Archive | March, 2013

Lamb Meatballs with Currants adapted from The Jerusalem Cookbook

31 Mar

Lamb meatballs

It seems like meatballs are everywhere lately—and I definitely don’t hate it. These little balls of goodness are the perfect meal; comforting, satisfying and really simple to make. And with so many variations you can find an excuse to eat them any time of the year.

When my aunt called me the other day asking what to make for Easter dinner, I didn’t even have to think about my answer. At first she was hesitant, given that we normally serve lamb chops, but I convinced her that lamb meatballs would be just as delicious and would even appeal to my younger cousins.

This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s version in the Jerusalem cookbook. I made them this weekend as a test batch so I could perfect the recipe for Sunday. Turns out, not a whole lot needed to be perfected. They’re absolutely delicious.

The trickiest part is getting the meat to brown perfectly. If the meatballs begin to burn, turn down your heat slightly and move them away from the center of the pan. Try starting out with one ball, so you can get the hang of it before doing the rest.

They don’t need to be perfect, so they’re a lot of fun to make and even more fun to eat. I served them over bulgar but you can use any grain you like. I’m thinking I’ve just stumbled upon a new Easter dinner tradition.

Lamb Meatballs with Currants

1 lb. ground lamb
1 yellow onion
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
3 tbs. mint, cilantro, parsley, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. each of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
4-5 tbs. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 tbs. currants
2 tbs. lemon juice
2 cups chicken stock

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl along with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into small balls about the size of a golf ball. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan or Dutch oven. In small batches brown the meatballs all over, adding more oil with each batch. When finished, place the meatballs on a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the currants, lemon juice, chicken stock, salt and pepper and cook for another 5-10 minutes over low heat with the lid on. Add the meatballs back into the pan and let simmer for thirty minutes with the lid on until cooked through.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

29 Mar

Mexican Hot Chocolate

I can already predict that after Easter my apartment will remind me of Willy Wonka’s factory. I will be knee deep in chocolates that I know will last me until Halloween, unless I start using them in the kitchen. One of my favorite chocolate-centric recipes is a Mexican Hot Chocolate.

When I was 17, I left home for the first time to become a brand-new student at culinary school. Being an only child, this wasn’t as easy as I expected. One day, I was feeling particularly homesick. On top of that, I was in kitchen class and it seemed that everything was going wrong. I kept burning my sugar and over whipping my eggs. I was seriously overwhelmed.

When all hope seemed lost, a very kind classmate brought over a steaming mug to my station. I looked down and there was a thick cup of cocoa with a sprinkle of cayenne. I took one sip and I was instantly warmed from the inside out. The gentle spices and creamy chocolate instantly made the kitchen a little less scary.

The amount of spice is just a guideline, you can make it as spicy or as mild as you want. You can also add whipped cream, or a cinnamon stick for flare. If you’re feeling gutsy, you can also add a splash of rum or Bailey’s liquor.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
2 oz chocolate (I like 70% for this but Hershey Kisses are great too!)
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Heat milk on stove until hot (don’t boil). Add spices, pour over chocolate. Stir and sip!

Coconut Macaroons

22 Mar

SONY DSC

Because my family had a very loving relationship with food, many of my first memories involve being in a kitchen. At an early age I quickly learned that dessert was my absolute favorite thing– Who am I kidding? It still is!

One day when I was 7 years old, my grandma took pity on me and let me assist in the kitchen. For most kids my age, this meant making something simple like rice krispy treats. But not me, I was going to make coconut macaroons.

I remember tossing the ingredients into the bowl and blending it with my hands. Being a messy kid, I found this step endlessly entertaining. Carefully shaping the mixture into tiny balls, I was surprised at how easy it was to make something so incredibly delicious. Watching the shiny orbs turn a caramelized, golden brown in the oven, I never could have imagined that they would taste like candied sunshine.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

2 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sweetened flake coconut

Mix together all ingredients until well combined (you can use a spoon or your hands!). Divide mixture into 8ths, and roll into well-packed rounds. Drop onto foiled baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 300 degrees.

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Whoopie Pies

15 Mar

moonpies

Whoopie Pies, also affectionately known as Moon Pies, were definitely a childhood favorite. These chewy, chocolate cookies cushioning a pillow of marshmallow fluff were the coveted snack of my elementary school lunchroom days. Luckily, becoming friends with Shauna meant that I had a constant supply of my favorite goody.

I’m going into my archives for this recipe which comes from Shauna, who was the queen of Whoopie Pies. Her’s were by far the best and most desired by classmates. We would hide them under our desks during class so we wouldn’t get caught snacking by the teachers.

I’ve seen versions of this recipe where people use frosting or buttercream filling, but there’s nothing like chewy, sticky marshmallow fluff for a Whoopie Pie. I definitely give this recipe an A+.

WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 stick soft butter
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 cups marshmallow fluff

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and mix on low until combined. Alternate adding ⅓ of dry ingredients and ⅓ milk as to not overwhelm and clump mixture. Repeat on low speed until batter has barely come together. Spoon onto greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and sandwich with fluff.

St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

8 Mar

cupcakes_Oh, St. Patrick’s Day. A time filled with four-leaf clovers and myths of leprechauns. Instead of drinking green beer this year, I want to celebrate the holiday with a festive treat. Since I’m not the biggest fan of food coloring, I’m choosing the next best thing to mark the occasion: beer as flavoring. I’m using Guinness not only because it’s Irish, but it’s a heavy beer which makes a really moist, delicious cupcake.

I first tried this recipe when I was secretary of the honor society in college. There was a fundraiser for the school’s club activities and we needed to represent the holiday. Being in college, most clubs took this opportunity to do jello shots and make foods like truffle fries and lobster mac & cheese that would be delicious when drinking beer. Did I mention I went to a culinary school? We liked to get fancy.

Being a team of mostly bakers, we decided cupcakes were our best option. The president of the society, Annabelle, and I stayed up all night testing cupcakes. After many sugary bites and lots of laughs, the Guinness Cupcake was born. The next day we sold out within the hour and people were begging for more!

For this recipe, I like to make a simple syrup out of the Guinness and brush it onto the cupcake after they bake so that the flavor isn’t lost in the cupcake. Feel free to also add a little bit to the frosting as well. Green sprinkles are always welcome.

GUINNESS CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Guinness
1 stick butter
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Simmer Guinness, butter, and brown sugar in saucepan until butter and sugar melt. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth. Remove from burner and cool slightly. Mix flour, sugar, soda, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix egg and sour cream. Add cocoa mixture and mix slowly for about a minute. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.

FROSTING
4 oz. cream cheese, soft
1/2 stick butter, soft
1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Guinness

Mix ingredients together by hand. Once blended, whip on a mixer until light and fluffy.

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