It’s been a while since I last posted but there is so much material I have stocked up that I hope it makes up for my absence.
After coming back from my 2 month long relaxing India trip, I am really pumped up to try new things at home. Both me and my husband are really fond of meatballs. It’s one of our staples that we like to have at least once a week. My husband generally avoids red meat so we mostly go for Aidell’s caramelized chicken meatballs from Costco. I always had the impression that meatballs are very complicated to make at home, but surprisingly they are pretty easy and I got them right on my first try (which is a very rare event..:P).
So here is the process-
Total time: 40-45mins
Makes 25-30 meatballs depending on the size.
- 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon ketchup, optional
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1.5 pound ground dark turkey meat
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons finely ground fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1.5 cup tomato puree
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
For the meatballs:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil, parsley, milk, ketchup, tomato paste, salt, pepper, eggs, garlic and onions. Mix well using a spatula. Add the ground turkey. Gently mix all the ingredients using your fingers until thoroughly combined.
- Form the meat mixture into balls (25-30 meatballs approximately). Place the meatballs on a nonstick baking sheet, spacing apart. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
For the tomato sauce:
- Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the basil, the fennel, oregano and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through. Thin the sauce with chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time.
- Serve with grated Parmesan alongside and some slices of freshly toasted french bread.
I’ve always wondered what exactly is French cuisine and what differentiates it from Italian cuisine as wine and cheese form a major part of both styles and both have a very rich and subtle pallet. After a little research, it turns out that during medieval times French cuisine was highly influenced by Italian cuisine and as centuries went by, it slowly got rid of its italian influence and developed its own unique style.
I wanted to try one of the classic french dishes called Poulet a L’estragon which is Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine sauce.
(Recipe taken from Nigella Kitchen)
Here is what you’ll need:
2 teaspoons garlic oil (or regular olive oil with 1tsp minced garlic)
2 fat scallions or 4 skinny ones, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon freeze-dried or fresh tarragon
2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
1/3 cup vermouth or white wine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh white pepper, to grind over
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus a pinch more for sprinkling
- Heat the garlic oil in a frying pan or Dutch oven that has a lid and in which the chicken breasts will fit pretty snugly. Add the scallions, stir, then sprinkle in the freeze-dried tarragon, stir again and cook them in the garlic oil for a minute, stirring some more as they cook.
- Put the chicken fillets into the pan, curved side down, and cook for 5 minutes, watching the scallions don’t burn. If they look like they’re beginning to, scrape them from the pan and let them sit on the chicken pieces.
- Turn over the breasts, and add the white wine (or vermouth). Let the wine bubble up, then add the salt. Put the lid on, turn the heat down low and leave it to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through by making a small cut into the thickest part and ensuring the juices run clear – if not, simmer for a few minutes longer and check again.
- Remove the chicken breasts to warmed plates. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, add the cream and stir well, then sprinkle in the fresh tarragon, stir again and give a good grind of white pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts, and give a final scattering of tarragon to serve.
Needless to say, the recipe turned out to be pretty awesome, my husband couldn’t believe I made this at home.;) The beauty of this recipe is that it has the perfect balance of flavors with such minimal ingredients and each playing a subtle role in bringing out its richness. And as Nigella suggests, relish the remaining gravy by scooping out every last bit of it with some nice fresh French Loaf, I loved it. This is definitely one of those dishes which makes me feel that I can never have enough of it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did..:)
We learnt about this ‘magic wand'(Harissa) from our frequent visits to the Moroccan stall at the farmer’s market. Our staple brunch every Sunday would be lamb shawarma from this stall which were without doubt the best shawarmas we had ever had. Since we became its loyal customers, after a couple of friendly chats, the vendor told us about the sauces that make his shawarma so special. One of them was Harissa. This Moroccan sauce has various versions, depending upon how hot one wants it to be. The reason I called this sauce a ‘Magic Wand’ is that it adds a flavorful punch to almost any dish. However, it is typically used to marinate meats or as a spread for wraps and also as a flavouring agent in most couscous recipes.
Here is my version which is really HOT. You can use seeded chiles, and replace some chiles with charred and peeled bell peppers to make it less hot.
- 8-9 Thai Chili or Bird’s eye chili
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lemon juiced
- salt to taste
- Soak the chiles in warm water for about 20-30 mins. Drain the chiles, reserving about 2-3 tablespoons of the soaking water and then stem the chiles.
- Stir coriander, caraway and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic for about 30 seconds. Then crush them using a mortar-pestle until finely ground.
- Finally, put all the ingredients in a blender, including coriander, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Puree until smooth. If the texture is thick, you can add a little olive oil and the reserved chili water.
Store it in a jar in the refrigerator with its top covered with olive oil.