Monday, November 23, 2020

Turkey Meatballs with Coconut and Lemongrass


Meatballs are usually a good bet with my kids. The Fox has a 50% chance of liking them, which is more than with most types of food right now, and the rest of us are typically big fans. So I made these turkey meatballs with coconut lemongrass sauce one night when I wanted something with Asian flavors that wasn’t quite an Asian dish. 

I reordered the ingredients below to match the order of the steps, because at times I wanted to pull out my hair when making this dish based on the original recipe! I increased the amount of turkey to 2 pounds to make more meatballs, and omitted the 1 ½ tablespoons of sambal olek in favor of a pinch of Korean pepper. That being said, from the way the ingredients were listed, it wasn’t obvious to me how much lemongrass and ginger were needed in total, and since the store sold lemongrass in a package of a single stalk and I figured the knob of ginger I had at home would be enough, well, I ended up not having enough. Be aware that there are similar ingredients in both the meatballs and the sauce, and make sure to write down a precise (total) amount on your grocery list! I put most of my aromatics in the meatballs and eyeballed the amounts. 

This dish was truly delicious! I served it with rice and carrot tzimmes

For the meatballs 
1 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided 
1/3 cup chopped shallots 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped 
2 lbs. ground turkey 
1 ½ Tbsp. grated ginger 
1 Tbsp. soy sauce 
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (I use Red Boat) 
1 pinch Korean pepper (see note above) 
½ cup panko breadcrumbs 
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro 
1 tsp. salt pepper, to taste 

For the coconut sauce 
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised 
3 cardamom pods, lightly cracked 
3” cinnamon stick 
1 tsp. turmeric 
1 ½” piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 3 pieces 
1 ½ tsp. coriander seeds 
1 star anise pod 
1 14.5-oz. can of coconut milk 
1 cup chicken stock 
juice of ½ lime 
salt and pepper, to taste 
lime zest and cilantro, to serve (optional) 

For the meatballs 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and lemongrass and cook for 1 minutes longer. Take the pan off the heat and set aside so that the shallot mixture can cool down a little. 

In a large bowl, put the ground turkey, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, Korean pepper, breadcrumbs, cilantro, salt, and pepper, along with the reserved shallot mixture. Mix with your hands or a fork or spoon until just combined. Dampen your hands and shape the mixture into meatballs. I made my meatballs roughly 1” in diameter and got a total of 48 meatballs. 

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for about 1 hour. This will give time for the flavors to meld and help the meatballs hold their shape as you cook them. 

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high in a large, deep skillet. When the pan is hot, ass the meatballs and brown on all sides. (I did this in 2 batches and put in all the meatballs for the next step.) 

For the coconut sauce 
Add the lemongrass, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger pieces, coriander seeds, star anise, and coconut milk to the skillet; bring to a simmer. 

Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer the meatballs over medium heat for 10-12 minutes (I used a thermometer to check that they were cooked all the way through). Add the lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste. 

Garnish with lime zest and cilantro. Serve with rice or rice noodles.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns


I often like the idea of breakfast buns or rolls more than the actual execution. For example, I usually find cinnamon rolls too sweet, especially with the frosting. But I’m still trying new recipes because sometimes, it’s totally worth it. Not in the case of these raspberry rolls with maple frosting – they were too dry and dark and didn’t have enough filling, though the maple frosting was great. But then I saw these chocolate tahini challah buns on Smitten Kitchen and I was, well, smitten. 

I’m sure you could take a shortcut and use chocolate tahini instead of making a filling, but it was really delicious as is. Note also that you could make a glaze with 2 cups of powdered sugar and 3 or 4 tablespoons of orange juice, but I omitted it. There is an option to make these dairy-free, but I opted to use lactose-free dairy. They were delicious! 

For the dough 
2 large eggs 
1 large egg yolk 
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar 
½ cup vegetable oil or melted lactose-free butter 
2/3 cup lactose-free milk or water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed 
3 ¾ cup (490 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for counter 
1 packet (7 g or 2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast 
1 ¼ tsp. coarse or kosher salt 

For the filling and assembly 
4 oz (115 g) dark chocolate (or about ¾ cup chocolate chips) 
½ cup (1 stick) lactose-free butter or margarine 
scant ½ cup (50 g) powdered sugar, sifted 
¼ cup (20 g) cocoa powder, sifted 
¼ cup (30 g) tahini, well-stirred 
1 large egg, beaten sesame seeds (optional, I forgot them) 

For the dough 
Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, oil and milk or water in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Add flour, yeast and salt and combine with dough hook until it comes together, then let machine knead it for 5 to 7 minutes. Oil a large bowl and let dough rise in it at room temperature for 2 to 2 ½ hours, until slightly shy of doubled. (If your milk and eggs were really cold, it might take 30 minutes longer.) 

Grease a 9”×13” or equivalent size baking dish, or coat it with nonstick spray. 

For the filling 
Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and tahini; mixture should be a spreadable consistency. (This was not an issue for me, but if your filling is very thin, you can pop it in the fridge to let it thicken a bit.) 

For assembly 
On a well-floured counter, roll out dough into a rectangle about 18 inches wide (side facing you) and as far away from you (i.e. length) as it comfortably goes, usually 12 to 15 inches. Dollop chocolate mixture over and spread it smooth – this is more satisfying than you would think. Roll dough in a tight spiral. 

Cut the log very gently — it’s going to be a soft mess, so use a sharp serrated knife, or unflavored floss — into 1 ½-inch to 2-inch segments. Arrange cut side up in prepared pan. Beat egg in small bowl. Brush tops of buns and tops of sides with egg and cover with plastic wrap. You can either refrigerate overnight, along with leftover egg wash, or leave it at room temperature to proof for another 60 to 90 minutes, until puffed a bit. (If you refrigerate the buns, be sure to let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.) 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Brush the tops and sides with egg with egg wash again and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake for 30 minutes, until bronzed all over and buns have an internal temperature of 190 °F. Let cool slightly before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2020


After I had set aside my Malabrigo Rios Yarn in Plomo while making the Adam’s Rib pattern, I decided to make another cardigan before getting back to it. I chose the Curtain Call Shrug, which is a free pattern by Lion Brand Yarn. I used Malabrigo Rios Yarn in Teal Feather and set to work. 

In the end, however, I wasn’t crazy about it. It’s knit in two identical parts sewn together vertically, so there are visible seams running down the back and on the sides, and the sleeve edges curl under because the body is in stockinette stitch. Plus, the folded-over ribbed edge doesn’t really stay in place, and yet you can’t just leave it unfolded because it wouldn’t stay in place either, so some of the sewing is visible either way. So even though I loved the color, I wasn’t sure I’d wear it. 

Then I got back to the Plomo yarn and used it for Suvi Simola’s Fold and Turn Cardigan. Here it is being transformed from rib into stockinette. 

This pattern was also very simple, but it didn’t have the problems the previous one had. It’s knit in one piece, from side to side, has some detailing down the back as well as ribbed edges that stay put, plus ribbed sleeves that fit snuggly and won’t roll over. Since I knew I might not have quite enough yarn, I decided to knit the smaller size, and I think that the fit is forgiving enough to get away with it. And still, still (woe is me!), I ran out of yarn before finishing the sleeves. The photos show it unfinished. 

So I did the only sensible thing: I frogged the teal Curtain Call cardigan that I didn’t like and used that yarn to make the Fold and Turn again, this time in the proper size. I love the result! The only downside is that I have a bit more than a skein left to feed my stash, instead of using it all up like I had hoped. (First world problems, eh?) 

At this point, I’m thinking that the only thing to do with the Plomo yarn is something sleeveless, like a vest, and I’m thinking specifically of something inspired by The Hunger Games. But that’s back at the end of the queue again while I make a few fun things.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tarte bleuets et chocolat


Parfois, il y a de ces recettes qui ont l’air toutes simples, mais dont le résultat est décevant (comme ce gâteau au chocolat et à l’huile d’olive). Et il y en a d’autres qui ont l’air compliquées (comme une tarte aux bleuets, au chocolat noir et au sarrasin, avec en plus une épice inattendue), mais qui, en fait, ne le sont pas tant que ça, et sont délicieuses de surcroît. 

C’est une recette qui vient du site Épices de cru. L’épice « inattendue » ici est la coriandre, qui se mariait à merveille avec les bleuets! Je ne pouvais pas vraiment la distinguer en goûtant la tarte, mais selon la recette d’origine, c’est son goût acidulé qui rehausse celui des fruits. Je me demande maintenant ce que ce serait avec de la cardamome… 

La croûte est faite de farine de sarrasin. J’ai utilisé la farine de sarrasin blanche de Bouchard Family Farms, mais j’aurais sans doute dû en prendre une plus foncée et plus goûteuse. Honnêtement, je n’ai pas trouvé mon bonheur avec cette croûte, car j’ai dû y ajouter 1 c. à soupe d’eau pour qu’elle tienne, mais la croûte a ensuite fondu au four. Peut-être qu’il aurait fallu la réfrigérer avant de la faire cuire? Je pense qu’une croûte chocolatée faire avec de la farine de blé conviendrait. Je réécris les instructions pour que ce soit un peu plus clair. 

Ai-je besoin de préciser que c’était absolument délicieux? 

Pour la croûte 
1 tasse de farine de sarrasin (voir note plus haut) 
¼ tasse de cacao, tamisé 
¼ c. à thé de sel 
½ tasse de beurre ou de margarine sans lactose, à la température de la pièce 
¾ tasse de cassonade 

Pour la ganache 
1 tasse (175 g / 6 oz) de chocolat noir haché 
1 tasse de crème sans lactose ou de lait de coco (je l’ai faite avec du lait de coco) 

Pour la garniture aux bleuets 
½ tasse de sucre 
3 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs 
jus de ½ citron 
2 c. à thé de coriandre moulue finement 
3 tasses de bleuets 

Pour la croûte 
Préchauffer le four à 375 °F et placer la grille au centre du four. Huiler légèrement un moule à tarte à fond amovible de 9 pouces. 

Dans un bol, mélanger ensemble tous les ingrédients secs. 

Dans un bol à part, crémer ensemble le beurre et la cassonade. Incorporer les ingrédients secs au beurre et à la cassonade afin de créer une pâte homogène. 

Presser la pâte dans le moule afin de former une croûte fine et uniforme d’environ 1 cm d’épaisseur. (La mienne était bien plus fine – je n’en aurais pas eu assez pour faire 1 cm d’épaisseur!) 

Cuire de 15 à 20 minutes, puis laisser refroidir sur une grille. Réserver. 

Pour la ganache 
Placer le chocolat dans un bol résistant à la chaleur. Réserver. 

Verser la crème dans une petite casserole et la porter à ébullition. Retirer immédiatement du feu. Verser la crème sur le chocolat et laisser reposer sans mélanger une ou deux minutes. 

Fouetter la ganache jusqu’à l’obtention d’une texture lisse et homogène. Verser la ganache encore tiède et malléable dans la croûte et réfrigérer jusqu’à ce qu’elle se solidifie (environ 1 heure). 

Pour la garniture aux bleuets 
Dans une casserole, mélanger le sucre, la fécule de maïs, la coriandre et le jus de citron. 

Ajouter les bleuets et cuire à feu vif en mélangeant sans arrêt (délicatement afin de ne pas écraser les bleuets) jusqu’à ce que la préparation épaississe et nappe le dos d’une cuillère. (On peut la couvrir et la réserver à la température de la pièce jusqu’à ce que la ganache soit prête.) 

Verser la garniture aux bleuets sur la tarte et l’étendre à l’aide d’une spatule. Réfrigérer la tarte environ 1 heure avant de servir, afin que la garniture ait le temps de se solidifier.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Baked Gnocchi with Spinach and Sausage

This baked gnocchi dish is near perfect: simple to make, comforting, and a relatively easy sell with the kids, despite the spinach. The white beans actually blend in with the gnocchi pretty well, so there’s a chance your kids will eat some by mistake. You can even replace the sausage with a vegetarian version if you want. And you can use half a 10-oz. package of frozen spinach instead of fresh, but make sure it is thawed and squeeze out all excess water. This was really good! 

1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for coating the baking dish 
1 lb. uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausages 
1 medium yellow onion, diced 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
2 Tbsp. tomato paste 
1 (28-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes 
1 (14-oz) can tomato sauce 
8 oz lactose-free fresh mozzarella cheese 
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese 
2 (15.5-oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed 
5 oz baby spinach (about 5 packed cups) 
1 lb. refrigerated, shelf stable, or frozen gnocchi 
 fresh basil leaves, for garnish 

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425 °F. Lightly coat a lasagna pan (a 9x13-inch pan that’s at least 3 inches deep) or 3-quart baking dish with olive oil. Alternatively, you can use a 9x13-inch baking dish that's 2 inches deep, but it will be very full. (That’s what I did, and it honestly wasn’t a problem.) 

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Remove the casings from sausages, add to the pan, and cook, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, beginning to crisp, and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Add the onion, garlic, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper to the pot and cook until the onion is softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until well-incorporated and darkened slightly in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add whole peeled tomatoes and their juices, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot, and tomato sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly and the flavors have developed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, drain mozzarella cheese if needed, then grate on the large holes of a box grater. (Pro tip: Use non-stick spray on the grater to prevent the fresh mozzarella from sticking to it too much.) Also grate the parmesan if you haven’t done so already. 

Remove the pot from the heat. Add spinach to the sauce one handful at a time, stirring as you go. Stir in the white beans and gnocchi. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with the mozzarella, followed by the parmesan cheese. 

Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Top with fresh basil leaves just before serving.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Gardener's Raw Vegetable Salad


I thought I’d write this post to share this easy barbecue chicken en papillote from Weelicious, which I made with the maple barbecue sauce from Keepers. It was a fine chicken recipe, though the sauce was just okay. But it was the side dish that really wowed me: this gardener’s raw salad from The Kitchn. I adapted it slightly, reducing the amount of oil and omitting the finely chopped red bell pepper in the dressing, since there’s already red bell pepper in the salad itself. The amounts below are mine. 

I really, really loved this, much more than I thought I would. I think I’ll make it every summer! Sadly, the rest of my family wasn’t keen on it, so I had lots and lots of leftovers. 

For the dressing 
¼ cup red wine vinegar 
1 clove garlic, sliced 
1 tsp. Dijon mustard 
½ tsp. sugar 
½ tsp. salt 
¼ cup olive oil 
additional salt and pepper, to taste 

For the salad 
yellow squash and zucchini, thinly sliced 
sugar snap peas, cut if big 
shelled edamame and/or field peas (I used edamame) 
red bell pepper, thinly sliced, cut if big 
fresh salad greens (I’m always partial to arugula) 

For the dressing, combine the red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon, sugar, and salt in a blender (I did this with my immersion blender) and purée until the garlic is minced. With the blender running, very slowly add the oil in a thin stream and blend until creamy. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. 

For the salad, toss the vegetables (without the greens) in the dressing and marinate for about 15 minutes. Pile the vegetables onto the salad greens and serve. (The vegetables will keep well in the fridge with the dressing. You can also add only part of the dressing at first, depending on how many vegetables you are using.)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Double Chocolate Tahini Banana Muffins


I was trying to get more fiber into the Fox’s diet, so I made blueberry flax muffins and oatmeal blueberry flax muffins, neither of which were very good. I made apple applesauce muffins, only to realize that the kids eschewed the apple chunks. (I also tried another recipe for lactation cookies, omitting the brewers’ yeast, but those were a flop – my “regular” ones are better and were heartily consumed.) 

Then I decided to go in another direction and make chocolate muffins. But as it turns out, the recipe I picked, double chocolate tahini banana muffins, was relatively healthy and actually had flax seed and oats as well! It’s made using Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini, of which I’ve been a big fan for years now (I first talked about it here). Note that the original instructions say that if you don’t have Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini, you can replace it in this recipe with 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. tahini plus 2 Tbsp. maple syrup plus 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, in addition to the ingredients already called for (meaning, still use the maple syrup and cocoa powder that are already written down below). 

These muffins were a hit with everyone! The exterior was slightly crisp, the crumb was fluffy, they all rose enough that the top cracked and made them look like they were wearing little top hats. They were delicious and will keep well at room temperature for a few days in an airtight container, though you could also keep them in the fridge or freeze them for later. 

3 medium-large overripe bananas 
1 large egg 
½ cup Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini 
1/3 cup maple syrup 
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 
2 Tbsp. melted and cooled coconut oil 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 cups rolled oats 
2/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder 
2 Tbsp. flaxseed 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
½ tsp. salt 
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners and spray lightly with nonstick spray (I only greased a muffin tin instead of using liners, and got a total of 14 muffins). 

In a high-speed blender, combine bananas, egg, Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini, maple syrup, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, oats, cocoa powder, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Blend until smooth – about 30 seconds to 1 minute at the most (over-blending will make them tough). 

Add chocolate chips to the batter and stir to combine with a spoon. 

Fill muffin tins about ¾ of the way full. Sprinkle the tops with extra chocolate chips, if desired. 

Bake for 5 minutes, then lower heat to 350 °F (leaving the muffins in the oven). Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until muffins are set and spring back when you press on the tops. 

Let muffins cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then let cool for an additional 10 to 15 minutes on a cooling rack.