Sunday, May 22, 2016

Swedish meatballs

I've always loved Swedish meatballs as a great main dish with potatoes (as seen here) or as a fun party appetizer. I never liked spaghetti and meatballs when i was growing up, but perhaps that's just because I only had bad quality meatballs that were always dry and spongy.

These meatballs aren't dry at all. They are very moist, delicate and easy to make. They're better than the ones at IKEA (although I do love the IKEA meatballs for how cheap they are... and the cinnamon rolls too). They are perfect with a little veloute and some lingonberry jam (though if you can't find lingonberry, a tart cranberry sauce or cherry sauce will work too).

This recipe was adapted from Serious Eats, because when I have very little reference on how to make something, I feel like they are an amazing jumping off point. That's how I always got a great recipe for ultra crispy roast potatoes, but I will save that for another post.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork shoulder
  • 3 slices soft wheat bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, minced (half raw and half sauteed)
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, nutmeg and allspices
  • 3 Tbps unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a few drops of fish sauce
  • roasted potatoes and lingonberry jam for serving
  1. Mix bread with milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes until bread is well soaked
  2. Sautee half a minced onion in a little butter until soft. Leave the other half raw.
  3. Add onion, bread, eggs, meat, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice to a bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cook a small amount of the meat to adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Shape meatballs and fly until well browned on all sides. Finish in the oven if needed.
  5. In a large skillet, melt butter and cook flour in it until it smells nutty. While whisking, add chicken stock and simmer until chickened. Add a splash of fish sauce and vinegar just to add depth.
  6. Toss meatballs in sauce and serve with jam and potatoes.
One year ago: Kiwi Sorbet
Three Years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years ago: Whole Wheat Spinach Bread

Monday, May 16, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Chicken and Pumpkin Chili

It's Secret Recipe time of the month again. Secret Recipe Club is always my favorite time of the month. As you all know, Secret Recipe Club is a great group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal it on the same day. This week its group C's turn. We also have a bunch of wonderful new people in Group C since group D is on temporary hiatus. I had the pleasure to read the blog of one of our new Group C members.

You all know April over at Angels Homestead. If I remember correctly, she used to be the leader of SRC. She lives with her husband on a three acre homestead in Indiana. It sounds so beautiful and pastoral and oh so different than life as I know it. I would love a week to walk in her shoes and see a different side of things. I love my city life, but sometimes I feel the pull of a country life begin to grow.

April has a bunch of great recipes on her blog, including allergy friendly ones. I was in love with her vanilla wafer recipe for homemade banana pudding and I was 100% sure that I would make the Pan Fried Hominy and pair it with pork chops and okra. I was sure it would happen...and then it rained for 2 weeks straight. Two weeks at 50 degrees with not even a ray of sunlight. After one week of rain, I knew I needed something else and I thought her Turkey Pumpkin Chili would certainly do the trick.

This was delicious and totally different. The pumpkin was understated and it was the perfect spice level. Just top it with a little sour cream or pepperjack cheese and it's absolutely perfect. Normally, I make chili from dry beans, but the use of canned beans makes this a wonderful weeknight meal that comes together in less than an hour. I changed things up a little by using chicken breast instead of turkey (because it was on sale) and fresh roasted chilis instead of canned, but the spirit is the same.

Thanks again April for this wonderful recipe!

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 lb fresh anaheim chilis, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cans navy beans, rinsed
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • sour cream and cheese for serving
  1. Poach chicken breasts in chicken stock until cooked through. Remove, pull chicken and set aside. Roast chilis over a fire, peel, deseed and chop. Set aside.
  2. Sautee onion and garlic in a little oil with spices until fragrant and soft. Add pumpkin, chicken stock, beans and chilis. Simmer for 20 minutes to bring flavors together. Add chicken and simmer 15 more minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chili with sour cream and cheese.
Two Years Ago: Sparkling Lemon Limeade
Three Years Ago: One Pan Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago: Shrimp Scampi

Monday, May 9, 2016

Blackened Tilapia Tacos

Fish tacos have got to be one of my favorite "Mexican" foods even though baja fish tacos (or especially the cajun blackened fish tacos) are about as tex-mex as you get. But these are super delicious and make a pretty light dinner. They don't feel heavy like Mexican food normally feels, most likely due to the lack of cheese and the presence of a great vinegar based coleslaw. If you make the cajun spice mix well in advance (this makes almost a whole cup of spice mix, so you'll have it for a while) you can throw this recipe together in a pinch. The spice mix is also great for a bunch of other more traditional cajun/creole recipes like gumbo or jambalaya. 

Since we'll be moving back to California at the end of the summer, I've been trying to expand my repertoire of southern dishes so I can bring them home with me. It's taken me a while, but I've learned to love collard greens and (never thought I'd say this) grits while I've lived in Virginia. Damn, I am certainly going to miss good shrimp, grits, greens and bbq when I move back. I even like okra now. I never thought I'd see the day when that would happen.

I'm not normally a fan of Emeril and his recipes, but I must admit, this amended version of his bayou blast is really on the best spice mixes out there.

Ingredients for Cajun Spice Mix
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dry thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • dried lemon or orange zest (or add a little fresh to whatever you are using it on)
Ingredients for Fish Tacos
  • Tilapia or other firm what fish 
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Any vinegar based coleslaw
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • mayonnaise
  • Cajun spice mix
  1. Generously rub the fish fillets with cajun spice mix.
  2. Cook with neutral oil in a pan until well blackened on both sides, finishing in the oven if necessary for thicker fillets
  3. Meanwhile, chop one chipotle chili and mix with 1/4 -1/2 cup mayonnaise (depending on your spice preference). 
  4. Build fish tacos with tortillas, chipotle mayonnaise, fish and coleslaw. Serve with rice and beans if desired

One Year Ago Rocky Road Brownies
Two Years Ago Beet and Goat Cheese Ravioli
Three Years Ago Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years Ago Shrimp Scampi

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Barbacoa Beef Tamales

Happy Cinco de Mayo all. Lets try to celebrate with something a little more authentic than queso and chips, but just as tasty. These tamales are absolutely fantastic. Tamales are always a lot of work, so it's best to make them 30 or 40 at a time. They freeze really well and reheat in 2 minutes in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel.

The filling of these tamales can be any juicy braised meat. I used a barbacoa braised beef in the style of everyone's favorite e coli inducing restaurant chain. It's great to make this beef one night, have it for tacos or burritos and then make the leftovers into tamales. I'm normally not a fan of Mexican style tamales because they tend to be dry (I enjoy El Salvadorian style tamales much more...I will post a recipe for that at a later time). I used the Rick Bayless recipe for tamal dough and it is wonderful.

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef Recipe
  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped small.
  • 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce
  1. Sear the meat on all sides in a large pan with a little oil and set aide.
  2. Transfer all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred with forks, mix with sauce and serve. 
  • 3 1/2 cups masa flour
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups meat filling
  • corn husks (at least 30 that are 6 inches wide. double up if they are smaller)
Directions for Tamal Dough
  1. Soak corn husks in hot water for at least half an hour until soft and pliable.
  2. Reconstitute masa flour with water. In a large bowl, mix shortening with salt and slowly add the reconstituted masa while mixing. 
  3. Add one cup of broth while mixing and continue to mix until it's light and fluffy. If you drop a dollop of dough in water it should float.
  4. Add more broth as necessary until mixture is the texture of light cake batter (but not runny). Refrigerate for one hour and re-beat again until same light texture is reached
  5. Lay out a corn husk and spread a few tablespoons of dough on the husk in a 4 inch square. Spread a little meat in the middle and bring the long sides of the wrapper together to encase the meat in the dough. Fold up the bottom of the husk and tie with a string to keep everything together. 
  6. Steam upright in a closed pot for about an hour to an hour and a half until the husk pulls away from the dough. Serve with slaw and salsa and hotsauce and all sorts of delicious things. 

Three Years Ago: One Pan Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago: Shrimp Scampi

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Roasted Fennel and Pea Risotto

This is yet another simple, delicious risotto recipe. It's perfect with fish or pork for any time of year. Make it, enjoy it, savor it.

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped and roasted until tender.
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a saucepan, simmer chicken stock in low heat with saffron
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a different saucepan. Add onion and sautee until softened
  3. Add lemon zest and cook until fragrant. Add rice and stir until each grain in coated with oil and semi translucent
  4. Add white wine and stir until fully absorbed.
  5. Add stock a ladle-full a at a time, stirring frequently. Add the next ladle after most has been absorbed but the rice is never fully dry.
  6. When the rice is tender but firm and looks creamy, quickly stir in a reserved 1/4 cup stock and the tablespoon of butter. Gently fold in fennel and peas. Season to taste, garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.
One Year Ago: Pozole Rojo
Three Years Ago: One Pan Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago: Pomme De Terre Macaire

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Healthier Cocoa Swirl Banana Bread

I always love a good banana bread on the weekends for breakfast. Any breakfast bread is an unhealthy treat, so I wanted to find something that was a little more healthy that would have the same moisture, earthiness and great flavor of one of my more cake-like banana breads.

This bread was very tasty on a lazy Saturday morning. It has a lot of bananas, more than most usual recipes. It does have butter instead of apple sauce like so many healthy banana bread recipes have, but the treatment of the fat and sugar as you would treat a regular cake makes this bread very fluffy. It's wonderful for breakfast with a nice cup of coffee.


  • 5 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • cocoa powder
  1. Mix together mashed bananas and greek yogurt in a bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well blended.
  4. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and add all of the liquid ingredients. Then finish with the other half of the dry ingredients
  5. Remove 1/3 of your batter into a separate bowl and mix in desired amount of cocoa powder (2 or 3 Tbsp? I didn't really measure). Fold in nuts to the remaining batter
  6. Spoon the batters in alternating patterns into a greased loaf ban. Run a knife through it if you want to create a swirled patter. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until done.
One Year Ago: Pozole Rojo
Three Years Ago: Tomatillo Salsa
Four Years Ago: Pomme de Terre Macaire

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Beef and Bacon Pie

Ya'll know what Sunday is, right?

It's the start of the new season of Game of Thrones.

I could not be more excited. I love that show. I love those books. I know the books are not well written and I don't care. It was like reading a soap opera and it was wonderful.

In honor of the new season, I made a recipe from the Game of Thrones Cookbook, which my wonderful amazing husband bought me last year for Christmas. They give two recipes for Beef and Bacon Pie, one a more Medieval recipe and one a modern recipe. I chose to do a combination of the two. This pie was savory with just a touch of sweetness. Perfect for a feast in Winterfell (or for Game of Thrones). The man was also amazing because he went to Total Wine on the way home and bought a few 750mL bottles of the new Ommegang Game of Thrones Beer. Every year Ommegang releases a new beer inspired by the show and this marriage of Belgian and American style ales is very tasty.

I recommend both things, and I especially recommend them together.

Ingredients for Medieval Pastry Crust (makes 1 double crust pie)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of saffron
  1. Dissolve saffron in warm water and allow to cool to room temperature
  2. Cut/rub butter into the flour with your hands until it is sandy. Add beaten egg yolk and saffron water and stir until incorporated and everything sticks together. Divide into two pieces and chill
Ingredients for Filling/Pie
  • 1 batch medieval pie crust
  • 5 strips streaky bacon, cut small
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp AP flour
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I used prunes, raisins and apricots, though dates would likely be good as well)
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • milk 
Directions for Pie
  1. Sautee bacon until fat renders and it crisps slightly. Drai.n off some of the fat and add onion, celery, carrot and turnip. Cook until onion is soft and slightly golden. Move vegetables to edges of the pan
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper and toss in flour. Add to the beef to the pan and brown on all sides. Since this was just going in a pie, I didn't care about crowding as much as I normally would. 
  3. Add fruit, vinegar, stock and herbs and simmer until a gravy has formed. Adjust seasoning to taste and let mixture cool.
  4. Roll out pie dough in a 9 inch pan and fill with meat filling. Top with another round of pie dough and cut slits in the top to vent. Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until well browned and bubbling. Let cool slightly before slicing. 

Three Years Ago: Tomatillo Salsa