Had a nice four days respite from cooking while traveling to the Bay Area with my Son, Joel, Daughter-In-Law, Nereida and my Grandson, Joey. We went up to visit my Granddaughter, Nesbyth and her boy friend and to attend a performance of the play that Nesbyth is performing in. The play is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy ‘Utopia’. The segment that they are doing now is called ‘The Voyage’.
While up in the Bay Area we found a wonderful Italian Deli in Berkeley that is like no other that I have ever been to. The lines were long, but the wait wasn’t. There were an ample number of employees to ensure that everyone was waited on in record time. The display of Italian Cold Cuts was so beautiful that it was hard to resist buying everything in sight. We ended up getting sandwiches for everyone (everybody had different ones) and several salads including an Artichoke Heart Salad and a Mozzarella/Tomato Salad plus a variety of Olives. We purchased so much food that we ended up eating some of it for lunch the next day.
In addition to the cold cuts, the Deli also had a variety of tortas and other cooked food as well as pizzas that you could order. On the way home from Berkeley, we stopped in Gilroy to purchase Garlic (a Braid and a small container of roasted garlic) and while we were there since it was close to dinnertime, had dinner there. Nereida and I chose a Chinese Noodle place (Joey stayed up in the Bay area for one more day and came home with a friend that had also gone up there) and Joel went to Dave’s Famous BBQ. The Chinese Noodle place turned out to be disappointing and we did not eat most of what we ordered.
For Breakfast the next day, I made up a batch of Crepes with caramelized Apple Filling. Those were quite good and went well with the Coffee that Nereida made.
Then it was time for me to go home (Son & family live in Lompoc). On the way I stopped at the Farmer’s Market and purchased some Baby Turnips and Young Carrots. When I got home, I turned the Turnips into Sunomono. (Sliced thinly and seasoned with Rice Vinegar, Salt and a little Sugar) For dinner that night (Sunday, April 1), we had Baby Back Ribs that I had frozen from the last time I had made them. (As always, there were too many and so they came in handy for this meal)
Monday, April 02, 2012 – back home and in the kitchen again. For dinner tonight I purchased Red Snapper Filets and seasoned them with Lemon Pepper and Lemon Salt along with a little Onion Salt. Then I lightly floured them, dipped them in an Egg Bath and then coated them with seasoned Bread Crumbs. (The Bread Crumbs were made from the ends of the Challah that I had made a couple of weeks ago. Just chopped up the bread scraps in the food processor and then froze them until needed.) I then refrigerated the filets until it was time to cook them for dinner. Refrigerating coated or breaded meats helps to keep the coating intact when you cook them.
The Red Snapper filets were very good and to accompany them we had baked potatoes and sautéed vegetables which included zucchini, mushrooms, carrots and onions. I also made Tartar Sauce to eat with the fish.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 – Today is Cleaning Day and it is one of the few days that I like to give the kitchen a rest. That is, keep it clean for one day. So we went out to eat at our local Japanese Restaurant and had Beef Teriyaki, California Roll along with a Salad & Miso Soup. A nice change from constant cooking.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 – Moroccan Meatballs and Israeli Couscous
These meatballs were a derivation from a Moroccan Lamb Kebob Recipe. I am going to teach a class at a local school that has no kitchen facilities for teaching, so I have to improvise with electric appliances. The Meatballs are a much simpler item to do than lamb Kebobs which would include grilling. Used the Middle Eastern spices to flavor the meat and the tomato sauce that I served with it.
The Couscous was made with Shitake Mushrooms and Onions. Also made Flat Bread to go along with the meals as well as Hummus that was flavored with Cilantro.
Also made Chocolate Chip Cookies to satisfy Ev’s Chocolate Cravings.
Thursday, April 05, 2012 – Shrimp Salad and Mac and Cheese was on the Menu this night. Ev wanted Pasta to go with the Salad and I do not like Pasta Salads very much so decided to make Mac & Cheese to go along with the Shrimp Salad. The Salad consisted of a variety of Artisan Lettuce, Cucumbers, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers and the Shrimp along with a Sesame version of Thousand Island Dressing.
The Mac and Cheese was made with Orichetti, the Italian Pasta known as ears. The Cheese Sauce was made with Colby/Jack and Gouda. Gouda helps to make the Cheese Sauce very Creamy. It was very good and there enough left over for Ev to eat for lunch the next day.
Since today was National Caramel Day, I also made some Cashew Caramel. To make the Caramel, I heated some granulated sugar in a medium fring pan until it liquified and then I added a small amount of heavy cream. Once the Cream was blended in, I then added the Cashews (roasted, salted ones). Once all the Cashews were covered with the Caramel, I poured the mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet that was placed on a cookie sheet. The mixture was then allowed to set up. If you love Caramel and Cashews as I do, then this is a very good confection to have.
Friday, April 06, 2012 – Red Chicken – found this recipe in one of the food magazines. Red Cooking comes from a region in China and includes the use of Mushroom Soy which is the essential flavoring in it. We found it to be a little too salty and would probably do again with have the amount of the Mushroom Soy and perhaps substitute a lite Soy for that half of the Mushroom Soy. Served this with Rice Noodles and Turnip Sunomono.
Saturday, April 07, 2012 – Crab Legs with drawn Butter, Carrot Salad and Baby Red Potatoes. Yummy! A very good dinner!
Couscous. (Grain) As one can see, we also managed to include more vegetables in both the meat and poultry menus. The Roast Chicken was an easy version with the chicken being marinated for several hours and then baked at very high heat for a short period of time. This gave us a juicy chicken with a very crisp outer covering. (skin) The chicken was enjoyed by everyone. The second recipe was cacciatore and contained tomatoes and is Italian in origin. The Jambalaya has its origins in the Southern United States and maybe goes even further back to Africa. The turkey pot pies were made with turkey breast which allowed a short baking time. The pot pies can also be made with thighs which would probably be more flavorful, but there was also a time constriction. The Sweet Potato Risotto, Polenta and Couscous were very well received. There was so much to eat that the students took their Turkey Pot Pies home as we made individual ones.
Even though meatloaf has long been a mainstay in the American diet, it has its origins in Europe. The Romans as early as the 5th Century had a version of meatloaf. Every European country as well as the Philippines seems to have its own version. Meatloaf is versatile, filling, nourishing and makes great sandwiches.
Meatloaf can be made from a variety of meats and can include a large number of other ingredients as well. The basic ingredients would be chopped or ground meat and depending on the origin this could include beef, pork, veal, lamb or venison. Today it is common to use ground turkey or chicken as well. A binder such as eggs is used to hold the meat together and usually a filler such as bread crumbs, matzoh meal or oatmeal is used. Salt, pepper, mustard and/or A-1 Sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce or horseradish can also be used.
In addition to the meat, binder and filler, a variety of vegetables can also be used to give the meatloaf more interest and nutrition. For my meatloaf I use chopped onion, shredded carrot, diced celery, minced red & yellow bell peppers as well as parsley and garlic and sometimes basil. For the seasoning, I use salt, pepper and mustard. Some people like to use hard-cooked eggs baked into the loaf and this does allow for more interest, but the loaf is much easier to slice without the addition of th eggs. When I make meatloaf, I always make twice as much as we are going to need. One loaf is baked for dinner with enough left over for sandwiches and the other loaf is frozen for a later date. I always freeze it unbaked so that we have a freshly baked loaf when we get around to using the second one. Another thing you can do with the half batch to freeze is to shape the mixture into meatballs and use it for an entirely different different such as Spaghetti and Meatballs or Meatball Stroganoff.
Meatloaf can be baked in a loaf pan, but better results are obtained if the loaf is free formed and then put in a baking pan. This allows the juices and fat to be released without collecting on the sides of the loaf. If desired, when the meatloaf is finished baking, it can be transferred to a serving dish and then gravy can be made from the drippings. The meatloaf gravy can be used for another dinner for hot meatloaf sandwiches.
Our menu tonight included meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a green salad with a lemon/vinaigrette. The leftover meatloaf will be made into cold sandwiches with pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts.
The next time you make meatloaf try using your imagination and pleasing your tastebuds. You can do just about anything you want. One variation is baking the meatloaf with strips of bacon on top. This will give an additional flavor boost if you like the taste of bacon. Youo can also try using soy sauce, cilantro and ginger for an Asian flavor. Cooked or minute rice can be used instead of the oatmeal or bread crumbs. Whichever way you do it, enjoy!
There is nothing like really good Italian Meatballs, bursting with the flavor of garlic, onions and herbs and made light and fluffy with the use of eggs.
To make your own Meatballs you will need just a few ingredients. First of all you need the meat (ground beef is my favorite – lean – but some people prefer turkey or chicken or a combination of beef, veal and pork.) For every pound of beef you will need:
- 3 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper
- 3 Tbsps. Romano Cheese
- 1 Tbsp. minced Parsley
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well by squeezing the ingredients together with your hands. (You may wear plastic gloves if you so desire) Be sure that all the ingredients are evenly combined and well mixed.
Shape the meat mixture into golf ball size portions (using a #20 or 30 food scoop works really well) If you are using the scoop, scoop each portion first and place on an oiled tray. Then moisten your hands with cold water and finish shaping the meat into round balls.
There are two methods of cooking:
I – Place the Meatballs on a foil lined jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 20 minutes. Finish cooking them in the sauce of your choice.
II – Heat about 1/4 cup of Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium high heat; add the meatballs to the hot oil and cook until brown on the cooked side. Gently turn over and cook on the other side. Remove from the skillet and blot on paper towels, then add to the sauce of your choice.
To see the meatballs sizzling please check out Youtube.
You can make the meatballs early in the day and refrigerate until you are ready to add them to the sauce.
The quantities above will yield approximately 12 – 15 meatballs.
For our Spaghetti and Meatball dinner I made a mushroom sauce with onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. I used plenty of fresh Basil and about 1-2 tsps. dried Oregano. You can use any kind of pasta that you like but tonight I went traditional and used De Cecco Spaghetti. A mixed green salad and garlic/cheese bread finished off the meal along with mango iced tea.
The wind is blowing, the rain is falling and the temperature is dropping. This is the time when we want hot, tasty food, and if it is easy to prepare that makes it all the better. For busy Mothers and Career Women alike, this dish will hit the spot. It can be prepared for family meals or in larger quantities for casual dinner parties. If you are a single or a couple it can easily be altered for more than one meal.