Monthly Archives: June 2009

Big Mouth

Sometimes I eat like a teenage boy…and he really wanted a meatball sub, so I caved in and finally made one.

MEATBALL SUBS
Makes 6 subs

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

– Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer 1 cup of onion mixture to bowl and reserve.

– Add tomato paste and sugar to onion mixture in skillet and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it’s nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until thickened, a bout 1 hour. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

For the Meatballs:
Makes about 24 1-inch meatballs

2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1 pound 85% lean ground beef or meatloaf mix
Salt and pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

– In a small bowl, mash together the bread and milk until thoroughly combined to make a panade. Place beef in a large mixing bowl and add the panade, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, the grated cheese, and the reserved (see sauce recipe above) onion mixture. With potato masher or hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients.

– Using a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop meat out onto a baking sheet. Roll out each tablespoonful of meat into meatballs and place back on sheet. Heat olive oil in in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to smoke. Cook half of the meatballs until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate and cook remaining meatballs.

– Return first batch of meatballs to skillet and add 3 cups of the tomato sauce to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the meatballs until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

For the Sandwiches:

6 (about 6-inch long) sub rolls
Olive oil for brushing
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Optional garnishes: banana peppers or fresh chopped basil

– While meatballs simmer, preheat oven to 400˚F. Split rolls in half lengthwise and brush all sides with olive oil. Warm bread for 5 to 7 minutes on a baking sheet, then, place tray on cooling rack. Fill each roll with 4 to 6 meatballs, top with additional sauce, and 2 to 3 tablespoons cheese and return to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes and additional sauce.

Choco-full

My maternal grandmother used to mix different cereals for breakfast: corn flakes, all-bran, granola. Nowadays you can create your own cereal online and select from a wide range of healthy (grandma would be proud) ingredients like quinoa flakes and amaranth. I loved watching grandma and her DIY cereal and am very curious about the fancy designer muesli, but, what about the junk-y varieties? Why is no one mixing those?

For nights when I’m exhausted or need a quick sugar fix I keep my shelves (the harder to reach ones) stocked with stuff like Lucky Charms and Golden Grahams, but most notably, Cocoa Pebbles or Cocoa Puffs. For the longest time I’d buy either Pebbles or Puffs, never quite certain about whether I preferred the quick-to-sog Pebbles that leave behind super chocolate-y milk or the crunchier Puffs that only leach out a modest amount of color and flavor. And then one day, The Solution: See below for my genius recipe that guarantees Augustus Gloop-worthy chocolate milk plus some textural contrast.

1 cup Cocoa Pebbles cereal
1 cup milk
1/2  cup Cocoa Puffs cereal

– Combine Pebbles and milk in cereal bowl. Let sit, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes, until the milk is deep chocolate.

-Add Puffs and eat immediately.

How To… Scramble Eggs

It was a plain wooden table, rectangular, and filled most of the kitchen. She sat at its head, owning it with her large, meaty body. Her bulbous knees were spread apart, butting into the table’s legs, her own legs anchored by thick ankles that ended in feet solidly packed into white canvas sneakers. It would’ve been a humorous sight but for the fact that we were starving and this she-troll was ruler of the pantry, fridge, and stovetop. She yawned, stretching ham-like arms that strained against the fabric of her sleeves, and asked if we would like breakfast. It didn’t sound inviting, so my mother and I, terrified and slightly embarrassed at trespassing on this woman’s turf and morning, mumbled that we could manage on our own. Her mood changed suddenly to solicitousness (seasoned with sass) and she ordered us to sit as she’d just made a whole pot of scrambled eggs. Meek as mice we took our place at her table and waited. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her dishing out a pile of dried out yellow curds onto our plates. We swallowed hard and knew we had to comply.

Unless you find yourself forced to play the role of grateful guest (or compliant hostage), never, never, never eat a reheated egg of any sort, especially scrambled. Scrambled eggs are meant to be a moist, creamy cloud of small curds, not hard, dried out, crusty lumps of sponge.

GAG-FREE SCRAMBLED EGGS
Serves 1

2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

– Crack eggs into medium bowl. (Note: to avoid shells falling into your eggs, tap the eggs on a flat surface rather than the edge of your bowl or sink. If a bit of shell does make it into the bowl, scoop it out with the edge of an egg shell – it’s more efficient than chasing it about with your fingers or a spoon). Season with salt and pepper and add milk. Whisk until the mixture is frothy and pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes.

– Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once melted, pour in the eggs and start stirring in small concentric circles all around the pan with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to scrape up and incorporate eggs on the bottom and sides of pan.

– Small curds will start to develop; keep stirring. Once most of the egg mixture is set, drop in the remaining ½ tablespoon butter and turn off heat. Keep stirring to incorporate the butter and serve. Eat immediately.

Taco Tuesday

There’s a taco place a few blocks away that has $1 tacos on Tuesday nights. I’ll eat and/or drink anything for a buck, but my first Taco Tuesday experience was also the last. Turns out a dollar doesn’t get you the usual high quality stuff.

I decided it was better to stay home and have my own Taco Tuesday, or more accurately put, Tostada Tuesday. There’s a little bit of assembly required, but you can make it happen while you wait for The Real Housewives of New Jersey to come on. (Yes, I watch it. Don’t judge me).

SHRIMP & CHORIZO TOSTADAS

Makes 4 loaded tostadas

For the Slaw:

1 (1-pound) bag coleslaw mix
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup) *reserve half for beans
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

For the Beans:

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

For the Tostadas:

4 small (about 6″ in diameter) corn tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 ounces chorizo, casings removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp

Garnishes:

Sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges

-In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, tomato, ½ of the chopped onion, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

-Place a baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat it to 400˚F.

-Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic clove and continue cooking about 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat and add onion mixture to food processor. Add ketchup and Worcestershire and pulse until beans are smooth. Transfer bean puree to the now empty skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and darkened in color, about 10 minutes.

-Meanwhile, brush both sides of each tortilla with oil and carefully place on the heated baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

-In a separate large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Increase heat to high, pat shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and minced garlic to skillet and cook until shrimp is opaque, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Trasnfer to plate.

-To assemble the tostadas: spread each toasted tortilla with beans, then top with shrimp, chorizo, and slaw. Garnish and serve.