Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs and Pie (Oh my!)

The next recipe comes via the Jamie Oliver Forum and from one of the members whose family is from Greece. Koukouvagia (her forum name) lives in NYC and brings a Greek flavor to our current topic. This is her take on meatballs:

Here's a greek meatball. They are usually eaten as a fried appetizer but we often drizzle tomato sauce over them and serve them with pasta.

-1lb ground beef (chuck)
- 1 lbs ground pork
- 2 medium onions grated
- 1 bunch scallion finely chopped
- handful fresh chopped parlsey
-handful fresh chopped mint
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 eggs
- splash of red wine
- 3 or 4 slices of bread
- splash of milk
- olive oil for frying
- salt/pepper

1. Remove the crust from the bread and cut into chunks in a bowl. Pour a little milk over the bread and set it aside to absorb.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs. Add the onion, scallion, garlic, herbs, and salt/pepper. Combine.
3. Add the mince. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add the bread too.
4. Combine swiftly - do not overmix!! Overmixing will cause the meat ball to be tough.
5. Form into ping pong sized balls and set aside.
6. Pan fry in olive oil and drain on paper towels. Voila.

Tip - don't overmix
Tip - Don't add breadcrumbs, they will make your meatball dry.

To overmix or not overmix seems to be something that few can agree on. Or maybe "mix well" does not equal overmixing. Who knows. You must be the judge.

John Lennon once said (sang), "There are places I remember in my life though some have changed. Not forever or for better. In my life, though some remain..."
On my last trip to Michigan, I took a few days and went back to my home town of Battle Creek where I had planned to indulge in a shrimp salad from downtown restaurant that had been there for years. Just before my trip I went online to check the hours to make sure I would get there in time. Something in me died a little as I found that their website only contained a "For Sale" advert along with the realtor's name who was handling the property. One more thing that I could never go to again along with Emilio's (the Mexican restaurant by which I judged all others) The Spa Steakhouse where I bussed tables and fell in with the comradery of the wonderful social misfits that end up serving food to the public, The Clock Restaurant, that 24-hour eatery where I got my first cooking job in Battle Creek and where the best potato pancakes and sausages were made in the deep fryer, The Knight's Inn (Holiday Inn restaurant) ran by the cheapest man I'd ever worked for (he had moles in the kitchen who would rat you out for snitching a sausage)
All of them gone. Just dreams now. But there is that one place that still has that one pie...
On the show last Monday, I talked about a place near Battle Creek, Michigan called Cornwall's Turkey Farm. It's one of those places that I hope is there for years and years to come. Although it's not unchanging, it's gone through several incarnations but still offers something sweet from my youth....Peanut Butter Pie.
My old standby at Cornwall's was always the same: A Sloppy Tom (think of pulled turkey thigh in a sloppy joe sauce on a humongous homemade roll) Large Iced Tea and Peanut Butter Pie.
Ahhh peanut butter. The treat that we were not allowed to have in the house as kids because of an addicted sibling. It was like you can't have cooking sherry in the house because Uncle Louie the Alky is coming to visit. So it was with peanut butter. That's why it became such a treat to go to the Turkey Farm. As big and as filling as the Sloppy Tom was, I could always find a space (usually where my lungs were supposed to be) for a mouth watering slice of Peanut Butter Pie.
And I'm serious about the lung thing. You couldn't breathe by the time you waddled out to your car.
I don't have Cornwall Turkey Farm's recipe for peanut butter pie but I do have one every bit as good that my sister's college friend, Marjean, shared with me several years ago.
Note that this recipe calls for Cool Whip. Feel free to use fresh whipped cream instead as I do.

Peanut Butter Pie
1 graham crust - the one I made was from scratch....
> 1 1/4 c. graham crackers, crushed
> 1/4 c sugar
> 6 Tbls. melted butter
> mix, press in pan and chill - 45 minutes
> Beat individually together:
> 2 3 oz pkgs. cream cheese (I use a little
> less)
> 1 C powdered sugar
> 1/2 C peanut butter (I use creamy, but crunchie is good
> too)
> 1/2 C milk (I used 2%)
> Fold in 9 oz. cool whip
> sprinkle top w/ 1/4 c chopped nuts and freeze
> I have also added shaved chocolate or drizzled chocolate
> syrup
> on the top also.
> Enjoy,

Thanks, Marjean. I have enjoyed it ever since you passed the recipe on. Hope my readers and listeners will as well.

Last Monday's quck fix (which was different than the one you may have heard on the "rebroadcast") was a reicpe I picked up in Sicily a few years back.
It would be a misnomer to say that memorable times were to be had at Franco's table because the wine flowed so freely that few could remember what conversations had occured. I'll just say that good times and good food were had there and that it seems there was always a big crowd.
I can't tell you how many times I ate at that table (yes, I imbibed with the rest) but I can tell you that Franco was as generous with giving out his recipes as he was pouring the next glass of wine.
Franco loves spaghetti and he made it several different ways during out visit to Sicily. This is a wonderful way to make it particularly if you have wild fennel available. If not, subsitute a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Also, when you serve this to guests, don't tell them it has tuna in it.
I can promise you that there are those who will make a face and judge your abilities in the kitchen before the first strand of pasta winds its way around their forks if the meal even progresses that far. No, wait until they have to first taste and a puzzlement joined with a wonderment crosses their faces. Them tell them, "there's tuna in the sauce."

Spaghetti con Pomodoro e Tonno ala Franco

1 28 0z can plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic smashed
few sprigs of fennel tops (wild if you can get them)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 lb zucchini (peeled and diced)
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for frying zucchini)
1 small can (80 grams) of good Italian tuna (drained and flaked)
salt to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Pass tomatoes through a food mill and put in a pan together with garlic, fennel, sugar and olive oil. Simmer for 15-20 min. and fish out garlic and fennel
Meanwhile, saute diced zucchini in olive oil until golden and season with salt.
Add zucchini to sauce and heat through and then add tuna.
Mix sauce with finished pasta and serve.
Although it's a no-no to use grated cheese with fish, we can help but love us our pecorino!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! It is wonderful evocative writing! A pleasure to read!