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

Flourless brownies

Adapted from Unicorns in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with non stick spray and line with a parchment paper.
  2. Place butter, sugar and chocolate in a pan over medium heat until all melted. Let cool for a minute.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time using an electric mixer (this is important). Beat very well after each addition.
  4. Add in vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan. Pound the pan on the counter twice.
  6. Bake in the heated oven for 25 minutes until the top is crackled.

Tips: It’s best to melt the butter, sugars and chocolate in a sauce pan over medium heat and NOT to use a microwave. Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Since this flourless brownie recipe has no leavening agent such as baking powder, over-mixing won’t cause a problem. Don’t over bake the brownies. We did not have nonstick spray — just the parchment paper. These kind of tasted like flourless chocolate cake — so really, no one could be disappointed. Mookie the cat got chastised for walking across the counter to inspect the mixing bowl (it was too far from his usual perch on the high chair by the bar counter).

~Jessica

Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Adapted from Gordon Ramsey and Goodto

Ingredients:

  • 4 butter croissants
  • 300g smoked salmon slices
  • 12 eggs (3 per person)
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1–2 tbsp snipped chives (or scallions in a pinch)

Directions:

  1. Trim off the ends of the croissants, then slice each one into 4 or 6 thick rounds and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Break the eggs into a cold heavy-based non-stick saucepan; do not season. Place the pan over a low heat and add a few knobs of butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir the eggs frequently but not constantly, just to combine the yolks and whites.
  3. As the eggs start to scramble, take the pan off the heat and use a spatula to scrape the egg from the sides and base of the pan. Return to the heat and keep stirring and scraping the pan until the overall texture of the eggs is like soft curds. This should take 5–6 minutes. Don’t overcook the mixture – it should be moist and soft.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the croissants on each side for 1–2 minutes until golden. Place the toasted slices on individual plates.
  5. When the eggs are nearing the end of cooking, take the pan off the heat, add another knob of butter and then season well. Return to the heat and stir in the cream. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and fold through the chives.
  6. Drape the slices of smoked salmon on top of the toasted croissants, spoon the scrambled eggs over, and serve immediately.

I had some extra lox in the fridge, and a fresh carton of eggs. After practicing it all week, I felt ready to make it for a larger audience (Jesse’s family). It was a success. I could not find chives (not the season?), so subbed with scallions chopped extra fine.

~Jessica

Chinese savory pancake

Adapted from The Woks of Life and Roti ‘n Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 scallions or Chinese garlic chives, chopped (if you have)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flour, depending on egg size
  • a dash of corn starch
  • soy sauce (1 tbsp oyster sauce, if you have)
  • salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper, to your liking
  • 1/2 tsp. five spice powder (if you have)
  • vegetable oil and a little butter

Directions:

  1. Wash the carrot and bell pepper, dry. You can use a grater, if julienning carrots is hard.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the grated vegetables with ¾ teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, and you’ll see visible veg juice at the bottom of the bowl, which we will keep.
  3. Now mix in the eggs, chopped scallions (if you have), ground white pepper, sesame oil, sugar (optional), and about all-purpose flour. (I tried oat flour for gluten free, in the photos).
  4. If you feel like you need more flour (this could depend on the size of the eggs, for example), add it 1 tablespoon at a time. The final batter should look similar to breakfast pancake batter.
  5. Use medium-low heat, add the vegetable oil and a little butter. If you have, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and cook each side until lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Serve with a simple soy dipping sauce, chili oil, etc.

It smells very good! And it’s all vegetables. Jessica tried it with some sour cream, like a potato latke! Would love to try to zucchini version of this (instead of just carrot and onion).

~Kailing

Homemade ramen

Adapted from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (peanut oil works too)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (missing!)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (also had homegrown oyster mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine
  • 3 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
  • 2 bok choy
  • 8 slices Narutomaki, optional*
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and halving. (I might revise and post a different soft boiled egg direction because ours came out hard boiled!)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and scallions whites, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce (and seasonings) and 3 cups water.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in Yaki-Soba until loosened and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. (I used different noodles, which got sticky! Flavor still amazing though.)
  5. Stir in bok choy, Narutomaki (wish I had, got Vietnamese hot pot pork balls instead), carrot and scallions until the greens begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with eggs.

This was perfect for a cold winter’s meal. I wanted to use these fresh Chinese noodles I had, but they might have been not the most suitable. I will use real yakisoba noodles next time — Sun Noodles’ Shoyu and Miso flavors are good! Other classic ramen toppings I really love: Chāshū (sliced barbecued or braised pork), Seasoned Soy soft-boiled egg (“Ajitsuke Tamago“), Bean sprouts, Menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), Kakuni (braised pork cubes or squares), Kikurage (wood ear mushroom), Nori (dried seaweed), Kamaboko (formed fish paste, only the pink and white spiral is called narutomaki), Corn, Butter, and Wakame (a different type of seaweed). Wiki I also grew my own oyster mushrooms — a gift from a friend for my classroom (pre-pandemic).

Next time for the eggs, I will 1) leave the eggs in the fridge until the water is boiling and 2) Prepare an ice water bath and 3) marinate them in soy sauce-sugar-mirin-sake for 2 days.

~Jessie

Shrimp fried rice

Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 6 shrimps (100 g or 3.7 oz; shelled and deveined)
  • 1 leaf iceberg lettuce (30 g or 1 oz)
  • 1 green onion/scallion
  • 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (canola, etc)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (roasted)
  • 1 tsp sake (subbed with Shaoxing wine)
  • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
  • 2 cups cooked Japanese short-grain rice (preferably day-old cold rice)
  • ⅛ tsp white pepper powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Cut shrimp into ½ inch (1.3 cm) pieces.
  2. Cut iceberg lettuce and scallion into small pieces.
  3. Gently whisk the egg in a small bowl.
  4. Heat wok until surface almost smoking, add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly. Add the egg and cook over high heat. The egg will not stick to the pan as long as you put enough oil. Quickly mix it with a spatula and when it’s 80% cooked, take it out and put on a plate.
  5. In the same wok, add shrimp and then sake and salt. Cook until shrimp change color outside. The inside doesn’t have to be cooked through at this time. Take shrimp out onto the plate.
  6. Add sesame oil and cook scallion, stir until nicely coated with oil.
  7. Add the rice and break up the chunks of rice. Toss the wok and mix well together.
  8. When rice is coated with oil, put the egg and shrimp back in the wok again and toss all together. Add lettuce, white pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and soy sauce. Toss the wok frequently and mix it all together. Serve immediately.

But just in case anyone forgets, limit your seafood intake (if you’re concerned about mercury, by all means), because of this: Will the ocean ever run out of fish? I’m a huge fan of TedEd videos, especially in education. Feel free to sub with chicken, or tofu instead, just make sure to marinate the chicken well ahead of time (salt and pepper, minimum), or fry the tofu. Consumer decision has huge influence on overfishing practices. I used 1/4 lb. of “sustainably farmed” shrimp (although Thai — carbon footprint) from Whole Foods, used 2 eggs instead of just one, and subbed the sake with Shaoxing rice wine. Probably could have used 2-3 lettuce leaves for more veg.

~Jessica

Punjene tikvice

Adapted from LMU München. Serves 4-6. Step by step photos and video here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, minced
  • 500 g ground bison (sub for beef)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 70 – 80 g rice (uncooked)
  • Salt, pepper, “Vegeta” seasoning, paprika
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • Potato slices for closing the zucchini (optional)
  • 150 mL white wine
  • 200 mL tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 150 g. Trappista cheese (or gouda)

Directions:

  1. Filling: Fry the 3/4 of the onion (minced carrot optional) in oil. Add the meat, then the wine, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the tomato puree, ketchup, 2 dL of water, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Zucchini: While the filling cooks, cut in half and scrape out the seeds from the zucchinis with a small spoon until you have a boat. Save the insides for later. Blanche the zucchini in salted water for 3 minutes each. While this is blanching, take the reserved zucchini innards, chop them fine, then add half of it to the meat sauce. 
  3. Salsa: Peel the tomatoes, chop it fine. Sauté it in olive oil and 1/4 of the onion and garlic. Add spices to taste. This “salsa” is finished after cooking 15-20 minutes.
  4. Roux: In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg and 2 tbsp. sour cream and some Vegeta seasoning.
  5. Layer the tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking pan. Then place the zucchini on top. Fill each zucchini half-full with the meat and cap off with a thin slice of potato (optional). Pour 2-3 tbsp. of roux over each. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  6. Bake at 200 deg. C (392 deg. F) for 20-30 minutes, until a golden color is achieved.

There were many suggestions from the PhD student who shared this recipe that varied from the original recipe, like adding raw rice to the meat (like arroz con pollo), which we did do, along with diced bacon, which we did not. Their roux also involved heating 50 ml of oil, then adding flour spoonful by spoonful until a pudding consistency is achieved (~ 15 seconds), as well as a half a teaspoon of paprika, while the faux roux we did was much easier. The zucchini in the other recipe was cooked in a pot of boiling water, so that the water didn’t touch the inside filling, but sort of steam cooked it? Which was confusing, so baking it seemed much more straightforward.

Serbian stuffed zucchini is not anything I’ve had the privilege to try before, but it looked like all ingredients I would be into. We used one big red onion instead of two small white onions because it was on sale, and is healthier, but then I forgot to reserve some for the tomato sauce. We used ground bison instead of beef, Roasted Chicken Base instead of Vegeta, vinho verde instead of white wine, did not have tomato puree, and used leftover cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese instead of Trappista cheese. Phew! We barely finished it in time before 8pm Pub Trivia virtual, and I blame the line at Hannaford market. Not as much a hit as the chili and soup this week, but still excellent.

~Jessica

Turkey kofte

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Kofte Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 50 g. pistachios
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 sprigs parsley (omitted)
  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • 500 g. ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Chili sauce ingredients: (I recommend halving this)

  • 4 ripe tomates
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 jalapeno chilies
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tomate paste
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Tahini yogurt:

  • 250 g. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Turkish pilav:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves. garlic
  • 300 g. bulgur wheat
  • 400 ml. hot chicken stock
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 80 g. broken rice vermicelli
  • 100 g. can chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Finely grate the courgette, trim and finely chop the spring onions and green chilli, then chop the pistachios. Pick and finely chop all the fresh herbs.
  2. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until smelling fantastic. Meanwhile, lightly beat the egg.
  3. Mix all the kofte ingredients together in a large bowl, keeping some pistachios back to garnish, then season well.
  4. With wet hands, form 16 kofte, each the size and shape of a small egg. Leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes, then thread onto metal skewers, two kofte on each.
  5. Cook the kofte under a grill or over a flame charcoal grill, on high for 12 minutes, until juicy, golden brown and cooked through, turning regularly.
  1. To make the chilli sauce, halve the tomatoes and onions (there’s no need to peel), and bash the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  2. Place the red chillies, tomatoes, onions and garlic on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season, then roast for 25 minutes or until soft and slightly blackened.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove and discard the stalks from the chillies, the cores from the tomatoes and the skins from the onions and garlic.
  4. Add to a food processor, along with the sugar, tomato purée and vinegar. Blitz until smooth and add a lug of oil to make it glossy. Pulse again, then season.
  1. For the tahini yoghurt, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper.
  1. To make the pilav, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Add a lug of oil to a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat, then sweat the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and stir to coat.
  2. Pour in the stock, bring it to the boil, then turn down the heat to very low. Cover with a lid and steam the bulgur for 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the butter and cook the vermicelli until the butter turns golden brown.
  4. After 8 minutes, add it to the bulgur along with the chickpeas – don’t stir at any point, just replace the cloth and lid and let it steam for another 8 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes – you should end up with a beautifully light and fluffy pilav.

OMG this utterly takes two hours. The flavors and textures combined together so amazingly, and we regret nothing once we FINALLY sat down, but if we had known it would take that long, in such a very humid NYC summer… At least you can eat all the leftovers cold, cold, cold. Optimism! The recipe makes way, way too much chile sauce — I would halve that recipe for sure. Everything else was in good proportions.

I used white sugar, and apple cider vinegar instead of the recommended ingredients. I didn’t buy parsley or broken rice vermicelli — although I do like rice vermicelli, but neither of us care for parsley over much. Next time! (Just kidding — or at least not in summer. Ever.) We tried “grilling” the kofte and “oven roasting” the vegetables in a cast iron pan, which took considerably more time than the original recipe called for, and made the kitchen (and my apartment) hot, hot, hot. We even tried making the bulgur pilav in the cast iron, but that was unnecessary, and transferred it back to my ceramic pan later on. The turkey is quite lean, so I would love to try this (or another turkey meatball recipe) with ground pork instead. Fatty pork ftw.

~Jessica

Scallion turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese or reduced sodium
  • 1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or 1/2 cup sake with 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped
  • Half bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, toasted if you can find it
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Make sauce: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar melts completely. Reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes, though this took me a bit longer to reduce it until it was syrupy enough that I thought it would coat, and not just dribble off the meatballs. You can keep it on a back burner, stirring it frequently, while browning the meatballs in the next step. Once it has reduced to your satisfaction, strain through a sieve.
  2. Make meatballs: Mix turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and several grindings of black pepper in a bowl. I like mixing meatballs with a fork; it seems to work the ingredients into each other well. Roll tablespoon-sized knobs of the mixture into balls. The mixture is pretty soft; I find it easiest to roll — eh, more like toss the meatballs from palm to palm until they’re roundish — meatballs with damp hands.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, generously cover bottom of pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place meatballs in pan and cook, turning, until browned all over and cooked inside, about 8 minutes per batch. Arrange on a platter (a heated one will keep them warm longer), spoon a little sauce over each meatball, and serve with toothpicks. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze on the side, to dip the meatballs.

We halved the sugar, so it never became sticky, per Jesse’s preference. H-Mart did not have ground turkey, so we went with the traditional ground pork. It was serendipitously delicious. I accidentally doubled the ginger in the sauce — we’d plenty left over. Because the pork had fat, it really didn’t need much vegetable oil at all to cook (chef’s recommendation: a very light coating of the pan), but the ground turkey definitely would have needed more. Delicious in a halved baguette, with other antipasti to grace the table!

~Jessica

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (130 g) flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3.5 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats
  • 1 bag Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt) together. Just the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt– you’ll add the oats later.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients (butter, sugars, eggs, molasses, vanilla) together.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Add the oats and chocolate chips. The dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Chill the cookie dough. We did way more than 45 minutes in the refrigerator, which helps prevent the cookies from overspreading.
  6. Scoop cookie dough balls. About 3 Tablespoons of dough per cookie– yes, these are LARGE!
  7. Bake at 350°F for 13-14 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are set and the centers still look soft.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Enjoy!

These were so good — just the right amount of chewy, and really awesome texture from the extra oats. I’ve long been an oatmeal raisin fan, but I was open to Jesse’s chocolate substitution, and they were quite the hit with his apartment. He skipped the molasses and used less sugar. Everyone was a fan of the bittersweet 60% cacao baking chips.

~Jessica