Monthly Archives: May 2014

Asian Style Turkey Meatballs


I was in an Asian kind of mood for Tapas this month.    I’d planned on making   Sushi and Spring Rolls, and I wanted to also make a protein of some kind as well.  I was thinking  pork, cause let’s face it, pork and sweet and sour sauce or Soy Ginger dipping sauce, it goes so well together.

But as I was rooting around in the freezer, I ran across some ground turkey and a light bulb went on over my head.

OK, so I hit the light switch with my elbow.

sheesh

I wanted to give it some Asian style oomph so I did what any self-respecting cook would do.  I typed  Asian Meatballs with Ground Turkey into a search engine and found several sites.   And they all had something in common,  actually they had a lot in common.

There were two sites who had the same recipe, and not one of them credited the other one.  But I’m not like that, so here are the sites I went to, this one   then this one, with the same recipe.  And the final site I checked out.
They all had turkey, green onions, bread crumbs, sesame oil and an egg in common.

I figured I was on track then.  I had all the ingredients so I went to town.

Well, not really, I didn’t want to go to town, I just wanted to use what I had on hand.
So, I thawed out a pound of turkey, and added an egg, some panko bread crumbs, sesame oil, chopped green onions (scallions if you prefer), chopped cilantro, soy sauce, some grated ginger and a little more sesame oil.    Mixed it all up and fried a little of the meatball mixture to see if I had the seasoning right.

The time to correct seasonings is before you cook it all up, not after.

Believe me when I say I’ve done that before and really regretted it.   That is, cooked the entire recipe  and didn’t taste test it first.

Recipe
1 lb. Ground Turkey
1 large egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup Cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. ginger, grated.  (I keep a ginger root in the freezer all the time, and just use my Microplane on it when I need ginger)

Mix together well, and then take a bit out, fry it and taste for seasonings.   I didn’t add any salt or pepper to this, as there is a fair amount of salt in the Soy Sauce.

After taste testing it and correcting seasoning, in other words, adding a bit more sesame oil, (at least that’s what I did),  use a small scoop or a spoon, or just your hands and form small meatballs from the mix.  I used my littlest scoop and ended up with 24 mini meatballs.   I then placed them on a cookie sheet and baked that at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

They didn’t brown real well, but when I checked the internal temperature, they had reached 165 deg.   So I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool.  (and forgot to take a picture).    I also ate one, just to make sure they were OK to eat.

And after all that, I then decided that maybe, if we had a crowd that I might not have enough.  So I grabbed another pound of turkey out, defrosted that and made another batch.

However, I didn’t realize that I’d used up all the green onions in the first batch, so I pulled a Vidalia onion out of the cupboard and grated up about a quarter of it, and added that to the turkey along with the seasonings.

Then I thought, “hmmm, I wonder if I can make this gluten-free by using some all-purpose gluten-free flour’ along with all the other stuff.  (and yes, I know these are not truly gluten-free as I did not use gluten-free soy sauce, but you can if you like)  And as gray pallid and pale looking the first meatballs were, I decided that this batch was going to be fried.  So I did, frying them in a little EVOO.

And they were good. 

This end had the non gluten-free meatballs, and they didn’t look all that appetizing, I thought.   Tasted wonderful dipped in the
Sweet Chili Sauce, but…

And this end of the dish (complete with note) had the fried, gluten-free meatballs.

I really loved how they tasted, both versions that is, and would do them again.

However, next time, I’m frying them, I think they not only look better, but taste better as well.

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Herbs from my Garden…


I was loving the whole idea of being able to go outside and pick fresh herbs for the Herbie Chicken I did last week.

It felt wonderful, just knowing I had all those great flavours growing in my little backyard.

And when I say little backyard, I’m not kidding.  It’s all of 7 feet wide, and bricked.

But I have pots and pots and pots of stuff growing.   And when I went outside just now I realized that I don’t have a lot of flowers, most of my pots contain herbs.

Gee, I wonder what that says about me?   Apart from the fact that, most herbs like not being in direct sun to grow, and my backyard is a little shady.

I have a Meyer Lemon tree, in a pot, which produced a lot of lemons last year, but this year, it’s not doing too good.  But, it’s OK if it wants to take a year off from producing.  I’ll just keep feeding it, and watering it, and removing the little pesties that invaded it this year.

I also have some violets which I brought with me from our first house, many years ago.  I love how they smell when they bloom.  And you know, you can candy the violets if you want to.  In fact  there is even a liqueur made from violets.   I think I’m getting ideas here.

 

I have Rosemary, which I’ve managed to keep alive over the winter.

Dill, it was just a sprig when it started.

Chives

Parsley

Cilantro, which is just starting.  Cannot wait to use it.

GROW, GROW, GROW…

 

Mint, and one of the runners escaped and rooted in a pot with some lemon trees, but that’s OK, I think I see some Mojito’s in my near future.

 

Oregano

 

Thyme

 

Celery, grown from the base of the celery stalk.

 

And out in the front I have some Heirloom Tomatoes, Anaheim Peppers and more Parsley.  (The swallowtail caterpillars consider Parsley a treat, so I have to plant lots of it. in fact I think I need more.)

 

Just need to plant some Basil, maybe some Chervil, but that has to wait for fall, Chervil doesn’t like hot weather.

And I need some Sage, otherwise how can I sing?

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

Get it?

Never mind, I need to go water something now.

 

 

Tapas Night for May


I had fun yesterday, but then again I have fun most days in the kitchen.

Yesterday however, I had a friend come in and make some of the dishes for Tapas last night, and then she went home and made a strawberry pie and a potato salad to bring.

It all started a while ago, I’d been talking about making Sushi and she asked me if the next time I was making it, would I show her how to do it.

I was kinda in an Asian food mood for Tapas this month, so I arranged with Nancy to come on down and I’d show her how I made Sushi.

It wasn’t hard for her to come either, she lives in the next house down from me.

So we made a few rolls, and then I showed her how I make Spring Rolls, and we had fun.   And when she came down for Tapas, I showed her how to cut them and we taste tested it and they were good.
You cannot be afraid to taste test as you’re cooking.  Or slicing up the food.

I also made some Asian Style Turkey Meatballs, in two versions, one of them gluten-free.  And both were good.  I’ll give you the recipe for those another day.

In the meantime, here are the stars of the night.  And I missed two pictures, bad Sid.   One was of some lovely fish dips and crackers and the other was some sliced meats.
I have to learn to take a big picture of everything on the table.
Next time.
But, here are the dishes that I did get a picture of:

The Spring Rolls, of which there were only a couple left last night.  So, I guess I have to eat them for breakfast along with some of the leftover Sushi.

You didn’t think I was going to let them go to waste?

The Potato Salad Nancy made after our marathon Sushi and Spring Roll session.

Asian Style Turkey Meatballs, I’ll share how I made them a little later.   I was actually quite pleased, but I know I can do better next time.

Mudbugs, or Crawdads.  You have any idea how hard it is to crack the claws and get the meat out of these little guys?

I did try.

Green Salad.   See how pretty?   I love craisins in salads and the walnuts, just amps the salad right up.

This was the best squash casserole.  I noticed some people went back for seconds.

You were looking, huh?

Robin makes such fun vegetarian dishes.

And continuing with the Asian motif, there was this General Tso style chicken dish.   Very, very good.
I love when Mark makes a dish and brings it, it’s always good.

And then there were the desserts:

Brownies, and I managed to get a piece that was corners, I like that the best.

Then there was this Toffee Bar.  Such a simple recipe and not that many ingredients, just lots of butter and sugar, which of course can make anything taste good.    But I wrote down the recipe and I’m going to make it.

Gotta love a good Danish.   And this was pretty darn good too.

Watergate Salad.    One of those dishes that doesn’t know if it’s a dessert or side dish, but it really doesn’t matter, it’s always good.   My MIL used to make this all the time, and I’ve missed it.

And….

The pineapple and Santa Toothpick holder made their appearance as well.    We don’t let Kathleen in without either one of them.

Harriet made a Strawberry Shortcake Trifle dish.  And it was good.

It’s funny but I cannot stand the smell of fresh strawberries, but I do like the taste.

I grew up on a farm and we grew Strawberries, Raspberries and other soft fruits for market.  And one of my jobs as a teen was picking strawberries. I grew to hate dislike the smell of them, but I still like the taste.  And processed into jam, or Rodgrod, they’re just fine.

And finally, there was this Strawberry Pie.  And it was good as well.

And as I said, I missed a couple of pictures but next month I will try to do better, and get an overview of the table, but last night I just enjoyed the company, and it was good as usual.      And the food wasn’t bad either.

I think the diet will start on Monday…

Agurk Salat


You ever go to the grocery store with a list and then get everything on that list and nothing more?

 

Really, you can do that?

 

Not me.   I go with a list and then usually add to it.  Like last week.

 

I’m looking at the lemons, and my attention was caught by the cucumbers.       So I picked up a couple.

 

Took them home, and decided to make some Agurk Salat. Which is basically a fresh cucumber salad/pickle, which my mom would make and serve as a side dish with dinner, goes so well with grilled meat.   And it’s not bad on an open face sandwich either.

 

Or just straight out of the dish, eaten, before dinner.

 

Mom made these with regular vinegar, as that is all we had back then, but I would like to think that she would like my version as well.  I like using Rice Vinegar as it is not as acidic tasting and the Cider Vinegar adds a nice tang to it as well.

 

Agurk Salat

1 cucumber, sliced thin

1/4 cup Rice Vinegar

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar

2  tablespoons sugar (or to taste)

Dill

 

Slice one cucumber, very thinly.  If you have a mandoline, that works, or just use your knife skills.  Which is basically all I do.   Use my knife skills and slice very, very thin, making sure not to get any fingers in the way.  Red and green are great for Christmas, but not in a cucumber dish.

 

If you want to get a little fancy, just use a zester or the tines of a fork and scrape all the way down the cucumber.  That way when you slice it, you get some pretty designs.

 

 

After slicing it, just layer the slices in a dish, I used this small pyrex dish.

Sprinkle salt over the slices, put another layer down, a little more salt until you’ve layered all the slices.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes or so, then basically stir it together to make sure that the salt is evenly distributed.    Walk away from it at this point.  Just for an hour or so, not too long.

 

Drain the salty cucumber juice from the slices and give it a little rinse if you want with some fresh water.   Then squeeze out the rest of the liquid.    Set the cucumber aside.

 

Measure out the vinegar and sugar and heat it, stirring it until the sugar dissolves.  You want this to be warm, but not hot.    Place a fresh sprig or two of Dill into the pan, let sit for just a minute then pour over the cucumber slices.

Make sure that they are all submerged in the vinegar.

Taste.  Well, actually you don’t need to taste them at this point, but I wanted to, so I did.

 

Cover and let sit for an hour or so, then serve.

 

These are fantastic on some fresh leverpostej (Liverpaste) or on top of a grilled burger or just as a side dish.

 

If there is any left over, refrigerate them for a couple of days.   I have no idea how long they will stay good for in the fridge, cause they just don’t last that long in our house.

 

I had some on my lunch today, a lovely pork sandwich.

  I will share how to make a proper Smørrebrød later on, but for now, my lunch is waiting.

Herbie the Chicken


Or should that be Herby Chicken?

hmmmm

Well, I may have gotten carried away the other day when I decided to defrost and cook a lovely big roasting chicken I had in the freezer.

It was so pretty, big and plump and juicy.

And it was also hot outside so I didn’t want to cook it in the oven, like I should have.

I decided to cook it in the crock pot and I think I outsmarted myself.

I did, actually.

I thought 4 hours in the crockpot would be OK, but it was about 2 hours too long.   My poor chicken fell apart.

And the fresh herbs, well, they kinda over took the chicken and hijacked it.

But the beginning of it was just fine.

I took a half lemon (and cut the skin off and used it in the Lemon Extract)  and two garlic cloves, put them inside the cavity and then browned the chicken in some EVOO and butter.

 

 

Placed the chicken in the Crockpot. Added a half cup of Riesling wine, cause it was sitting on the counter  and I still had a half bottle left from the weekend.

Then I went out in the garden, well, to my herb pots and picked some fresh oregano, mint, thyme and parsley and raided a few leaves off of the Celery plant as well.

Took them in the house, gave them a rinse, then popped the herbs into the pan I’d browned the chicken in, just wanted to get the herby oils released from the leaves and then added some of my Home Made Chicken Stock, about 2 cups worth.

***Hint*** If you make your own stock, freeze it in a muffin tin.  Each depression holds about 1/2 cup.
***Hint***  If you are using fresh herbs, remember that they are a lot stronger in flavour than dried herbs.  In other words, you get more oomph for your recipe.

I then put the herbs on top of the chicken, put the lid on and walked away.

 

If you noticed I did not salt and pepper anything.  The chicken stock was well seasoned and the herbs, well, they took the place of the stock.

After 4 hours, I decided to take the chicken out of the crock pot and it fell apart. sigh.  But all the wonderful liquid in the bottom was good.  I used part of it for a gravy and froze the rest.
I really liked the taste, especially since I sautéed some frozen veggies with some leftover rice for my side dish.

It was a little too herby for my DH’s taste, but I noticed he ate all the breast meat anyway.

Home Made Lemon Extract


I actually made this out of desperation.

I had a recipe that called for Lemon Extract, but because I read it in a hurry, I totally skipped over the fact that it called for Lemon Extract, a whole 1/2 tsp. and didn’t pick any up at the store, and I had already started making the recipe, and did not want to drive 7 miles to the store, again.

But…

I had some lemon zest in the freezer and a couple of lemons waiting to be sliced up for Ice Tea and there was this bottle of vodka in the cupboard and I went “AHA” and put them all together.

I now have some lovely Lemon Extract waiting to be used.

Waiting…

But in the meantime, the quickie lemon extract I used in the Apple Cake actually worked very well.  There was a little lemony zesty thing going, and I’m quite pleased with myself.

Here’s how I did it.

First off, last fall when I got a surfeit of Meyer Lemons, I made some 3 Citrus Marmalade, then I zested away madly, and finally juiced all the lemons I’d zested.  (Is that a word?, it is now).    I froze the zest because I could, thinking it would come in handy, sooner or later.  So when I needed some for the Lemon Extract I pulled it out and dumped it into the vodka.  And used a half teaspoon of the Lemon Extract right away in the Apple Cake.

I then peeled, very, very carefully, making sure not to get any of that nasty pith, the lemon I had sitting out.  I also zested a couple more lemons, and placed all of that peel and zest into a little glass jar and let it sit, in the cupboard, in the dark.  I do take it out and swirl it around once a day or so, but the magic has already begun.  I open up the jar and inhale this wondrous, lemony scent and I get inspired.

 

If nothing else I can get a nice lemony whiff every day, but I’m thinking of recipes I can use it in.

I know I have some, somewhere…

Burger Bar Bash planning tips


It’s summertime and grilling season for a lot of people, aka the season to eat and cook outside cause it’s too darn hot to cook inside.

Well, kinda.

Personally I like my air-conditioned kitchen, it’s bug free and convenient, for me.

However, I also love to host parties, as you may have gathered from this blog.    And one of the funnest parties is a Burger Bar Bash.

We used to host these at least once a year when we lived out west, and it was always popular.   We hosted a couple at the campsite when we lived in a RV a few years ago.  I had very generous friends who let me use their BBQ grills, cause I only had a small one.  And I no longer even own that one, but I have my George Forman grill and quite frankly I’m happy with that.

But lately, I’ve been craving a good old fashioned Burger Bar Bash again.

So until I get around to doing it, I thought I would let you in on some planning tips.

First off, depending on your pocketbook and budget, you may only want to make all the toppings and have everyone bring their own meat.

I’m kinda funny that way, but I like to do it all.

From the meat to the toppings to the buns, I’m a bit of a control freak that way.

First off, figure out how many people you can accommodate, budget wise, or space wise.

I used to plan on just over one pound of hamburger meat for every three people.  And as I said, I like to ‘control’ it all so I make my own patties.   Told you I was a control freak on this. I learned that a 6 oz. uncooked patty would fill up most people.   And I always make extras, just in case a teenage boy or three wanders in. Quick math lesson, 15 lbs. of hamburger meat will make 40 patties.  And any leftover patties that aren’t cooked, just go ahead and freeze.
And…  I’m rather picky on the whole fat to lean ration on my hamburgers.  I like a 50/50 ratio of ground chuck and ground round.  I want some fat, but I hate to bite into a grease burger.  ***SHUDDER***  And even though I made a mixture, I did not play in the meat.   You can toss it gently together and then just barely pat the patties together.   I also had turkey burgers for those people who don’t eat red meat, as well as Veggie Burgers for those who don’t eat meat at all.  (I’ve been known to just make those for myself, cause I like them).
You can buy the veggie burger patties or make them yourself.  Your call.

And don’t forget the dimple in the burger when you grill them.   They cook evenly that way.

OK, now we have the meat handled.    Well, kinda, I’ll clue you in on one of my fave burgers later.

Next up is the buns.  And here is where I get super, super picky.  I hate, abhor, despise those buns that fall apart as soon as you bite into it.  They just moosh up and well, I won’t buy them.  And usually, the bun is way too small for my burgers and the toppings.   So, I buy French Hamburger buns.   You know the kind, they’re made from French bread, and they do hold up.  And I’ve also been known to buy a loaf of French Bread and just cut it into 4ths or 5ths and make buns that way.  And I’ve just discovered Pretzel Buns, which seem to be pretty sturdy as well.  A good Kaiser roll can work also.  Your call on that one, but please don’t use those puny little buns that get sold in an 8 pack.  I think they’re only good for those cardboard patties some hamburger chains sell, cause they can only handle a two ounce patty, a small squirt of mayo and mustard.
I’m not opinionated on this subject, at all.  Am I?

Condiments are next.  I have the usual,  Ketchup, yellow mustard, brown mustard, BBQ sauce and Mayo.  And have also been know to put out a couple of bottles of hot sauce as well.  I cater or attempt to cater to most tastes.

Then there is the lettuce, tomato and pickles and raw onions.  You can shred the lettuce and place it out in a bowl if you like or just tear up the leaves into quarters and pile them loosely onto a platter.  I’ve found that one head of lettuce will do about 20 or 30 burgers.    I also have two kinds of pickles available, as some people like Dill Pickles and others like Bread and Butter pickles.   I can go either way.  But I have to have a large slice of raw onion on my burger, and I don’t care if it makes my breath funny.  I can always pop a mint.

So there are the basic toppings, condiments, etc.   And it works.

But…

I like to go a little further.

A lot further.

I cook up a pile of bacon, have some good pastrami handy, some sauteed garlic, some caramelized onions, sauteed Mushrooms and two or three kinds of cheese for people to choose from.   I really don’t care for the processed cheese slices, but that’s me.   I usually offer some good Cheddar or Colby Jack, some Provolone and some Blue Cheese.

And here’s where it really gets fun.   Grill your burgers, brown your buns if you like, place them on a big platter and let your guests build their own.

You would be amazed at how much fun that is.
Especially when one of your guests builds a Dagwood style burger and can’t get their mouth around it.

Ummm. that might actually be me.