Category Archives: Fun with Food
Mrs J brought in a 5-gallon bucket full of tomatoes and then went back out for another half-bucket. I put the juicer to work and filled a 12 quart pot. I watched it closely while it simmered because a boil over was likely. It finally reduced enough to start adding onions and spices and chicken base. My calculations told me that when the juice was reduced to 3-1/2 inches it would amount to 6 quarts of soup.Ta-Da! It’s not much compared to the math those ladies did for the Apollo program but it sure impressed the kitteh boys…… not that they’ll admit it.
This one spent the night in the smoker at 200, peachwood provided the smoke. I have no idea what the ratio of components is in the dry rub because I’m always adding to my existing stock. I do know it has brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, mustard powder, coriander, and whatever else strikes me as appropriate at the moment. I don’t use much salt because I catch the droppings in a foil pan on the rack below the pork to reduce and use to add back to the pulled meat once I’ve skimmed the fat. Too much salt and the concentrated drippings are ruined.
Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.
Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
- 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
- Olive oil
Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.
Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.
Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.
Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.
You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.
To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.
To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.
Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce
- 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes or better yet, click here to make your own.
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)
Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while prepping meatballs.
Serve sauce and meatballs over your favorite pasta.
Mrs J picked some tomatoes the other day, enough that it was worth the trouble to bring out the juicer:This is a Breville unit, and it makes juicing a snap – separates the skins and seeds and fills the little container with juice and foam. Dump the juice into a big pot and start boiling. It will can foam over at first so you have to watch itWe started with about 5-1/2 quarts, added a pureed sweet onion, a dash of ground cloves, allspice, some chicken base, salt and pepper, and reduced that to about 2 quarts. Don’t go overboard on the spices, it is going to concentrate the flavors as it reduces. They do add a great aroma to the kitchen! You can always add more when it’s thick enough. I suppose you could add thickeners to it and not reduce it all the way, I may test that with the leftover soup to stretch it out some. Add a grilled cheese sammich and you have the classic lunch. I had some odds and ends of cheese so I used them in these, a bit of Swiss, provolone, cheddar, Monterey jack, and American. Olive oil is a tasty substitute for butter when you grill.
Mrs J made enough pie dough for two crusts. Her plan was for one peach pie with conventional crusts top and bottom but she was easily talked into making the Martha Stewart crumble topping. That recipe makes enough for two pies. You see where this is going.One peach pie. One apple pie. Two enter, none leave. That is the Way of the Kitchen.
Our tomatoes are coming in slow this year but and the squirrels are a problem but we are getting some. I had a bowl full of tomatoes that I needed to use, not enough to make it worthwhile to set up the juicer to make sauce or soup.There were plenty to make a pot of stewed tomatoes. I added a green pepper and a bit of onion and simmered them down for a half hour or so. You can add green chilies and make your own Ro-tel style tomatoes – add to cheese sauce for a killer nacho dip.They are also great with elbow macaroni.I decided to can these in my pressure canner. It was a good chance to really give that big burner on the new stove a good run. These got processed at 10 lbs pressure for 25 minutes per the Presto guidelines.