prepared well, do not need anything to be better. Salt, pepper, and little else are all it takes to make them delicious. Add to that the versatility of use as far as an ingredient and there is much to appreciate about them. Oysters are the most perfect food in the world. When sourced well, they need absolutely nothing and possess a level of complexity and refinement that cannot be found in other foods. Straight out of the water, shucked, and slurped. Absolute perfection.

One thing to keep in mind is freshness. If you want to eat oysters raw on the half shell, I would recommend overnighting them from a trusted source or to eat them in a good restaurant. While they are spectacular, they quickly lose their luster the longer they are out of the water. That doesn’t mean they are bad though. There are many cooked preparations that are spectacular (check my Sriracha Butter Oysters recipe). Oysters Rockefeller are probably the most well-known preparation. I recently stumbled upon the idea to do a green chili Oysters Rockefeller. They ended up surpassing classic Oysters Rockefeller, in my opinion, and the opinions of several dinner companions with extensive experience with oysters.

Oysters have become a staple feature at Bees Marketplace, and they are reasonably priced. These are perfect for any cooked preparation. Stop in, pick some up, and try this. You won’t be disappointed.

 

2 dozen oysters (shucked on the half shell)

2 cups of finely shredded Manchego cheese

4-5 green chilies (fire roasted, peeled, and seeded)

2 cups packed spinach

½ finely diced onion

3 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Rock salt

 

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Fill a cooking tray with rock salt. This serves to stabilize the oysters as they cook. Shuck the oysters and nestle them into the salt. Be careful to preserve the liquid. In a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and add a drizzle of olive oil. As soon as it begins to bubble, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the chilis into thin one-inch ribbons. Chop the spinach as well. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for one minute. Add the sliced chilies and spinach, cooking until the spinach is wilted. Add the cream; cook until simmering then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture evenly into each oyster. Top with Manchego and cook in the oven for ten minutes. If the oysters are not golden brown on top, quickly broil them for another five minutes. Cool for five minutes, garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges and serve.

 

Broth

As winter weather inches closer, I feel an intense pull toward hearty soups and stews. An underappreciated element of a good soup or stew is the broth from which it is composed. It is the foundation of a delicious winter weather meal, yet it has somehow come to be seen as an auxiliary ingredient. No more, I say! Not only is a good broth very simple to make, it is economical as well. It is easy to overlook the number of useful scraps we throw away when cooking over the course of a week. Many of us resort to bullion or packaged stock as a staple ingredient (sometimes at $3 to $4 a quart), when we could easily make an abundance of the stuff, for nearly free, from our cooking scraps.

I have attempted to make good broth many times but failed to appreciate what makes a broth hearty, wholesome, and delicious—color. Without color, there is no flavor. This is the fundamental mistake I had been making over many failed attempts at broth making, resulting in a sad, cloudy, grey liquid that more closely resembled dishwater than my intended product. Ladies and gentlemen, break out the cooking trays, preheat your ovens to 500 degrees, and let’s get cooking!

The ingredients will vary depending on the scraps you have collected throughout the week, however, for a three to four-quart batch you will need:

 

Bones of your choice (2-3 lbs will typically do)

3-4 carrots

½ a bunch of celery (inner leaves, ends etc.)

1 large onion, with skin (save the ends and skins from your weekly cooking expeditions)

1 bulb of garlic cut in half

Mushroom stems (optional but good)

Parsley stems

Bay leaves

Peppercorns

 

Depending on how crazy you want to get with this, you can add really anything you like. These are mostly traditional additions, but you could easily add cilantro stems, tomato, ginger, and other such scraps. Just be aware that some of the flavors may not meld well with all recipes. Any herb or spice additions should be added after the main additions (bones and vegetables) are sufficiently roasted.

The first step is to slice the vegetables. I generally slice the carrots and onions into about ¾ inch pieces. The idea is to create as much surface area as possible to evaporate water, concentrate flavors, and brown the ingredients. Be mindful of the number of vegetables on the tray. Overcrowding the ingredients will cause the water to seep out of the vegetables and steam them rather than browning them.

It is important to remember the role fat has in creating color on the ingredients. Fat can be heated to very high temperatures quite quickly. When the vegetables are coated in fat, better browning occurs. Some of the fat can come from the bones, but if fat looks sparse, add a little oil and toss the ingredients to coat.

Put the trays in a 500-degree oven and let them cook for 20-30 minutes turning ingredients at the halfway mark. Ovens can vary in heat so those are rough estimates. If you feel like the vegetables have cooked well on the bottom of the tray, but haven’t developed many colors on top, turn the oven on broil and cook until they are a beautiful golden brown.

Transfer ingredients from the tray to a large pot. Take some of the water or wine and deglaze the trays. This will pull up much of the flavor that would otherwise be wasted. If needed, throw them back in the oven until the fond loosens up. scrape well to loosen all the browned bits. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for four to five hours, skimming the top periodically will remove unwanted scum and fat.

The final step is to remove all the ingredients with a mesh sieve. You can wait until it has cooled to avoid injury. Once it is strained, you can season with salt. It is delicious to drink by the cup.

For a delicious drinking broth, add fresh turmeric root and ginger to hot broth, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow it to cool and transfer to a blender. Blend thoroughly and pass through a mesh sieve to remove any fibrous particles from the ginger and turmeric. Heat again if needed, add a small part of grass-fed butter, and enjoy! It is a delicious warm drink for when you’ve had one too many cups of coffee.