I’ve never been into grilling; yet despite my stance on it, we’ve owned three. Our first one was a small electric that we had purchased for our small terrace in our New York studio apartment. We used it three times. When we moved to a downtown-San Diego one-bedroom condo, with a considerably larger terrace, we bought a medium-size gas grill and used that no more than four times before we gave it away when we moved to New Jersey. So last year, now situated in a rural suburban townhouse, with quite a large deck that’s fitted with a natural-gas hookup, we bought an even larger grill and, as you might have already guessed, we used it maybe five times. This year, however, we decided it was time to join the grilling craze and began our outdoor grilling season with a huge ginger-soy London broil.Read more
Meatballs: Installment #2
Nine years ago, I posted a blog entry about turkey-spinach meatballs in a marinara sauce adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit. Although my husband and I were both surprised by how good they were, I hadn’t made them again until last week. And, once again, we weren’t disappointed. So yesterday, when I was thinking about my next installment for my series on meatballs, I decided to do a variation on them using beef instead of turkey.
Well, I’m happy to report that this departure from the original recipe yielded an even more delicious dish. Whereas most of the turkey meatballs’ flavor came from the spinach, cheese, and fennel seeds, as well as from the spicy sauce, the beef version’s savor was more balanced with the meat contributing as much smack as the other ingredients. The robust, slightly acidic flavor of the spinach complemented the rich and savory essence of the beef, while the notes from the other seasonings and even the sauce were more muted.Read more
London Broil with Sun-Dried-Tomato Marinade
A sale and the weather were the main influencers of this week’s post. Because our local supermarket had a great special on London broil, we had decided to break out the grill for the first barbecue of the season. But when the weather forecast put the kibosh on outdoor cooking, I started to consider a few alternatives like pan grilled or broiled, neither of which struck my husband’s fancy. So, I asked him to go through a few of our cookbooks and find a recipe for London broil that would.
An hour or so later he returned to my office, cookbook in hand and grinning. The book was Lidia Bastianich’s Commonsense Cooking and the recipe he chose was “London Broil Steak with Sun-Dried Tomatoes Marinade.” Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand—even the fresh basil, which I had purchased for another dish.Read more
Meatballs: Installment #1
“Meatballs.” Just the word conjures up feelings of culinary comfort for me; and when these tasty morsels are paired with pasta, I’m transported back to my childhood where they often showed up as part of a Sunday dinner. I do know that some Italian-food traditionalists may scoff at these meaty orbs coated with tomato sauce, dismissing them as Italian-American fare. Indeed, I recall having dinner with a friend from Italy who looked at me in disbelief when I ordered one as an appetizer in a well know Chicago restaurant. “Stai scherzando,” (You must be joking) he said. I trust the satisfied expression on my face after I consumed the last tasty morsel proved him wrong.
This post will be the first in a series devoted to meatballs that I plan to publish periodically over the next few months. The recipe, “Pasta with Meatballs” comes from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook Nigella Bites and can also be found online. (I used the latter.) I chose it for a number of reasons: I found some ground pork in the back of the freezer; there was no frying or roasting involved; and it yielded 30 meatballs slightly larger than a cherry tomato. Another motivation came from finding her online version of the recipe, which substituted semolina for breadcrumbs as well as jarred passata for canned tomatoes.Read more
Old-Fashioned Beef Stew
Last week, I decided to proffer a farewell to winter and welcome in spring with a classic beef stew. Although my original choice for a recipe, one from Sally Schmitt’s Six California Kitchens, appealed to me for its simplicity, on second look, its lack of a thickener for a gravy and its relatively quick time for cooking the vegetables (15 minutes on high) after simmering the meat on the stove for two hours gave me some pause. Eventually, a search through my bookshelves led me to a similar recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook that addressed my concerns with the first and required only a little more effort. That it called for oven rather than stove-top cooking made it even more attractive.Read more
Short Ribs with Red Wine & Prunes
For a recent dinner party, I thought a slow-cooker dish would allow me to have everything prepared well before our guests arrived. Michele Scicolone’s The French Slow Cooker provided the perfect recipe for a blustery mid-winter evening: “Short Ribs with Red Wine and Prunes.”
With a cooking time between 8 to 10 hours on low and our guests arriving at 6PM, I figured I’d have to get everything into the slow cooker by 8 or 9AM. So, with prepping the aromatics and browning two batches of ribs, I planned a starting time around 6AM.
Well, as the saying goes about “the best laid plans,” things went astray when I over slept and arose after 9 that morning. My only solution was to pass on the slow cooker and go with the tried-and-true enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for the braise. Fortunately, the internet provided some helpful guidelines for converting the recipe for the stove that suggested reducing the cooking time to approximately 3 hours at 325°F and increasing the amount of braising liquid by about a cup since there is more evaporation with an oven than with a slow cooker.Read more
Tuscan Meatloaf with Wild Mushrooms
I first made Marcella Hazan’s Tuscan meat loaf almost 45 years ago. I was a graduate student on a research fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts and had kitchen privileges at the home where I was rooming. As the owners were away for the summer, I felt free to invite a couple over for dinner who were as passionate about food and cooking as I was. At that time, pre-internet, I only had a few cookbooks in my room and Hazan’s The Italian Classic Cookbook was my most recent acquisition. I combed through the book looking for something different, something that might surprise my guests as much by its novelty as by its flavor. About midway through, I found it: Polpettone alla Toscana, Meatloaf Braised in White Wine with Dried Wild Mushrooms. Read more
Keto Beef & Sausage Chili
Upon his physician’s advice, my husband recently decided to go on the Keto diet for the next two months. Given the intrinsic role food plays in our lifestyle, I couldn’t let him do it alone. So I’ve joined him on this a high-fat, moderate-protein, no carb or sugar venture.
Wine-Braised Chuck Roast with Onions
With limited access to the grocery store, I chose a recipe for a boneless chuck roast that required no more than what I already had on hand. Onions, a few herbs, a little tomato paste, and some white wine.
The recipe from Epicurious.com first appeared in the January 2005 issue of Gourmet magazine and, given its simplicity, it yielded, much to my surprise, one of the best pot roasts I’ve ever had either at home or in a restaurant.
Corned Beef Hash
This Saint Patrick’s Day was the first time I ever made corned beef and cabbage. Its debut at our table can only be attributed to our supermarket’s almost giving it away at a ridiculously low price and my better-half’s sneaking it into our grocery cart.
Being Italian and having attended a predominantly Irish parochial school in the 50s, I remember that Saint Patrick’s Day typically led to some kind of minor altercation between the Irish majority and the Italian minority, with the latter opting to celebrate their saint’s day, Saint Joseph, two days later on the 19th.