Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chicken Meatballs with Tomato-Balsamic Glaze

Since I stopped being a vegetarian, I've started a love affair with meatballs (save the jokes). And like with most love affairs, things get stale after a while if you don't spice things up a little. Maybe that's the wrong expression to use (because these aren't at all spicy). But you know what I mean...mix it up a little. These did the trick. Because of the glaze, they're kind of like little mini meatloaves (then again, I guess all meatballs sort of are).

Makes 14 meatballs

1 egg
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken (preferably not all breast meat)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Tomato-Balsamic Glaze:
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

1.      Preheat oven to 325º F.
2.      In a large bowl, combine egg, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Mix well with a wire whisk, making sure the tomato paste is completely dissolved.
3.      Add ground chicken, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Use your hand to mix ingredients together. Mixture will be somewhat wet. Form medium size balls (an ice cream scooper with wire scraper works well) and place onto ungreased baking sheet or very large baking dish.
4.      Make the glaze by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl, then brush over meatballs (if you don't have a brush, just use a spoon). Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 160º F. Remove from oven and serve.

barely adapted from
egg, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, milk, salt & pepper
adding chicken, bread crumbs & cheese
raw chicken meatballs
tomato paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar & sugar
glaze mixed

I doubled the glaze from the original recipe - I like mine
extra glazy (which should really stand for good & lazy,
but in this just, just means with lots of glaze)
glazing meatball
chicken meatballs with tomato-balsamic glaze

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

French Onion Bites

If you ever wished you could eat a bowl of onion soup with your hands (without the pesky broth and second degree burns), then these French onion bites are for you. I suppose I made them a little less onion soupy by switching the bread in the recipe to little filo cups, so if you want the full experience, don't do that. But they were just so cute (and just so there in my freezer, which I cannot say for a freshly baked baguette).

Makes 36 hors d'oeuvres

1 baguette, sliced 1/4-inch thick (36 slices)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Gruyere (using a microplane, about 3 oz.)

1.      Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
2.      Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
3.      Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until butter is melted, then cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
4.      Uncover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Add wine and cook until entirely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic clove, bay leaf, and thyme. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, covered.
5.      Preheat broiler.
6.      Arrange toasts on a large baking sheet, then top each with a rounded teaspoon of caramelized onions and sprinkle generously with shredded Gruyere. Broil 3- to 4-inches from heat until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully).

Cooks' Notes:
•Onions can be caramelized 1 week ahead and kept chilled.
•Bread slices can be toasted and cheese shredded 3 days ahead. Keep toasts in an airtight container at room temperature and keep cheese chilled.

from Gourmet Live by Maggie Ruggiero

raw onions with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
(I added the bay leaf right after I took this photo)
adding white wine to the caramelized onions
garlic, thyme and bay leaf removed
filo cups

I used frozen Athens Mini Fillo Shells.
filling with onions
topped with cheese
ready to bake
french onion bites

Friday, February 15, 2013

Roasted Garlic Bacon Dip

Sometimes you make a recipe and it surprises you. Then there are other times when you end up with exactly what you expected. This was one of those times. I expected lots of luscious mellow roasted garlic flavor melded with salty, smoky bacon and a hint of pungence from the chives and scallions - all enveloped in a blend of creamy mayo and sour cream. And that's exactly what I got. Loved it!

Yield: 2 ½ cups

3 heads garlic, left whole and unpeeled
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.      Heat oven to 400º F.
2.      Cut just enough off the tops of the garlic heads to expose the cloves. Rub each head with olive oil and wrap in foil (or place in a ramekin and cover with foil). Roast until tender and golden, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
3.      While the garlic roasts, lay the bacon strips on a sheet pan and bake at the same temp. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bacon is very crispy. Blot on paper towels. Once cooled, finely chop.
4.      Once the garlic is cool enough to hold, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
5.      Combine roasted garlic and bacon with the remaining ingredients and season to taste.

barely adapted from

roasted garlic
crispy bacon
all ingredients
roasted garlic bacon dip

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Triple Heart Cookies

I wanted to make Valentine's Day cookies this year, but didn't feel like icing each one individually. So I thought this was a good idea for making cute hearts with a little less time and effort. I like the way they turned out. True they're not red or pink, but I think that makes them a little classier. They may not be the tux of Valentine's Day cookies, but they're at least the suit and tie (definitely not the t-shirt and sweats).

You'll  need:
- rolled sugar cookie dough (made with 3/4 cup more sugar than the original recipe)
- chocolate rolled cookie dough (see recipe below)
- heart cookie cutters (various sizes)

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Yield: about 3 dozen (depending on size)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva) or extra strong coffee*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

*can be made by dissolving 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso in 3 tablespoons warm water

1.      Sift together (or gently stir with a whisk) the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2.      With an electric mixer cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fully incorporated and fluffy.
3.      Beat in egg, liqueur and extract.
4.      Add in flour/cocoa mixture about 1 cup at a time.  Blend until fully incorporated.  (If you are using a hand mixer you may need to add the last cup of flour by hand).
5.      Divide dough into 2 or 3 disks, wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator 1-2 hours.
6.      Once chilled, work with one ball of dough at a time, and roll onto a lightly floured surface.  I find it works best to place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough, and then roll on top of the parchment.  This prevents the dough from sticking to your rolling pin, and you also don’t need to add as much extra flour (as you would without the parchment).
7.      Heat oven to 350º F.
8.      Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet.
9.      Place the baking sheet in the freezer about 5 minutes (this helps the dough keep its shape when baked).
10.  Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes (depending on size).
11.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

barely adapted from
cutting hearts out of the rolled sugar cookie dough

Remember when you make it to increase the sugar
by about 3/4 cup (since these are not being iced,
they won't be sweet enough without the extra sugar).
cutting hearts out of the chocolate dough
hearts mixed

I recommend putting the baking sheet in the
fridge for about 15 minutes before baking
(so the cookies hold their shape better).

I baked these at 375
º F. for about 8 minutes
(one recipe said 350
º F. and the other
said 400
º F., so I split the difference).
baked triple heart cookies
more triple heart cookies
triple heart cookie close up
I had some dough leftover, so I rolled them up
together, then sliced and baked into swirl cookies.

Check out these other Valentine's Day sweet treats:
Caramel-Chocolate Truffles with Fleur de Sel
Chocolate-Zucchini Mini Cupcakes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Beer Ice Cream with Pretzel Crunch

Naturally when I made pretzel crunch the other day, it was screaming out to be paired with beer ice cream. At least I could hear the screaming (it's hard above all that crunching, you really have to listen). And with the superbowl happening today, it didn't have to scream at me twice. I'm not a big beer drinker, but I do have a huge appreciation for booze with sweets. My only regret is that I didn't think of it sooner so you could be dishing this out to your friends tonight. Oh well, if it had to be one of us, I'm glad it's me.

Makes about 1 ½ quarts

12 oz. beer*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large yolks
2 cups heavy cream
2 to 3 cups pretzel crunch

*A malty beer that is 8–11% ABV is best (avoid overly hoppy beers since hops become bitter once cooked).

1.      Pour beer into liquid measuring cup. Add 5 oz. beer to 8-inch skillet and bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer until beer is reduced by half, about 10 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to avoid creating too much foam. Return reduced beer to measuring cup with remaining 7 oz. beer. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
2.      Place fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl. Prepare ice bath in large bowl.
3.      Whisk together sugar, malt powder, salt, and egg yolks in large saucepan until smooth. Whisk in cream and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, until mixture thickens to custardy consistency and registers 180º F., about 10 minutes (custard should coat back of spoon enough that dragging your finger through custard on spoon’s back leaves visible trail).
4.      Immediately pour mixture through strainer set over bowl, whisk in beer mixture, and set in ice bath. Whisk occasionally until custard reaches room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
5.      Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mix in the pretzel crunch.
6.      Transfer to glass or plastic container, press plastic wrap or waxed paper against surface of ice cream, and cover with tight-fitting lid. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours and preferably 24 hours. Ice cream will keep, frozen, up to 5 days.

I know nothing about beer...I picked this one because
the guy at the liquor store told me it was malty.
beer before reducing
reduced beer
adding reduced beer to beer with vanilla
sugar, malted milk powder, salt and yolks
cream whisked in
getting thick and custardy in the pan
strained; whisking over ice bath
adding the beer mixture
beer custard in the ice cream maker
(the next morning)
beer ice cream
adding pretzel crunch
beer ice cream with pretzel crunch