TURKEY MEATBALLS: HEALTHY, QUICK, AND TASTY

Every Tuesday at 7:30 pm I meet with my wonderful Chinese tutor. So, dinner and the dishes must finish in time to drive to her home.  Ideally,  I plan the meal the preceding weekend, but sometimes the ideal and the real diverge.  This past week I was eating a rushed lunch in the office when panic hit: what am I going to cook tonight? Without cookbooks handy, the internet came to the rescue.  I had some ground turkey in the fridge, so I “googled” it and found a recipe in The Perfect Pantry.  If you don’t know this blog, make sure to stop by, it’s a life-saver for designing meals with ingredients that are often in your cupboard.



TURKEY MEATBALLS

(adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

1+ 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (full fat)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (do not omit this step!), and reserve.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, working the mixture well with your hands until thoroughly combined. Wet your hands with cold water and form the mixture into balls, either as bite size (for appetizers), or larger (for a main dish). Place them on the prepared sheet and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. When done, they’ll be a nice golden brown on the surface.   You can carefully move them around after they’ve been baking for 10 minutes or so. Cut through one of them to judge if they are fully cooked, and serve.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:
In her post, Lydia mentions that she prefers roast chicken to roast turkey. However, she’d rather use ground turkey than ground chicken. I’d never considered it in those terms, but… I’m on the same team!

The addition of yoghurt is a great twist on this simple recipe, giving it moisture and a tangy flavor. A quick saute’ of shredded zucchini with a salad and a slice of bread was all we needed for a delicious Tuesday dinner, even if it was a little rushed.

Note added after initial publication:  It is a good idea to spray the parchment paper with some olive oil, as the meatballs can stick to the paper and be hard to move around (see comment by E Brandler below).

Note to self:  spinach might be excellent mixed in with the ground meat.

One year ago….  Focaccia

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LOCAL BREADS: AUVERGNE RYE WITH BACON

Auvergne rye, also known as “baguette aux lardons” is, simply put, bread with bacon bits all through the crumb. Bread… and…. bacon. I know, I know… unless you are a very committed vegetarian you are salivating already.

The recipe comes from Daniel Leader’s Local Breads, and requires the preparation of a very stiff sourdough starter made with both whole wheat and regular flour, and a final dough with a small amount of rye, which, in my opinion, always gives a sourdough bread a touch of depth hard to achieve with any other flour.

Yes, those brown spots are pieces of bacon….  😉


AUVERGNE RYE WITH BACON

(Local Breads)

Sourdough starter build

45 g stiff sourdough starter
50 g water
95 g bread flour
5 g whole wheat flour

Mix everything together, forming a stiff dough.  Allow it to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, until doubled in volume.


Final dough

280 g thick cut bacon
350 g water
450 g bread flour
50 g white rye flour
125 g starter (you will not use the full amount made)
10 g salt

Cut the bacon in 1/2 inch pieces and cook over medium heat.  Do not let it brown, just cook until most of the fat is released.  Drain over paper towels and dice finely.

Mix the water, bread flour, and rye flour in a large bowl, let it stand for 20 minutes.  Add the sourdough mix (remember: only 125 g of it!), bacon, and salt.  Knead with a Kitchen Aid type mixer on speed 4 for about 8 minutes.  Ferment the dough for 1 hour, fold it a couple of times, place it to rise for another 2 to 3 hours.

Cut the dough in 4 equal pieces, shape as baguettes, and retard them in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

Remove the baguettes from the fridge 3 hours before baking.  Heat the oven to 450F, slash the baguettes and bake them with initial steam, for 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool over a rack for a couple of hours before slicing them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The recipe makes 4 baguettes, but I chose to make two baguettes and a larger, batard-type loaf. I haven’t yet perfected the shaping of my baguettes, in part because I end up baking round loaves a lot more often, and rarely practice this elusive shape. But, what really matters – the taste – was superb! You would think that so much bacon in the dough could be overpowering, but quite the contrary, they had a very mellow taste.   I was pleasantly surprised by how copper-colored the crust turned out, probably due to the bacon fat playing its magic.   The smell was intoxicating, even our dogs were restless…    😉

Note to self:  This bread would be a very good match for a bowl of chili…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting….

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BEWITCHING BIRTHDAY!

One year of blogging! It passed with astonishing speed, proving that time flies when you’re having fun!   It’s surely been fun, sharing what happens in our kitchen with friends, family and lots of other folks, and getting acquainted (at least virtually) with new people and bloggers through comments and emails.

A cake is a mandatory birthday celebration!  Unfortunately,  cake and Sally don’t make a good match.   But in the name of this special occasion I faced my demons and baked a cake. Choosing the recipe wasn’t easy, but I decided by elimination: genoise was out of the question, I’d rather be tortured.   Any recipes involving the instructions “cream the butter with the sugar” were also excluded.  Then, browsing the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I spotted a layered chocolate raspberry cake and I was smitten: that was it! Luscious, beautiful, perfect… would you believe  that the recipe didn’t need an electric mixer?  Instead, two bowls and a whisk…. my kind of recipe!  Even the layering didn’t bother me (although it should have, … but  ignorance is bliss).

So, here it is, my first layered cake, in honor of my baby blog…

CHOCOLATE-RASPBERRY LAYERED CAKE
(from Bon Appetit, June 2010)

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 + 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (maximum 61% cocoa), chopped
2 + 1/4 cups whipping cream
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, divided
resh raspberries
powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Line their bottoms with parchment paper rounds and spray the rounds. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; whisk to blend and form a well in the center. Whisk 1 cup of water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Pour the wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

for the ganache and raspberry topping;
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Pour it over the chocolate.  Let stand for 1 minute, then stir until the ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 + 1/4 cups of the ganache to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let the remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until  lukewarm.

Invert one cake onto a cardboard round or the bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Peel off the parchment paper and spread 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam over the top, then spoon dollops of chilled ganache over the surface, spreading it around.   Invert the second cake onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom.  Peel off  its parchment paper. Carefully slide the cake off its round and onto the frosted cake layer.  Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam over top of the second cake layer, and pour half of the lukewarm ganache over the cake, spreading it over the sides to cover.  Place the cake in the freezer until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes. Pour the remaining ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down sides and spreading over the sides if needed for even coverage and smooth edges. Freeze again to set the ganache, about 30 minutes.

Arrange the raspberries in concentric circles atop the cake, then sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I wish that my cake-phobia was cured, but now I have a few more reasons to stick with breads and pizzas.   At first  my confidence grew as the batter behaved exactly as anticipated, filling two 9-inch cake pans and baking into beautiful brown cakes with only a slight dome in the center.  But the Cake Gods  weren’t quite finished with their conspiracy against me.   Spreading the ganache was nightmarish, to put it mildly. Thinking back, I realize that it wasn’t quite  hard enough to spread, so instead of forming a nice thick layer, it ran down the sides, but my cake-naivete made me go on, thinking  that eventually everything would be OK.

When I placed the second cake on top of the first, once all the slippage-fiesta stopped, the ganache layer had a big gap all around the edges, that stubbornly resisted my attempts to fill it.  In despair, I checked my cake pans, and was shocked and appalled to realize that they were not identical in size – a small difference from one brand of pan to another, which made my layers unequal. My last hope was that the “lukewarm icing” would solve all the problems and make a beautiful, smooth covering of all the boo-boos. But, this was not the case.  Not a chance.  To make a  long story short, my cake ended a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.  Its sides had nothing to do with the “picture perfect” look in the magazine.    I had hoped to post a picture of my cake on a gorgeous stand with a nice candle in the center, but I settled instead for the only photo that showed more cake than boo-boos.

Cake, my friends, is not for sissies…But, even if its looks were not picture-perfect, it disappeared in an afternoon, devoured with gusto by hungry grad students!  The flavor was amazing: deep chocolaty, with a tangy background of raspberries, not overly sweet, but decadent.  I guess there might be hope for next year… 😉

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One year ago…. Welcome to my blog!

CAIPIRINHAS 101

THE WORLD CUP IS FINALLY HERE!

The World’s Most Adorable Dog….
printed with permission from Life of Jalo

I grew up watching all the games, and I still remember well when Brazil won (for the third time) in 1970, with a team that joined the one and only Pele’,  Rivelino, Tostao and Gerson, to name four of my favorites.  Most people in Brazil have their own routine  to watch the games and the whole country pretty much freezes when Brazil plays. Our family gathered at my parents’ home,  with my Mom sitting in her favorite chair, always wearing the same robe. It turns out that she wore it in the final game of 1970, when Brazil beat Italy in a nail-biter to capture the World Cup.   That outfit became, and remains to this day the “World Cup robe.”   It was carefully washed and stored away, only to appear every 4th year after that 1970 game.

Since I left the country watching the games hasn’t been the same, but  to bring the right spirit to the festivities I like to make “caipirinhas“, Brazil’s national drink.  It’s a blast of refreshing lime with “pinga” – a sugar cane distillate  not too hard to find in the US.
caipirinha1

CAIPIRINHA
(the authentic way, prepared one drink at a time)

1 thick-bottomed glass
1 large lime
1 Tbs granulated sugar
ice cubes (enough to fill the glass)
pinga (aka cachaca, aguardente de cana)

Wash the limes, cut both ends. Quarter the lime lengthwise, removing the central white pith which is bitter. Cut each quarter in half crosswise and place the lime pieces in the glass.

Add the granulated sugar, and working with a wooden pestle , crush the limes with the sugar.  Crushing the fruit with a wooden pestle is essential to the authenticity of this drink, but such tools are hard to find in the States.  If you don’t have one, maybe the handle of a heavy wooden spoon will suffice.   Once you’ve crushed the limes fill the glass with ice cubes or crushed ice. Pour pinga to the top, mix with a spoon and serve.

ENJOY!

pingas222


Comments: There are many types of pinga around.  Some are clear, some are aged,  turning yellow or  light brown.   Those are smoother, with less bite, and besides in capirinhas they may also be enjoyed by sipping.   In the US, the chances are that you will only find clear pinga, among which the most popular brands are “Ypioca”, “51”, and “Pitu”.

Recently in Food and Wine magazine the well-respected chef Daniel Bouloud shared his take on caipirinhas, and served them in wine glasses. My jaw dropped in disbelief when I saw the photos of this crime!  Mr. Boloud would certainly not approve of Champagne served in a teacup, and drinking  caipirinhas from wine glasses is just as bad.  So please, stick to these basic rules: prepare them in a large, strong glass, one drink at a time  using granulated sugar (no simple syrup, no agave nectar, no mint).

Brazilian-approved variations: You can use vodka in place of pinga, for a drink called “caipiroska“.  They’re delicious too, and probably a little easier next day ;-).   Some of my friends have been trying to convince me that “kiwi caipirinhas” are as good as the real thing, but I am a purist and I haven’t made them.  They do sound tasty, plus you get to eat the kiwi at the end.  Go lighter on the sugar if using kiwis, though.     And let me know if you try it, I might just relax my standards and go for it.  😉

Finally,  a few sound files to help you with Brazilian words…

Caipirinha click here  

Pinga… Cachaça… 

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