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

Tag: parsley

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!

crabcakes!!!! . . .

I’ve been pretty disciplined about using up leftovers and cooking out of the freezer, fridge and pantry for quite awhile now. Today, I let loose and decided to treat ourselves to a dinner with homemade crabcakes, cole slaw and corn muffins.

There are lots of recipes online for making crabcakes. Trust me, some say you can’t make crabcakes without using Old Bay seasoning. Others argue about the type of crab (fresh is best and ours comes from Maine.) All kinds of fillers are proposed: celery, parsley, onion, shallots, green onion, bread crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, etc. etc. etc.

Here’s what I put together: fresh crabmeat, not shredded but kept in lump form while mixing; fresh breadcrumbs made this morning from leftover homemade oatmeal bread (I know this isn’t fair, but the bread was getting stale and whirred up great in the mini-processor.) I let the fresh crumbs sit out all morning on a cookie sheet to air/dry out and then stored it all in a plastic quart container. Chopped fresh parsley: sometimes dried parsley adds enough color, but real parsley has such a tangy fresh taste along with one chopped green onion, mostly white parts but some green. One egg, a dollop of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a 1/4 of a teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning plus salt and pepper. Mixed it gently together to combine.

Because I’m going to fry these in the skillet in unsalted butter, I went ahead and made meatball size rounds and rolled them gently in more of the fresh oatmeal bread crumbs. I set them on parchment paper and put them into the fridge to chill for a half an hour. This will help them hold together better in the skillet and not fall apart (hope so, anyway!)

The cole slaw at the fish market is freshly made and we like it because it’s crispy without too much mayonnaise. I also mixed together some fresh cocktail sauce and horseradish (the old jars in the fridge just wouldn’t cut it with this fresh crabmeat splurge.) Mixed it up together and squeezed a little fresh lemon in it to lighten up the pungency of the sauce.

Grilled a corn muffin in the pan, buttered sides down and then prepared to cook the crabcakes right before we were going to sit down to eat. I heated up unsalted butter in a skillet and cooked the crabcakes slowly, turning them over and on their sides until golden brown.

We found the crabcakes to be tender, cooked through and crispy on the outside. The cocktail sauce was piquant but not overpowering; the coleslaw was bland and crunchy and the corn muffin rounded out this light Spring supper. Really delicious! Yum!


fresh start . . .

Made a smoothie for breakfast that tastes lighter than usual and is very refreshing:

almond coconut milk
freshly squeezed juice from two navel oranges
fresh spinach from Idylwylde Farm (half a handful)
fresh parsley (half a handful)
fresh blueberries (a quarter of a handful)
frozen peaches (about 6 slices)
frozen banana (fresh, cut up and stored in freezer)
a large knob of peeled ginger root

Mixed in the Vitamix. Makes two tall glasses, one reserved in the fridge for later in the day.

This smoothie was markedly different from others that I have made so far. Adding freshly squeezed juice from two navel oranges to the almond-coconut milk base added flavor and resulted in lighter liquid content. Parsley and spinach were less dense greens than kale by itself. Plus, frozen fruit (peaches and banana) made the drink colder than room temperature smoothies of the past. The knob of ginger root was peeled and at least twice the size I normally use. It added zing and provided a clean aftertaste. Overall, this concoction was lighter in density, more flavorful and colder than normal: a keeper recipe to jot down in my food journal.

Last night, photos (shuffle) appeared on my Mac laptop while we watched the game (the Bruins made a stalwart effort tying the game at 5-5 but lost in overtime.) As the images came and went, I couldn’t help but notice how much older I looked a couple of years ago and even as recently as this last holiday season. In addition to growing my hair longer, I think I may have lost about twenty pounds these last six months because I feel/look much healthier/better.

Of all the things that might have helped, I think the little Oster citrus juicer has made the most difference. Whenever I find myself craving something to snack on, I juice up a pink grapefruit and two navel oranges. It is a refreshing drink that also satisfies my desire to eat something. Plus, I keep the fruit in the fridge so that the juice is nice and cold. Adding fresh juice to almond-coconut milk was a good experiment.

So, that’s today’s fresh start for the day.