Category Archives: Beef

Kids in the Kitchen: Beef Nachos (Homemade Taco Seasoning)

It’s been too long since my last post. I apologize; it’s been a busy few days. Part of that busyness has been positive – I received my new baby last Wednesday (A Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi), so I have been trying to learn my way around it. So far, I’m amazed. Amazed at how easy it is to take a halfway decent photo. My little Olympus Stylus 710 was so limited. I put up with it for a long, long while. It was time, and I finally was able to upgrade, so I did. I couldn’t be happier.

I fully intended on posting this on Saturday or Sunday, but that’s where the not-so-positive part of my busyness comes in. Unfortunately, my laptop took a fierce dive onto the floor, and my hard drive is toast. My loving techie of a husband is working on it, trying to retrieve data off of the hard drive, and replacing it with another one in the meantime. But I was dead in the water this past weekend. Also dead was the recipe for my taco seasoning – it was on that hard drive. I’ve recreated it today, however, to share it with you here. Unfortunately, my not-so-smart self managed to not back up hundreds of photos on that hard drive. I’m learning my lesson – I promise!

Anyway, on to the reason for this post! Brittany wanted to make lunch this time around, and nachos were one of the first things in mind. I was up for nachos – this has to be one of the easiest “Kids in the Kitchen” dishes to date! We were eating within 15-20 minutes of our start time. That’s my idea of a nice, easy lunch!

Brittany liked these – hers were simply topped with taco meat, shredded cheddar, and pickled jalapenos. “Just like I eat at school,” she said. (The school lunches have either improved since I was in school, or her tastes are skewed…I can’t remember a nacho plate, or if there was one, I’m sure it wasn’t appetizing enough to actually eat.) Regardless, these nachos boast real cheddar, lean hormone-free ground beef, and taco seasoning without gluten, preservatives, or sugar. I would consider that a step up from the school lunch.  I topped mine with a mix of cheddar and pepper jack, black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro to add some interest. Nothing fancy, but it was a pretty tasty lunch indeed!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

2 T chile powder (such as ancho or cascabel)

2 T ground cumin

1 T onion powder

1 T garlic powder

1 T paprika

1 T fine sea salt

Mix together, store in an airtight container in a cool place. Use 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning to season 1 pound of ground beef.

To season ground beef: Brown 1 pound ground beef in a skillet at medium-high heat, crumbling with a spatula or wooden spoon. Halfway through the browning process, season with 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and mix throughout. Continue to brown until no longer pink. Drain if necessary.

One last thing:

Since the earthquake in Haiti, Lauren at Celiac Teen has been working hard to gather recipes from contributing food bloggers all over the world in an effort to help. She has diligently put these recipes together in an e-book, available for purchase on her blog. All donations received for the e-book will be sent to the Canadian Red Cross (Lauren is Canadian) for purposes of helping victims of the Haiti earthquake. The e-book has many wonderful recipes, and many of them are gluten-free or easily gluten-free adaptable. Read more about how to obtain this e-book and contribute here.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew

beef stew

A few weeks back, when I was picking up eggs from Jacob’s Reward Farm, Cindy told me about a new event she was holding at the farm, called “Spinning Yarns: Cowboy Stories and Song.” This was to be a wonderful outdoor “picnic” of sorts, where there was to be cowboy-style music, stories, and of course, the attendees were more than welcome to bring along their spinning wheels and knitting needles, and gather for some laid-back fun. But everyone needed to eat, so she graciously asked if I would help her in that area. On the menu? A hearty beef stew – perfect for the theme of the event.

My first “catering” job! I was excited, of course. While I’ve prepared Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for 25-30 (our family is large!), I have never catered. I wanted to be sure everything was perfect, so I made sure I scheduled plenty of time for preparation, and even did a test run on a smaller portion of the dish earlier in the week. It was wonderful that so many of the guests brought side dishes; this allowed me to focus on one dish – beef stew. It was a wonderful setting for my maiden voyage into catering.

jacobs reward event 031

Yesterday was the big day. (Read more about it at the Jacob’s Reward Farm blog here) I had prepped most of the meat and vegetables the night before, but awoke at 5am (much to the dismay of my husband!) to get started. I didn’t want to be late! And thankfully, aside from a slight issue with the pot I’d recently purchased, (I bought a propane burner, along with a stainless pot set – and the pot cracked as soon as I placed heat on it. Thankfully I had my large aluminum tamale pot, which did the job perfectly.) everything went as planned. Until I left, that is. I set up at the farm, and only then remembered that I’d left my parsley on the kitchen counter. Good thing I only live 10 minutes away – I could run home and grab it. No harm done.

As for the event, it was wonderful. We couldn’t have had better weather. Practically the entire month of October has been rainy, but for the past few days, it has started to dry out. Yesterday was sunny and in the upper 60s – absolutely gorgeous. The musicians played wonderful cowboy-style fiddle, guitar, and banjo, and the storytellers spun yarns about famous icons of the cowboy days in Texas. It was a grand time. While I’m not a spinner/weaver, and I don’t know how to knit, I admired everyone’s work as they spun yarns and knitted scarves and socks.

My stew went over well, and was the perfect dish for such an event. I hope you enjoy it too.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew, adapted from Simply Recipes

½ lb beef stew meat

½ lb oxtail

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ yellow onion, chopped

½ large carrot, chopped

½ celery rib, chopped

3 c beef stock

½ c gluten-free beer (I used Bard’s Tale)

½ c red wine

1 T tomato paste

½ T sugar

1 T fresh thyme leaves

½ T Worcestershire

1 bay leaf

2 T butter

1 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, diced ½ inch

1 c carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

1 turnip, diced into ½ inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1 T fresh parsley

 

Generously salt and pepper the stew meat and the oxtail. Heat a large, heavy pot to medium-high heat and brown the meat, turning with tongs to ensure all sides are browned. Remove and set aside. Add garlic, onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add back meat, and add beef stock, beer, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and cover, allowing to simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat to medium heat and add butter. Add carrots, parsnips, and turnip to pot. Saute until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until beef stew has simmered for 1 ½ 2 hours.

Once the meat is starting to fall away from the bones on the oxtail, remove from pot, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove meat from bones and add meat back into stew. Add the vegetables and potatoes, and allow to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender throughout.

Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.

Kids in the Kitchen: Spanish Almond Meatballs and Saffron Chorizo Rice

matt - spanish meatballsMatt prepared Spanish food for the family today. We discussed various dishes to make, thumbing through my copy of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, but he was drawn once again to meatballs. Not that I can say I blame him - what kid doesn’t like meatballs? (His favorite dish in the world is spaghetti and meatballs, as evidenced by one of his earlier turns in the kitchen.) In addition to the meatballs, we settled on a Spanish saffron chorizo rice, and some simply steamed green beans.

The meatball recipe was modified to be gluten-free, of course. This is a rather easy change to make. I made gluten-free breadcrumbs by toasting slices of old gluten-free bread I made, and then processing them into crumbs in the food processor. Of course, you could use any gluten-free bread or rolls to do the same. In Mark Bittman’s recipe, he called for dusting the meatballs with flour – I simply omitted this step. I also baked them instead of pan-frying, just to make things easier. Matt, of course, enjoyed forming the meatballs, and again attempted to create “the biggest meatball ever.”

matt - biggest meatball ever

The saffron chorizo rice was based on a Mark Bittman recipe as well. This dish has flavors similar to that of a paella, only it’s a bit simpler and does not have that characteristic paella “crust.” It did, however, have the wonderful aroma of saffron and that pleasant saltiness of the chorizo.

matt - spanish yellow chorizo rice

The verdict? The meatballs were okay, but lacked a depth of flavor, and were a bit dry. I used a lean ground beef, and perhaps next time should make them with a fattier meat. I also would prefer to add an herb in the meatballs to boost flavor – whether that would make them less “Spanish”, I’m not sure. As for the rice, it did have a wonderful blend of flavors. Mark Bittman’s recipe did call for a diced tomato, which I omitted. I think next time I’d leave that tomato in, to further balance the flavors and add a bit of acidity to the dish. But regardless, Matt was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the rice was (the part of the dish he was most skeptical about), and in addition, he had a great time – which, to me, is what being in the kitchen is all about.

matt - spanish meatballs - full plate

Almond Meatballs, adapted from Mark Bittman:

2 lbs ground beef or pork

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c gluten-free bread crumbs

2 T minced garlic

1/2 c blanched almonds, roughly chopped

salt and black pepper to taste

canola spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the meat in a bowl with the egg, bread crumbs, garlic, almonds, and salt and pepper. Mix well but don’t knead. Form into balls of any size you like (we made them about 1 1/2 inch in diameter).

Spray two baking pans with canola spray, and place meatballs on the pans. Place baking pans in the upper 1/3 and lower 1/3 racks in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Switch the pans, and bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. Makes about 48 1 1/2 inch meatballs.

Saffron Chorizo Rice, adapted from Mark Bittman:

2 1/2 c vegetable stock

large pinch of saffron threads

6 oz Spanish chorizo, sliced

1 T minced garlic

2 t Spanish smoked paprika

1 1/2 c Arborio or other short-grain rice

salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Warm the stock gently in a saucepan with the saffron. Heat a deep skillet to medium heat. Add the chorizo, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, and rice and continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, just a minute or two.

Add the stock, along with pepper (and salt if you think you need it – I didn’t.) Cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently. Cook until the rice is done, about 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with the parsley, and serve. Makes about 4-5 servings.

Kids in the Kitchen: Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pieAfter Matthew’s hard work at making lasagna, our family gathered together and discussed changing up “Kids in the Kitchen” just a little. In an effort to learn more about cuisines from various cultures, we wrote the names of countries on slips of paper, and the kids each drew a country. They each had the option of making whatever dish they desired, as long as it was a traditional dish eaten in the country they selected. Brittany drew England, so we immediately began researching traditional British foods. After sifting through Yorkshire puddings, recipes for bubble and squeak, and countless roast beef recipes, we settled on one delicious choice: Shepherd’s Pie.

I’ve posted a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie before, but it has been a long while since we’ve prepared this family favorite. This is a dish that our kids devour. With a ground meat base that’s bursting with flavor, plus a delicious, creamy mashed potato topping, how could you go wrong? Brittany was loving every bite, and Matthew couldn’t help but utter “Nom, nom nom!” over and over again.

Brittany using the potato ricer

Brittany using the potato ricer

This recipe originates from Gordon Ramsay, and I’ve stuck pretty closely to the original. My big change, other than doubling the recipe, was utilizing a food processor to mince the onion, carrot, and garlic until it was nearly a paste. This allowed the vegetables to become part of the sauce, rather than being detectable (read: the kids can’t tell there are carrots in the dish). I also used half beef and half lamb. I love (and prefer) lamb, but I wanted a milder flavor in order to please the whole family. Although this recipe does take longer to prepare than some alternatives, the results are well worth it. Reducing the wine and the broth allows the flavors to concentrate into the sauce, which seasons the meat and sauce in a manner that you just can’t duplicate with a quick shake of spices. I hope that as the temperatures drop with the coming of autumn, that this dish will find its way to your supper table, and will have you, too, uttering “nom, nom, nom!”

Shepherd’s Pie, adapted from Gordon Ramsay

1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled

3 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lamb

3 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T tomato paste

5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked

1 large sprig rosemary, needles chopped finely

2 c red wine (I used a nice bottle of cabernet)

3 c chicken stock

4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 T butter

4 egg yolks

6 T freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic together in the food processor and “blitz” until the vegetables are finely minced and nearly resemble a paste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef and lamb with salt and pepper and add to the oil, and brown for 2-3 minutes, breaking into small bits with a spatula. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, and stir to cook for another minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring nearly constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until nearly evaporated (this may take up to 20 minutes). Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced. (this may take another 15-20 minutes) The sauce should be thickened, but not completely evaporated.

pizza and shepherd's pie 028

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes, and pass them through a potato ricer. (Don’t have a potato ricer? You can opt to use a hand mixer and beat the potatoes until smooth. I do recommend a potato ricer, as it results in a nice, light, fluffy mash.) Beat in the egg yolks, butter, and about 4 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.

Spoon the meat mixture into the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks. (Alternatively, you can do as I did here, and use a icing bag and pipe the mash into little “Hershey’s kissed-shaped mounds” to make it look pretty.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

shepherd's pie 02

Kids in the Kitchen: Lasagna, Two Ways

Gluten-Free Lasagna
Gluten-Free Lasagna

lasagna bakedWhen Matt decided he wanted to make lasagna for his turn in the kitchen, I happily agreed. I love lasagna. I knew that gluten-free lasagna noodles existed, so I figured this would be a wonderful dish for the family. I started to make a grocery list, and went shopping.

Only to find out that my “regular” grocery stops (SuperTarget and Sprouts) did not carry gluten-free lasagna noodles. Gluten-free shells, spaghetti, linguine? Yes. Lasagna? Nope. So I begrudgingly purchased regular lasagna noodles, and accepted that I wouldn’t be eating lasagna that night.

But as today drew closer, I didn’t accept it. (Why should I be unable to enjoy kids’ creations?) And although I knew another grocery, such as Whole Foods, would possibly carry the pasta, a busy week kept me from making that extra trip. I had to come up with a way to make a “psuedo-lasagna” that would satisfy me, sans gluten-free noodles. Suddenly I remembered that my brother (also gluten-intolerant) insisted that corn tortillas made a great substitute for lasagna noodles. Since corn tortillas are always in our house, I figured, why not?

And so it began. When Matt and I were preparing our mise en place, he was already imagining how wonderful the lasagna would taste. I have to admit, so was I. Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food, with its cheesy layers, and bursts of flavor from the tomato sauce and fillings. I’ll have to admit, as we browned the sausage and simmered the sauce, lots of “taste tests” occurred. (It’s actually amazing that there was anything left to put into the lasagna!) And the 45-minute wait while the lasagna baked seemed like an eternity.

lasagna 007

Once the lasagna emerged from the oven, though, it was well worth the wait. While not photo-friendly (the lasagnas did not cut into nice, neat squares for photographs…), the kids devoured most of the “gluten-y” lasagna (Matt had 3 helpings!), while I happily chowed down on my corn tortilla lasagna. It was nice and light, (I added a thinly sliced zucchini in my layers, just because I happened to have some that needed to be eaten) but plenty flavorful enough. So much, in fact, I felt satisfied. Who says living gluten-free has to mean deprivation? It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to look for gluten-free lasagna noodles in the future (I plan to ask Sprouts to see if they’ll start carrying it), but this version definitely hit the spot.

To make both gluten-free (2 servings) and regular lasagna (6 servings):

1 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 t dried oregano

1/2 t crushed red pepper

1/2 t anchovy paste

1 1/2 T fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz oven-ready lasagna noodles

3 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch strips

1/2 lb ricotta cheese

4-5 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the sausage, crumbling with spatula. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, open crushed tomatoes and pour into a medium saucepan. Add oregano, crushed red pepper, and anchovy paste and stir. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and stir, simmer for 2-3 minutes more.

For the regular lasagna, use a 13X9 glass baking dish. For the gluten-free lasagna, I used a 8-inch round baking dish. Pour a bit of sauce in the bottom of each dish and spread around. Add a single layer of noodles to the regular lasagna, and a layer of corn tortillas to the gluten-free lasagna. Top the gluten-free lasagna with a layer of zucchini. Top both with a layer of sausage, followed by a thin layer of ricotta. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella on top. Pour another spoonful or two of sauce, and repeat with the noodles/tortillas, zucchini, sausage, and cheeses. Top with a bit more sauce, and sprinkle the remainder of mozzarella on top of both lasagnas. Sprinkle parmesan evenly on top of both as well.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, tented with foil, until the noodles on the regular lasagna are tender. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve.

My First Blogiversary and Surprise #7

crumble and surprise #7 020

Tasty Eats At Home turns 1 year old today! I cannot believe how much my blog has changed in the past year. When I decided to start this blog in 2008, it was a rather impulsive decision. I was rapidly becoming passionate about food and cooking at the time, reading anything and everything “food-related” that I could. I recently had become aware of Elise’s blog at Simply Recipes (the only food blog I was aware of at the time), and was impressed by her vast collection of recipes, mostly from her family. I thought to myself “What a great idea. I could share my recipes with my family and friends!” And with that, Tasty Eats At Home was born. Little did I know of the vast food blogging community that existed!

Since Tasty Eats At Home’s birth, I have created 84 posts (this will be #85). But more than mere numbers, these posts represent a lot of things to me. I debated a few weeks ago on whether or not to keep all of my posts. Some of the earliest recipes I am no longer terribly fond of, and some are without photos. Of those early posts that do have photos, they are not exceptional by any stretch. But after some consideration, (and some tweeting about it on Twitter!) I have decided to keep them all. Each post represents a moment in my life, and together, they represent the growth in my cooking abilities, my photography, and most of all, my writing. As frustrated as I can be at times when the photography just won’t work for me, or the right words just won’t come, I can look back and realize that Tasty Eats At Home is in a continual state of growth, and for that, I am proud.

Of course, Tasty Eats At Home would not be what it is, if it weren’t for the amazing support I have received. My husband constantly brags about Tasty Eats At Home to everyone he encounters, and that warms my heart. He is also my #1 critic of the dishes I prepare, helping me to grow and stay focused. My family is more than happy to help eat the dishes whenever they can as well, and critique accordingly! And to all of my fellow food bloggers – I can’t thank you enough for all the advice, recipes, and ideas we’ve shared!

But lest you all think I’ve gotten a big head, I wanted to share with you a recipe that in my mind and heart, brings everything back down to earth and close to home. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you: Surprise #7.

What is Surprise #7?

From what I can recall, there was a time when I was a child when we didn’t have much. My parents had to figure out how to feed three kids on a very limited budget. In addition, there were times my Mom was unavailable to make dinner, so the responsibility fell to my Dad. Dad was trying out various creations, only to have several of them fail to impress the kids. Determined, he created yet another budget-friendly dish: a concoction of rice, beans, ground beef, tomatoes and spices. This dish unanimously passed the “kid approval” test. We pondered what to call it…and after settling on “Surprise #7″, it was written down, and appeared on the menu on a regular basis. (Why Surprise #7? I don’t really know. I don’t recall Surprises #1-6…maybe they were the bad ones?)

Last night, I re-created this dish for our family. It is a very adaptable recipe. My version added frozen corn, and I used tomato puree rather than Dad’s choice of chopped tomatoes (I have some picky eaters in my household that will not eat tomato chunks). I also substituted brown rice for Dad’s white rice. It’s a tasty, no-frills, comforting dish that is quite kid-friendly, and with a few pantry staples on hand, can be thrown together in very little time. Perfect for feeding a hungry family on a budget – no wonder Dad created it!

Sometimes, re-visiting a dish from your childhood can invoke a lot of thoughts and feelings. Surprise #7 caused me to really think about Tasty Eats At Home and what cooking and food means to me, and so many of us. Cooking is an art, an expression, if you will. We all need food to nourish our bodies, but cooking allows food to become more than just a requirement – it morphs into an enjoyable, pleasureable experience. So we share the joy of cooking with others, with our friends, with our families, and it becomes a form of togetherness, and a way of connecting with one another. Creating Tasty Eats At Home has given me a way to more deeply connect with the joy that cooking brings to me and my family.

 Surprise #7 (adapted from my Dad)

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb lean ground beef

14-oz can tomato puree (I used El Pato Tomato Sauce – it’s a tomato sauce with chiles, garlic and onion)

2 T chili powder

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained

1 c frozen corn

2 T pickle juice

3 c steamed brown rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add ground beef, breaking into small crumbles with your spoon or spatula, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add tomato sauce and chili powder, and stir. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, and add beans and corn. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes more or until everything is hot and your corn is cooked through. Add pickle juice and rice, and stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to your liking. Optional: serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 5-6, or maybe only 4 if you have hungry teenage boys.

This post has been linked to The W.H.O.L.E. Gang’s “Hamburger Helper” recipes.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Exploring Texas BBQ

smoker
When you talk about Texas food, one of the first things that comes to mind is barbecue, specifically, barbecue beef. After all, Texas is the place of long cattle drives, of cowboys, of chuck wagon cooking on a campfire. But ask a native Texan to define barbecue, and you’ll receive as many answers as there are miles of wide open spaces in Texas. Folks from the east will tell you barbecue means pork shoulder and pork ribs, with a healthy helping of sauce. From the south and along the border? Barbacoa (head of the cow) is popular, served in corn tortillas. In Central Texas, at famed places such as Kreuz Market in Lockhart, pork was smoked simply, with post oak to flavor, never with sauce. German-style sausages were also smoked and enjoyed. And of course, beef brisket was king in West Texas, as it is all over the state. Obviously, Texas barbecue can mean many things, depending on the Texan.

As I just recently purchased a smoker, it seemed only natural, as a native Texas foodie, that I attempt to prepare a sampling of the various barbecued meats from the Lone Star State. In addition, I recently read through Robb Walsh’s “Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook”, which excited me with the thoughts of beautifully smoked meats. However, once Foodbuzz contacted to me and let me know I was selected for this month’s 24, 24, 24, a slight panic set in. I had limited experience with the smoker…what had I gotten myself into? In an effort to gain confidence,I immediately re-read Robb Walsh’s book, researched the best ways to smoke the various cuts of meat, requested the advice of several friends, and made a game plan. I organized recipes, did some shopping, sent out invitations to family, and made a schedule, and of course, a menu.

The Menu:

West Texas Brisket

East Texas Pork Shoulder

East Texas Pork Spare Ribs

Central Texas Smoked Bratwurst

Barbacoa (with tortillas, salsa, cilantro, onions and lime)

Mom’s Texas Potato Salad

Texas Coleslaw

Ancho Barbecue Sauce

Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

East Texas Blackeyed Peas

 

Pork shoulder and ribs smoking

Pork shoulder and ribs smoking

The cooking started Friday evening, and continued almost nonstop until 5 PM Saturday. (Friday night was more passive cooking than anything. I say passive…the barbacoa was in the oven. I should have been able to sleep through the night. But instead, I woke up several times, thinking “Is the oven on? I don’t smell the barbacoa. Oh no, what if I woke up in the morning and it’s been sitting cold in the oven? I’m screwed! Must get up and check.” I’d walk into the kitchen, check on the oven…still on. Peek inside. Looks good. Go back to bed. Repeat several times until 7am.) I started the smoker at about 9am, so I’d have plenty of time to get a good fire going. I had decided to smoke with oak only. Getting the temperature to stay around 250 degrees was a bit tricky at first, but after a while, I learned to combine larger logs with smaller ones at varying times with success. During the day, while babysitting the smoker, I prepared the sauces and side dishes. (My Mom graciously prepared the potato salad and brought it to my house, saving me some considerable time and kitchen space. Her potato salad is a deliciously creamy, mustard and mayo combination that goes with any barbecue.) I was pleased when the meats were coming to temperature on schedule, and everything was just finishing as everyone started to arrive.

We were expecting about 24 people, so we had extra tables and folding chairs all over the house. (I have a lot of tables and chairs – Thanksgiving and Christmas are often celebrated at our house, so I’m prepared.) It was all pretty casual (the norm for our family), so everyone just found a spot to sit and chat until time to eat.

And eat we did! The brisket was flavorful, with a good 1/2 inch ring of smoke around the outside of the meat. The pork shoulder and ribs had a succulent smoke flavor, and the ribs fell away from the bone. The sausages were slightly smoky, but not so much that the smoke covered up the seasonings. Of course, the sauces were enjoyed on every kind of meat. But the barbacoa was the talk of the night. Most had never eaten barbacoa, and a few decided not to try it (I suppose the idea of eating cow head was a bit much for some!), but everyone had questions. “Were there eyeballs?” “Can I see a picture?” “How did you cook it?” And of course, we ate our fill of potato salad, coleslaw, blackeyed peas, and a “Sock It To Me” cake that my sister-in-law brought. My niece brought some strawberry cupcakes, complete with M&Ms on top, that the kids thoroughly enjoyed.  

All in all, I felt it was a successful party. I was glad that my family was so willing to act as guinea pigs in my first big barbecue with the smoker. (But then again, who will turn down free food?) I would have liked for the brisket and pork shoulder to be a bit more moist, so this will be my goal for the next barbecue. My idea to remedy that? More frequent use of a mop – one with a higher oil content. We also prepared way too much potato salad and blackeyed peas – next time, we’ll cut those recipes down by half. (I did share with you a recipe for the blackeyed peas for a smaller crowd.) But after everyone had their fill, I think the conclusion was clear. No matter what kind of Texas barbecue is being served, we love it all. Every last bite.

Barbecue Rub (adapted from Saveur magazine, June/July 2009) – I used this on the brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder.

3 T kosher salt

3 T dark brown sugar

2 T paprika

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

1 ½ T mustard powder

3 T black pepper

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cumin

 Mix in a jar. Store for up to 6 months.

 

Mop (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

8 oz brown sugar

16 oz canola oil

1 stick butter

8 oz white vinegar

5 oz Worcestershire sauce

Large dash celery salt

6-7 cloves garlic, smashed

3 onions, cut into large pieces

3 lemons, cut in half

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot, and add enough water to bring total about halfway up the pot. Bring to a simmer on the stove. Mop onto meat every 30 minutes to an hour with a basting brush or cotton mop.

 

 

Sliced brisket (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

Sliced brisket (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

West Texas Brisket

 1 8-10 lb untrimmed beef brisket, cut in half

 Barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Rub brisket generously with rub. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke brisket, fat side up, mopping every 30 minutes, for 6-7 hours or until temperature of meat reaches 185 degrees. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice off the fat cap from top, and slice brisket thinly across the grain. Serve with ancho barbecue sauce.

Serves 8-10 people.

 

East Texas Pork Shoulder (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

1 bone-in pork shoulder roast, 4-5 lbs

6 T barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Season the pork roast with the rub, and wrap with foil or plastic wrap. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke pork, mopping every 30 minutes, and turning, for 4-5 hours or until temperature of meat reaches 170 degrees. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice or pull pork from the bone, removing big chunks of fat as you go. Serve on sandwich rolls with pineapple barbecue sauce.

 Serves 6-8 people.

 

 

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

East Texas Pork Spare Ribs

 6-7 lbs pork spare ribs

 Barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Sprinkle rub over ribs lightly. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke ribs, mopping every 30 minutes, and turning, for 3 1/2 hours or until meat begins to fall off of bones. Remove from heat and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Cut ribs apart and serve with pineapple barbecue sauce.

 Serves 5-6 people.

 

Central Texas Smoked Bratwurst

4 lbs of your favorite fresh bratwurst sausage (I got mine at the meat counter at Sprouts)

Set up smoker for indirect heat with a water pan. Sear sausages over direct heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Move to indirect heat and smoke for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice on diagonal and serve.

 Serves 6-8 people.

 

 Barbacoa is traditionally cooked by wrapping in maguey leaves, banana leaves, foil or a canvas bag, and buried in an earthen pit with hot coals. However, as most of us don’t wish to dig a pit in our yard, (and in the restaurant business, the health department forbids it, save a few places that have been grandfathered), there are alternate ways of cooking the barbacoa. Most no longer use smoke at all. The oven makes a good alternate place to cook the barbacoa.

Barbacoa Tacos

Barbacoa Tacos

 

Barbacoa in the oven

Barbacoa in the oven

Barbacoa (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

1 cow head, skinned and cleaned

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste

Chili powder to taste

2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters

 8 cups water

Sprinkle cow head all over with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder. Rub spices in. Wrap head in aluminum foil (you may need an extra hand for this), and place in large aluminum roaster pans. Place in oven at 250 degrees for 12-24 hours.

barbacoa after cooking

barbacoa after cooking

When barbacoa is done, pull cheek meat off, and remove the jaw bones. You’ll find another large piece of meat inside. Remove any other large chunks of meat you can find. Cut away excess fat and cartilage, but don’t clean the meat too thoroughly. (Some fat in the barbacoa is tasty!) Skin the tongue and break the tongue meat into small pieces as well. Wet the meat with some of the cooking liquid to keep moist. Serve with accompaniments as tacos.

Makes about 4-5 lbs of meat. 

 

Accompaniments (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

Accompaniments (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

 Accompaniments:

Corn tortillas

Lime quarters

Diced onion

Cilantro, chopped

Salsa pequin (recipe follows)

 

Salsa pequin (adapted from TasteofTx.com http://www.tasteoftx.com/recipes/salsa/pequin.html )

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes

2 t garlic powder

1 t kosher salt

4 T dried crushed chile pequin

1 medium onion, quartered

 Add all ingredients together in food processor. Blend until desired consistency. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. (I let it sit overnight.)

 

potato salad

Mom’s Potato Salad (adapted from, well…my Mom!)

30 medium potatoes

30 hard-boiled eggs, 26 diced, 4 sliced

2 c Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

1 c yellow mustard

1 large red onion, diced

2 c diced dill pickles

salt and pepper to taste

A few dashes of paprika

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water and allow potatoes to cool. Peel and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add potatoes, diced egg, Miracle Whip, mustard, onion, and pickles into a large bowl and gently mix. Salt and pepper to taste and mix. Lay slices of egg on top of potato salad as decoration. Sprinkle with paprika.

Serves about 30.

 coleslaw

Texas Coleslaw

½ c extra-virgin olive oil

½ c white vinegar

1 t salt

1 t ground black pepper

1 t celery seed

1 t sugar

1 t coarse ground mustard

¼ t cayenne pepper

1 medium head of green cabbage, shredded

3 large carrots, shredded or julienned (I used my julienne peeler)

1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

½ red onion, thinly sliced

Combine oil,vinegar, salt, pepper, celery seed, sugar, mustard and cayenne. Toss with the cabbage, carrots, apple and onion until well mixed. Allow to mellow in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Makes about 8 cups.

 

Ancho Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 T olive oil

2 c chopped onion

7 cloves garlic, chopped

1 c ketchup

½ c Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c brown sugar

¼ c cider vinegar

¼ c lemon juice

1 ½ T coarse ground mustard

Salt to taste

 Soak the anchos in water for 30 minutes or until soft. Reserve water. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until wilted. Add ketchup and anchos and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients plus about ½ cup of ancho soaking water, and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool. Place in food processor and puree. Before serving, add up to 1 cup of meat drippings and reheat. (do not store sauce with meat drippings)

 Makes about 4 cups.

 

Pineapple Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

2 c pineapple juice

¼ c cider vinegar

¼ c Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c wheat-free soy sauce

½ t salt

1 ¼ c ketchup

1 T coarse ground mustard

1 c chopped onion

½ t Chinese five-spice powder

1 ½ T Tabasco sauce

3 T molasses

1 lemon, sliced thin and seeded

 Combine all ingredients in saucepan and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until onion and lemon are soft. Remove lemon, and remove sauce from heat. Allow to cool. Puree sauce in food processor. Reheat before serving.

 Makes about 4 cups.

 

East Texas Blackeyed Peas

4 slices bacon, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 lb fresh or frozen blackeyed peas

2 c chicken broth

water to cover

Heat large saucepan to medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until bacon starts to render fat and crisp a little. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft and bacon is cooked through. Add blackeyed peas, chicken broth, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until peas are tender. Serves 6-8.

Gorditas with Shredded Beef (Gorditas con Carne Deshebrada)

gordita2

Have I told you before that I love Mexican food? Well, in case you didn’t hear…I love Mexican food. I could eat it every day. Around here, of course, the most abundant “Mexican” food is Tex-Mex. Gooey, cheesy enchiladas, crunchy tacos, chile con queso and lots of flour tortillas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that cuisine, but sometimes I want real Mexican food. When this craving hits, I often turn to my Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless cookbooks.

This recipe was the result of one such craving. Didn’t know what I wanted, but I started thumbing through Rick Bayless’s Mexico One Plate At A Time, and stopped at this gorditas recipe. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to experience true gorditas (once or twice at a hole-in-the-wall place – of which I cannot remember the name - in Oak Cliff), but I knew I just had to make these. Crispy corn masa pockets, stuffed with a saucy shredded beef? What could be more wonderful than that?

Of course, this is not a quick recipe. Not for the weeknights when you want something on the table in a flash. (You could, however, make the beef ahead of time, and even go so far as pan-bake the gorditas and refrigerate until you were ready to fry up the gorditas.) However, if you have the time, I highly recommend making these…they are so worth it. The meat is saucy, with just a hint of heat, very savory. I substituted Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix for the flour, and the gorditas came out with a great, slightly chewy and crisp texture. As for the filling, feel free to experiment a bit. If you have leftover shredded pork or chicken, use that. (with a tomatillo salsa, perhaps?) I contemplated a grilled shrimp and cheese concoction, I might have to make that soon. Or you could go vegetarian, with some mushrooms, or a mix of sauteed poblanos and cheese…the possibilities are endless. If you do come up with a good idea (or two), tell me! I’d love to hear about it.

(Adapted From Rick Bayless’s Mexico: One Plate At A Time)

For the beef:

1 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 4 pieces

3 small white onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 T vegetable oil, plus oil to a depth of 1/2 inch for frying

1 28-0z can of good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (I pureed them)

3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1 t chipotle chili powder

Salt to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the meat with 2 quarts salted water, about 1/3 of the onions and 1/2 the garlic. Simmer until meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain, reserving the broth for another use. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into coarse strands with your fingers or two forks.

Wash and dry the saucepan, set over medium heat, and add the 1 tablespoon oil. When hot, add 1/2 of the remaining onions and cook until golden, about 6 minutes, then stir in the remaining garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, chiles, and chipotle powder and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the meat and simmer for a few more minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm.

For the gorditas:

1 3/4 c powdered masa harina mixed with 1 c plus 2 T warm water

1/3 c Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking & Pancake Mix

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 c grated Mexican queso anejo (can substitute grated Romano or Parmesan)

1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a heavy cast-iron or other heavy nonstick griddle over medium. Knead the masa to make it pliable, adding a little water if necessary to achieve a soft-cookie-dough consistency. Knead in the Pamela’s baking mix, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll into balls; cover with plastic to keep from drying out.

Line a tortilla press with two pieces of plastic cut to fit the plates (a food storage bag works well for this). Gently press a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic to about 4 inches in diameter (about 1/4 inch thick). Peel off the top sheet of plastic, flip the gordita, uncovered side down, onto the fingers of one hand and gently peel off the second piece of plastic. In one flowing movement, roll the gordita off your hand and onto the heated skillet. Bake for 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and bake for 1 1/2 minutes on the other side. The gordita will be lightly browned and crusty on the top and bottom, but still a little uncooked on the sides. Remove and set on a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining gorditas.

In the cast-iron or other deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium to medium-high until the oil is at about 350 degrees. One by one, fry the gorditas, turning them over after they have been in the oil about 15 seconds, and cooking them for a total of about 45 second, or until crisp but not hard. Most will have puffed up a little. Drain on paper towels.

Once the are all fried, use a knife to cut a slit in the thin edge of each one about halfway around its circumference, opening a pocket. Fill each gordita with about 1/4 cup shredded meat, a little onion, grated cheese, and cilantro.

Serves 10 as a snack, or 4-5 as a meal.

Korean Short Ribs Tacos

korean BBQ tacos

One day, I was minding my own business, sifting through Serious Eats, when I came across an article about Kogi BBQ trucks. (see the article here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/02/a-typical-day-on-the-kogi-bbq-taco-truck-inside-look-ride-along.html) You see, Kogi BBQ is a taco truck company in Los Angeles. First of all, I am jealous of these taco trucks in general…Dallas isn’t much for the taco truck scene, and honestly, I think they’re seriously missing out on that one. I would kill to have a taco truck near my office, so I could just sneak out, every so often, and grab a mess of street food deliciousness for lunch. I’d be in heaven. (I might also be the size of a house…but let’s not talk about that.)

Anyway, back to Kogi. Kogi BBQ has quickly acquired something of a cult following, with people waiting in obscenely long lines just to get a taste of what they have to offer. What do they offer, exactly? Chef Roy Choi has created a menu of Korean-Mexican dishes to sell off of the trucks. Most popular items are the tacos, with fillings such as spicy pork, barbequed chicken, tofu, or their “signature” taco – the Korean Short Ribs Taco. A description of this taco, directly from Kogi BBQ’s site:

This is our signature taco. We get the best trimmings of short ribs we can find, let it swim in our own special marinade, and chop it nice and small so the flavors just dance on your taste buds. Once on the grill, the fat melts away to create that soft and tender texture everyone loves and the sugars just caramelize to give the meat that deep and savory flavor. This is the Kogi crowd favorite.

All our tacos are topped with:

  • sesame-chili salsa roja
  • julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette
  • cilantro-green onion-lime relish
  • crushed sesame seeds
  • sea salt
  • garnished with lime wedge, orange wedge and red radish wedge

 

I’ll pause for a moment and let the utter magnificence of this creation sink into your brain.

If you’re like I was, now you can’t possibly think of anything else but this enticing, tempting taco. You see, it haunted me. I too wanted to experience the greatness of Kogi BBQ. But I’m in Dallas, with no plans to visit L.A. in the near future. What was I to do?

Make it myself, of course.

Well, not exactly, as you  and I both know that Roy Choi would not hand over his secret recipes to little ol’ me. But I figured, with a little ingenuity, I could create what I imagine the flavors would be like. And so, I began planning.

First off, I wanted to make the short ribs. I found a marinade recipe for Kalbi on Wandering Chopsticks that sounded perfect. A blend of sweet, salty, and savory, this would be a great base for my delicious tacos. As for the condiments, I took a cue from Kogi BBQ’s description, and made my version of a cilantro-onion relish, a salsa roja, and a vinaigrette for lettuce. Along with the other condiments, we were in business!

Preparing these was a breeze. There are a lot of little components, but each is relatively simple, and they come together pretty quickly. A good thing, because I couldn’t wait to get a taste of these babies!

And how did it taste? Well, I can’t tell you if it was close to the original, because I wouldn’t know, but if they were anywhere close, then I am in awe of Roy Choi’s creativity. The description Kogi BBQ gave, saying that the flavors dance on your tastebuds? Yeah. They do. But it’s not a delicate ballet. This is samba-meets-breakdancing, in-your-face dancing. The beef is tender and sweet-savory, but is brightened by the zap of the lime and orange juices. Salsa roja heats your mouth, but is cooled by the crunch of the lettuce and cilantro-onion relish. Crunchy and tender, salty, sweet, and savory, spicy and cool…my husband and I couldn’t get enough.

So I hope that one day I can experience a real Kogi BBQ taco. Or two, or three. But until then, this will become a regular on our menu.

For the marinade (adapted from Wandering Chopsticks):

1/4 c gluten-free soy sauce

1 T sesame oil

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 T brown sugar

2 T rice wine

1 t black pepper

2 t salt

1 pear, peeled and roughly chopped

2 lbs boneless beef short ribs

Place everything but the beef in a food processor and puree. Pour marinade over meat and refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill over high heat. Grill beef for about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked medium. Remove from grill, and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Taste and salt if necessary.

For the cilantro-onion relish:

½ red onion, minced

1 t rice wine vinegar

1 T cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch or two of salt

Add onions and rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Add rest of ingredients to onion and stir to mix.

 

For the sesame-chili salsa roja:

½ c sambal oelek (Asian garlic-chili sauce)

¼ t minced ginger

1 t sesame oil

Stir together thoroughly.

 

For the chili-soy-sesame vinaigrette – to dress the lettuce:

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 t sambal oelek (Asian garlic-chili sauce)

2 T sesame oil

pinch of salt

1 head romaine lettuce, cut into thin strips

Stir together soy sauce, lime juice, and sambal oelek. Whisk in sesame oil and salt. Toss lettuce with a light coat of dressing.

 

To make the tacos:

Corn tortillas

Grilled beef short ribs

Cilantro-onion relish

Sesame-chili salsa roja

Toasted sesame seeds

Romaine lettuce, dressed with chili-soy-sesame vinaigrette

Lime wedges

Orange wedges

Radish slices

Heat corn tortillas individually on a comal or cast iron pan until warm. Assemble tacos by placing some beef in each tortilla, and top with cilantro-onion relish, sesame-chili salsa roja, sesame seeds, dressed lettuce, and a lime wedge, orange wedge, and radishes.

Serves 4.

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti and (Gluten-Free) Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballsTonight was Matt’s night in the kitchen. Matt has somewhat picky tastes, but he’ll eat just about anything if it involves pasta or wrapped in a tortilla. So it was no surprise to any of us that spaghetti and meatballs was his first choice. He could eat spaghetti every day, if allowed. So spaghetti it was.

Of course, with my recent decision to go gluten-free, I knew that I would have to make some modifications. Gluten-free spaghetti is easy – Glutino sells some brown rice pasta. (Of course, brown rice works just as well in a pinch.) However, my usual meatball recipe calls for bread crumbs. I could omit them, but I was afraid the meatballs would be soggy and dense. I had some Glutino Flax Seed Bread, (which makes really good toast!) so I figured, why not make bread crumbs from this? Blitzed 4 slices in the food processor, and ta-da, gluten-free bread crumbs! We were in business.

Matt was a fast learner in the kitchen. Good thing, because his dish called for more ingredients than the dishes his siblings prepared. His favorite part, obviously, was making the meatballs. (He kept rolling HUGE meatballs, and telling his brother that they were his “dream” meatballs.) With the laughing and joking around, the preparation went by rather quickly. We had those meatballs in the oven in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Speaking of a matter of minutes, this tomato sauce recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Who needs 15-plus ingredients and a long simmer time to make a great tomato sauce? As I’ve found out recently, not I! This sauce is so tasty and bright, with a good kick from the red pepper, and only uses 7 ingredients (if you count salt as an ingredient).

All in all, this turned out to be a satisfying meal. After tonight, the first round of “Kids in the Kitchen” is complete. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think we’re beginning something that will continue to be a source of fun and education for a long while to come.

 

Gluten-Free Meatballs (adapted from Cuisine At Home)

1 1/2 c gluten-free breadcrumbs

3/4 c parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/2 c milk

1/2 c vegetable broth

1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

2 T dried oregano

1 T garlic, minced

1 1/2 t salt

1 T ground black pepper

2 t dried basil

1 t crushed red pepper flakes

pinch nutmeg

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir together first 13 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef and mix together thoroughly. (We used our hands – clean, of course.) Take a portion of meat (about 1 1/2 oz each, or nearly 2 inches in diameter) and roll into a ball with your palms. (Alternatively, you can use a portioning scoop or two spoons.) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, evenly spaced.

chicken curry 042

Cover the bottom of the pan wiht the remaining 1 cup of broth. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, you can prepare the pasta according to package directions, and start the sauce.

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

3 T olive oil

2 t crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-0z cans crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

2 T basil leaves, julienned

1 t oregano leaves, chopped

Combine olive oil, red pepper and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat to medium, stirring while heating. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to heat. Add salt to taste, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano, and add meatballs (once baked).

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serves 6.