mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: onion

meatballs!! (Julia Turshen’s turkey, ricotta recipe) . . .

Last week, I borrowed Julia Turshen’s cookbook called “Small Victories” from the library. I’ve noticed her presence in cookbooks with whom she’s collaborated: Mario Batali, Ina Garten and Gwyneth Paltrow (although GP of course disclaimed her help!) Anyhow, she takes a different approach with simple recipes, the “small victories” being easier ways to cook. This recipe is a good example.

Here are the differences that I experienced myself (and I cook a lot!~):

  1. I usually use a meatloaf ground meat combination to make meatballs. This is the first time I’ve used ground turkey!
  2. I’ve never used ricotta as part of the meatball mix!
  3. I’ve sauteed the meatballs in a frying pan, not formed and baked in the oven!
  4. I’ve not had the benefit of breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread before!
  5. I’ve not used so much fresh parsley or fresh herbs in the meatballs before either.
  6. I  fry chopped onion before adding it into the meatball mixture, ditto for garlic.

What I have done is to make a large batch of walnut-sized meatballs to serve for at least two meals: one is with Ragu (it really is tastier than Prego in my mind,) thin spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The second meal is usually Swedish meatballs stroganoff with mushrooms in a beef broth gravy with sour cream and fettucine pasta.

Here’s what I put together using this recipe as a springboard:

  1. I cut the recipe in half, using 1 pound of ground turkey, not 2 lbs.
  2. Used 3/4 cup of whole milk ricotta
  3. 1 egg, 1/2 freshly grated onion, 1 garlic clove grated by hand
  4. 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread
  5. 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  6. 3 sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves stripped from stems
  7. Lawry’s garlic salt and cracked pepper
  8. Mixed everything gently together with my hands; formed walnut sized meatballs and placed them on baking sheets spread with olive oil. Be sure to spray the sheet before putting the meatballs on it – otherwise, they stick like glue when they’re baked!
  9. Baked at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Tonight, I’ll heat up the meatballs (about 4 each) in Ragu traditional tomato sauce, adding some herbs and garlic to the sauce. I’ll ask G. if he wants angel hair or thin spaghetti with it – and we’ll grate lots of parmesan sauce with the microplane while we eat. A small plain butter lettuce salad with white balsamic vinegar, fig vinegar and fresh lemon mixed with olive and walnut oil goes on the side. Hope these meatballs are as tasty as they smelled coming out of the oven just now!

Footnote: The meatballs in the pan stuck when I removed them – let them cool too long – but the ones on the parchment paper came up easily. Also, I often saute some fresh zucchini and mushrooms, both sliced thinly, to augment the meatballs in the spaghetti sauce and the swedish meatball stroganoff.

And here’s a loaf of oatmeal bread fresh from the oven around 4:30 this afternoon. I used a hand mixer to mix the dough and let the bread rise: the crumb and taste of this loaf was the best we’ve ever had. I’m circling the wagons on making beautiful bread without a lot of time or fuss. Makes great toast too!

snowstorm soup (from the cupboard etc.). . .

snowstorm-soup

I’ve written about making soup a number of times: all day-beef vegetable soup; quick and easy vegetable soup; stone soup and so on. Tonight, I’ve been watching the weather report to expect some inches of snow to fall tomorrow between noon and midnight. However much snow that turns out to be, the first thing I thought about was to make a hearty soup from what I already have in the cupboard and fridge in the morning just in case the power goes out (which is an emergency we like to be prepared for.)

Leaning towards a veggie melange, I decided not to use the frozen beef and marrow bones that I have in the freezer. Instead, I’m going for onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, barley, broth and stewed tomatoes.

Here’s the actual ingredients I put together this morning: chopped vidalia onions, 2 stalks of celery and two small zucchini browned in a medium sized soup pot. Sent G. to look for carrots because I was out of them. He returned with four small ones from the tenant who lives downstairs (I invited her to share a bowl with us for lunch.) Added five large mushrooms cut into big chunks, soaked a handful of barley in boiling water; added a Knorr beef broth gelatin pack, spring water and a can of Del Monte stewed tomatoes. After soaking, added the drained barley. The barley will make the soup thicken as it cooks. One bonus of making this kind of soup is that as it is consumed, you can make more broth to bring the liquids back up and make more servings. We’re enjoying soup, not a stew, after all!

scones-1Might make a batch of “scones” to go with a cup of soup for lunch. This is a twenty-five year old recipe that is easy to make at the last minute. (a cup and half of flour, a 3/4 cup of milk; and half a stick of hard butter & a pinch of salt.) This is actually half a recipe but the proportions are easy to fit into a small size Cuisinart. I whizz the flour and cold butter bits together with salt; add milk and blend until it’s mixed. Scoop out on a cookie sheet with a soup spoon and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. It creates a buttery biscuit that someone famously said was missing the “scone powder.” It’s because there’s no leavening in it but the blobs of dough and butter crisped up on the edges are divine.scones-2

The soup will simmer while the snow falls and with it for supper, I’m going to try a sandwich idea I saw in one of the cooking magazines that either float through the house or that I saw at Barnes and Noble the other day: a grilled cheese sandwich with prosciutto and granny smith apple slices on pumpernickel bread. I have some nice grated swiss cheese and might add some gruyere, one crispy apple and a pack of prosciutto that I picked up at Whole Foods the other day. Glad all these ingredients are on hand that helps me to avoid making a trek to the grocery store this morning!

A gourmet sandwich and soup made from the larder for dinner; and a cup of soup with buttery scones for lunch! I guess we’re glad we’re going to be inside while it snows – plus we can watch the wild card football game this afternoon at 3:30 while the snowstorm gets going outside.

Sounds pretty good to me!

millet! . . .

cooked millet with zucchini and onions. . .

cooked millet with zucchini and onions. . .

Well, I’ve been reading about millet for quite some time and even bought some once. I didn’t get around to trying it out though and bought a new batch this week. It’s one of those grains like barley and brown rice that macrobiotic recipes contain every once in a while. It sounded a little bland to me though, cooking it with just plain water.

All the recipes suggested that you dry toast the millet in a pan before

raw millet toasting in the pan. . .

raw millet toasting in the pan. . .

adding liquid to cook it. So, I did that and could smell the little particles moving around the pan that was heated to medium. I made a separate broth with instant dashi and a little soy to use as the cooking broth. After toasting for about 8 minutes, I added the broth, turned the heat down and put a lid on the pot to cook and simmer the millet.

cooked millet, fluffed up in the pan. . .

cooked millet, fluffed up in the pan. . .

millet-3

Meanwhile, I cut up some onion and a medium sized zucchini, stir frying it in a little olive oil until it was cooked through, adding just a little pinch of Maldon salt. I thought this vegetable mixture might go well, served on top of the millet when the grain was finished cooking.millet-2

The other part of our meal consists of roasted butternut squash – cut pieces brushed with melted butter and maple syrup before roasting in a 400 degree oven.

butternut squash glazed with butter & maple syrup. . .

butternut squash glazed with butter & maple syrup. . .

So this is as close to macrobiotic I’m going to get tonight. I’ve been reading that it would be good to cut out all animal and vegetable oils from cooking but haven’t gotten there – at least not yet.

dscn8474All I’m hoping for is that this meal will be satisfying to eat – both with regards to taste, mouth feel and satiety of our appetites. Oh yeah, tasty would be nice too!

Postscript: Our supper was very tasty – and the flavors of the zucchini, millet and glazed butternut squash went well together. We were both pleasantly surprised!

Postscript 2: With about a cup and a half of millet left over, I’m thinking about making millet croquettes for lunch tomorrow: chopped green onion, egg, parmesan cheese, shape into balls and fry in vegetable oil until crispy on both sides.

 

“hi-protein” life! . . .

zucchini & onion in olive oil w/cheddar cheese beside a jumbo organic egg for a hi protein breakfast!

zucchini & onion in olive oil w/cheddar cheese beside a jumbo organic egg for a hi protein breakfast!

 

My birthday was this week. It’s not a big deal to me and serves primarily as an internal milestone to adjust my life in ways that are easier and more enjoyable. So instead of waiting for New Year’s to make resolutions, I decided to make some on that day. Short and simple:

  1. DO more and buy less! (speaks volumes, doesn’t it?)
  2. Use cash for food and shop 2X a week!
  3. Read, write, play the piano and listen to music a lot!
  4. Avoid toxic people (most important for true well-being)
  5. Live fully (mindfully) and give thanks . . . every day!

That’s about it. I was tempted to put down stuff about losing a little weight or exercising but that’s so boring. But one thing I did think about this morning was what best to have for breakfast that was hi-protein, low carb, low sugar and most important – appetizing for me to eat on a regular basis.

There’s a lot to read about this topic online and some of the suggestions were either way too fussy (frittatas! eggs in avocadoes!) or expensive to make. I remembered that I had some leftover zucchini in the fridge and had just bought some jumbo organic eggs at the farmers market the other day. So I took a small frying pan, added olive oil and sauteed some chopped vidalia onion and the zucchini. Grated some fine Kerrygold cheddar cheese on top after it was cooked and fried one of those eggs with a huge yolk beside it.

It smelled wonderful and tasted even better with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and cracked pepper on top of everything. A cup of black coffee topped it off! I was so happy to discover this combination which was hiding right under my nose in the fridge! It’s not as high in cholesterol as bacon/sausage with the egg and tastier than a scrambled egg by itself. And no fruit that contains grams of carbs and sugar, no oatmeal, grits or toast, no English or corn muffins. Breakfast is my favorite meal and the carb/sugar restrictions have made it challenging since the aforementioned grains all contained high carbs along with fruit juice and fresh fruit full of carbs AND sugar!

Not anymore though with veggies and a sprinkling of cheese served with eggs. Fresh baby spinach would be good too – I even think a small braised endive with fried egg might be delicious for New Year’s Day breakfast tomorrow!

braised endive and egg with cheddar cheese

braised endive and egg with cheddar cheese

So, on New Year’s Eve, here’s to a new, repeatable hi-protein breakfast concept paired with a higher-nourishing lifestyle. . . and to living with more verve, relaxation and FUN in 2016!

tried and true . . .

chicken dinnerOne of the tried-and-true favorite dishes i like to make (and we enjoy eating) is teriyaki chicken thighs. I’ve made it using a bottled marinade (Soy Vay.) But it comes out fresher and lighter (less salty) with a marinade I put together about an hour and half before broiling. This goes well for chicken cooked on the first grill of the season too.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons Ohsawa soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Billy Bee honey, 2 tablespoons cooking sherry (Holland House); a chopped up fresh green onion and a generous amount of grated fresh ginger root (on a box grater.) It will smell heavenly.marinating chicken

Rinse the chicken thighs under cold water and dry each one thoroughly with paper towels. I always do this and do not take the pieces directly from vacuum packaging to the marinade. No excess water should be left on the pieces because it dilutes the marinade. I cover the marinating chicken with a plate on top of the bowl at room temperature for about an hour or so.

To cook, heat the broiler to high and place the oven rack a third of the way down from the broiler. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray with Pam. The pan should hold the number of thighs you are cooking so that they are close enough for the juices to run together but not so far apart that the pieces dry out during cooking. If the pan is too close to the heat source, it burns rather than cooking the chicken; if it’s too far away, you’ll be drying out the chicken rather than crisping it up. Take a look part way through and check this proportion of space and the level of heat you’re getting from your broiler.

Broiling chicken takes a little closer watching than baking, but with the soy marinade, baking can sometimes dry out the meat too quickly. I just keep an eye on broiling chicken while I’m cooking the rest of the meal.mushrooms and zucchini

zucchini and onionWith it, I like to serve sauteed zucchini with a half an onion sliced diagonally in slivers. I use olive oil and sprinkle the cooked squash with a little Maldon salt. Tonight I’m also going to cook up a packet of Minnesota wild rice (Carolina brand) with big bits of button mushrooms browned in a little unsalted butter, then added on top of the wild rice once the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. It’s Sunday, after all, right? Now, all I have to do is get to my walker in order to find the rice in the pantry.

Even though it sounds like a straightforward meal to put together, I’m lucky to have G. help me with various steps, washing pots and bowls as they are emptied, taking hot food off the burners and serving it onto our dinner plates. He’s had a number of piano moves and tunings today so it’s been a full day of work for him.

It’s nice to finally sit down to a tried-and-true meal together on a sunny, windy Spring night.

wild rice and mushrooms