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Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs

I have had a serious craving for bun - if you eat Vietnamese food, you know what I'm talking about. A bowl with crisp, shredded romaine lettuce, cold rice noodles, lots of chopped dry roasted peanuts, fresh mint and cilantro, shredded carrots, cucumbers and some sort of sticky, sweet bbq meat that you pour nuoc chom over and then scarf it all down like a maniac because it's so refreshingly delicious that you can't stand it??
Okay, if you don't eat Vietnamese food and don't know what I'm talking about, go find some.

So my quest today was to make some but I didn't feel like tackling the bbq pork today but The Kid loves meatballs so I thought I would whip up some sort of Vietnamese meatballs out of ground chicken and do a kind of Bun Ga Nuong. The only thing I was worried about was the sticky, caramelized glaze on the outside when I found this recipe on the Food and Wine web site.  It's from a cook book called Small Bites by Jennifer Joyce and although I am not interested in doing the lettuce wraps right now, these little meatball sounded perfect. I didn't really alter the recipe at all, although I cooked them for 20 minutes and next time I will stick to her 15 minute recommendation. Full of the right flavours and the sugar coating gave it the sticky, sweet mojo that I love so much about Vietnamese bbq meat.

Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs
adapted from Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs

1 lb ground chicken
3 tbls fish sauce
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, tender white inside part only, minced
3-4 tbls chopped cilantro
1 tbls chopped mint
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of fresh black pepper
granulated sugar for rolling the meatballs, about 1/4 cup

mix the chicken with rest of the ingredients except for the sugar in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly but gently because if you overwork the meat, your meatballs will be tough.
Using slightly damp hands, roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, put on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for half an hour or so - I found the mixture a bit wet but it set up perfectly after a rest in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 400F
Take the meatballs out of the fridge and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll each meatball lightly in the sugar and place on the parchment.
Bake the meatballs in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes, giving the pan a shake a few times to make sure you get even browning.

You can do anything with these little meatballs. They would be great as lettuce wraps (like the original recipe), in a Thai inspired sub, on rice, you could dip them in sweet chili sauce, they would even be great in soup. I can't wait to

PET Sandwiches - Pancetta, Egg Salad and Tomato

The Kid and I love egg salad but Shack doesn't. He really can't deal with the smell in the house more than anything so, in the interest of marital harmony, I never make it. We decided that this week, since Shack was out of town, it was time for an egg saladpalooza. We had fresh farmer's eggs so they were especially lovely with deep, golden orange yolks and just full of flavour. I was also craving a BLT and was kind of torn between the two so I thought I would combine the sandwiches into a BET - well, more of a PET since I used pancetta instead of bacon. I loved the little hit of zingy sourness of the pickled spring onions and the crunchy saltiness of the pancetta but otherwise, it's my own basic egg salad recipe. I think that sometimes we strive so hard to do things that are new and unique and cutting edge that we forget about the simple things that we have loved all of our lives. A little tweek here, a little change there but it's still just a really great egg salad sandwich.

I Did a Delicious Thing With Some Raspberries and Chambord and You Should Too

We went to the farmer's market on Sunday and the season's very first organic raspberries were there! Coincidentally, I had made a flourless chocolate cake to take to a bbq that evening and was planning to just make plain old, boring whipped cream to serve with it but the berries changed everything. Suddenly I was whipping out the Chambord and making Chambord Whipped Cream and nice, boozy berries. This is not an earth shattering idea but it is one I wanted to share with you because it was so delicious and not everything that is delicious has to also be earth shattering, right?

1 flourless chocolate cake

500ml whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbls chambord

put the cream, the sugar and the chambord in your stand mixer and mix on high for three minutes.

1 pint raspberries
2 tbls chambord
3 tbls sugar
juice of half of a lemon

mix all the ingredients together and leave to macerate for at least a couple of hours.

Cut a piece of cake and serve with a dollop of the chambord whipped cream and a spoonful of the juicy chambord raspberries.

Adventures in Jam Making - Strawberry Vanilla

I am still trying to get this canning thing down. The Neighbours brought me a flat of beautiful strawberries from the farm and so I decided to make a straight forward jam. I have only made a few jams and they have been fancy pants jams with savoury flavours more suited to eating with cheeses or for roasting meats and I wanted something sweet for The Kid to eat on toast.
This recipe from Food In Jars was prefect for the amount of berries I had to use up and I liked the addition of vanilla. Unfortunately, I realized after it was too late to turn back that I didn't have any more vanilla bean but I did have some nice Mexican vanilla extract and just used a tablespoon of that. I might have used a bit too much in the end and would probably go get some vanilla beans for the next attempt. I have also never used pectin and wanted to try that out as well.
All in all, it tastes pretty good, it's not too solid (I like my jams a bit runny) and it was really easy to make. I am going to try a version without pectin the next time and compare the textures but this jam, although not my perfect dream jam I have rolling around in my head somewhere, it was worth the effort and I am not embarrassed to give the jam away to other people, which is always important.
Stay tuned for more Canning Chronicles.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

The Neighbour made the most delicious strawberry rhubarb crisp the other night but my kid was sick and didn't get to eat any of it. He really loves rhubarb and has been talking about wanting strawberry rhubarb pie all week. I love him but not quite enough to make pie crust today in this heat but I was up to making a crumble. We found some nice rhubarb at the market and the local strawberries have been insanely sweet and delicious so we were in luck. I decided it would be safe to use Smitten Kitchen's basic recipe and just add a few tweaks because I find her baking is always pretty spot on. I added some crystalized ginger to the crumble topping and replaced half of the sugar with maple syrup in the filling but otherwise, I followed her recipe and it was really delicious. The next time I make it, and there will definitely be a next time, I will add even more ginger to the crumble because the few times I got a nice little chunk in a bite it was amazing. I also think I will pick up some maple sugar and use that in the filling along with the maple syrup. It was gobbled up pretty quickly, despite the fact that we had all overindulged in our meal, so I took that as a good sign.
I even caught my mother in law licking her bowl.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbls sugar
3 tbls brown sugar
1 heaping tbls finely chopped crystalized ginger
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 lb or 1 stick of butter melted

Mix together everything but the butter and then mix in the melted butter until it's totally incorporated and you have nice clumps of goodness. You can put it in the fridge at this point if you are making the crumble later on in the day.

1 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbls cornstarch
pinch salt

Heat oven to 375F
Toss the filling ingredients all together in a bowl and then put in a baking dish. You can use a pie plate or a tart dish or any shape of baking dish you have.
Remove the topping from the fridge and distribute evenly over the filling. Place your pie plate on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling under there, about 40-50 minutes.

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