Monday, September 3, 2012

I never liked meatballs...

... when I was a kid.

My mom made Swedish Meatballs, whatever that means. They were dense and tough and flavorless. Basically over-cooked hamburger.

Then a while ago I picked up a Bon Appetit which featured Italian classics and I decided to give the meatball another chance. Spaghetti and meatballs, they were pretty good.

I kept experimenting and found that a panade, milk and bread, was a good method for making moist tender meatballs (it also works for meatloaf). Then with a bit more experimentation I made...

Meatballs to die for!

No, really, it's the texture that makes these so good. And there's no better way to experience this than the deli classic; Meatball Sandwiches!


2 lb hamburger 80-85% lean
1 lb italian sausage
2 cups panko
1 cup milk
1 egg

Stir the milk and egg together then add to the panko, set aside. Spread the hamburger out and insert plugs of italian sausage thruout. Then add the softened panko mixture to the meat and mix with your hands thoroughly.

Shape into about 24-30 meatballs onto a baking sheet with a little olive oil. Then broil until well browned on both sides and let them cool. They will not be completely cooked, that's fine.

At this point, I bag them 6 to a bag and freeze them for Spaghetti and Meatballs or...


You probably noticed that the meatballs have no aromatics or spices, except for the italian sausage. I used to use sauce from a jar, but it always tasted like a bunch of stuff that had been together for too long. So I switched to:

Simple Marinara

You can make this in any quantity, but it's always best freshly made.

Saute some chopped onion in olive oil, then add minced garlic. Sprinkle some italian seasoning onto the hot oil and let it bloom, then add canned tomato sauce, that's it. Red pepper flakes may be used to give it some kick.

Simmer for at least 30minutes. This is the base recipe, it's perfect for Meatball Sandwiches. If I want to do something more up-scale I add mushrooms, red wine, fresh basil, you get the picture.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and let simmer for another 30 minutes rolling them around in the sauce a coupe of times.

On to the sandwiches!

Get some decent bread, don't waste these on hot dog buns. The picture shows mini-baguettes.

Any way, hollow out the rolls a bit to make room for the meatballs. Either toast the rolls open face or nuke them with a slice of provolone on the bottom for 10-15 seconds.

place the meatballs onto the rolls, then spoon the sauce over. Top with grated parmesan and serve with a green salad.

love and bacon,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Asparagus Files

I used to think asparagus was a less
than likeable vegetable (one might say inedible).
This all changed last Christmas when I ventured to try asparagus. 
It was simply made with butter (ha, ha- can go wrong with butter),
salt, and pepper. Since then, I have been looking for more ways
to incorporate asparagus into my life. 
For this reason, I was excited to try:

This meal combined three of my favorite ingredients:
shrimp, gnocchi, and pesto.
It truly lived up to my expectations of how tasty it would be.

Chef's Notes:
We always find that the gnocchi is always best when it is freshly cooked. 
Our meals always seem best when we wait till the last minute
to boil and drain the gnocchi.
We recommend Parmigiano-Reggiano for this meal.

Tofu Love

If you are looking for an easy, but healthy recipe this one is for you:

Cooking Light's Udon Noodles with Sesame and Tofu

Chef Notes:
Pressing the tofu during the day before cooking it ensures
that it is firm and stays together when it is being pan fried.
Noodles are best when they are eaten right after being boiled and drained.
The sauce has a slight kick to it but can be lessened (or increased) by the red pepper flakes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thai Basil Chicken

This dish is served at many Thai restaurants. Here's my version. The quantity and heat of the peppers can take this from mild to wild.

6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
Canola Oil
4 Scallions Sliced
2 Serrano Peppers Diced
2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
equal amount crushed ginger
1Bunch Fresh Basil, (Thai or Holy Basil if you can find it) Chopped and coarse stems removed

1/4C Soy Sauce
1/4C Dry Sherry
4 dashes Thai Fish Sauce
1t Corn Starch

Heat the oil and add half of the pepper, garlic and ginger. Saute the chicken for 15 minutes and then remove draining excess fat. Let cool then chop into 1/2" pieces. Return to the pan and add the remaining pepper, garlic and ginger, then the scallions. Scrape up any browned bits (or deglaze the pan with a little water) then fold in the basil. Stir the sauce and add it to the pan. Turn the heat off and stir until it thickens, Serve over rice.

love and bacon,

Chicken Capellini Picante 4 Britts

This is my rendition of a dish served at the Trattoria across the street from our old office in Saratoga. We often enjoyed it for lunch.

1/2 lb Capellini or Angel Hair Pasta
3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Half-Breasts
Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil
Pepper Flakes
Coarse Sea Salt
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 Bag Fresh Spinach
Parmesan Cheese

Sprinkle the Chicken with Italian Seasoning and grill over medium heat 10-12mins Do Not Overcook. Set the chicken on a cutting board and while it's cooling. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and drizzle with Olive Oil.

Now comes the main event. Heat 2-3 Tbsp (yes you need a lot) of Olive Oil in a pan on medium. Add the red pepper and coarse salt then the garlic (if the pan is too hot the garlic will burn). Now chop the chicken and add it to the pan. Saute a couple of minutes until the chicken is cooked thru, then toss in the pasta and then the spinach. Use a lot of spinach, when it wilts it really cooks down. Don't be afraid to add Olive Oil if necessary.

I know it's italian but serve it in rice bowls with chopsticks. Garnish with Parmesan and enjoy.

The blending technique is tricky, you have to have the heat just right. Too low and it will be soggy, too high and the pasta wil stick. Adding the spinach creates steam which also cools the pan down.

love and bacon,

Ribs 4 KJ

OK, here goes. This is a variation on an article in Fine Cooking some years ago. Read it here:


What you are doing is referred to as Memphis Style, which means a dry rub and sauce served as a condiment after the ribs come off the grill.

First, baby back ribs are best. They have just the right amount of fat.

Next, remove the membrane on the back of the ribs by sliding a knife underneath and use the BACK of the knife to separate the membrane then strip it off like peeling a label. Start at the skinny end of the rack. This will go badly the first time you try it, but eventually you'll figure it out.

The Rub: No magic here, you're basically making BBQ sauce on the meat using sugar fat and spices. If you just had the first 2 ingredients it would still make tasty ribs, so feel free to individualize/adjust after that. Also note that I don't measure anything when I cook, I just proportion from greatest to least so these are approximate.

For 1-2 racks
1/4c Paprika (the regular sweet paprika)
1/4c Brown Sugar
1T Chili Powder
1t Granulated Garlic
1t Celery Seed My special ingredient as I think this flavor goes particularly well with ribs
cayenne to taste unless Ray or Darla are there

Stir the rub with a fork to get all the lumps out of the brown sugar then sprinkle over the meat liberally on the meat side and pat down. Sprinkle lightly on the back.

A word about salt...
I don't use salt in my rubs as people's taste and tolerance vary widely. I do give a nice grind of coarse sea salt over the ribs after they're done cooking.


It's low and slow meaning 2-4Hrs at 250-275 degrees. Pork won't get fall off the bone tender until it hits about 190.

You can do this in a BBQ or a smoker or in the oven. I think the best ribs are on a rotisserie because they self baste as the fat is rendered. A pan of water in any of these prevents overheating and drying out.

Where there's smoke...
... there's flavor. This is where the oven loses out. A handful of soaked chips on your q gives a taste that makes all the difference. Oak, Hickory, Mesquite are my first choice for ribs. Apple also works well.

love and bacon,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spinach me!

Trying to find a tasty new way to get those  leafy greens in?
Well, we have just the solution!
Spinach Hummus.

Spinach Hummus that Kids Will Eat from Simply Daily Recipes

Chef notes:
At the time of making this recipe,
we had a mixed green salad mix
(which included spinach) which we threw in.
This made our hummus have more flavor tones;
as well as including a variety of greens.
The only thing I might try differently in the future,
is the amount of lemon juice that was added.
Brett added a whole lemon, somewhat overwhelming the flavor
of the garbanzo beans and spinach- the primary flavors.

We paired our hummus with
Way Better Snacks Simply Beyond Black Bean
Gluten-Free Tortilla Chips
which we found at our local grocery store.
Good eatin'!