Polpette al sugo (Italian meatballs)

Adapted from Lidia and Recipe Tin Eats Yield: 6 servings, plus about 3 quarts extra (total of about 4 dozen meatballs and 3 quarts sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano (omitted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (basil sub!)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan), freshly grated

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • black pepper
  • 1 fresh bay leaves, or 2 small dried bay leaves
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mix (parsley, basil, thyme, oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
  • 24 oz / 700 g tomato passata, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional to serve

Directions:

  1. Grate the onion using a standard box grater in a large bowl until you have about 1/2 cup of grated onion and juices. 
  2. Add bread, mix to combine so the onion juice soaks the bread and disintegrates. Set aside while you prep the other ingredients (5 min or so).
  3. Add all the remaining Meatball ingredients. Use hands to mix well.
  4. Measure out a heaped tablespoon and roll lightly to form a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture. (Note 5)
  5. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large non stick fry pan over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown all over – about 3 – 4 minutes. 
  6. When they are browned but NOT cooked through, carefully transfer them onto a plate.

Sauce Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil into the fry pan. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add the remaining Sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium low so it bubbles gently rather than splattering everywhere. Let simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Carefully transfer the meatballs and any juices that have pooled on the plate into the Sauce.
  4. Cook the meatballs for 8 – 10 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally. Adjust Sauce salt and pepper to taste.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, cook your pasta of choice.
  6. Serve the meatballs on pasta, garnished with extra parmesan and parsley if using.

I wanted to cook Lidia’s recipe authentically, but it was so much quantity! And I’m not a fan of beef, much less veal, so… I incorporated another website (she has delicious chicken stew!) that fried the meatballs instead of baking them. These were wildly delicious and approved by all. We didn’t incorporate the carrot and celery (considering the 2 lbs. or meat vs. 3 lbs from Lidia), but we did use the red onion, eggs, and basil instead of parsley (Jesse’s family doesn’t like oregano for some reason). I would throw in a bay leaf into the sauce next time (we forgot). We used gluten-free bread crumbs, and crumbled Grana Padano into the meatball and on top to serve. Grana Padano was not incorporated into the sauce. Ground meat came from the Ossining Farmer’s Market, Sunset View Farm. I also made some garlic bread with EVOO and rubbed garlic to clean up the sauce after, demi baguette from Farmer’s Market too.

~Jessica

Salsa di pomodoro

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy and her alla marinara

Ingredients:

  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomato
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/2 celery stick, chopped fine
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • salt and red pepper flakes (peperoncino) to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Rinse the tomato cans with 2 cups of water and add that as well. Bring everything to a boil. Add the basil.
  4. Season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves. Taste, and season with more salt and red pepper to taste. Serve!

We were renting an AirBnB and I wanted something delicious but easy peasy and super tasty. For some protein, we picked up the Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausage. I recommend coating the pasta in the sauce, rather than just topping with it. Don’t be afraid to garnish with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil as the mood strikes! The photo shows a leftover overloaded potato skin which reheated well in the oven.

~Jessica

Chicken stew

Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 kg / 3 lbs bone in, skin on chicken thighs and drumsticks (6 to 8 pieces)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large carrots, cut thick end into 1.5cm / 3/5″ pieces, thin end 2.5cm/1″
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 2cm / 4/5″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
  • 3 tbsp (35g) flour
  • 3 cups (750 ml) chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 sprigs thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme (or other herb)
  • 2 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
  • 600 g / 1.2 lbs baby potatoes, halved (quarter large ones)
  • Warm crusty bread (homemade garlic bread!!)
  • OPTIONAL: Fresh thyme or parsley (chopped)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Brown chicken on both sides until light golden, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Remove from pot. (Do in 2 batches if pot not big enough).
  3. If there’s too much oil in the pot, discard some. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add carrots and celery, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add wine. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the brown bits into the liquid. Cook for 1 minute until liquid is mostly gone.
  6. Sprinkle flour across surface, stir.
  7. Add broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to dissolve tomato paste.
  8. Place chicken on top, keeping the skin above the liquid level as much as you can.
  9. Bring to simmer then cover. Bake for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, remove lid. Add potatoes, pushing them into the liquid and rearranging chicken so they sit on top (for lovely crispy skin).
  11. Return to oven without the lid for a further 40 minutes until the chicken skin is deep golden and super crispy, the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thickened.
  12. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve with warm crusty bread on the side to dunk in the sauce – or go all the way with Garlic Bread! Optional: garnish with extra fresh thyme leaves or parsley.

Ingredients for Garlic Bread:

  • 1 French stick / baguette , ~ 60cm / 2ft long (I use half a loaf of Whole Foods peasant bread)
  • 125 g / 1 US stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic , minced (~3 – 4 cloves, pack the teaspoon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley (optional)

Directions for Garlic Bread:

  1. Preheat oven. I left it at the same temperature as the chicken stew.
  2. Cut the French stick in half. Then cut the bread almost all the way through into 2cm / 4/5″ thick slices.
  3. Mix together the butter, garlic, salt and parsley. Taste to see if it’s salty / garlicky enough for your taste.
  4. Smear garlic butter over cut side of bread.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is crispy (check through foil).

I wanted a Dutch oven for a long time, and my sister Jennifer recommended the affordable Lodge cast iron 6 quart. She also recommended this chef’s blog! This came out super tasty — and every reheated leftover tasted better and better. HIGHLY recommend. Perfect for cold winter’s days to heat up your whole apartment.

~ Jessie

Sopa de fideo

Recipe courtesy of my co-worker, Ms. Carchichabla and the blog Isabel Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • small onion, chopped
  • 1 packet Goya Sazón Seasoning with Azafrán
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 6 cups chicken/vegetable broth
  • rosemary, thyme
  • vegetables (e.g. celery, carrots, cauliflower, potato, bell pepper)
  • 8 oz. fideo pasta
  • olive oil
  • black beans, cooked (we used canned)
  • garnish: lime and cilantro, Mexican Queso Fresco and diced avocado. (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut up two plum tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, little bit of onion and sautée until soup-like. We also added diced jalapeño pepper (I recommend removing the seeds as much as possible), but you can also add red pepper flakes.
  2. Add a packet of Goya Sazón con Azafrán.
  3. Add 3 – 4 cups of water (or broth) to boil.
  4. Then, put in the veggies — we used celery, carrots, potato, and turnip.
  5. To make the fideo, which is the (bow tie) pasta, you’re going to toast it in a pan in olive oil. Don’t toast it too much or it will burn, just toast it till gets to a tannish-yellow color.
  6. After putting the fideo in the soup along with the veggies, add the beans. (The beans should already have been cooked before!) Add some salt, rosemary, a pinch of thyme.
  7. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes or whenever you feel it’s ready. Taste. Add some salt if necessary. Garnish with cilantro, etc.

It’s a perfect meal for the fall/winter weather. Additional soup ingredients can include vegetables such as bell pepper, onion and garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken, chili peppers, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I quite liked my second attempt too, with canned tomatoes!

~Jessica

Minestra di farro

Adapted from Food52 and Great Italian Chefs

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 70 g of pancetta, minced (optional)
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600 g of waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (didn’t have — next time!)
  • 300 g of farro, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 7 ounces (or 200 grams) peeled tomatoes
  • 500 g of dried cannellini beans, or borlotti beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used canned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan; add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted. Add herbs and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cooked borlotti beans, along with their liquid. Stir to combine everything and add 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cook 10 minutes uncovered, then remove from heat. Remove the rosemary stick and blend (an immersion blender is ideal for this) until smooth.
  3. Add the farro to the bean purée (along with another cup of water to loosen it, using more or less as necessary) and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to check that the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the farro is cooked al dente (with a pleasant bite to it, like pasta). It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more water to your liking. Check for seasoning.
  4. Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

This came together better than I expected, although I did not soak anything overnight, beans or farro. I used a can of Goya beans in sauce (white beans would have been closer to suitable but I had Green Pigeon Peas in Sauce). I was debating whether to add Latin beans to an Italian dish, but Jesse insisted on including beans in a stew recipe. Pancetta isn’t too shabby as an ingredient, but mushrooms can make such a delicious vegetarian substitute — I highly recommend, so that’s what I used. Also, forgot to add the rosemary until the last minute, better luck next time! Next level: homemade broth.

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy PB&J protein box

Adapted from Platings and Pairings. Prepares 4 meals.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp (32 g) Peanut butter (I find almond butter less tasty)
  • 4 tbsp (16 g) Bonne Maman mixed berry preserves
  • 4 Whole-wheat whole Grain Bread slices / 1 Whole Wheat Pita halved
  • 4 string Cheeses (or 4 oz. of mixed cheeses, like I did!)
  • 40 mixed Nuts (optional)
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Grape Tomatoes
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • 2 Bell Peppers, cut into 1/2-inch sticks (optional)
  • 24 Cucumber slices (optional)

Directions:

  1. PB&J the sandwich thins, then slice in half. Cut the carrots / celery to bite size. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Please ignore the actual Starbucks fruit & nut packs in the photos, I just saved them since forever and wanted to use them up. ^_^ I tried the cucumber slices previously but they would retain so much moisture and get everything soggy. Same problem with hummus without having a cupcake paper or something to hold its viscous mass.

Costs:
3 lbs. Mandarins $5.99
Oaxaca cheese $4.99
Queso de Papa $1.99
Arnold Sandwich Thins $4.29
Grape Tomatoes $2.50
Carrots and Celery, sliced $2.21

$21.97 plus leftovers

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy eggs & cheese protein box

According to No. 2 Pencil and Simply Recipes. Prepares 4 meals

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled 
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. white Cheddar cheese
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter, portioned into 2 ounce containers
  • 8 multi-grain flatbread sandwich thins, cut in quarters (multigrain muesli bread)

Directions:

  1. Cover the eggs in a saucepan with water: Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch or two of water. 6 eggs should be covered by at least an inch, 7 to 12 eggs, 2 inches.
  2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold / ice water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further.
  5. Brush apple slices lightly with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning if desired. Alternatively, keep the slices face down and pressed together prevent browning as well.
  6. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Assemble four protein bistro boxes and store refrigerated.
Before I added the peanut butter and smoked almonds

Eggs should be eaten within 5 days. I’m not a big fruit person, so I go cucumbers, carrots, and celery with pesto hummus. I did manage to find sandwich thins (Arnold) by some miracle. My first attempt, I decided to just try hard-boiling four eggs, to see if I could do it right. Next time, I will get a bigger pot or pan, and cook all eight eggs at once so I can meal prep for four lunches at a time. Teacher hack ^_^ This would look pretty with some red bell pepper, if they were in season and cheaper.

Carrots/Celery $1.99
Extra sharp cheddar $2.69
Gouda cheese $4.99
Arnold Thins $4.29
Esti pesto hummus $3.79
Cucumber $0.80
Green bell pepper $1.93
Dozen brown eggs $2.99

Total $23.47 for two ‘weeks’ worth of protein boxes (8 boxes)

~Jessica

Turkey chili with beans

Adapted from smitten kitchen and a Whole Foods ingredients list

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds ground turkey (I used 1 lb.)
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz dark kidney beans, drained (I used Teasdale Chile verde beans and Goya Frijoles negros)
  • 1 14 ounce (400 g) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned vegetable stock or turkey broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa or cornmeal (I used corn starch)
  • 1/3 cup chili powder (I used paprika instead — sweeter flavor)
  • oregano, basil
  • cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, stirring well, and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Gradually add the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in all of the spices (e.g. chili powder, cumin), cocoa (thickener), and tomatoes (and tomato paste).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans, bell pepper, salt, and vinegar (or lime juice), stirring well.
  5. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes more. Adjust flavor with your spices of choice. Top with the chopped cilantro.
  6. Garnish with cheddar, sour cream, and jalapeno, as you like it. Serve hot, with cornbread, if desired.

Turkey is good brain food, and Whole Foods has a Tequila lime turkey chili with beans that we would get, before I tried this recipe. I love the tomato paste that comes in metal tubes, like at Rewe or Kaufland or Edeka, because you wouldn’t have to worry about finishing the tin or storing the unused bit. I added ½ a carrot because I had it on hand and I didn’t think it would detract from the primary flavors. Wish I had some cheddar to grate on top!

Happy Boxing Day,
~Jessica

Leek farro soup (Minestra di farro e porri)

Adapted from La Tavola Marche and Madonna del Piatto

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled farro
  • 6 1/4 cups stock ***Avoid using bullion (or stock) cubes for this! There are only a few ingredients & they should be of the highest quality possible ^_^
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • freshly grated salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin 2 tablespoons
  • sprig of rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • parsley, finely chopped (to taste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the leeks and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Add the farro, pour in the stock (I cooked carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip from a soup greens package), season with salt and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the farro is tender. Season with pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls or a soup tureen and sprinkle with Parmesan & drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Provide toasted Italian crusty bread, rubbed with cut garlic, to mop it up. Also good to have plenty of freshly grated Parmesan on hand, per person.

A former roommate left this bag of Italian farro, so of course I needed to find the perfect soup recipe for the long winter nights.

Cheers,
Jessica

Pi Day Special – Shepherd’s Pie

3/14, that most special of days! For those who aren’t quite as nerdy, it’s Pi Day, celebrating π, that mathematical constant usually used for calculating areas and volumes of circles – 3.1415926535… Okay, fine, it’s basically just an excuse to celebrate pies in all shapes and forms! So in honor of this day, I’m crashing Jessie’s blog to share a recipe that I prepared myself for Pi Day!

Since we are in the middle of Winter Storm Stella (STELLLLAAAA!) here in New York, I thought rather than a sweet or dessert pie I’d prefer something a little more hearty, to get me revved up for all the snow removal we would be doing later on. Shepherd’s pie, with its fluffy mashed potatoes atop savory ground beef filling, was the perfect solution.

DSC07758

Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes, cubed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter (alright… I used 1.5, cuz more butter makes mashed potatoes so good!)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used provolone, which I had on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, beans mix)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Melted butter to brush on top of mashed potatoes

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the potatoes. Cook until tender and easily pierced by fork, around 15 minutes. Drain in colander and mash in large bowl with butter and shredded cheese until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and cook until starting to turn transparent, around 3 minutes. Add celery and continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Add mixed vegetables and cook 5 more minutes. I cooked until the water from the frozen vegetables had evaporated. Set aside vegetables and clean pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In the clean frying pan, add a small amount of oil. Add ground beef and brown, around 8-10 minutes. Drain of excess fat and reintroduce the vegetable mixture. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add ketchup and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread the ground beef mixture in an even layer in a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and spread in an even layer. Brush melted butter on top of mashed potatoes.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. If the potatoes aren’t golden brown, you can put them under the broiler for 5 minutes or until they are browned, I like to watch it to make sure it doesn’t get burnt!
  7. Enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor! I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you would like to visit my blog please feel free (shameless plug over).

DSC07763

a messy plate of shepherd’s pie, living life on the edge… of the table.

~Peggy