Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pork Balls in a Creamy Pasta Sauce [Tom]

Did you ever just want some pasta. Well it was my day off and and had a craving. It is funny when I think back, my Mom would say I have a wollie for such and such a food. I took that to mean a craving.
Sorry no way to explain. But I had a wollie for some pasta and some meat but not red sauce.

So, here we go. I had an idea and went with it. It turned out pretty good. Well at least June said it was good.

This recipe is for Four
Accompany with a salad or some garlic bread or both
So we can get on with this, Yes.

Pork Balls

1 ~ lb Ground Pork
6 ~ 8 Leaves of finely chopped Fresh Basil
2 ~ Cloves of minced Garlic
4 ~ Teaspoons grated Parmesian Cheese
~ Salt and Pepper

In a bowl mix all the ingredients well.
Roll by hand 1" to 1 1/4" balls.
1 lb will make 20 to 24 balls

Place balls in a steamer turn once or twice until balls are whiteish in color. Cook for about 6 minutes.
Set aside.

The Pasta

I used Linguini but I feel Penne would be good too.

1/2 ~ lb Pasta
5 ~ sprigs Chives cut into 1/2" lenghts

The Sauce

2 ~ tbspns Butter
3/4 ~ cup Half and Half
1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of each Parmesian and Romano cheeses mixed
1/4 cup of whipped Cream Cheese

Place a pan with water on the range to boil for the Pasta

On medium heat place Butter in a large sauce pan to melt
Add the Half and Half, Cream Cheese and Cheese mixture
Wisk the mixture until smooth.
Lower the heat and add the Pork balls and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes

Drain cooked Pasta and place into the cream mixture and toss to coat the Pasta

Plate and top with the Chives.
I tossed some torn Basil Leaves on top too

Buon Appetito

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hoisin-Glazed Roasted Carrots [Zack]

A few of our friends decided that they were having an outdoor fish bake in January.  This idea would usually be met with skepticism (due to the snow outside), but we were on board immediately!  Hey, the grill is a heat source!

In our attempt to be good friends, we offered to bring over a vegetable side dish.  We originally wanted to make a roasted hoisin eggplant side, but the grocery store gods said "nay."  Instead, we found some fun looking mini carrots with parts of the green stem left on (for nice presentation.)

Not being one to cry over spilled hoisin sauce, we made the carrots and they paired perfectly with the fish.  The carrots were tangy, spicy, and a touch sweet and played nicely with the delicate fish.


Pre-heat your oven to 400F / 200C.  Wash and peel the carrots.  Place them in a large baking dish along with 1T of butter and 1T of sesame oil.  Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes too cook them through.

While that's going, start a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Peel and dice the ginger, garlic, and birdseye chiles.  Saute the stuff you just diced in 1tsp of sesame oil.  Once they have softened a bit, add in the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and honey.  Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.

Remove the carrots from the oven and give them a stir with a spatula.  Brush the carrots with the glaze, coating them evenly.

Place the baking dish back into the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the glaze has caramelized.  Serve as a side and enjoy!

1 lb carrots, peeled
1T butter
1T sesame oil

1 tsp sesame oil
4T oyster sauce
2T hoisin sauce
2T minced ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 birdseye chiles (or 1 if you don't like it too spicy!)
1tsp vinegar
2T honey

Funky carrot jams: Gramatik - Make You Better
Make You Better by Gramatik on Grooveshark

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Roasted Eggplant with Olive and Red Pepper Tapenade [Zack]

Lauren and I love roasted eggplant (or aubergine for you Europeans).  The texture and flavor make it a great substitute for meat if you are trying to do the "Meatless Monday" thing.

This recipe is very simple - it takes you less than 5 minutes of active cooking time.  You'll cross-hatch and roast the eggplant for flavor, then add more flavor on top and finish it in the oven.  You can even pre-make these a few days before a dinner party and then throw them back into the oven to finish.

These roasted eggplant halves work great as a healthy side dish to accompany a wintery meal, or they can be the star of the show if you serve them with a simple salad.


First, heat up your oven to 400F / 200C.  Wash your eggplants, remove the top, and slice them in 1/2 longways.  With a sharp knife, cut into the flesh of the eggplant about 1 inch deep, keeping the skin intact.

Then, place the halves on a baking dish and rub them with a light amount of olive oil.  No real need to salt the eggplant as the olive tapenade contains salt.  Place them in the oven, cross-hatched side up and roast until they develop a nice browned surface and have softened throughout.  It should take about 15-20 minutes.

While this is going, mix together your equal amounts of olive tapenade, and roasted red pepper tapenade in a bowl.  Once the eggplant comes out, spoon the mixture over the cut side and work it into the crevices.

It is now ready to go back into the oven to develop some color on the tapenade and to heat everything through.  It should take another 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with some fresh parsley and serve!

  • eggplants, halved

(per eggplant)
  • 1T green olive tapenade
  • 1T roasted red pepper tapenade
  • freshly minced parsley

Creativity options:
  • top the tapenades with breadcrumbs and a brushing of olive oil for a nice crunch
  • mix in some goat cheese
  • add 1/4 minced anchovy filet and a few minced capers into the tapenade for a depth of flavor
  • you can even substitute some pulled pork or pulled beef for the tapenades, adding cheese and a nice cumin-y thick tomato sauce.

Song to cross-hatch to:  James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream
The Wilhelm Scream by James Blake on Grooveshark

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mr. K's Smokey Bull Shot [Mike]

Cold enough for yah? Here's a drink that will warm you right down to your toes. Mike's Smokey Bull Shot is made from the classic Bloody Mary recipe, but instead of tomato juice, you use heated beef broth (Campbell's). The Bloody Mary is a cocktail that’s been around since 1921. Also known as “hair of the dog,” it’s an alcoholic beverage consumed as a hangover cure.

The Bull Shot is more of a comfort drink. After all these years the basic recipe hasn’t changed much. The main ingredients: vodka, beef broth, Worcestershire, a dark mustard, tabasco sauce, salt & pepper. A stalk of celery and a wedge of lemon top it off. I use Smirnoff Vodka, because in New York Times taste tests, it always comes up number one.

There are several ways to make a Bull Shot your own--I discovered that by using a dash of liquid smoke, which makes it extra special. If you love ice fishing, skating on a pond, a football game in Buffalo or you're in the Polar Bear Club going for a swim at Coney Island, the Bull Shot will warm your spirit.



1 oz SMIRNOFF (or whatever vodka you have on hand)
4 oz Beef Broth (Campbells)
.5 oz Worcestershire Sauce
.25 oz Tabasco Sauce
Pinch salt+pepper
Dash of celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
Lemon Slice
Celery Stalk
Dash of Liquid Smoke

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Poached Egg Over A Tangy Spinach and Buttermilk Sauce [Zack]

We went to a really inventive restaurant in Valencia named Joaquin Schmidt. The concept was really cool – the cook/owner/server answered the doorbell to let us into the restaurant. Everything was made to simulate a dinner party-type experience instead of a formal restaurant. The guy was a sport and played along with our miserable pigeon Spanish.

The meal was great – very inventive and intelligently done. We were not given a choice of what was being served, and we chose to have him fill us in on what we ate after we finished the plates. It was a total blast. To start, we had 3 different types of caviar with a bendy straw filled with jellied vermouth to cleanse the palate. The meal progressed with fun surprises until we had a dish that was really great. The presentation was all in white: all that was visible was a white sauce and a fluffy mound of pecorino cheese that was almost floating. Underneath the cheese was a perfectly poached egg and a tangy and savory buttermilk sauce. We all loved the simplicity and beauty of the dish.

I went home determined to re-create it. I think I got very close, but in a last-minute call, I wanted some more body in the sauce, so I added some frozen spinach. The result was a great brunch item, or good entree into a meal.


Here is a picture of everything you will need:

Get a large pot of water simmering.  It's important to use a big pot because you'll be swirling the water for your poached egg and the smaller pots lose momentum too easily.  Oh, and you swirl the water so your raw egg swirls around itself and stays consolidated in the water.

Put your frozen (or fresh) spinach into a sauce pan with a pad of butter.  Cook until the spinach has wilted down.

Next, add your chicken stock and buttermilk into the same sauce pan.  The proportions are up to you - if you want it more tangy, use more buttermilk.  If you want it deeper in flavor, use a bit more chicken stock.

If you want, you can use an immersion blender to put the sauce in a uniform texture.

Grate some pecorino cheese with a microplane and put it into the sauce to thicken it up.

Once your water is nicely simmering, turn down the heat to medium-low so you don't end up just boiling the egg.  Add a dash of vinegar (supposedly it helps keep the egg together, I haven't tested this, but I believe everything I read on the internet) and then crack one egg into a small bowl.  If you tried to crack the egg directly into the water, it would be much more difficult.

Swirl the water around in one direction.  Clockwise is definitely the best (good joke Zack).  Quickly and gently slide the egg in the center of the swirl and watch it curl around itself.

It's important to let the egg do its thing.  If you mess with it, it will get messy!

To distract yourself so you don't touch the egg, start plating your sauce and finish grating a good mound of pecorino.  Just cover the bottom of your plate with the sauce.

After about 4 minutes, gently take the egg out and place it in the sauce.

Hide the egg under a big mound of pecorino and serve with a piece of toasted bread.

Sauce (makes ~4 servings)
about 5T pecorino cheese, grated with a micro-plane
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
2 blocks of frozen spinach (or 3 cups of fresh spinach)
1 cup buttermilk

4 eggs
2 T of grated pecorino to top the egg
toasted and buttered bread

Song:  Massive Attack - Paradise Circus
Paradise Circus by Massive Attack on Grooveshark

Friday, January 4, 2013

Luscious Lemon Squares [Rhonda]

If you've made New Year's resolutions to watch calories and eat healthy things, as most of us have, you'll want to indulge in just one of these lemon squares after your garden-salad-dinner-with-dressing-on-the-side. These lemon squares are totally worth an extra ten minutes on the treadmill. The soft and buttery crust is over-the-top delicious, and a kiss of lemon juice makes them all tangy and fresh.

Ingredients and directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together:
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Add and combine:
1/2 cup melted butter

Press the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch greased baking pan and bake 20 minutes.

Meanwhile combine:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
(can add 1/2 cup flaked coconut...cut back a little on the sugar if you do)

Pour these ingredients over the baked warm crust and bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on wire racks. Before serving, cut into 2-inch squares and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
(Makes 16 squares)

Suggested soundtrack: Diana Krall's "Look of Love." Mmmmm.....
The Look of Love by Diana Krall on Grooveshark

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Caramelized Pressure Cooker Carrot and Parsnip Soup [Zack]

I'm not sure - this new pressure cooker soup may flat-out tie the pressure cooker chicken stock recipe in terms of life-changers. While originally shopping for a pressure cooker (with Gita), I thought I was only going to be making Indian food in it. A lot of the recipes involved toasting spices, pressure cooking veggies for a certain number of pressure "hisses", and then enjoying a hot and spicy meal.

But once I got comfortable using the pressure cooker, I started reading about how the cooker could speed up the cooking times of a multitude of different recipes. The next logical step (to me) was to start experimenting with making teriyaki beef short ribs. They turned out great, and the cooking device mimicked a multiple-hour braise in the oven in about 45 minutes. Next, I graduated to chicken stock (which takes 45 minutes instead of 3.5 hours to make).

Modernist Cuisine (a bad-ace cookbook that combines science and cooking and beautiful cross-section photography) wrote a recipe for making caramelized carrot soup in a pressure cooker.  I tried a dumbed-down version of their recipe and it was different than any other soup I've ever made before.  The texture was impossibly smooth and it had a nice deep flavor.

If you have a pressure cooker, give this a shot.  You have nothing to lose!


Start by organizing your ingredients and peeling the carrots and parsnips.

Next, slice the carrots and parsnips into 1/4 inch chunks.  Also peel and halve your shallots and garlic.

Melt the butter and add it to the pressure cooker over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the peeled and halved shallots.

Saute for a brief few minutes to develop some color.  Next, add in the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat with the butter.  Dump in your 1/2 tsp of baking soda and your 1/2 cup of liquid.

Close the lid of the pressure cooker according to your manufacturer's directions and let it cook for 15 minutes once you hear your first "hiss".

Once the 15 minutes are up, depressurize the pressure cooker under cold tap water.

Remove the lid and you should see nice, soft veggies.  You can also see some caramelization on the bottom of the pot.

Add in your 2 cups of chicken stock (or water), and blend with a stick blender.  Make sure to scrape up all of the flavor goodies at the bottom of the pot.

The soup should be silky and flavorful.  Adjust for salt and seasonings and serve!  I used my Gitadini Stacko Serving Stand to present it, along with 2 other soups :)

3 large parsnips
3 large carrots
3 shallots
3 garlic cloves
3 T butter (1/3 of a stick)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup water
2 cups chicken stock (or water for all-veg)

Creativity options:

  • Add ginger
  • Use any root vegetables (pumpkin rocks)
  • Add cloves, cinnamon, etc
  • Add cumin
  • Stir in something naughty to finish off the soup:  heavy cream, coconut cream, sour cream

Song to make smooth soup love to:  Alicia Keys and Maxwell:  The Fire We Make
Fire We Make (Ft. Maxwell) by Alicia Keys on Grooveshark