Somewhat surprisingly, my backyard is not overrun with mint. Sure, it’s overrun with dogs, various weeds and oregano (so much oregano!) but not mint. I do have a healthy mint plant, though, and usually I use it for mojitos, or as I like to call them, “Other Water.”
But anyway, I rarely use mint for savory dishes, generally just drinks and garnishes for ice cream. Today I was on my own for dinner, since Josh had to do some freelance work, and all I had in the fridge (that wasn’t calabrese, anyway) was ground beef. One of my go-to meals for myself is meatballs. I like meatballs. I mean, my twitter handle is chickenmeatball, after all. This time I thought I’d use some traditional flavors from Greek cuisine—like mint and feta.
I also thought that instead of a traditional tomato sauce, or a heavy bell pepper sauce, I would use up a bag of peas I had in the freezer, thaw them and make a mint-green pea sauce to pour over my meatballs. So I set about making the meatballs (recipe below) and it was all well and good until the meatballs were almost done and I went to make the sauce…..and realized I’d already used those peas up last week. Oy.
Always check to make sure you have ingredients before you begin cooking. Yeah, yeah I know. One of those days.
But I recovered nicely, I think. I just went all-in with the mint. I made a flavored oil with fresh mint, garlic cloves, lemon juice and olive oil, and drizzled it over the meatballs, which I ate alongside some prepared fattoush salad I had leftover from Hiller’s market. Not a bad finish.
Mint Feta Meatballs with Fresh Mint Sauce
For the meatballs
- 1 pound hamburger
- 1/4 cup whole fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1 cup feta
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp black pepper
- plus a little olive oil for drizzling
For the sauce
- 1 cup fresh mint
- juice of one 1/2 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Make the meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover a lipped cookie sheet with tinfoil.
- Put the mint and almonds in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add in the ground beef, garlic salt, egg, black pepper and feta. Process until thoroughly combined.
- Using an ice cream scoop, portion out the beef mixture into round balls and place a couple inches apart on the cookie sheet. Drizzle them with just a little bit of olive oil.
- Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
Make the sauce
- Put all of the ingredients in a blender and process until the mint is well chopped and the mixture is well blended. Pour over the meatballs.
- Serve along side fattoush or a light lettuce salad.
Serving sizes will depend on your ice cream scoop, but I got 6 large meatballs out of mine. You could serve 3 people two meatballs each.
© Have Fork, Will Eat
[/frame]Saturday was a glorious day. We joined together in the holy name of burgers to celebrate the second Evernote
cookalong. And oh, what a cookalong it was. Full of juicy, grilled deliciousness, smothered in cheese and various toppings, served on golden buns.
Let’s see…the burgers themselves were turkey-feta, and ground brisket and pork. The toppings ranged from the classic cheese, tomato and lettuce to homemade double-dipped onion rings to…poutine. Yes, poutine. Our friends Jeff and Ruth are Canadian and well…they bought fresh cheese curds from Zingermans. Which made Jeff think he could also get gravy and fries. By that, I mean, he realized he could bring things to my house and I would make gravy and fries. Because I would. And I did. And then he topped the fries with the gravy. And topped the gravy with the cheese curds. And topped his burger with the poutine.
He topped his burger with the poutine. Well, I guess Sunday was Canada Day. Continue reading
One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is—how do you do it? And no, they’re not asking me how I remain so effervescently awesome–it’s clearly obvious that’s a trade secret. No, they’re asking me, “How do you put a meal together? And not a meal from a recipe you’ve searched for and pored over and planned out and executed with ninja-like precision (speaking of, there are at least 5 ninjas in this article. But you can’t see them). No, a meal from just whatever you have on hand. How do you do that?”
It occurs to me that somewhere along the line, cooking became some sort of mysterious alchemy to a disturbingly large amount of people. Food goes in one way, and deliciousness—or for some, vast amounts of thick black smoke–come out the other. What happens in between is a mystery. But it really doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to go down the long, dark path to Frozen Foodland most nights, or make the same safe spaghetti and meatball dish every single night. Not that I’m hating on meatballs–I love meatballs, some of my best friends are meatballs–or anything like that. But of all the things in the world to fear, making dinner shouldn’t be one of them. You don’t always have to have a plan. It works to just toss in what you have. Continue reading
And if that’s not an incentive for you to try it, well…I’m out of ideas.
So a while back, my mother in law accidentally bought half a cow. I know you, internet reader, and I know that your first instinct is to quip, “Which half? Front or back?” Oh you witty person, you. After that, you’ll ask how someone “accidentally” purchases a half of an animal that can weigh up to 700 pounds when they really meant to just buy a quarter? I’m not sure but frankly it sounds like something I would do.
Anyway, because of that, Josh and I got a fabulous gift of a large amount of beef that we’ve been whittling down over the past couple months—ground beef, steaks, chuck roasts. And yesterday, short ribs.
I love short ribs. “But Lauren,” you say, “You love any kind of ribs.” Yes, that’s true too. And with good reason: they are delicious. Beef short ribs are the bovine equivalent of pork spare ribs and can be found cut into a variety of ways. While I don’t crave them in the same obsessive manner that I tend to crave pork ribs (hey, the pig is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy), I do enjoy them now and then in place of a good roast. They’re an excellent candidate for braising, which is not quite baking and not quite boiling. Once when I was practically swimming in an overflow of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, I made pomegranate-braised short ribs with an ancho chile and chocolate rub. It was pretty awesome. This dish is somewhat similar, but more “traditional” and a bit less fruity. Also, I’ve replace the healthy benefits of pomegranate with the healthy benefits of a full bottle of red wine: let’s see if anyone notices! Continue reading
uh yes please
I picked out glasses yesterday afternoon. Prescription sunglasses, to be precise. I can’t really tell you what they look like though. I’m not even really sure. That’s the problem with having to try on glasses when you don’t wear contacts and are otherwise mostly blind. But hey, in about 3-4 weeks when they come in, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised! Or horrified. We’ll see. Ha. We’ll see. Get it? Yeah.
So after that, I walked down to Kerrytown and waited for Josh to pick me up. It’s after five at this point. Then we have to go get the dog because yes, my dog goes to doggy daycare once a week so he can run around and socialize like the wild beast that he is. Of course, to get him, we have to drive through all the construction down on Main Street by Stadium and then once we’ve got him, we have to stop at the bank. And then drive through rush-hour traffic through town because there’s no way we’re hitting I-94 at this hour and by the time we get home, settled, mail on the table, shoes off the feet, bathroom break taken care of, dog fed, etc, etc, etc, we’re looking at almost 7pm and time to make dinner and I’m starving. I also have a lot of freelance work to do—videos to edit, DVDs to burn, that sort of thing–and don’t want to be on my feet all night cooking. And then there’s that nagging little voice that says, “Screw cooking; order a pizza from Aubree’s. With breadsticks. Don’t forget my breadsticks.” Continue reading
A simple rub for a simple gal…I used this rub on some flank steak for fajitas tonight and it was really pretty good. Interesting flavor, nice spice level that just hits you at the back of the throat, and simple to make. Just throw it together, rub it on your favorite type of meat and let it sit and marinate for a couple of hours.
What’s the mix?
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground ancho chiles
1 tbsp ground chipotle chiles
1 tbsp kosher salt
Mix ingredients together. Spread on meat. Cook meat. Be happy.
You: Is that it?
Me: Is that what?
You: Is that all?
Me: That’s all she wrote, chief.
You: Who’s she?
Me: Me. I wrote it. You read it.
Me: Just now.
You: Right on.
I got a notice that POM Wonderful was having a recipe contest and I thought, “Self, we’ve never entered a recipe contest before. We should give it a shot.” Self said, “We’ll never win.” And I replied, “Way to be defeatist, Self. The point is that it’s an excuse to be creative.” Self: “Since when do we need an excuse?” Me: “Since you started screwing with my chi.” Self: “Oh okay.” So we shook on it. Mentally.
So now that Self and I were in agreement (which happens much less often than you might imagine), I started thinking about various winter meals we could make with pomegranate. I considered roasting a chicken basted with a pomegranate compound butter. Iactually did that one, too. It wasn’t bad. But it didn’t make me go, “Mmmmmmmmmmmm” with my head tilted back and my mouth wide open slouched in a chair like Homer Simpson. I also thought about stuffing a pork tenderloin with spinach and goat cheese and cooking it in a pomegranate glaze. Haven’t done that yet…but probably will, because thinking about it now has me drooling a little bit, I’ll admit it. Continue reading
You know, I tried really hard to think of a witty lead in for this blog post, but I’ve got nothing. I blame it on Monday. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. [Edit: Thankfully, Sophia saved me with a hilarious new title that you can read above.]
But anyway, tonight we made calzones. Partly out of a want of pizza on my part, partly out of a guiltiness that I pasted a calzone recipe into my Evernote months ago and had yet to get around to making it, and partly because Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale. I figured, heck, at home we already had cheese, peppers, onions, garlic, spinach and mushrooms and tomatoes…all we had to do is pick up the beef and some pizza dough. AND we–and by “we” I mean “I”–could make enough for tonight and tomorrow’s lunch. Genius. Of course, once at the store, a few other items got added to the list, mostly due to Josh’s deep-seated love for pepperoni and pizza sauce. And then it came down to the crust.
What to use?
I mean, at this point, I’m feeling too lazy to make my own pizza crust. And by “this point,” I mean “I am always too lazy to make my own pizza crust.” But Busch’s only had (that I know of) frozen pizza crusts, and we didn’t want to wait for a dough ball to thaw. Nor did we really trust the canned Pillsbury pizza crust (don’t get me wrong–I am not a food snob (much) and and I have made more than my share of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, biscuits and donuts but pizza dough? In a can? For some reason I won’t go that far). And we didn’t want to venture to another store to get fresh pizza dough. So I did the only reasonable thing: I picked up a couple of pie crusts. Pillsbury. My reluctance to embrace pizza-in-a-can also does not extend to ready-made-roll-out-pie crusts. I’m a complex creature. There’s no point in trying to figure it out. Continue reading
Tonight, I made gratin de poireaux and steak aux champignons.
First, I love the word “champignon.” It is one of my all time favorite French words, along with “l’ananas,” “raplapla,” and “pamplemousse.” A champignon is a mushroom. The others are pineapple, wiped out, and grapefruit, respectively. I mean, come on. These words are fantastic. And the only thing better than a great dinner is a great dinner with a kick-ass name.
Take “gratin de poireaux.” It sounds so much fancier when you say it that way, rather than just “leek gratin.” And it’s more fun to eat, too, especially when you’ve got a nice, French-inspired tablecloth down, some pinot grigio and a buttery croissant. Oh and steak. Cooked in cream. Because we can.
For those of you who aren’t as taken with French things as I am (five years of French class in high school and college will do that to you), then just read the following words: bacon. onions. butter. potatoes. goat cheese. steak. mushrooms. cream. wine.
Now that I have your full attention, I will continue.
Happy Labor Day!
Well, there it goes. The end of my summer. Not with a bang. Not really a whimper. More of an “Ehhhhh I don’t wanna.” Or a “Meh.” A sullen “meh” though, not one of those nonchalant “I just don’t care” mehs. Not here.
But instead of doing a giant barbecue (mmm barbecue) as a last hurrah to the last day of summer, I instead decided to put my best foot forward into fall with a dinner meal inspired by fall colors and fall comfort food: meatloaf.
All right, I’ll be honest. I had my first slice of meatloaf about two years ago. Seriously. I’d never had it before that. I always figured it was because my mom was a vegetarian, and while she made many meat dishes for the rest of us omnivores, why mold raw meat if you don’t have to? Surprisingly, this was all apparently new to my mom, who is convinced that she made us meatloaf when we were kids. In fact, when I told her she didn’t, she was absolutely taken aback and incensed and insisted on calling my sister to verify that she made meatloaf. It went something like this:
Mom: What? I made you guys meatloaf all the time. Don’t you remember? I used to put three strips of bacon across the top.
Me: Uh, no mom, I don’t know who you made that for, but it wasn’t us.
Josh: stifling a laugh
Mom: Well we’ll see what your sister says about this. Picks up phone, dials. Arica, didn’t I make you guys meatloaf when you were kids? Brief pause WHADDYA MEAN “NO?!” Continue reading
Josh and I are trying a new thing this month: not spending half our take home pay in food costs. Radical, I know. Especially when there’s only two of us. Well, and Winston, but he doesn’t get people food, much to his dismay. But between eating out fairly often (especially lunches during the work week, Sunday breakfasts at Afternoon Delight or Mark’s Midtown Coney Island and the frequent dinner out alone or with friends) and shopping at some not-so-wallet-friendly places just because they happen to be right across the street (coughwholefoodscough) and have an excellent meat counter, we do spend an inordinate amount of money on food. That and we tend to not eat leftovers, and we buy expensive ingredients because well…we’re foodies. We like to make and cook food of various types, and we get bored easily so…well, you can see how it lands us into trouble.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Economizing. Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale! I adore ground sirloin. So we bought a family pack of the stuff because hey, we eat beef pretty often (can you tell?), we have a ton of plastic baggies AND we have one of the greatest kitchen tools ever–a countertop scale. We are in business.
And because I had this lovely pack of ground beef, I decided to try something new that would also utilize mostly ingredients I already had in the cupboards: beef kofta.
Kofta, or kefta, are basically Middle Eastern/South Asian meatballs which have variations numbering in the hundreds. Often you’ll see them shaped like sausages and grilled on sticks. That’s more or less what I was going for here. Emboldened by the fact that kofta can be so varied, I didn’t worry about whether it’s truly authentic (I can assure you it’s not) and just focused on making something tasty, easy and quick.
Which brings us, finally, to the recipe. Continue reading
Sure we just had barbecue last night and perhaps if we were lesser mortals, we’d avoid doing some version of barbecue tonight. Ha. Right. We’re not average mortals. We’re superheroes. Wonder Twin powers, activate! Form of…bbq beef sandwiches!
Just kidding. Maybe.
Anyway, I put it to Josh to decide what we were having for dinner tonight, since I decided the last few times. He suggested pasta. Mmm. Eh. We do pasta a lot. But it made me think of meatballs, so I countered with “meatball sandwiches.” And then he countered with an absolutely brililant idea–why don’t we get the butcher to thinly slice a pound of roast for us and makes barbecue beef sandwiches like I get at Pizza House? I figured sure, it would be like the cheese steaks we sometimes make, but with barbecue sauce. Delicious.
So we did. If you’ve never taken full advantage of having a grocery store nearby with a real butcher in it, you should. They’re trained to do it, they can do it quickly, and they really don’t mind. Talk to them. They have ideas, they know what’s good—and ours today clued us in on an upcoming porkchop sale this weekend…faaaabulous. Anyway, we asked him to just measure us out a pound of one of their great looking chuck roasts and slice it paper thin. Voila! Perfect sandwich meat. Time to get home and get cooking. Continue reading
Like most things I cook, I didn’t have a recipe for this per se. I just threw in flavors that I enjoyed in the estimated quantities below and I have to tell you, my apartment now smells fantastic. The cinnamon, cumin and coconut are just wafting through the air and even though I was making this for tomorrow’s lunch, I was so tempted to just eat it all right then and there while standing at the stove. To go with it, I cooked up some couscous (the best 5 minute food there is) with chicken stock and dried rosemary. Josh is out of town, so I more or less engineered this recipe to feed just myself. It’d be very easy to increase the recipe by however many people you’d like to feed.
I wasn’t going to blog this recipe…it’s a plain old lasagna. And it’s July. Who bakes a lasagna in July and blogs about it? Me. At Josh’s request. That Josh is a bad influence.
Anyway, here is the basic recipe: Continue reading
Today was a pasta kind of day. You know those days. It was rainy all morning and wet and even though it cleared up this afternoon, it just seemed like a day that was destined for noodles covered in sauce wearing some sort of delicious cheese. We have pasta pretty often, though, and I wanted something not quite the same as the usual linguine or rigatoni with meatballs or meat sauce with ground beef. So we went with a variation on the theme with a more traditional ragù. Sometimes ragù is known as bolognese sauce, although traditional bolognese is made somewhat differently (served with tagliatelle or green lasagna and containing beef (sometimes pork or lamb), pancetta, onions, carrots, tomato paste, broth, red wine and sometimes cream or milk) and comes from Bologna, Italy.
So what did I do?
I went shopping. I had to. We were actually almost entirely out of pasta, which is very rare for us. So on the way home from work, Josh and I headed to Busch’s and picked up a package of beef stew meat (I would have used a cheap cut of shoulder and chopped it up myself, but there were none), a can of crushed tomatoes, onions, a bag of shell pasta (conchiglie) and a small block of parmesan. Including the cost of the pizza dough from yesterday to make garlic bread with, the entire dinner worked out to about $10 not including spices. Woot!
Now, generally I can make a pasta dinner for the two of us in a half hour. Tonight it was an hour and a half, and most of that was simmering the sauce to cook the stew meat long enough to let it start to melt into the sauce. I’m a big fan of packaged beef stew meat for slowcooked meals. It’s cheap, it’s delicious when properly seasoned, it responds well to long cooking times and hey, who doesn’t love the iron and the protein? Vegetarians, that’s who. Continue reading
Nacho bar night!
So what we did was a very simple beef nacho dish: diced bulb onion and 2 diced garlic cloves from our farm share, 1 pound grass-fed ground beef, lots of spices (particularly ancho chile powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, red pepper, salt, black pepper, dried thyme), 2 cups frozen bell pepper mix and 1 can spicy whole black beans.
Toppings? Shredded mozzarella and a monterey jack blend, guacamole, salsa and mesclun mix. Chip selection? Garden Fresh Gourmet Corn Tortilla Chips.
I went with the simple stacking method: chips, thin layer of cheese, beef mix, thin layer of cheese, mesclun mix, salsa, thin layer of cheese, heated in the microwave until cheese melts and the greens wilts, topped with guacamole. The layers of cheese in between are key (and this goes for pizza, too), because it keeps the toppings from sliding off. Instead it all meshes together nicely.
Josh also did the layering method with his chips (skipping the lettuce) but then took it one stop further, preparing it all on a baking sheet and bakng it in the oven for about 5 minutes.
And for you carb haters out there (though I will never understand your strange and foreign ways), in lieu of corn chips, you can substitute cabbage or lettuce wraps!
While Josh and I do love our culinary explorations of things like grilled pizza and Moroccan Spice Chicken, sometimes we like to just go back to a couple of our childhood faves:
Sloppy Joes and Kraft Mac and Cheese.
Now, Josh doesn’t let me doctor up the Cheesy Mac too far beyond adding a bit of broccoli or spinach, but I do have a variety of twists on sloppy joes, including adding in sliced garlic and onion, bell peppers, spinach, steak seasoning, sliced chili peppers, etc. Tonight, though, we kept it simple (and I kept it open faced). Sometimes the oldies are goodies.
This week’s farm share brought in some great goodies: most notably, our first bulb garlic! Yay! Also more Swiss chard and kale and bulb fennel, which we donated to family/friends, kohlrabi, broccoli, bok choy, new potatoes and chives.
Kohlrabi is an interesting little plant that I’ve wanted to try before but never bothered to purchase. It’s a small, hard cabbage with a texture similar to a cabbage heart but very faint in flavor. We used it, the potatoes, 2 cloves from the bulb garlic and the cabbage from last week to make tonight’s dinner…
Grilled NY Strip Steaks with Basil-Thyme Pesto Potatoes and Sautéed Cabbage and Kohlrabi. Continue reading
Tonight’s meal, in pictures:
Dolce bleu cheese, heirloom tomatoes, green leaf lettuce
Grilled corn on the cob with lime and grated parmigiano cheese
Bleu cheese burger!