Showing posts with label matzo meal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label matzo meal. Show all posts

April 23, 2014

Ham Croquettes



Ingredients:
2 cups small dice ham*
1 small onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten**
3/4 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal

Directions:

Melt butter in a pan, add oil and heat through. Add the ham, onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 8 or until firm.

Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large skillet. Place the egg and breadcrumbs/matzo meal in separate shallow bowls. Form the dough into 2 inch by 1/2 inch logs. Dip in egg then dredge in crumbs. Fry, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve immediately.

*I diced leftover sliced ham so my "cubes" were on the flatter side. Whole or sliced (not deli) ham would work.
**I actually used some egg yolk leftover from making macarons but either would work.



My thoughts:
Why don't we eat more croquettes in this country? When we were in Belgium, I ate a ton of croquettes aux crevettes (shrimp croquettes) and in planning our upcoming trip to Portugal, it looks like Lisbon is lousy with beef croquettes (croquetes). Occasionally we might make a fish cake but they aren't as fun as the little log-shaped croquettes that are so abundant elsewhere. I'd like to change that. I made these using leftover spiral-sliced ham and just onion and garlic but they were super flavorful and surprisingly easy. When we went to a cooking class in Brugge, the chef showed us how to make croquettes aux crevettes but he had a big pan of flour and milk paste ready to go so all you needed to do was scoop some out and mix in the shrimp. That really isn't practical for the home cook so I came up with this recipe which makes the "paste" on the stove trapping the ham inside. The croquette is a delight; crisp on the outside, melty and warm on the inside.

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December 12, 2012

Potato-Rutabaga Horseradish Latkes


Ingredients:
4 cups grated Russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups grated rutabaga
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil
Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, spices, horseradish and the matzo meal. Add potato, rutabaga and onion. Toss to combine. Form into flat patties. Fry in hot oil, flipping half way through, until just golden. Drain on paper towel lined plates.
Yield: about a dozen latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
You have to love a holiday that encourages the making and eating of fried foods. So yesterday we lit the candles, turned on the stove and fried up some latkes. The last few Hanukkahs I've pulled out the mandolin to shred the potatoes but this year I went old school and used the box grater. It really works well. If your potatoes weep a lot, drain them and pat them dry before frying.

Rutabaga naturally shreds finely and was easy to evenly distribute in the potato mixture. It also adds a bit of crunch and a peppery taste. I love horseradish so I threw some of that in too. It gave some zip without being overpowering. We enjoyed them with sour cream.

October 05, 2012

Apple Butter Glazed Turkey Meatloaf



Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey thighs
8 oz apple butter
1 egg, beaten
2/3-3/4 cup matzo meal
1 shallot, grated
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon allspice
salt
pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, egg, matzo meal, shallot, spices and 2 tablespoons of the apple butter. Form into a loaf. Place in a loaf pan (or, preferably, a meatloaf pan). Brush the top with the remaining apple butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Wait a few minutes before slicing.


My thoughts:
I always get a lot of questions about how to use apple butter once you've made your own or bought a jar. Honestly, most of the time we just have it on sandwiches but I did make a great cheesecake with it once and a really yummy, versatile barbecue sauce. This year I thought I'd try something even more savory and thought it would pair wonderfully with turkey. I knew it was going to be a winner when even the raw meat mixture smelled really, really good. It is a moist but not crumbly meatloaf thanks to the turkey thighs and apple butter glaze that  helped seal in the the juices. I hate dried out meatloaf! The leftovers make awesome sandwiches. If you have any.

April 06, 2012

Pan-fried Turkey Sage Scotch Eggs



Ingredients:
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 3/4 lb bulk turkey sage sausage
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup matzo meal

canola oil

Directions:
Place the beaten egg in a shallow dish. Place the matzo meal in a separate dish. Set aside. Heat 1 inch in a skillet.

Separate the sausage into 12 equal portions. Form each into a 1/4 inch thick patty. Place the egg in the center of each sausage. Wrap the sausage completely around the egg. Dip in beaten egg then dredge in crumbs. Fry the eggs in batches, turning frequently, until browned on all sides.





Drain on paper towel-lined plates.



My thoughts:
I love the idea of Scotch eggs but when prepared traditionally, they are a bit heavy. So when I saw turkey sausage at the store, I know I had to try a "lighter" version. Rather than deep frying, I fried them in a shallow bit of oil. It was a bit more hands-on than just dropping them into a vat of oil because I had to turn them frequently but it wasn't more difficult. The result? Flavorful, less heavy Scotch eggs!

February 13, 2012

Italian Inspired Turkey Meatloaf with a Tomato-Balsamic Glaze



Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 lb ground turkey thighs
14 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 egg
1 tablespoon minced green olives (or olive spread)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup matzo meal
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, egg, olives, matzo meal, onion, garlic and spices. Form into a loaf. Place in a loaf pan (or, preferably, a meatloaf pan. Whisk together the tomato paste and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Brush over meatloaf. Bake for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Allow to sit 2-3 minutes prior to slicing.


My thoughts:
I love using ground turkey thighs in meatloaf because it is more flavorful than ground turkey breast but still much leaner than beef. The tomatoes added a lot of flavor and the glaze sealed in the moisture. A great yet simple change from the every day meatloaf.

October 10, 2011

Eggplant Fingers with Hummus-Labne Dipping Sauce



Ingredients:
3 Italian eggplants, cut into planks
1-2 cup(s) matzo meal
1/2-1 tablespoon hot Mexican chile powder
2 eggs, beaten
salt
freshly ground black pepper

dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons hummus, at room temperature*
3 tablespoons labne, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Ingredients:
Pour the egg into a shallow bowl. Then mix together the matzo meal and the spices in a second shallow bowl. Coat both sides of each eggplant slice in egg, then dip both sides in the matzo meal. Heat about a 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet.




Fry each plank in the hot oil, about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. If frying in batches, keep the cooked eggplant in the oven at 200 until ready to eat.


Stir together the dip ingredients. Serve the dip at room temperature and the eggplant very hot.

*I actually just used some Mediterranean style hummus by Tribe and not homemade. Just make sure you use really smooth hummus or the sauce is a little less dippable.

My thoughts:
For some reason, I had the biggest urge to make fried eggplant. I know a lot of people say that eggplant absorbs the oil but it really doesn't if your oil is hot enough. I always test by sticking the point of a chopstick into the oil. When small bubbles run up the sides of the chopstick, the oil is ready. Then, unless you lower the temperature, your eggplant will fry but not be greasy at all. In fact, it will be crisp on the outside and velvety smooth on the inside.

August 01, 2011

Eggplant & Rapini Meatball Subs


Ingredients:

for the meatballs:
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, grated
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 egg
salt
pepper

for the eggplant:
2 small graffiti eggplants, striped* and sliced in 1/4 inch wide slices
1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 egg, beaten

for the rapini:
1 bunch rapini, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 shallot minced

sauce:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped olives
1 teaspoon mayonnaise

4 Italian rolls


Ingredients:
Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Refrigerate until use. Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium sized bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients. With a gentle hand, combine all ingredients and form into 1 to 2 inch meatballs. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place egg into a shallow bowl. Then mix together the matzo meal and the parsley in a second shallow bowl. Coat both sides of each eggplant slice in egg, then dip both sides in the matzo meal. Heat about a 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet. I suggest coating all of the slices and stacking them on a plate so they are ready for frying before you fry your first batch. Fry each slice in the hot oil, about 3 minutes on each side, until golden.

Saute the rapini, garlic and shallot in olive oil.

*I make vertical stripes using the peeler, leaving some stripes of skin on.
My thoughts:
This seems like an insane amount of work for what is basically a sandwich but it is worth it, I swear. The meatballs bake for roughly the same time it takes to fry the eggplant so everything is hot, crisp and delicious at the same time. Everything just blends together into the best, most flavorful hot sandwich I've ever had.

April 22, 2011

Cast Iron Skillet Potato Kugel

Ingredients:
3 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, grated and drained
3 jalapenos, diced
2 onions, sliced
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/3 cup matzo meal
salt
freshly ground black pepper

canola oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.  Saute the onion and peppers in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Pour into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden. Slice and serve.

Note: Potato starch and Matzo meal are sold year round but they are especially easy to find (and often on sale) right now because of Passover. I always stock up for the rest of the year, they always have great expiration dates.

My thoughts:
I love the idea of kugel but I am always disappointed. They always seem to end up gummy or mushy instead of creamy or not crispy enough at all. I was trying to think of a good way to get a very crispy outside while still preserving a creamy inside when I thought of my cast iron skillet. It worked perfectly. I wanted it to go with my Tex Mex pot roast so I threw some peppers in with the onions for some punch and sauteed them both to bring out their flavor. Because I used my cast iron skillet, it was super crispy on all sides and the top browned up wonderfully as well. Honestly, I can't put into words how much we liked this! We ate almost the entire pan of it in two days. Shameful, really.

March 02, 2011

Oyster Po'Boy

Ingredients:
16 oz raw, shucked oysters
1-2 cups matzo meal
1 cup superfine flour (like Wondra)
1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
hot sauce*
2 eggs, beaten

hot sauce romulade
2 pickle spears, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 teaspoon worchesetershire sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce*
salt
pepper

4 hoagie rolls
1 tomato, sliced
1 leaves Romaine lettuce

canola oil (for frying)

*I used my favorite classic style red hot sauce

Directions:

Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Heat about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a large, shallow skillet, enough to cover the oysters. Meanwhile pour the egg, flour and matzo meal into separate shallow bowls. Stir the hot sauce into the eggs. Stir the the spices to the matzo meal. Stir a few drops of hot sauce into the egg. Dredge each oyster in the flour, then in the egg then the matzo meal. Drop the oysters into the hot oil, taking care that they do not overlap or they will stick together. Cook until golden on all sides, about 1-2 minutes. They should float to the top when ready and may not need to be flipped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place on a split hoagie roll that has been lined with lettuce and tomato and spread with sauce.
My thoughts:
Is there a better sandwich than the oyster po'boy? I am not sure. I like them with a bit of a pickle-y sauce. This time I added hot sauce to the sauce vs. drizzling it on top and I really liked it because the oysters seemed to stay crisper.

Matzo meal is slightly untradtional but makes for super crispy oysters and is easily found at grocery stores, especially as we move closer to Passover. Cornmeal is pretty good too but depending on the brand, it can taste too corn-y and overwhelm the oysters. Regular bread crumbs would work too.

December 22, 2010

Spicy Fried Oysters


Ingredients:
16 oz shucked, raw "frying size" oysters
2/3 cup Instant Blending Flour
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 tablespoons garlic-habanero hot sauce*
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle
salt
freshly ground black pepper

canola oil for frying

Directions:
Pour the oysters in a small bowl. Douse in hot sauce. Allow to soak for 10 minutes or up to one hour in the fridge. Meanwhile pour the egg, flour and breadcrumbs into separate shallow bowls. Stir the the spices to the breadcrumbs. Beat some hot sauce into the egg if desired. Heat about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a large, shallow skillet, enough to cover the oysters.

Dredge each oyster in the flour, then in the egg then the seasoned bread crumbs. Drop the oysters into the hot oil, taking care that they do not overlap or they will stick together. Cook until golden on all sides, just a minute or so. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

*I used the yummy Miss Anna's that I bought in St. Croix but any garlic-y habanero sauce would work.

My thoughts:

I love oysters very much. Growing up, once a year my mom and grandpop would pick up a huge order of fried oysters from a local seafood shop and we'd have a feast of oysters just barely garnished with coleslaw and cocktail sauce. It was the culinary high light of my year even when I was quite young, even under age five or so. Despite our love of oysters, I don't think it ever occurred to my family to fry our our own. It wasn't until I was off on my own that I realized how easily (and cheaply!) it was to find local frying oysters. Normally I just fry them dredged in matzo meal or bread crumbs but these time I decided to branch out and make a spicier version that had no need of a sauce. I was worried the oysters' flavor would be overpowered by the spices but it really wasn't. Each bite was crispy then spicy then very oyster-y. Fried seafood perfection! We had these for dinner straight but I think they'd be great in po boys or even as an appetizer.

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March 01, 2010

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks with Herbed Tomato Sauce



Ingredients:
For the mozzarella sticks:
9 oz package low moisture mozzarella sticks*
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
salt
pepper

For the sauce:
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced oregano
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
For the mozzarella sticks: Pour the eggs into a shallow bowl. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow bowl and stir in the spices. Dip each stick into the egg then the bread crumbs then into the egg and then the crumbs again. Arrange the double coated mozzarella sticks in a single layer on a tray or plate. Cover loosely in foil. Refrigerate one hour or until the sticks are very cold. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet. Fry 1-2 minutes on each side, turning once. If frying in batches, keep the sticks in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use them. If you have problems with cheese oozing out during the frying process, roll them in bread crumbs again prior to frying. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

For the sauce: While the mozzarella sticks are being refrigerated, start the sauce. Heat the olive in a saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and cook through.


*I don't normally buy mozzarella sticks (aka string cheese) but the package I had was a lower fat variety and there were 12, .75 oz, sticks in the package. You could also cut a block of low moisture mozzarella into sticks.

Note: If you'd rather bake than fry, bake the sticks for 7 minutes in single layer on a baking sheet at 350.

My thoughts:
I hadn't given fried mozzarella sticks a thought until I was at a show and a friend ordered some. How could I forgotten that melty cheesy goodness? I immediately thought about how I could make them at home. I knew I couldn't use the fresh mozzarella I buy at the Italian store because of its high moisture content so I went to the grocery store to buy a block of the packaged stuff when I noticed the packages of individually wrapped mozzarella "string cheese" sticks. While I try to avoid buying things that come in that much packaging, I did think it would give me more uniform results so I went ahead and used them. The ones I used were fairly short which made them perfect for use right out of the bag. If you buy snack sized mozzarella sticks that are fairly long, you might need to cut them in half. If the sticks are too long it is difficult to lift them out of the pan without bending which cracks the crust and allows the cheese to ooze out.

Mozzarella sticks can be sort of bland so I used plenty of dried (to keep the moisture level down) herbs in my plain matzo meal for zesty flavor. I double dipped the sticks to insure that no part of the cheese peeked out, which is essential. If any cheese is exposed, it will ooze in the pan and create a huge mess. Not appealing. But don't let that discourage you from making mozzarella sticks, it really wasn't difficult at all, it was just a matter of finding the right technique. Chilling the cheese keeps it from melting before the crumbs turn golden and pretty much insures a excellent finished product. Anyway, for a little bit of effort you can make homemade mozzarella sticks which are more flavorful and fresher than anything you'd be likely to encounter out.

December 14, 2009

Smoked Salmon & Green Onion Latkes


Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, grated
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup minced smoked salmon (lox)
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup finely minced green onion (green parts only)

canola oil

Directions:
In a large pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil. In a large bowl, toss all of the igredients together to combine.



Form into flat patties. Fry in hot oil, flipping half way through, until just golden.



Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about a dozen latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
I love latkes. What is there not to love about a crispy, fried potato? Making them the exact same way year after year can be a bit boring however. This year I decided to add one of my absolute favorite foods, smoked salmon, to my latkes. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out but after a test latke was a rousing success, I made a whole batch. Crispy potato + freshness from the green onion + smoky flavor from the salmon = best latkes ever. They are exceptionally good when eaten with sour cream, which really brings out the flavor of the smoked salmon.

A quick note about methods:
For this year's latkes I once again used my mandoline which made great, long, thin strips that cooked quickly and gave off very little liquid. That said, you don't need a mandoline to make great latkes, a box grater works fine. I don't recommend (as some do) using a food processor to grate the potatoes, it breaks down the starches and gives the latkes a gluey consistency.

October 08, 2009

Smoked Gouda & Ham Jalapeño Poppers




Ingredients:
10 large jalapeño peppers
1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten

filling
4 oz soft goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda
1/4 cup diced smoked (lean) ham
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle

Directions:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Mash all of the filling ingredients together until fairly smooth and the ingredients are well distributed. Slice the peppers in half or cut a slit down the middle of one side of the pepper and leave it whole.



Remove the seeds. Fill with filling mixture.



Dredge each popper in the flour, dip into the egg, then dredge in the matzo meal or crumbs to coat.





Place in a single layer, cut side up, on the lined baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden and the pepper is hot all the way through, about 30 minutes.

My thoughts:
I have to admit that until I made these, I had never actually had a jalapeño popper. The few times I have seen them listed on menus, they are always fried. While I do love fried foods (who doesn't?)the idea of frying something that is stuffed with that much cheese makes me feel a little queasy. So I thought I'd try my hand at this gourmet-ish baked version. I know they are typically stuffed with little more than a mixture of cheeses (and maybe a bit of crab or bacon) but I thought a bit of ham would be fun and help cut the heat a bit. I love smoky flavors so I went all out using smoky spices (and cheese! and ham!) but it all melded together and was a great contrast to the creamy goat cheese and straight up hot jalapeño. The poppers tasted almost grilled which took the sting out of them being baked rather than fried. They are just as crispy outside and gooey inside as they would have been fried (I admit, I did a test fried popper to compare and contrast) but not as heavy tasting.



Note: If you really want heat, look for peppers at your local farmers market. The jalapeño peppers sold at regular supermarkets are often pack less heat than their local cousins.

February 20, 2009

Chicken-Spinach Meatball Pasta Bake



Ingredients:
1 lb shells, cooked to package instructions
10-12 oz ricotta
4 oz sliced fresh mozzarella

sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz canned ground tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano or Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons olive oil


meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano or Italian herb mix
1 egg or 2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese mixture ingredients. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and spices and simmer on low. In a bowl, knead together all of the meatball ingredients. Form into small meatballs. Place on a broiler pan and broil, turning once, until pretty much cooked through. Place the meatballs in the sauce and continue to simmer about 5 minutes. Toss the cooked pasta and the sauce together. Pour half of the mixture in a 13x9 baking dish. Dot with ricotta. Top with remaining sauce. Bake, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.





My thoughts:
This a meal that was sprung from the need to use up some ingredients. I picked up some ground chicken for 99 cents that on its sell-by date and had bit of ricotta and mozzarella leftover from other recipes that needed to be used up. I also had a bag of herbs that a friend of the family brought back from Italy that I hadn't tried yet. I don't know much Italian but I am fairly confident that the mix includes oregano, basil, summer savory, and thyme. I was really happy with the end result. The meatballs and sauce had a ton of flavor and the leftovers were just was tasty as the meal was fresh. Perfect for a cozy evening at home.

December 26, 2008

Potato-Carrot Latkes


Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, grated
2 large carrots, grated
1 large onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
canola oil


Directions:
In a large pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and the matzo meal. Add potatoes, carrots and onion. Toss to combine.

rawlatke2

Form into flat patties. Fry in hot oil, flipping half way through, until just golden. Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about a dozen latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
For this year's latkes I was excited to try out my new mandoline which made great, long, thin strips of the potato, carrot and onion much faster than traditional grating. I also thought that the latkes cooked through a little better than when I've grated potatoes with a box grater; none of the latkes had even the slightest bit of raw potato, something I've occasionally encountered in these types of potato latkes. That said, you don't need a mandoline to make great latkes, a box (or other) grater works fine. A lot of people use a food processor to shred the potato but I personally think it chops the potato up a bit too much and the latkes sometimes become a little gluey as a result.

This Hanukkah I added carrot to the potato and really enjoyed it. It wasn't much of a change texture-wise but it added a bit of sweetness to the potato. Plus it is always a good idea to sneak in a little extra vegetables on a holiday devoted to fried foods. Latkes are rather time consuming and I know we rarely bother to make another side dish when we have them.

September 25, 2008

Baked Ziti with Rapini and Chicken Meatballs




Ingredients:
1 lb ziti, cooked to package instructions

cheese mixture:
15 oz ricotta
1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese
10 oz rapini, chopped and steamed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg

sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz canned ground tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1 slice sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Italian cheese*
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
1/2 onion, minced
matzo meal or bread crumbs
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese mixture ingredients. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and fragrent. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low. Meanwhile, put the milk and the bread in a saucepan, heat low. Mash bread with fork after it has absorbed all milk. Remove from heat and cool. In a bowl, knead together the chicken, basil, onion, vinegar, egg, olive oil, cheese and the bread/milk mush, salt and pepper. Pour the matzo meal in a shallow bowl. Shape the meat into medium sized balls and roll all sides in the matzo meal. Place on a broiler pan and broil, turning once, until pretty much cooked through. Place the meatballs in the sauce and continue to simmer about 5 minutes. Toss the cooked pasta and the sauce together. Pour half of the mixture in a 13x9 baking dish. Dot with cheese filling. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese if desired. Bake, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.



*I actually used this which is a mixture of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano and Asiago but any one of those cheese would work well.

My thoughts:
This is the latest result of my baked pasta tinkering. We had a pound of ground chicken I wanted to use and thought it might be fun to make meatballs. The great thing about ground chicken is that it is really easy to flavor with herbs and sauces and it is much lighter tasting than even really low fat ground beef.

Tossing the meatballs into a baked pasta dish was a stroke of genius, a nice change from our usual but not more time consuming or fussy. I also liked that if I didn't want a lot of meat, I could just take less meatballs since the meat wasn't evenly distributed in the sauce. Perfect if you live in a household where some people are more meat eaters than others. We love, love rapini and adding it to the dish makes this a one-dish meal.

The recipe is also very budget friendly-it easily feeds 4-6 and uses simple, inexpensive ingredients. Ground chicken is only about $2.50lb and you can't get more affordable than a dish that incorperates dried pasta and canned tomatoes.

This dish also reheats exceptionally well the next day.

April 17, 2008

Two Ways to Use Up Leftover Risotto: Riso al Salto and Arancini di Riso






Quick notes:

If your leftover risotto is very cold from being refrigerated, let it sit out a few minutes to allow it to come closer to room temperature. This will help ensure that the final product will be heated all the way through and it will be little easier to handle.

It is best to use risotto that is free of large chunks. If your risotto has large chunks of meat or vegetables, remove the largest chunks before making either of the following. I used leftover and relatively smooth fennel risotto and can't wait to try it with roasted beet risotto but I bet any risotto would be tasty.



Arancini di Riso
Ingredients:
1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover risotto
1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
1 egg, beaten
4 oz mozzarella, in 3/4 inch cubes
canola oil

Directions:
Heat 1/2 inch oil in a large skillet. Meanwhile, mix the matzo meal/bread crumbs with the oregano in a shallow bowl. Pour the beaten egg in a second shallow bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of rice into the palm of your hand. Make a flat round and place a cube of cheese in the middle. Fold the rice over the cheese and roll lightly between your hands to form a ball. Then roll in the egg to coat evenly, then roll in the crumbs. Repeat for remaining risotto. Fry in the oil, turning to evenly brown on all sides-I found a heat-safe slotted spoon worked well for this. Serve hot.








Riso al Salto
Ingredients:
1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover risotto
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Meanwhile mix the egg into the risotto. Shape into flat patties. Pan-fry in oil, flipping once to brown on both sides. Serve hot.

My thoughts:
While I love risotto, I don't always want to eat the exact same thing again the next day for lunch. Enter these yummy risotto balls (which would be great with a bit of shrimp or maybe even ham as a filling instead of mozzarella) and risotto fritters. Both are made with minimal fuss but excellent results. The riso al salto is especially quick and easy and both would be great served with a simple salad. You're going to want to make double batches of risotto just to have an excuse to make them.

April 04, 2008

Eggplant Rollatini with Rapini


Ingredients:
For the sauce:
58 oz canned coarse ground (or crushed) tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

for the eggplant:
2 eggplants, striped* and sliced in 1/4 inch wide slices
1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 egg, beaten


for the filling:
1 bunch rapini, coasely chopped and steamed
15 oz ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt
pepper


canola oil
Parmesan for sprinkling


Directions:
WARNING: this recipe make a double batch of eggplant rollatini or about 8 servings, one to freeze and save, one to eat now.

First, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil and simmer on low until heated through. Spread a layer of sauce over the bottom of two 9x13 inch pans. Set aside.

Second, mix together all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Pour the remaining egg into a shallow bowl. Then mix together the matzo meal and the oregano in a second shallow bowl. Coat both sides of each eggplant slice in egg, then dip both sides in the matzo meal. Heat about a 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet. Preheat oven to 350. I suggest coating all of the slices and stacking them on a plate so they are ready for frying before you fry your first batch. Fry each slice in the hot oil, about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. I was able to fry about 5 slices at a time in a single layer with ease. Immediately remove the slices to a paper towel lined plate, place another paper towel on top and allow to drain. Meanwhile, place the next batch of the eggplant in the pan and fry. While they are frying, place about a tablespoon of filling on top of one of the cooked eggplant slices from the first batch. Wrap the edges of the eggplant to enclose the filling. If the slice is on the small size you might end up with something that looks more like an eggplant taco than a complete circle. That's okay. Place the eggplant rollatini seam side down on the baking pan. Repeat for remaining eggplant slices. By the end, both of the 9x13 inch pans should be filled with a single layer of the rolls. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover one pan with foil and bake 30 minutes or until bubbly, remove foil and cook 5 additional minutes. Serve over pasta if desired. Cover the remaining pan (I like to use this freezable Pyrex container with lid) tightly and freeze. The night before you want to eat the frozen portion, place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. The next evening bake according the above directions, adding a few additional minutes in the oven if the food is not totally defrosted.


Tip: The eggplant slices should be still warm when you roll them, if they are cold, they have a tendency to crack during folding. I found that by the time I got the next batch of slices frying, the first batch was cool enough to handle. If I worked quickly, stopping once to flip those that were frying, I could fill one batch in the time it took the next to cook. If you would rather not do two things at once, I suggest that after you drain the slices you cover them to keep them warm until you are ready to fill.




*Peeled in alternating strips. This helps the eggplant maintain its shape while remaining malleable.




My thoughts:
Rollatini is sort of a vegetarian version of involtini (meat rolls) that is a fun alternative to eggplant parmesan. It seems like more of a winter dish than one for early Spring but it has been freakishly cold and rainy so I've been sneaking some bubbly and warm from the oven dinners in while I still can.

As part of a recent assignment, I've been experimenting and developing recipes that have at least one component that can be made ahead of time. This recipe is a little more involved than what I plan to use for the project but the results were so delicious I couldn't help but share it with you. It is a bit of work, but none of it is difficult and at the end you have two days worth of meals, one to eat now and one that simply needs reheating. I know a lot of people fear frying but in this case it is actually rather simple, the eggplant isn't totally submerged in the oil so it is easy to flip the slices without splashing, making it more of an exercise in pan frying than deep frying. Just remember to keep the oil hot and drain the eggplant slices (on both sides!) immediately so they don't soak up any oil while cooling. I added the rapini to sneak a little extra bit of vegetable into the mix and I am glad I did, the slight bitterness really really brightens the tomato sauce and keeps the cheese/eggplant combination from slipping into blandness.

April 04, 2007

Vanilla Coconut Macaroons



Ingredients:
3 egg whites
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Form into small (heaping tablespoon sized) balls and place 1/2 inch apart on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They won't spread so you can fit a lot on a pan, just one should do the trick. Bake 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.


My thoughts:
Since flour and leavening agents are verboten during Passover, finding something to make for dessert or a sweet snack can be tricky. Recipes abound for "Passover-ized" cakes but they often fall short on taste. Flourless cakes are popular as well, but we are staying home this year and there is no way the two of us can finish off a whole flourless cake. Macaroons are quick, tasty and make a great sweet snack or light dessert. Instead of using flour to bind and add some body, I used a tiny bit of matzo meal (ground matzo) instead but you could certainly use flour if are not making them for Passover. Macaroons can be dressed up with a drizzle of chocolate or the addition of other flavors-I made some lime macaroons that were excellent and didn't use flour or matzo meal which is also perfect for Passover or any time.

April 02, 2007

Matzo Ball Soup



Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 parsnips
4 carrots
4 stalks celery
3 onions (2 large, 1 small-divided use)
3 sprigs fresh sage PLUS 1 tablespoon minced
1 bunch fresh parsley PLUS 2 tablespoons minced
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, skin/fat removed and reserved
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Directions:
In a large soup pot, place 1 large onion, quartered; 1 (large) parsnip, halved; bunch parsley; sprigs of sage; 2 celery stalks; chicken pieces; broth and wine. The broth should be covering the chicken. If not, add water or additional to cover. Over high heat, bring to boil then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, every 10 minutes, skim any scum that floats to the surface off. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup. Boil one cup water and pour it into a bowl with 1 cup matzo meal, stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons rendered fat (if you don't have 3 tablespoons worth, make up the difference in oil), minced parsley, minced sage, salt, egg and white pepper. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut the remain carrots, parsnips, celery and onion into bite sized pieces, set aside. After the soup has cooked for one hour, remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Strain the broth through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing the solids to release any liquids. Discard solids. To the remaining broth add the cut up onion, carrots, parsnips, and celery. Return the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, remove the mazto meal mixture from the refrigerator and, using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls. In a another pot, bring a large amount of salted water to boil. Drop the matzo balls into the water and cook 15 minutes, they should float to the top but this does not mean they are ready, cook the full 15 minutes. Pick the chicken off the bone using a fork or your fingers and remove to a a covered bowl. When the vegetables are tender, add the chicken back into the broth.

To serve: place 4 matzo balls in each bowl (should serve 4-6) and ladel the soup over. Serve right away.





My thoughts:
Matzo ball soup is a Passover classic. It is perfect because there is no need for leaveners, something that is forbidden at Passover, and uses matzo meal, which is made of ground matzo, something that is plentiful this time of year. Everyone had their own technique of making matzo balls, but this is my favorite. Not too dense, not too fluffy, the parsley adds a little flavor and they absorb just the right amount of broth. We made them with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) which gives them a wonderful flavor and has a third of the saturated fat as butter. Matt did a wonderful job of skimming off the broth, it is a little time consuming, but it really results in a super clear yet flavorful soup. One note: if you have any leftovers, store the matzo balls separately and heat them up in boiling water while you reheat the soup, if not, they tend to soak up too much of the liquid and fall apart during storage.