On Top Of Spaghetti


Spaghetti + meatballs = one of my favorite quick dinners. And homemade meatballs are a lot easier to make than you might expect — hint hint to a certain little sister of mine :)

The Recipe: Easy Meatballs

Yield: approximately one dozen meatballs
Time: 35 minutes

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all ingredients, and roll into meatballs. I usually get about a dozen with this recipe, but your yield may vary depending on the size of your meatballs.

Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes (or until the centers are no longer pink — this may take longer if your meatballs are on the larger side).

And…that’s it! Homemade meatballs! They’re friends with spaghetti. And garlic bread. And parmesan cheese, sometimes.

Wanna spice things up? Crushed red pepper makes a hot addition to this recipe.


All Your Eggs In One Basket

Usually a bad idea, unless we’re talking breakfast!

Let’s just ignore the giant fingerprint in the corner of the toast from where I got impatient and pulled it out of the pan with my hand instead of a spatula…

I like my toast very light, so my eggs in a basket aren’t quite as browned as some people like theirs. The good thing about preferring light toast is that the eggs end up cooking just perfectly.

Wanna make these? So easy:

Cut a circle out of a slice of bread. I used a cookie cutter, but I’ve heard that the top of a glass works just as well.

Lightly butter each side of the bread. It’s a little bit weird with the circle missing, but it’s better than cutting the circle out of a buttered slice and getting your cookie cutters all messy.

Turn the stove to medium heat, and melt a small pat of butter in a frying pan. Place the bread in the pan, and crack an egg into the hole you cut out of the bread. Cook until the whites of the egg are solid enough to flip the entire bread-egg combo as one piece. Flip, and cook for another minute or so (until the egg is cooked through and your bread is a bit toasted). If you like darker toast or a more well-cooked egg, cook for a bit longer.

This is now my preferred way to eat an egg.

Sloppy Tiramisu Is Still Tiramisu

Let’s talk about the two things I messed up with this tiramisu:

1) I may have put a bit too much rum in the cream, preventing it from completely solidifying. I am not sorry about this.
2) I was led astray by the sales lady at Williams-Sonoma, and made the tiramisu in a trifle dish instead of the 9x12x2 dish Amber told me to use.

Okay, enough about that. It still tasted fantastic, and the only thing I really couldn’t do with this tiramisu was slice it into neat, pretty blocks.

Here’s the recipe, as emailed to me by the lovely Amber:

6 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup good dark rum, divided
1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, divided (I used intelligensia)
16 to 17 ounces mascarpone cheese
30 italian ladyfingers, or savoiardi (I finally found these at World Market)
Bittersweet chocolate, shaved or grated
confectioners’ suger (optional)

Whisk the egg yolks and suger in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until very thick and light yellow. Lower the speed to medium and add 1/4 cup rum, 1/4 cup espresso and the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup rum and 1 1/4 cups espresso in a shallow bowl. Dip one side of each ladyfinger in the espresso/rum mixture and line the bottom of a 9x12x2 inch dish. Pour half the espresso cream mixture evenly on top. Dip one side of the remaining ladyfingers in the espresso/rum mixture and place them in a second layer in the dish. Pour the rest of the espresso cream over the top. Smooth the top and cover in plastic wrap. Refridgerate overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with shaved chocolate and dust lightly with confectioners’ suger if desired.

More pictures coming soon. I have a trifle dish full of tiramisu to consume.

Lobsters Love Omelettes

Rachel: There’s lobster in these eggs?

George: Not that much. You know, they tend to shrink in the water.

Okay, so we had some lob-stah to spare after my birthday party (side note to St. Louis readers, Bob’s Seafood = incredible) and my pal Gus suggested that we cook some of it into eggs, à la the Seinfeld episode quoted above. Totally brilliant.

I do have to say, though, that I’m not the happiest with this particular recipe. Lobster + eggs + mozzarella + green onions = looks pretty, but has too many flavors going on, and they don’t necessarily play as nice as I’d like. It’s mostly the onion that’s problematic, and I knew that going in, but wanted some green. But lobster definitely works with eggs, and I’ll be making another trip out to Bob’s to give this recipe some tasty revisions.

Update: some lovely ladies that I met tonight totally helped fix the flavor problem and still keep some green on the plate. Dill. Dill is the answer.

Butter and Shortening. Not The Same.

So, I learned some things yesterday.

(1) My parents have not done much baking since I moved out of their house.

(2) Shortening does, in fact, have an expiration date. Even if it’s not printed on the container.

(3) Rancid shortening is one of the most foul things on the planet.

(4) Butter is only a semi-acceptable substitute for shortening.

All that aside, it is possible to make choreg without using shortening. It just doesn’t have the same dough texture — the dough is sticky and less friendly to work with. Simple solution: instead of braiding the choreg, make little roll shapes.
So…if your shortening happens to have gone rancid, and you’ve already started mixing everything else (cough, cough…who checks their ingredients first?), you can switch out the 1/2 lb of shortening for 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of butter. To compensate, you’ll need to add some extra flour — I honestly can’t tell you how much because I was just adding a tbsp at a time until it worked, but it was enough to make the dough not stick to my hands. Best guess? Another cup of flour.

(5) My old camera is not nearly as good as the other one. Everything looks so blurry!

On the bright side: no matter how ugly and pointy the choreg might look before they go in the oven, they’ll smooth out and look better during the baking process. I was seriously concerned with the sticky factor, but it looks like it’s not that big of a deal after all.

Want that choreg recipe? It’s right here.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Dinner in Miniature

Bite-sized bonanza! Small foods smorgasbord! Petite party treats!

Whatever you want to call it, my offering for this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event is a selection of little dishes, all intended to be eaten in a single bite (or two!). Flatware-free eating, to encourage mingling at a fun little soirée.

I have a tendency to be super indecisive about what I want to eat at any given time (Bacon! Pesto! Cheese! Fried food! Cake! Did someone say bacon?), so I’m a giant fan of tapas, dim sum, and small plates in general. Lots of little bites, packed with flavor = the way to go.

And when I’m hosting? I want to show off my favorite flavors and play around with new techniques, but I also want to enjoy the party. So, without further ado: Dinner in Miniature, a selection of bite-sized treats for an evening get-together without the formality of a sit-down meal.

Olive You

Infused olive oils pair with bread, fresh mozzarella, and grissinetti to make a dipping tray worth gathering around.

Wanna make these hot-infused oils?

Start by selecting a flavor (I went with fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh basil, but you can get creative and try your favorite herbs and spices — or a blend). Pour a small amount of olive oil (2-3 tbsp) into a saucepan, and heat on low until the oil starts to bubble a bit. Add in a few herb leaves (or a few shakes of dry spices), and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat before the spices turn brown (trust me — this does not smell good), and pour into a bowl or serving dish. Strain the oil if the herbs and spices are too large, or if you prefer a clear oil for dipping — I like to leave a bit of the herbs in, just to indicate what the flavor is. Pour in a tablespoon at a time of plain olive oil, taste-testing until the infusion is just right. Need more oil for lots of dipping? This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or expanded as large as you need; just keep the ratios consistent with your favorite small batch.

To Eetch Their Own

Okay, so maybe this one requires more than one bite, but I’ve been dying to use the tomato-as-a-bowl thing for a while now.

I borrowed the eetch recipe from my great aunt Rose (also known as AR). Eetch (which has a Wikipedia entry!) is one of my favorite Armenian dishes. It’s excellent served cold, almost like a bulgur salad — it’s refreshing, and provides a nice, cool contrast to the heavier, warmer plates. Want AR’s recipe? Click here.

Everything’s Better With Bacon

Next up: a duo of bacon-wrapped goodies.

Scallops are a favorite, but they’re even nicer when wrapped in a bacon jacket.

These couldn’t be easier to make:

Season fresh scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap each with half a slice of thick-cut bacon, and secure with a toothpick (tip: soak the toothpicks in water before assembling to prevent burning in the oven). Broil for a few minutes, watching closely to make sure the bacon doesn’t burn. Flip each piece over, and continue to broil until the bacon is done (but not overcooked!) and the scallops are opaque.

More bacon-wrapped goodness:

Dates + almonds + goat cheese + bacon = win. Savory, sweet, and creamy, all at the same time.

The assembly line on this one is pretty easy, too. Slice bacon in half, slice dates in half, stuff dates with goat cheese and wedge almonds inside, close dates, wrap in bacon. Broil until the bacon is cooked.

Don’t Be Crabby…

Or do! These little mini crab cakes aren’t overloaded with breadcrumbs or fluff — the emphasis on crab makes them a little bit heartier.

Served in a ramekin with a slice of lemon — simple and perfect.

These guys are super easy to fry, and are done in minutes! (this recipe is also a bit too long for this post, but it’s inspired by the crab cake recipe in How To Cook Everything…check back soon, when I’ll change this text to a link to a new post with my recipe!)

Sweet Sippers

In shot glasses, of course!

Keeping with the one-bite theme, these bright-colored beverages were served in individual portions.

Blue: a citrusy blue “lemonade” with citron vodka and blue curacao.

Red: a cran-apple liquid Jell-o shot, made with cranberry-flavored gelatin (un-set), vodka, and apple schnapps.

Green: a shot that I like to call the “starburst,” due to its similarity to the candy of the same name. Vodka, peach schnapps, apple schnapps, lemon juice, lime juice, cranberry juice, and sugar.

Covert Confection

And after all of those savory treats: little pancakes, stuffed with mascarpone and chocolate hazelnut spread.

They look a little bit like cornbread, but they’re really dessert! Also…I couldn’t help myself when I saw the special stuffed-pancake pan at Williams-Sonoma. I snagged the batter recipe when I bought the pan — it’s super light and fluffy (and also huge…definitely one to pare down). Mastering the filling part was a bit of a challenge, and I definitely spent some time cleaning melted chocolate hazelnut spread off the stovetop, but it was completely worth it!

So…take a bite. Or several!

Thanks, FoodBuzz, this was an awesome time :)

Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice

My pumpkin pie recipe is a bit heavy on the sugar and spice, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Call it a Pumpkin Spice Pie if it’s not quite orange enough for you, but try a slice before deciding that it’s not a real pumpkin pie.

The first slice of pie never comes out pretty.

The Recipe:
Pumpkin (Spice) Pie

2 cups pumpkin purée
3 eggs
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
one pie crust (pre-made, or from scratch)

Do This
Preheat your oven to 425.
Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, and 2 of the eggs until well-blended. The pie filling should be dark brown in color. I know…this means that the pie won’t be pumpkin orange. This is mostly the brown sugar’s fault. If the filling is very liquid in consistency, don’t worry – it will solidify as it bakes, and actually come out quite fluffy.

This pumpkin-y goop will soon become delicious pie!

Place the pie crust into a pie pan. You can use a ready-made crust, or make your own.
Separate the third egg, and discard the yolk. Beat the egg white with a teaspoon of water. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the upper edges of the pie crust with this glaze.

Action shot! Brushing the glaze onto the pie crust.

Carefully pour the pie filling into the crust. Make sure to leave room at the top for expansion – I like to leave at least half an inch.
Slide the pie into the oven. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350. Continue to bake the pie for about 45 minutes (or until a clean fork inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean). Remove from heat, and allow to cool before serving. Whipped cream is optional; I decided to enjoy the pie without any toppings.

Not the bright pumpkin orange you’re used to.

This pie makes the entire house smell festive while it bakes. It’s spicy and dark, but surprisingly fluffy. Perfect for a chilly autumn night.