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Feed Your Freezer With A Big Batch of Meatballs



More Meatballs!
My last recipe was for these crazy delicious Korean Meatballs and this time, I am showing you how to whip up a big batch of tender meatballs that you can bake off and then freeze because, I know you don't want to hear it, but SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER. Time to stock the freezer for September when life goes back to the daily grind and nobody has time to come home from work or school and make these puppies.

So, the difference here is that I use a combo of ground beef, ground pork and Italian sausage and that give me a really tender, moist meatball that has enough fat content that it doesn't get all tough when you reheat the frozen balls of deliciousness down the road.

I make this giant batch and throw some of them in a nice, light tomato sauce to eat that day and freeze the rest. The best way to freeze them is to lay them out on parchment lined baking sheets that fit in the freezer. Once they are hard, you can pop them off the tray and throw them in a freezer bag, allowing you to dip into the bag and just grab as many as you need.


Use your own recipe to make tomato sauce, use your favourite jarred sauce or you can follow my recipe for a simple marinara that you can find here.



Big Batch Meatballs

Makes approx 48 2" meatballs
Ingredients:

approx 1.5 kg (3 1/3 lbs) of meat - I like to do about 600g ground beef, 500 grams ground pork, 350 or 400g sweet Italian sausage but the ratios are up to you

1.5 cups panko or toasted, dried bread crumbs
1.5 cups milk
3 eggs
1.5 cups freshly grated parmesan
about 1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil
about 1/2 cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
1 tbls kosher salt
20 grinds of black pepper
1.5 cups grated onion on coarse grater or approx 3 small onions
3 or 4 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp


Combine the panko and the milk in a bowl and set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and stir in the salt, pepper, parmesan, basil and parsley.

Now, I like to mix these with the paddle attachment in the Kitchen Aid because it's a lot of meat but you can also do it by hand. If you do use the mixer, don't over mix, mix on the lowest speed possible and stop as soon as it's all combined. If doing it by hand, just mix thoroughly each time but without kneading the mixture - overworking makes them tough.

Okay, put the ground meats in the bowl of the mixer and remove the sausage from the casings (discard the casings of course). Throw in the egg/cheese mixture and give it about 1 minute to combine thoroughly on low speed. Add in the grated onion and the milk soaked panko and turn the machine on low again and mix until just incorporated - another minute, tops.

preheat the oven to 400F

Form the meatballs and put them on parchment lined baking sheets. I use an small ice cream scoop that holds just under 1/4 cup and that gives me a decent sized, 2" meatball. Using this scoop I get about 48 meatballs but you can make them whatever size you like. Because we are always going to heat these up before eating, I don't worry if they are a bit undercooked after baking them off so even if you make them a bit bigger, stick to 30 minutes in the oven. Pop the trays of meatballs into your oven.

After you roast the meatballs for 25-30 minutes, remove the pans and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Because of the fat content, there will be some congealed fat clinging to them and I use my hands to wipe all of that off and scrape that all to one end of the pan before they cool completely. You can avoid this step if you bake them sitting on a wire rack that you place on top of the baking sheet and do them in batches but I prefer to just get my hands dirty and do it this way.

Once they are totally cooled down, set aside any meatballs you want to use in the next day or two and then put the rest on parchment lined sheet pan that will fit in the freezer. Leave them in the freezer until they are frozen solid and transfer them to a freezer bag.

Reheat them, directly from the freezer, in simmering sauce for 15-20 minutes OR in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes.


Why Spicy Koreanish Meatballs Should Be One of the Seven Deadly Sins



Oh my, what a spring/summer I have had. For the last year I have been working as a hired gun, cooking for a local caterer, teaching classes as well as hosting pop ups and private dinners around Toronto.

 To be honest, I have had a hard time balancing this new schedule so it was not a huge surprise when i fell ill, mid April. What was not expected was spending  6 weeks on my ass with a lung infection followed by a family situation that took me away from home for the last month.

At this point, I kind of feel like a brand new, baby blogger, brimming with fun ideas for some new, tasty treats and I have promised myself I will slow down a bit and make time for The Yum Yum Factor as well as washing my hair regularly and eating while sitting down.


First up are these Spicy Koreanish Meatballs that I served with this addictive Kimchi Fried Rice by fellow blogger, Diversivore . These babies are sooooooooo good.

The sugar/chili pepper coating is a spin on my Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs , one of my most popular recipes but the addition of the gochgaru really adds a nice kick to the sticky, sweet coating. Be careful when baking because the sugar will burn a bit if you don't remember to give the pan a shake mid way through cooking although, I kind of like the slightly burnt, sticky bottoms that occur when you don't. I kind of like my food a bit burnt, so sue me.

These are really easy and if you aren't lucky enough to live near a decent Korean or Japanese store, you can always get this stuff online. You can serve these addictive little meatballs so many ways. Eat them, as it, stick a toothpick in each one and serve with a spicy dipping sauce as a fun hors d'oeurve ,  eat over rice or throw them into a crusty bun with pickled cucumber, shredded carrot and a drizzle of bulgogi sauce and you have a tasty meatball sandwich. No matter how you serve them, I guarantee it won't be the last time you make them.







Spicy Koreanish Meatballs

makes approx 25 meatballs

454 g (1 lb) lean ground beef
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbl mirin
1/2 cup panko
3 tbls gochujang
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 tbls sugar
2 tbls gochugaru (korean chili flake) or to taste, depending on the heat of the gochugaru
1 tbls sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 200C/400F
line a baking sheet with parchment

Mix together the ground beef through to the cilantro and mix well, using your hands, until just combined. You don't want to over work the mixture or your meatballs will not be as tender.

Mix the sugar, gochugaru and sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Using slightly damp hands, roll the mixture into golfball sized balls.  Roll each meatball in the sugar mixture and put on the parchment lined sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through. That's it.
If you choose to make bigger meatballs, increase the cooking time accordingly - if you are not sure how long to cook them, cut one in half after about 20 minutes OR cook until the internal temperature reaches about 71C/160F


Basque Potato Leek Soup with Cod and Crispy Serrano Ham



I am Back!!

I have been sick since mid April, hence my absence from the blog. I bet you thought I had quit, didn't you?

After a lengthy bout with some sort of lung plague, I am finally emerging from the fog and forced myself to get in the kitchen today. Okay, I have been in the kitchen but it's been all grilled cheese sammies, frozen potstickers and soup, mostly made by The Kid as I croaked out instructions from my sick bed on the couch, Netflix droning on in the background.

I have a Supper Club coming up and the first course will be a version of this Basque style Leek and Potato Soup with Cod and Serrano Ham so it seemed like it was as good a time as any to whip up a batch and make sure it is as delicious as I recall.

It is.

The Traditional Soup, called Porrusalda, if often made with cod but you would normally add a whack of reconstituted salt cod and cook it IN the broth for a chunk, rustic soup. It's absolutely delicious and homey and wonderful but I need an elegant presentation for my Supper Club. I turned to fresh Atlantic cod and fried it for a bit of colour and texture and threw on some crispy serrano ham for some crunch and a hit of salt.

The finished soup is elegant enough for a dinner party and because you can make the ham and the soup ahead of time, it's pretty easy to just fry up the fish and throw it all together at the last minute. All in all, it was a sexy little dish that managed to lure me back into the kitchen.

Basque Potato Leek Soup with Crispy Cod and Serrano Ham

soup recipe makes about 10 cups of soup and serves 6


1/3 cup olive oil
3 leeks, white part only, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2" slices
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed ( approx 700g)
230 g (1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 litres (2 quarts) chicken stock or a mix of stock and water
5 or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
pinch saffron
kosher salt and black pepper
680g (1.5 lb) fresh cod cut into 6 portions
approx 57 g (2 oz) serrano ham (use proscuitto if you can't find serrano)
handful of fresh Italian parsely to garnish
extra olive oil for cooking the cod and for drizzling over the finished soup




Put the pinch of saffron into about 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the leeks until they soften. Add in the garlic, the potatoes and the squash and saute for another five minutes before adding the chicken stock and the saffron water. Bring to a simmer, put the lid on, turn down the heat to medium low and let simmer gently for about 40 minutes.


 While the soup is cooking, crisp up the ham. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lay the ham flat on the parchment and bake until the meat turns golden, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the ham to paper towels to drain. You will break each piece in to a few pieces to use for the soup.


When the soup is done, you can either use an immersion blender or puree the soup in a blender (after you fish out the thyme stalks, of course) - if using a blender, be very careful as hot soup tends to cause the lid to blow off. Hold the lid on with a folded tea towel to prevent that from happening. Depending on how fancy you want the soup to be, you can either serve it as is or you can pass it through a chinois or a metal strainer for a thinner, more elegant soup.

Meanwhile, dry the cod with paper towel and heat a frying pan over med/high heat. Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and add the cod. Salt and pepper the fish and fry for about 5 minutes. Very carefully, use a spatula to flip the fish and let cook on the other side for just a couple of minutes before you remove the fish from the pan.

Pour about 1.5 cups of soup into shallow bowls, lay a piece of cod in the middle, top with a couple pieces of ham and drizzle a bit of olive oil around the soup.

A Spanish Feast to Usher in the Spring For My Toronto Friends


Okay my people, if you are in Toronto, you are in for a treat this month. I am going to make big, family style meal for 20 at The Kingston Social that is inspired by my recent trip to Barcelona. As always, Tanya will be on hand to whip up her amazing cocktails with a lovely wine and beer list available as well.



Come and join us for a night of fun, delicious food and drink and if you are really lucky, some table top flamenco dancing by yours truly



Reserve your spot by buying a ticket here

Adventures in Spanish Cookery at Cook & Taste Barcelona




I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get to a new country is visit a grocery store or outdoor market because I truly feel that our first connection to other cultures and their people is through food. 

It follows that the next thing I try to make happen is a cooking class. It’s a great toe dip into the food you will be eating for the remainder of your trip and if you are wise, you will suck up to the instructor and hit them up for restaurant recommendations, their favourite markets and shops that sell spices etc.

Choosing a class to take in Barcelona took me a day or two of research because there are quite a number of highly rated schools as well as popular, private instructors who will make paella for you on their rooftop patio while you get lit on Vermouth. On my next trip, I will try one of those rooftop classes but for my first trip, I wanted to make more than one dish and ultimately, I chose Cook and Taste Barcelona. 

some lovely oranges in the market
Their shop is a stone’s throw from the famous Boqueria Market so I sprung for the optional morning market tour to precede the actual class. Pretty much all of the cooking schools offer very similar menus, prices and class options but Cook and Taste not only gets great reviews but they don’t require you to pay for your class upfront online when you book. You reserve your spot and all they ask is that you give them some notice if you decide to cancel. Since I like to keep my travel itinerary fluid, this was a very appealing option for me. 

I get heart palpitations booking advance tickets to visit tourist sites because I just keep thinking 

WHAT IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE VISITING THE SAGRADA FAMILIA ON TUESDAY???

WHAT IF I AM DOING SOMETHING ELSE IN THE MORNING AND DON’T WANT TO CUT THAT ACTIVITY SHORT JUST BECAUSE I BOOKED THESE STUPID SKIP THE LINE TICKETS A MONTH AGO??




On the day, I managed to show up their lovely kitchen space on time,  despite my iPhone’s GPS which would cease to  navigate every time I ventured into the winding, narrow streets of the Barri Gotic. It's not difficult to find, it's just that my phone is a jerk.


I was the only singleton in a group of couples from Iceland, the USA, England and Scotland. Let me just say, that everyone seemed very perplexed by the fact that I was there on my own, despite the fact that I was in Barcelona with my husband and grown son. Everyone asked me, at some point, if I was travelling in Spain alone and I had to explain that, no, I am here with my family but they are off doing things that I don’t want to do while I am do something that they don’t really want to do. We are very happy, enjoy one another’s company but we love each other so much, that we don’t inflict 5 hour civil war tours and hours of shoe shopping on one another. 

I cannot advocate strongly enough for people to split up for at least one day when on holiday so everyone can indulge in activities that would cause the others to risk permanent damage from excessive eye rolling and heavy sighing.

Carlos, our instructor and both kitchen spaces




I'm sure he is more delicious than he looks
Our group took the short walk to the market where our guide and cooking instructor, Carlos de Avilés, led us through the market and purchased seafood, ham and produce for our lesson. I had already been through the market and might skip that part the next time but the others were enthralled by the guided shopping tour, so it is certainly popular and well worth the extra 13€.


Back in the kitchen, we were given our aprons, instructed to wash up and after perusing the recipes, we were all assigned prep tasks. The Icelandic gentleman had worked in the fishing industry so he was assigned seafood cleaning duty while the lovely Scottish woman was appointed the wine steward and who is directly responsible for getting me completely day drunk. Thank you, lovely Scottish lady.

We worked our way through oven roasted vegetables with romesco sauce, thyme soup with a poached egg and a cheese tuile, seafood paella and pears poached in spiced wine as well as the Catalan staple, Pa amb tomàquet, toasted bread rubbed with tomato, salt and olive oil.

note the glass of wine in hand while stirring.....

Carlos somehow managed to keep this rowdy group under control and focused (remember, we had the lovely Scottish wine steward) and after spending the early afternoon sipping, simmering, scraping, stirring and poaching, we ended the class with lunch, MORE WINE while everyone shared stories, tips and travel recommendations.

The kitchen offers these hands on cooking classes daily at 11am and 5pm, as well as hosting private events, team building activities for companies and also offers a foodie tour private classes that can be custom designed upon request.




Cook & Taste Barcelona
carrer del Paradis, 3, 08003 Barcelona (next to Placa Sant Jaume)
telephone +34 93 302 12 20
info@cookandtaste.net

Spanish Tortilla At Last




I lived in Madrid a million years ago when I was in my twenties and I admit it - I was a tortilla addict. I ate tortilla in the morning. I ate tortilla mid morning. I ate tortilla at lunch, at dinner and again in the evening as a tapa.
I also gained an alarming amount of weight which only made sense AFTER I watched somebody making it. Potatoes cooking away in a big pan of simmering oil was all I needed to see to understand why my steady diet of tortilla and beer was also responsible for my waist white wall tire.
DOH.

After I got home, I could never get the hang of making it myself, almost always resorting to just popping it in the oven to cook the top instead of flipping it because it constantly fell apart. I understand that this was also probably because I was constantly trying to lighten it up, make it a bit less fattening and leaner so I could eat more of it, more often.

I have now given up on that and I am making it properly - poaching the potatoes in plenty of olive oil, adding onions  if you are down with that ( and depending on where you are from in Spain, that is a HOTLY contested issue), then lightly draining the hot potatoes and onion and throwing them in a bowl of unmixed, whole eggs before you mix the whole mess together with some salt and pepper.

You let that rest for at least 15 minutes.

Then you can make the tortilla, doing the plate flip like a boss. I like to eat it warm, I like to eat it at room temperature. I like to eat in in a wedge and I like to cut the room temperature tortilla into cubes and spear a slice of chorizo, maybe an olive or some manchego and make a nice little tapa. Okay, lets be honest, I just like to eat tortilla, any old way.

Keep an eye out for some fancy pants variations that will be coming in the coming weeks and months but, for now, I give you the basic recipe for a Tortilla de Patatas




I love this pan and it works perfectly for tortilla - I use it to poach the potato/onion in the oil, drain the oil (i keep the tortilla oil in a labeled jar to use over and over), wipe out any solids and use it for the actual tortilla. Nothing sticks, easy peasy.

Tortilla de Patatas


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Tortilla de Patatas



2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half ( i like Yukon Gold, others prefer a waxy potato)
1 onion, peeled and halved OR 1 leek, cleaned, halved lengthwise )
8 eggs
a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
500 ml olive oil

cut each potato into thin slices so you have half circle slices. Cut the onion the same way or if you use leeks, cut them a bit thicker - about 1/4"

Heat the oil over medium high heat in your deep frying pan and add the onion. When the onions start to sizzle add the sliced potatoes and cook them for about 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon. When you can easily break a potato slice with your spoon, they are done.

Meanwhile, crack 8 eggs into a deep bowl, add the good sized pinch of kosher salt (about 2/4 tsp) and a few grinds of black pepper

Use a slotted spoon and remove the onion and potato from the pan and dump into the bowl with the eggs. Mix it all together with a few turns - don't overmix-  and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.

If using the same frying pan, give it a light wipe to get rid of any potato or onion bits and heat it up again over medium high heat. If using a new pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and when the pan is nice and hot, pour in the egg/potato mixture.

I let it cook for a minute and then turn the heat down to medium and then cook it for another 2 or 3 minutes. You want to able to run a spatula around the outside of the omelette with the outer ring looking solid with a softer interior and runny top.

Now, take a plate that is larger than the frying pan, cover the pan with it, placing your hand on the underside of the plate and flip the pan over on to the plate.

Put the pan back on the burner and very carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan, well done side up this time - don't worry that there will be some wet egg residue on the plate. Cook it for another couple of minutes - it will feel very firm to the touch.

Some people like it creamy in the centre and others like it very solid and well done. I have seen people do the plate/pan flip a second time and give it an extra minute or two before flipping it out onto the plate so you can serve it.

I like to serve it the first time, warm with a softer centre and then the leftovers will set up after sitting and the next day, I take it out of the fridge and it is completely solid and I can cut it up in cubes.


My Travel Notebook: Day Trips from Barcelona - Girona and Tarrogona


brightly coloured facades of the houses overlooking the Onyar River


If you are in Barcelona more than a few days, you are missing out if you don't plan at least one day trip, depending on your interests.


My Barcelona Notebook: Ten Days Of Joyous Eating, Drinking and More Eating





It would be an understatement to say that we probably ate some of the best food in recent memory while we were in Barcelona. Unlike Paris, where I found that between the fabulous sandwiches that we would grab from any old boulangerie and some bazillion dollar 2 Michelin star restaurant, the food was inconsistent and often not very good although always expensive. Sorry people, you can send me all the hate mail you like, but all three of us agree on that point - the restaurant food was expensive and disappointing more often than not.


Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Beef




I've gotta be honest, I have not loved my attempts at making Thai beef curries in my pressure cooker up until now. It just always felt like the sauce was a little too thin and it lacked body but I didn't want to add more coconut milk and then dilute the red curry flavour.

What to do?

This time, after it was done the initial pressure cook, I threw in some potato and sweet potato and when it was done, much of the sweet potato had kind of broken down and melted into the sauce, thickening it up nicely without diluting the intensity of the red curry paste. I also really like the sweetness it adds - it really balances out the heat of the red curry beautifully and kind of mellows it slightly without diluting the flavour, which is exactly what it was missing.

BAM

Another recipe finally converted to work in the Instant Pot (you can make it in any brand of electric pressure cooker, of course). This curry usually simmers for at least two hours on the stove top so cutting that time by about 60% is a pretty nice bonus too. Feel free to leave out the broccoli and substitute some green beans or frozen peas if you don't have any broccoli, just make sure that you add those delicate vegetables after the pressure cooking is over and let them cook gently in the residual heat of the curry for a few minutes with the lid on before you serve it.






Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Beef




serves 6-8

1 tbls of vegetable oil
2 small or 1 large onion, cut in rough wedges
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
1 piece lemongrass, smashed and cut into 3" pieces
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 can of coconut milk (don't shake as you will use the cream from the top of the can)
4 tbls of red curry paste
1 tbls fish sauce
1 tbls soy sauce
1 kg (2 lbs) stewing beef
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 or 4 small waxy potatoes, cut in large bite size pieces
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bite sized pieces
2 tbls lime juice
about half a head of broccoli cut into flowerets

cilantro, lime wedges, rice


Salt the stew beef and set aside.

Heat the pot using the saute button until it says hot before you add in the oil and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes, until starting to get a bit of colour.

Push the onions to the side, scrape the solid cream off the top of the can of coconut milk and add that to the pot. Stir in the red curry paste and fry in the coconut cream for about 5 minutes, slowly incorporating the onions into it and keep cooking until it starts to turn a much darker brownish red.

Add in the lemongrass, lime leaves, coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, soy sauce and the beef and stir until everything is well coated.

Lock the lid on and either hit the meat/stew button or cook on manual HP for 35 minutes.
When the time is up, do a quick release, add in the potato and sweet potato, lock the lid back on and cook for 3 minutes at HP.

Do another quick release, throw in the lime juice and the broccoli, put the lid back on and let it sit for five minutes while you get the bowls, rice and garnishes together so the broccoli can cook in the residual heat.

Serve over rice, garnished with chopped cilantro and serve with a lime wedge or two.



March means Supper Club and Cooking Classes







I am back from a ten day trip to Barcelona and man, am I fired up! I just spent 10 days eating and drinking and exploring, I lugged home three sizes of paella pans, cazuelas, spices, dried peppers, black sea salt and a brain overloaded with ideas. 



Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming posts about my trip, about what we ate, what we saw and where we went, but, for now, here is what is happening in the upcoming month:


For our March Supper Club, I am going to do a bit of a Mexican/Greek mash up. There will be tasty cocktails, great food and great dining companions, as always, so go reserve your seat now
Get your tickets for our March 18 Supper Club Opaaa!





Upcoming Cooking Classes for March





For the cheap and cheerful crowd, I have two What's For Dinner Classes at the Musgrave Loblaws in March. You pay $15 and get a $15 dollar gift card for your trouble.

March 8
March 22


Also, my next series of Instant Pot classes this month will be taking place at The Depanneur. Workshops are $60 each and start at 6:30pm 

 March 25 will be another Intro to Instant Pot Class
If that sells out, as they often do, I will be repeating the class on March 26

On March 27 I will be teaching an Instant Pot Pasta hands on workshop
This class is a new one for those of you who have taken the intro class OR are getting comfortable with your wizard pot and want to start branching out from beans, soup and hard boiled eggs

  

January Supper Club at The Kingston Social - Peruvian Flavah


Okay, Toronto Peeps, it's a new year and we are starting up our monthly Supper Clubs at The Kingston Social House, in Toronto's East East End.

The first dinner of the year, this Sunday, January 21, will feature one of my favourite meals to cook and eat - my Peruvian Flavah dinner. We start with Aguadito de Pollo, a hearty chicken soup that is full of cilantro, white rice as well as black rice, chicken, aji amarillo all topped off with crispy chicken skin.


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