Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recipe 5: Herbed Turkey Meatballs

This recipe seemed like a wise choice for myself and Andy. We do not eat much red meat, yet love to have spaghetti with meatballs or meatball subs. Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef, when it is cooked properly. Since turkey is a very lean meat, it does not tend to yield much in the flavor department, however this recipe includes the use of fresh herbs and a citrus zing to jazz up the tired "Thanksgiving" taste of turkey.

Herbed Turkey Meatballs
Williams-Sonoma Simple Suppers, 2006

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped finely
1 small rib of celery, chopped finely
1 lb. of ground turkey
1 egg
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes or until soft. Spoon into a bowl and let cool, set the frying pan aside. Add the turkey, bread crumbs, egg, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the cooled onion and celery mixture, and mix gently. Shape into 12 meatballs and arrange on a greased baking sheet.

Getting things in order.... mise en place!

Bake the meatballs until opaque, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, cranberries and sugar in the frying pan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until the juice boils and the cranberries begin to pop. Divide meatballs and serve with sauce.

Beautiful presentation with the onion and celery.
This recipe is like a petite version of Thanksgiving dinner. You have a delicious turkey flavor, followed by the texture of stuffing (with the onion and celery), topped off with a delicious cranberry and orange sauce. If used individually, the meatballs would translate to any time of the year. Pair them with spaghetti sauce for meatball subs or spaghetti and meatballs, or make them a bit smaller and add them to soups!

The sauce also has a wonderful consistency and taste. This recipe is great for those who would love to make a quick and easy cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving or whenever they please. The sauce would also go well with pancakes or dinner rolls. Yum!

This meal is very versatile and can be changed to fit what you are looking for. Also, you can freeze the baked meatballs for a later use. Just pull them out of the freezer and reheat them for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. The sauce freezes well too!

As a side note, I visited my local Williams and Sonoma store in the Polaris Mall. I found the cookbook I am cracking down for a whopping $17.95. So it is still out there if you are looking to try it, or as per my advice, visit your local used book store or over stock store such as Big Lots or the Christmas Tree Store. I paid $3.95 for my copy!

Later lovessss


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recipe 4: Steak Piperade

This recipe sounded great to begin with-- let's face it steak with peppers, score! I fell in love with this recipe for so many reasons even before I was able to cook it. First off, the recipe uses skirt steak (aka flank steak). This cut of meat is decently affordable and can be found in any grocery store. Flank steak is typically used to make fajitas, however with a little TLC (not the band, although Chili could be used-  insert lame joke) this cut of beef can be tender and delicious!

Next up, the recipe called for red onion and red or yellow bell peppers. Red onion and yellow and red peppers are very sweet and take on a sugary taste when cooked. Although red and yellow peppers can be a bit more expensive than green, it is definitely worth it in this dish. The simple elegance of the colors blending together with the perfectly cooked pink center of the beef is great (a definite eye pleaser!)

Steak Piperade
Williams-Sonoma, Simple Suppers, 2007

1 1/2 lbs skirt steak (aka flank steak)
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion-chopped
3 red or yellow bell peppers- thinly sliced crosswise (around the equator, not pole to pole)
3 cloves of garlic- minced
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme- chopped
1/2 cup of dry white wine- an extra glass for the chef if necessary!
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes

Long slices  allow the steak to cook evenly.
Season the steak with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil. Add the steak and cook (turning once) on both sides. Cook to medium rare and tent with foil.

Warm the remaining tablespoon of butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, garlic and thyme and saute until the onion is barely softened. Add the wine, bring to a boil, stirring to get up the browned bits (this process is also called deglazing the pan) Stir in tomatoes and their juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A whole bevy of colors!
Slice the meat thinly across the grain (this yields more tender meat). Arrange the slices on a plate and spoon sauce over meat.
The paparadelle finishes this meal!

This recipe was awesome! I loved the simplicity and accessibility of ingredients. This dish is nice for those who can't afford a steak but want that delicious flavor. The sauce is light but chocked full of flavor.

Now I know that some might say this is just a deconstructed fajita and to those I would say "hush your mouth"! This dish does not have a smokey taste like that of a fajita, but rather a velvety lusciousness of a French bistro meal. To give this meal a bit more heft, I served it with a side of buttered paparadelle noodles. Andy loved this meal and said it was one of the best I had cracked down.

I think if you were to try it you would like it as much as I did. One more tip, I wouldn't suggest cooking the steak on the grill. The sauce pulls all of the delicious wonderfulness the steak leaves behind in the pan and the wine sucks it up, providing the sauce with tremendous flavor.

Give this recipe a try while the weather is still nice....


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recipe 3: Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Readers, due to technical difficulties, I was not able to import pictures! Sorry, hopefully I can get it straightened out before next post! Continue reading.

This recipe might seem like an "out of the ordinary" pick for me, and that is just what it is. I chose this because I have never had anything Vietnamese and I wanted to take a trip out of my comfort zone. The ingredient list contained a lot of things that I did not own, so yet again the shopping list was a bit intense. This recipe struck me as a nice and light choice. I thought this would be good after a work out or before an afternoon outside. So here it goes!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad
Williams-Sonoma, Simple Suppers 2006

Pan-Seared Chicken (listed earlier in the cookbook, but you can use a rotisserie chicken or seared chicken breast)
1 Large Lime
Peanut oil- 6 tablespoons
Asian fish sauce- 2 tablespoons
Sugar- 1 tablespoon
Napa cabbage- 2 cups finely shredded
Green onions- 4 thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro- 1/4 cup
Roasted peanuts- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped

Make the vinaigrette- Grate 1 teaspoon zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from the lime into a small bowl. Add the oil, fish sauce, and sugar-whisk together.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cabbage, green onions and cilantro. Toss. Drizzle on vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among plates and top with peanuts.

This recipe was not quite what I had hoped for. There was nothing special about this vinaigrette and there was nothing special about the pan seared chicken. I am not saying that is was a bad recipe, but to me it fell short of what I had thought it would be.

There are a few points to take from this recipe, however. First off, fish sauce can be a great ingredient when used in moderation. Don't be turned off by the pungent fish smell it gives off. The salty taste is great in the dressing and can be used in a variety of dishes that can be made in the future.

Next up, the textures of the salad were delightful. The crunch of the peanuts coupled with the soft chicken and firm cabbage was great. I would love to try a different dressing on this same salad to see what happens.

All in all, this recipe didn't have the wow factor I was looking for. The dressing was a bit more full flavored than I had expected and the chicken, was well, chicken. I do believe with a bit of creative tweaking and some rearranging of items, I would be able to rework this recipe into something that would be a bit more palate pleasing. Although this recipe was kind of a bummer, I am super excited for the next recipe I am trying. That shall be coming up later this week!

Adios Amigos!