swedish meatballs….my way

I love old school recipes.  One from my childhood is Swedish meatballs.  Not because we had any Swedish heritage – it was just one of those dishes my mother would make for us.  Over the years I have tweaked a basic recipe to suit me.

The weather has finally turned crisp and fall-like so I thought tonight would be a good night to dust off the recipe and prepare Swedish meatballs.  My recipe is NOT made with heavy cream and I add mushrooms and a couple of other herbs/spices. But the flavors work and you get that old school Swedish meatball flavor…enhanced.  Some add caraway seeds to either the gravy or meatballs, I add celery seed to the gravy

I also do something that I doubt anyone else does – I will prepare the meatball mix ahead of time the day I am cooking and refrigerate until it is time to make the meatballs.  That allows the spices to meld and perfume the meat mixture better.

Panko bread crumbs are superior to regular bread crumbs in my opinion, but the most important thing to remember is to use PLAIN breadcrumbs. This is not the recipe for flavored breadcrumbs.

Some use mashed potatoes, I like wide egg noodles.

I hope you enjoy my recipe if you try it. Watch the salt you add because of the sodium in most broths.

Swedish Meatballs My Way

  • 1 pound meatloaf mix
  • 1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped x 2 or 1 cup
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon White Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Splash of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 8 oz package baby bella mushrooms slices thin
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups beef broth or bison broth
  • 1 cup evaporated Vitamin D canned milk (also great for homemade macaroni and cheese) or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine ground beef, panko, parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion, garlic powder, white pepper, cumin, paprika, mustard powder, dash of buttermilk, salt and egg. Mix until combined. Put in refrigerator and chill a couple of   I do this because meat mixture flavor deepens.
  2. Roll into  20 + small meatballs. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter. Add the meatballs and cook turning continuously until brown on each side and cooked throughout. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Quickly sauté ½ cup minced onion and baby bella mushrooms
  4. Add 4 Tablespoons butter and flour to skillet and whisk until it turns brown. Slowly stir in beef broth and milk. Add Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and dill and bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a small dash of nutmeg (I mean small!) and celery seed.
  5. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for another few minutes. Serve over egg noodles or as the Brits call it, a “good mash” or plain mashed potatoes. I prefer egg noodles.

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oh my easter pies!

Savory Easter Pie

Savory Easter Pie

I was inspired by my friend Lisa DePaulo’s mom’s Easter Pizza recipe, but didn’t have everything on hand to make that recipe.  So I took my recent Ricotta Pie recipe and adapted it…to two pies in normal, not deep dish pie plates.

I ended up with a a pair of pies…and here is how I did it:

Preheat oven to 350°

Take ricotta pie recipe  and assemble the filling but ONLY add   2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the vanilla and add the lemon zest of one fresh lemon. Do not add the orange zest.

Take two piecrusts and line two regular pie plates. Put in refrigerator to keep dough chilled.

Split your ricotta mixture in half into two large bowls.

In one bowl which will be your sweet pie add the sweet ingredients (1/2 of the sugar or 1/2 a cup, lemon zest, candied citron/lemon/orange peel, cinnamon, white raisins if you want and even 1/3 cup UNSWEETENED coconut), and there you have the mixture for the sweet Easter or ricotta pie.

In the second bowl (for the savory Easter pie)  beat in one more egg, add half a cup of Parmesan and Romano cheese mixture, and a about 4 to 5 ounces of grated cheddar. I prefer a sharp and white cheddar very dry. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and a little dill and thyme and tarragon.

In a small sauté pan sauté with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter melted add  2/3 cup of diced ham, one onion, and eight or nine baby bella mushrooms. Sauté down and drain of any liquid. Set aside to cool slightly. Some dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon to taste. I do not add any extra salt because of the salt in the ham.

Put the meat mixture into the bottom of one of your pie crusts in the pie plates and pour the savory ricotta cheese mixture over.

Pour  your sweet ricotta pie mixture into your other prepared pie crust and plate and you can bake them together in the oven for about an hour – you’re going to have to start checking at about 55 minutes- this is my first time through doing it this way so you guys are learning with me! I took about 1 hour and 10 minutes baking both – the savory dinner pie in the end was ready before the dessert pie.

Both pies turned out ok and are honestly very tasty and disappearing fast, although I probably should have taken both pies out of the oven at the 1 hour mark.

Buona Pasqua!

Sweet Easter Pie

Sweet Easter Pie

 

little old italian lady in training 



I became a bit of an Italian cliché today, or a little old Italian lady in training, take your pick.

I made sauce, I made gnocchi, and I made a ricotta pie.

I will give you the recipe below I used a roll out store-bought crust this time –Pillsbury  brand.

Deep dish pie plate required.

Preheat oven to 350°

Follow instructions on premade piecrust – I like using my own pie plates so I get the Pillsberry brand piecrust when I don’t feel like making my own crust. 

So I laid my piecrust in my pan, fluted the edges of the crust and tossed in the freezer while I mixed up the ricotta mixture.

Beat 5 eggs and  1 tablespoon vanilla together. (my mother bought me back this amazing Mexican vanilla on her last trip there and that is what I use today – the flavor is better I think than regular vanilla.)

Mix in with electric mixer 1/4  cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the grated rind of one fresh lemon and one fresh orange. (I had some blood oranges and so that is the grated orange rind that I used today.)

Mix in with electric mixer 1 cup of white sugar and beat together well.

Beat in 3 1/2 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese. When mixture is well mixed, you next stir in 1/3 cup candied minced orange peel and 1/3 cup candied minced lemon peel.

Get out your pie shell in your deep dish pie plate and carefully pour the creamy ricotta cheese mixture into the piecrust.

 Bake at 350° until firm and light brown on top approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

You can either serve this at room temperature or chilled.

Enjoy!

quiche with ham, broccoli, and spinach….and a side of teenager

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Yes….how to get more vegetables into your teenager. Of course my teenager has just decreed that he’s not eating any quiche.

(Deep breath…..deep breath…..)

As parents is incredibly frustrating when you are going out of your way to try to make things that will be appealing to them, and then they won’t even try things if they are in a teenage mood. Well the teen can try it, right? Not everything can be of the favorite teenage boy food group of starch sugar and more starch. He was much easier to feed when he was 10, and he was actually open to trying new things and allowing things that were green and vegetable like to pass his lips regularly.

Of course if I had a show on Food Network like Nancy Fuller or Martha Stewart or Ree Drummond or Ina Garten everybody would sit magically around the table which would be set beautifully to perfection every night and eat everything that I made and rave….LOL reality is far different!

Okay enough venting my frustration over the eating habits and mercurial moods of the teenage male! I just have to keep repeating “I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager“.

I think out there somewhere there must be a 12 step program for surviving the teenage years. They really aren’t mutant ninja secret agent super gamer teenage cave dwellers who have taken a vow of silence. My brother-in-law humorously noted recently that the average teenage boy doesn’t really start conversing with adults again until they hit 18 or 19.

Anyway I know this quiche will be delicious. The wine depicted in the photo is for adults in the house.

So how this recipe came about: I had ham leftover from New Year’s. I had frozen the bone for an upcoming lentil soup, but decided to go quiche with the remaining ham meat.

First I made my crust – I am into these herbs and savory crusts these days, so the recipe for this particular crust is below the rest of the quiche recipe.

Once I had rolled out my crust and fit it into my 9 1/2 inch vintage glass dish pie plate, put that in the refrigerator to keep cool well I got to work on the rest of the quiche.

Somewhere during the crust making process I preheated my oven to 375°.

My next step involves the ingredients below:

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup grape tomatoes sliced thin
1 medium onion chopped small
1 cup fresh broccoli diced
Dash of salt fresh cracked pepper
Dash of Cumin

For all those ingredients listed above, sauté with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, maybe 15. Turn off heat and set-aside.

Okay now that that part was complete and the crust was chilling, comes the next step before assembly. It involves the ingredients below:

1 3/4 cups shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Dash sriracha sauce

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach stems removed

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs milk salt, pepper herbs and spices. Add your dash of sriracha sauce.

Fold in the cheese. Take your piecrust out of the refrigerator and place in the center of a rimmed baking sheet – I use a professional jellyroll pan. First layer in the ham mixture from your sauté pan, then add baby spinach – the leaves are so small I don’t bother to chop up. Finally add your shredded cheese.

Place quiche on your baking sheet and your preheated 375° oven. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving. I don’t like eating boiling hot quiche so I will let mine sit 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.

Oops, I almost forgot, here is how I made the crust:

1/2 teaspoon each rosemary, marjoram, tarragon
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. very cold buttermilk

Directions:
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives or yes your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together. Form dough into a ball and flatten slightly on a floured surface roll out. Put in your pie plate crimp the edges, and refrigerate why you assemble the rest of your quiche.

it’s pesto season!

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I love planting herbs in my flower beds, and now I get to start to reap the rewards: it’s pesto season!

The basil needed a bit of a haircut, so that’s what’s for dinner, pesto. Olive oil from A Taste of Olive in West Chester, and fresh garlic from the farmers market. It doesn’t any get easier than that!

I must admit, my kitchen smells marvelous right now with the scent of the basil!

Fresh pesto and homemade salsa is yet another reason why people should garden more!

another recipe for the pasta coma category…

pasta coma just made this up….yesterday.  I am sure many people do something similar, but this is all me:

Ragu of Pork and Veal

In a large Dutch oven, sauté one large sweet onion and one medium-sized regular onion cut into very thin rings.

Sauté in a few healthy tablespoons of olive oil and include four cloves of garlic
minced (I just pour oil in the bottom of the pan until it looks right, but not an elephant’s foot bath.)

Add oregano, and basil. A little marjoram. And kosher salt to taste.

When almost at the point of caramelization, add 1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar.

Allow vinegar to mostly cook off, leaving a darkish sauce in the bottom.

Add to this two grated carrots, two fresh bay leaves, and 6 ounces of chopped baby Bella mushrooms.

Next add one package of ground veal.

Add one package of ground pork.

(Both should be no more than a pound.)

yumAs the meat cooks down and browns slightly (ground veal and pork do not brown like ground beef), add one-third of a cup of 2% milk or half-and-half. large

Allow the milk solids to cook off as if you would with a Bolognese sauce, and when all simmered and brown and delicious, add two 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. One can should contain purée.  (And buy good tomatoes – it does make a difference.)

pasteAdd one small can of tomato paste. (6 oz)

Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes or until it starts to gently bubble up from bottom

Adjust salt and pepper, add rough chopped fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley to taste. (for me that means a fistful – love both)

Simmer on very low for a couple of hours

Cook spiral pasta, as in the spiral shaped pasta that is called cavatappi. You can cavatappi_nudoalso use ziti.

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Do not rinse

Get out your giant pasta serving bowl and ladle some of the sauce into the bottom. Next add on top of that sauce a third of the pasta you cooked – I cook the whole 16 ounce box.

On top of pasta add a healthy sprinkling of shredded Italian cheese – I like the six cheese Italian blend

Ladle more sauce on top, and repeat the layers twice more.

Top off with a little more sauce and cheese and some more fresh parsley.

Served with a salad, pasta coma guaranteed.

pudding 101

This morning the breeze has started the fall rustle of leaves.  Don’t know how else to describe it.

Fall means the start of comfort food season.  What people don’t realize is there is something to be said for the basics.  Basics include foods we grew up with, comfort foods.

Last night I made an old-fashioned pot roast.  Mine is different because I use a little lemon or orange peel in mine and toss in a small can of crushed tomatoes and wine along with a few kinds of mushrooms (fresh not those rubberized canned things). To make a perfect pot roast you need a heavy dutch oven large enough to comfortably cook your roast and you must dredge the meat in flour and brown up a little before putting in a low and slow oven and ignoring for a few hours.

What I made the other day also falls into the category of old-fashioned comfort food: rice pudding.  I never wrote my recipe down before, so I hope the proportions are right.

Here it is:

Start with turning on the oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat. Next grab some unsalted butter  for greasing baking dish

 Ingredients

3/4 cup white sweet rice cooked and cooled (sweet rice is an extra sticky rice used in Asian cooking and you can buy it at an international grocery or specialty foods store)

3 cups whole milk (you can also use the canned Carnation milk you use to make pumpkin pie)

1 cup fat-free half and half

1 cup light cream

6 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3/4 cup white raisins

Directions

Grease well a  round baking dish (I use  Pyrex 2 or 2 1/2 quart baking dish – not sure which one – it has a lid which makes for handy storage of leftovers)

Into the bottom of the baking dish first add rice. Smooth out evenly on bottom. Sprinkle raisins evenly on top.  Sprinkle coconut on top of that. Set aside

Combine egg yolks, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Add sugar.  Beat until sugar is dissolved, incorporated, not grainy on the bottom of the bowl

Add  cornstarch, lemon zest, spices.

Slowly add milk, half and half and light cream.  Beat until frothy . Pour over rice/raisins/coconut in round baking dish.

Take your round baking dish and place in a Bain Marie – a Bain Marie is literally a water bath.

I take a larger rectangular pan, place my round baking dish inside it, and then pour hot water inside the rectangular pan AROUND the baking dish (DO NOT get the water into your rice pudding mixture)

Bake until the rice pudding is no longer liquid – at least an hour.  When I made a few days ago, my oven may not have been properly pre-heated and it took about an hour and 20 minutes to cook.  Your baked pudding will be caramel and brown colored on top when cooked and a knife inserted will come out clean. You just have to watch it.

Take pudding out of oven and place baking dish on a trivet to cool.  I like serving the pudding still slightly warm.  Some people like putting whipped cream on top to dress up the pudding when serving.  I do not – I think it is overkill.  You can have fun with this dessert and serve in red wine or martini glasses (wide rim).

Pudding variations include:

  • You can tweak recipe and remove just the rice and add a can of DRAINED cream corn to make a sweet corn pudding.
  • You can also substitute cubed day old brioche and make a bread pudding.  You can omit the cardamom and mace and raisins and coconut and add chocolate chips and it becomes a chocolate chip bread pudding.

Puddings are fun.