Monday, September 28, 2009

Giant meatballs with spaghetti and a pattypan galette

Even the best recipes can always be improved. On Jan. 19 of this year I posted a recipe for giant meatballs. They were made from Jimmy Dean sausage, which I happened to have had in the freezer, having bought it at a considerable saving.

When I came home from Safeway last week with some pork loin chops I knew from the get-go I was going to have another round of giant meatballs. In the days before I acquired a digital camera, I had to beg, borrow and steal pix to use with my postings. The original one for these meatballs is kind of amusing: it's a collage - a little goofy, but effective enough.

Above you see a photo of the latest meatballs. Why do I make them so big? It just amuses me and, from a presentation standpoint, it's impressive, no?
Spaghetti with giant meatballs and pattypan galette (4 servings)
1 lb. pork loin chops
3 oz. crusty bread, cut to 1/3" dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, yolks and whites separaed
3 scallions, white and green parts chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 bread crumbs
1 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
8-10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or other pasta
2 cups chopped cabbage
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp fennel seed, smashed with a mortar and pestle
2 pattypan squashes (palm sized), sliced into rings 1/8" thick (use a mandoline)
parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
If the loin chops are on the bone, cut out same. Leave as much or as little fat as you wish. Cut into 1" pieces and chop in food processor as you would for any ground meat.
Make a brandade by combining the bread and cream in a bowl and mashing up a bit to that the cream is absorbed.
Place the ground pork in a large bowl and add: brandade, scallions, garlic, egg yolks, thyme, oregano, breadcrumbs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix together thoroughly (using your hands is best but best). Form a 1" ball with a bit of the mixture and microwave it for 30-40 seconds. Taste for seasonings and adjust as desired.
Form the pork mixture into 4 meatballs. Refrigerate them for at least an hour to firm them (they may be quite "wet," at least mine were).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the meatballs on a "Pammed" cooking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions until just al dente (it's going to cook a bit more with the cabbage). While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tbsp each of oil and butter in a saute pan. Add the cabbage, fennel seed, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until softened and lightly browned, 5-6 minutes.
Using a spider, transfer the pasta to the cabbage pan and toss to combine. Serve in heated bowls with grated parmesan and chopped parsley as garnish.
Pattypan galette
This was a fun way to prepare the squash.
Brush both sides of the squash slices with lightly beaten egg white. Arrange slices in a circle on a greased plate the diameter of the base of a large saute pan (make sure you use one with sloping sides), overlapping as necessary. Set aside to allow the egg white to dry somewhat. This while form a kind of "glue" to hold the galette together when it cooks.
Heat 1 tbsp each butter and olive oil over medium high heat until the butter is melted and just starting to brown. Slide the galette into the pan, cover the squash with a piece of foil and place a weight on it (an empty teakettle can be perfect for this). Cook until the bottom is well-browned (4-6 minutes). Slide the galette out onto a plate; invert a second plate over it; flip it over and slide it back into the pan. Again weight and cook another 4-5 minutes until the second side is browned. Slide out onto a cutting board and divide into 1/4's to serve. Garnish with parmesan and chopped parsley as desired.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The Finished Product

I did an entirely different take on ratatouille yesterday. Suffice it to say it’s wonderful. 2/3 of it went into our basement “geezer freezer,” and the rest into the fridge to be served with braised pork loin and Israeli couscous tonight.

Given that ratatouille is basically a vegetable stew, I decided that allowed for a certain amount of license in choosing ingredients. We bought a box of slightly damaged Roma tomatoes at our favorite farmers market on Sunday…13 ½ pounds for $8! When I came out into the kitchen wondering what Peter was up to when he didn’t turn up in the sunroom for TV and newspapers first thing yesterday morning, it was to discover him up to his elbows in tomatoes, blanching, peeling, seeding.

I pitched in to help and in about an hour we had conquered them. He spent the rest of the morning making both a basic tomato sauce and a marinara – huge quantities of each. I co-opted a pound of the tomatoes for the ratatouille. The pattypans came from our garden, as did the thyme and oregano.

This recipe takes some time both for prep and cooking in stages. Be patient, it’s worth it.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 large carrots, cut in 1/2” rounds
2 1 lb. eggplants, diced to ½”
½ cup (or more as needed) chicken stock
1 green bell pepper, ½” dice
4 palm-sized pattypan squash, ½” dice
2 Anaheim chiles, peeled and seeded and chopped
1 lb. Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded and chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive pot.

Add onion, carrot, garlic and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add eggplant and chicken stock and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, stir, and bring to simmer.

Add chiles, pattypan and bell pepper.

Add thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a simmer, stirring to mix thoroughly. Simmer 10 minutes and check for doneness of pattypan. You don’t want it flabby or squishy – rather a bit al dente.

Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

The finished product, again:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

chiles rellenos

One of my early posts (Sept. 1, 2008) was of a chiles rellenos concoction structured largely from leftovers. It was the first posting on this blog that received a comment (2 actually). I didn’t include a picture because I had no digital camera then.

Today I got around to making rellenos again and, with a camera for documention, and a different set of ingredients to play with, I ended up with a similar but different dish, one that was spectacularly flavorful.

Chiles rellenos

4 poblano peppers

2 Johnsonville brats, (or leftover pork, shrimp or chicken)

olive oil

3 medium to small green tomatoes, chopped to ½” dice

1 small red onion, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced fine

2 ears corn, steamed and stripped from cob

½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup shredded or grated cheese (any kind that melts well)



1 15 oz. can green enchilada sauce

yogurt and cilantro for garnish

Sorry, but you’ll have to start by roasting the peppers until the skin is blackened in order to peel them. Put your oven rack at the second level below the top and pre-heat the broiler. Stick the peppers in (on a baking sheet) and turn them every 5 minutes or so until the skin is thoroughly blistered. Remove them to a paper bag and let them sit and cool for at least 30 minutes. The steam they generate inside the bag will loosen the skin. Carefully peel away the skin. Then make a slit from the “shoulder” at the top of the peppers to about ½” from the pointy bottom. Be very careful as you remove the seeds that you don’t tear the peppers.

While the peppers are roasting, cook the brats by placing them in a skillet and adding ¼ cup water. Cover the pan and let the brats steam for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, add a little bit of olive oil and continue cooking the brats, turning occasionally for another 8 minutes. Remove the brats from the pan and allow to cool to room temp. Cut them into a fine dice and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil. Add the onion and jalapeno and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the green tomatoes and continue cooking for 5-6 minutes. Add the enchilada sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, brats, cheeses, 1/3 of the diced onion and ½ of the jalapeno, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine.

Carefully stuff the poblanos with this mixture and place them in a glass casserole just large enough to hold them in one layer. Set aside or refrigerate until later.

When the time comes to heat this up for dinner, preheat the oven to 350°. Spoon the sauce over the peppers, but not right on top of the opening where you put the stuffing. Scatter a good amount of shredded cheese over the top, this time covering the slits in the peppers.

Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the whole mess is bubbling. Allow to stand for 5 minutes and then serve garnished with cilantro and yogurt (or sour cream if that’s what you have).

Trout rillettes

I ran into the word “rillettes” recently, don’t remember where. After looking it up I had to run directly to my fish monger and get some trout. According to the definition of rillettes it is most frequently made with pork, but versions with chicken and seafood are not uncommon. Basically this is a sort of pate.

I found 4 or 5 recipes via Google that I more or less cherry picked from to make this lovely pate with just a few ingredients and with the flavors I knew I would most like.

As it happens, we have had these little ramekins for years. I do not remember ever having used them, but Peter tells me I have, though quite some years ago. You can put the trout in any glass container.

Trout rillettes
12 oz. trout filets
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp scallion, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
liquid smoke
bacon fat or additional butter
cucumber slices (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place the trout on a small baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with 1 tbsp of the butter. Bake for 10-12 minutes until opaque throughout. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Remove the skin from the trout and put it in a food processor with all remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.

Taste and add any of the seasonings until it suits to your taste. Put in ramekins or a glass bowl. Top with bacon fat or melted butter, just enough to cover the surface of the pate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Serve on toast points garnished with cucumber (as in the picture) if you wish.

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