THAI-MEATBALLS OVER WILTED BOK-CHOY

These turkey meatballs lean towards Thai cuisine, but I took a few departures and incorporated a Brazilian moqueca touch. If you want to make the meal heartier, serve some rice or noodles as side dishes. Soba would work great.

THAI-MEATBALLS WITH WILTED BOK-CHOY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the meatballs (makes about 16)
2 pounds ground turkey (I use 85% fat)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 cup pureed tomatoes (canned is fine)
1 cup coconut milk (low-fat is ok)
2 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste
juice of one lime

for the bok-choy:
6 to 8 baby bok-choy, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of soy sauce
drizzle of lime juice

Heat oven to 420F.
Make the meatballs combining all ingredients in a large bowl. Form 16 meatballs and place them on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with olive oil, then spray lightly the surface of the meatballs also. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and reserve. This can be made hours or a day in advance.

Make the sauce. Heat the oil and sautéed the shallot for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the red curry paste and cook for a minute or two, stirring. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, fish sauce, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the reserved meatballs and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the lime juice right before serving.

Make the bok-choy. Heat the oil on a large skillet. Add the bok-choy, cut side down, cook for a couple of minutes without moving them, to get a nice browning on the surface. Flip the pieces over, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle soy sauce, lime juice, cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes until tender. Serve right away, with the meatballs and sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Traditionally, this type of recipe calls for coconut milk as the main component of the sauce. I find that a bit too heavy, also very high on the saturated fat content. So I tone it down with pureed tomatoes. You can just use a full can of coconut milk, if you prefer.

The meatballs have a nice texture, and incorporate the flavor of the sauce well. As to the red curry paste, I have a favorite brand now, after seeing it recommended by cookbook authors and food bloggers: Mae Ploy. It is much better than any brand I’ve used in the past. You can find it online if not available in stores where you live (click here). Leftovers (meatballs only, bok-choy was gone) were delicious on day #2 and day #3. And yes, they were mine, all mine…

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A SAVORY PHYLLO PIE

I was going to call it “Meat and Potato Phyllo Pie”. Side note: the expression “meat and potato guy” always makes me smile, as it took me a while to fully understand its meaning. When you are a foreigner, it’s not feasible to stop people all the time to ask for clarifications on every expression you don’t quite “get”. So you go with the flow. Of course now I know that it refers to someone who is not very adventurous in the gastronomic department. But this version adds a few tidbits that a true meat and potato being might object to, like tahini, eggplant, maybe even phyllo could be a no-no… Therefore, let’s go with Savory Phyllo Pie.

SAVORY PHYLLO PIE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

8 inch-springform pan (or pan with removable bottom)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 rib celery, diced
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat if possible)
3/4 pound ground bison (or substitute extra turkey meat)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you like)

for the vegetable layer:
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium eggplant
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil spray or a few tablespoons

for yogurt sauce:
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste

to assemble pie:
8 sheets of phyllo dough
olive oil spray
sesame seeds (optional)

Prepare the meat layer. Heat the olive oil, sauté the celery and shallots with a little salt. When fragrant, add all dried spices, let them heat for a minute, then add the two kinds of meat, salt, and cook until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, close the pan and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Reserve, allowing it to cool to room temperature or place it in the fridge.

Prepare the vegetable layer. Peel the eggplant, cut in 1/4 inch rounds, do the same for the sweet potatoes. Brush or spray the surface with oil and bake in a single layer at 425F until it starts to get golden. The eggplant will work best if you use a grill, but it was too cold for that when I made it. Reserve the veggies.

Prepare the yogurt-tahini sauce and reserve. Assemble the pie: Spray the bottom and sides of the springform pan with olive oil. Grab one sheet of phyllo at a time, spray with olive oil and place inside the pan with the ends going over the sides and hanging. Use 5 more sheets overlapping them in a circle. Place the sweet potato slices at the bottom, then the eggplant. Cover with the meat, pressing it down and leveling the surface well. Drizzle the tahini sauce and spread it well on the surface. Grab two more sheets of phyllo, fold in half, spray with oil and cover the top of the pie. Now bring all the phyllo that is hanging outside and crump the edges to neatly close the pie. Spray additional olive oil over the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 40 minutes at 400F. Let the pie sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I actually made phyllo pie two weeks in a row, first time following a recipe from Falastin. It was good, but a bit too heavy and the meat got slightly dry. So I made this version with similar Middle Eastern tones. We both loved it! It is a bit involved, but totally worth it. I usually make all the components and save them in the fridge. Then, it’s all a matter of heating the oven, assembling the pie and dinner is ready in one hour. You do need to wait for 15 minutes or it will be messy when you cut it.

I use the mixture of turkey and bison very often. It is great for chilis, and even burgers. Both are very lean types of meat, the bison gives a more complex flavor. We have excellent bison meat in Kansas, but if you cannot find it, just use turkey, or ground beef, or even lamb, although the end result with be considerably heavier.

All that was needed to call it dinner? A simple salad. We ate like royalty… I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, another good option for company, as you can do a lot in advance. Plus, it looks pretty awesome when you remove it from the springform pan.

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GUATEMALAN CHILE RELLENOS

I love a nice Chile Relleno but talk about a heavy dish! It is basically cheese, more cheese, a coating of egg and flour, and a nice bath in hot oil. I wanted to profit from the beautiful Poblanos from our garden, by making some type of stuffed chile that could act as a full meal. In my world, that calls for meat. Google University showed me that there is a concoction from Guatemala that is not too far from my goal. However, it is loaded with potatoes and I wanted something a little lighter. This version was born. Using the air-fryer made it even lighter. Mission accomplished.

AIR-FRIED “GUATEMALAN” CHILE RELLENOS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

6 Poblano chiles
olive oil spray
1 pound ground turkey
8 oz mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 celery stalk
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, preferably Fire-roasted
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
Panela cheese or another cheese of your choice

Start by making the filling. Heat the olive oil, add mushrooms, celery, garlic (if using), season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute until fragrant in medium-heat, increase the heat to high and add the ground turkey. Add the chili powder, cumin, and the teaspoon of salt. Cook until the meat is golden at spots, at the canned tomatoes with their liquid and simmer for 10 minutes, pan covered, in low-heat. Remove the lid and let the excess moisture evaporate. Add the cilantro. Reserve to cool.

Prepare the poblanos. Cut their tops, carefully scoop out seeds. Spray olive oil and place them in the air-fryer, cut side down. Cook for about 5 minutes at the highest temperature your fryer reaches (mine is 390F). When the skin blisters at points, they are done.

When poblanos and meat are ready and cool enough to handle, fill the poblanos 3/4 of the volume, then add pieces of Panela cheese on top.

Air-fry for about 12 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know if home-grown poblanos might pack more heat than store-bought, but I can tell you that the few little seeds I left in them were spectacularly hot. As you can see from the picture, our air-fryer was not even half full with the filled peppers, I was afraid it would make a mess during cooking, but everything turned out fine. I don’t have any container that would fit in the basket and keep the peppers standing up. It might also be easier with bigger poblanos, we wanted to use the average size from our backyard, and keep them more or less uniform.

It is hard to beat the speed and convenience of the air-fryer for this type of preparation. Everything browns nicely with just a small amount of oil. No frying, no dealing with leftover oil and the messy process of the coating with egg-flour. I admit it is not authentic, and many Mexicans will consider sending me hate mail… but it was really a delicious meal. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just use the oven at 425F, for a slightly longer time.

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TURKEY MEATLOAF

Here I am to share another recipe that tasted wonderful but would not be invited to participate in a Beauty Contest. Meatloaf is not easy on the eyes but this one in particular was a showstopper for the taste buds. Lower in carbs than most versions, because it relies on almond flour instead of breadcrumbs. Quite loaded with veggies. We both gave enthusiastic thumbs up, so ignore the looks. They are skin-deep, after all…

TURKEY MEATLOAF
(inspired by Life is But a Dish)

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 large carrots)
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach (not baby spinach)
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper, ground

for glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl (minus the ingredients for the glaze). Using a fork or clean hands, mix until everything is fully incorporated.

Mix ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and reserve.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and pour meat onto pan. Use your hands to form into a loaf shape, trying to keep it level so it cooks evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove and brush glaze all over. Place back in the oven for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What do tomatoes and avocados have to do with the meatloaf? They were the side dish, and I absolutely must share the picture because the tomatoes came from our own backyard, thanks to the gardening efforts of the husband… Aren’t they gorgeous?

The meatloaf has a very delicate texture, and cooked perfectly in our small Breville oven, so there was no need to even heat the kitchen up. Leftovers were around for a couple of days and tasted as good if not better than the first time. I made it again the following week, and you know how it goes: for a food blogger, repeating a recipe right away is a huge endorsement. It goes to our regular rotation, a nice change from our default turkey burgers.

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TURKEY JALAPENO MEATBALLS

I’ve been playing with an ingredient that is quite likely very popular in many kitchens, but new to me. A bit embarrassed to admit, but here we go: pickled jalapenos. They are sold in big jars, cute slices of pepper swimming in a liquid that makes your tastebuds tingle. I may have developed a slight obsession. These meatballs are very light and super flavorful. Contrary to most recipes, you won’t have to brown them, but you can if you prefer. My method of choice is the pressure cooker, but I offer you other ways to cook them too. Just in case you are a pressure-phobe.

TURKEY-JALAPENO MEATBALLS
(inspired by The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book)

for the meatballs:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon brine liquid from pepper jar
cilantro leaves and stems (to taste, I like to use a lot)
1 + 1/2 pound ground turkey
½ cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the tomato sauce:
(you can also use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can crushed tomatoes with juices (28 oz)
2 shallots, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Add the jalapeno slices, the brine, the olive oil and the cilantro leaves into the bowl of a small food processor and process the mixture a few times. Add it to the ground turkey in a large bowl, together with all other ingredients for the meatballs. Mix with your hands without compressing the mixture too much. For into twelve large meatballs. Reserve in the fridge. Can be made hours in advance or even the day before.

Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker, add the shallots, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Add the crushed tomatoes. Place the meatballs on the sauce, if the sauce does not reach half the height of the meatballs, complete the volume with water. Lock the lid onto the pot. Set the pot over high heat and bring it to high pressure then cook for 10 minutes. Release the pressure and open the pan. If needed, reduce the sauce by simmering gently.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are serving these meatballs as an appetizer, I recommend that you make them smaller, and either fry them, air-fry them (about 12 min at 390F), or bake them. As an appetizer, I think they profit from a nice browned crust. But as a main course, I prefer to cook them straight in the sauce. The pressure cooker makes them perfect to my taste, but if you don’t own one you can make them in a crockpot set for 6 hours on low. Alternatively, you can simmer them on top of the stove, until they are fully cooked, but the sauce won’t have the same depth of flavor as the pressure cooker offers. Pressure cooking tames the spices a bit, so if you opt for another method, consider reducing a little bit the amount of pickled jalapenos you use.

I find them delicious next to a simple salad, but of course the traditional way would be alongside a nice helping of pasta. It will keep you satisfied, even if much lighter than the usual Italian style meatballs.

The best compliment a recipe gets in this kitchen is the husband saying “you must put this one in our regular rotation.” I fully agree. And I suspect the bottle of pickled jalapenos will have a dedicated spot in our fridge from now on.

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