April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

There must be a thousand recipes out there for meatballs. This recipe is a little different. I was intrigued and inspired by an article in the NY Times for Spicy Meatballs with Chickpeas by David Tanis. I have a couple of his cookbooks and admire his simplicity. There is no bread in his meatball mix, he uses raw (yes, raw) arborio or white rice as a binder, so it’s gluten free.

The original recipe calls for ground lamb, which was not in my freezer, and North African seasonings. This is when you call on kitchen creativity and courage. I did have a pound package of bulk country sausage and one of ground turkey. It was sounding like my meatballs would be more Italian than North African.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable to whatever ground meat and flavorings you have on hand. The meatballs were juicy and delicious, the rice absorbing the flavors of the sauce and the meat.

Meatballs

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground meat (ground beef, pork, turkey, sausage or a combination)
  • ½ cup raw arborio rice or any white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or minced

FOR THE SAUCE:

  •  Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 quart of jarred Italian pasta sauce, whatever you have in your pantry or freezer
  • A couple of handfuls of chopped kale, chard or baby spinach, chopped (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan for serving
PREPARATION:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground meat, raw rice, salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, Italian seasoning, onion and garlic. Knead mixture well.
  2. Line with a sheet pan or roasting pan with foil for easier cleanup. Coat it lightly with olive oil. With wet hands, form mixture into 1-ounce meatballs and arrange in one layer on pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, reheat your pasta sauce.
  4. Carefully add meatballs and adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, chard or spinach and cook until just wilted.
  6. Serve with pasta (gluten free) and sprinkle with parmesan.

Of course you could make your own tomato sauce, that would be even more delicious.

The greens are optional, I was looking for a way to add some vegetables but you could leave them out if it’s the end of the week and your produce drawer is down to the last wilted scallion.

I found an almost empty jar of Kalamata olives and tossed them in, capers would be good, anchovies anyone?

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

January – 5 Hour Beef Stew

January – 5 Hour Beef Stew

This recipe was first posted in November 2013, but I think it is due for a re-write. As well I wanted to adapt it to the Fast Metabolism Diet, which was amazingly easy to do. You don’t need to be on the diet to appreciate this wonderful meal. It is so easy, you just mix everything together in a large bowl, pour it into a casserole dish, cover and leave in a low oven for 5 hours. Time to catch up on some of the Harry Potter movies that are playing in marathon session on TV this weekend. Your whole house will be filled with wonderful smells. This recipe is good enough to serve company. It is appropriate for phase 1 or 3.

The original idea came from a cookbook (mine now well-used, stained, and tattered) called Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase. She was one of the co-authors of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. She lives in Nantucket and the recipe is perfect for stormy, cold evenings.

 Serve it with mashed potatoes, or pasta, or mashed fat-free cauliflower (recipe to follow).

Note: I would not transfer this recipe to a slow cooker, it will have far too much liquid. Slow cooker recipes need an entirely different formula for success. Also, please check your tapioca label if you need this recipe to be gluten-free, not all of them are. Minute Tapioca is gluten-free.

5 Hour Beef Stew

5 Hour Beef Stew

 

(6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ lbs of lean beef stew meat, cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks the size as the meat
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks the same size as the meat
  • 6-8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 2 finely chopped and 2 peeled but left whole
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional if your family does not like spicy food)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups of sugar-free vegetable juice, tomato juice or a large can of tomatoes, puree in your blender with additional water to make 2 1/2 cups if necessary
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, water or broth
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of tapioca, I used Minute Tapioca
  • Chopped parsley for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the beef with all the vegetables. Season with the garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. No, you don’t need to pre-brown the meat! I know, I didn’t believe it either but I’ve made this many times and it works.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the tomato juice, wine or water or broth, mustard, and tapioca.
  4. Add this mixture to the meat and vegetables, stir to blend well.
  5. Transfer the stew to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Cover tightly and cook 5 hours without opening the lid or disturbing.
  6. Taste for salt, some tomato juices are very salty. Add more freshly ground pepper as desired.
  7. You can serve this directly or refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley

 

5 Hour Beef Stew

5 Hour Beef Stew

5 Hour Beef Stew

Use your imagination as far as vegetables. I used carrots, parsnips and shallots this time. In the past, I’ve added turnips, potatoes, boiling onions, kohibrabi, celery root and elephant garlic. Use this recipe as your canvas for what you find at the market or in your garden.

Serve with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, pasta, or this amazing fat-free cauliflower mash. 1/8 (about 1 cup) of the recipe would be a phase 1 dinner with some brown rice or pasta. A sweet potato would also be nice with it.

If you have some, serve the pickled mustard seeds on the side. I did and it was a good counterpoint to the richness of the meat. Horseradish would also be good.

Add a salad freshly gathered from the garden, you have an easy weeknight dinner which feels much fancier than it is.

Fat-free Cauliflower Mash

Fat-free Cauliflower Mash with Beef Stew

2 – 3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of fresh cauliflower, washed and broken into florets. Woody stems peeled and chopped
  • 1 head of fresh garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions or scallions, roughly chopped, white and light green parts only
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the cauliflower, scallions and garlic to a large pot.
  2. Add the chicken or vegetable broth
  3. Bring all back to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until everything is very tender
  4. Pour into a colander over a large bowl, saving the broth.
  5. When slightly cooler, puree in your blender or food processor, adding broth as needed until you have a smooth mash.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper.
  7. Save the cauliflower cooking water for soup.

This is creamy, and delicious. But…it is not rich mashed potatoes. You could add cream and butter but that would be defeating the purpose. If not restricting dairy, I might add some cottage cheese to the blender with the cauliflower. I think that would up the flavor profile a bit. Puree both until very smooth and creamy. Make sure you add enough salt, that is a key element.

 

 

 

January – Stir-fried Steak with Baby Bok Choy, Garlic, Ginger, Red Onion and Cannellini Beans

January – Stir-fried Steak with Baby Bok Choy, Garlic, Ginger, Red Onion and Cannellini Beans

This recipe is a quick weeknight dinner idea. You could make this vegetarian by leaving out the steak (of course) and adding an extra can of cannelini beans or, even better, use edamami beans instead. The addition of the beans allows you to stretch the steak, making more servings.

Stir-fried Steak with Baby Bok Choy, Garlic, Ginger, Red Onion and Canellini beans

Steak and Bok Choy

Serves 3 – 4 

  • 12 oz of steak, cut into strips
  • About 4-6 baby bok choy – mine were on the large size so I used only 4
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons of tamari or to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Drain and rinse cannellini beans
  2. Cut off the end stems of Bok choy freeing up the leaves
  3. Cut the stems into slices and leave the leaves whole.
  4. Separately rinse the stems and leaves of bok choy, dirt hides in the stems where they attach to the base. I found a salad spinner helpful. Dry each but keep them separate.
  5. Chop the onion into medium dice and finely chop the garlic
  6. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger and the pinch of crushed red pepper flakes with 1/4 Tsp salt in 1 Tbsp of water in a non-stick pan on medium heat until softened. Add more water if things get too dry but don’t add too much. The leaves and stems of the bok choy will release water.
  7. Add in bok choy stems, steak and 1 tablespoon of tamari, cook until the stems start to soften and steak looses it’s pink color, about 3 minutes
  8. Uncover and add the leaves of the bok choy and the beans, use tongs every minute while sautéing for another 3 minutes til tender but still crisp.
  9. Add the second tablespoon of tamari and toss.
  10. Remove the steak and vegetables to a serving dish, cook down any liquid until saucy and pour over the dish.

Note: a drizzle of roasted sesame oil would be delicious. Extra tamari at the table is a welcome addition.

I realize that many of the recipes over the next few weeks are on the comparatively bland side compared to my “usual” recipes. That is because they are designed to support a group who are following the Fast Metabolism Diet for 28 days. Don’t worry, the jacked up seasoning will be back. And, I may come back and “redo” some of these recipes.

But, meanwhile I think many people like simpler food without a lot of fancy ingredients. At the end of 28 days last May my taste buds had changed, I detected the sweetness of bok choy and the meatiness of the steak, my ability to taste more subtle flavors had become more acute. I didn’t need as much seasoning. Some folks are naturally that way and so these recipes will work for them as written. Feel free to use the recipes as a jumping off spot to your own creativity.

Serve with brown rice.

This is a phase 1 lunch or dinner for the Fast Metabolism Diet. In phase 1 serve it with with 1/2 cup of rice (the beans count as part of your starch). It is also a  phase 2 lunch or dinner prepared without the beans.

Steak and Bok Choy

Steak and Bok Choy

Beans and Stems Added

Steak and Bok Choy with Cannellini beans

I love your comments and ideas, please keep them coming.

September in the Kitchen – Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Potato Hobo Packs and Pickled Chilis

September in the Kitchen – Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Potato Hobo Packs and Pickled Chilis

If you are a camper you have probably heard of “hobo packs”. It’s a classic campfire trick of wrapping ingredients in foil and cooking them directly in the coals. In our case we have a gas grill, so the packs were placed directly on the grill. The potatoes were par-cooked for a few minutes, sprinkled with salt, drizzled with sesame oil and finally wrapped with aluminum foil to place on the grate for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

A few comments on to the subject of steaks on the BBQ: My personal preference is for rib eye (preferably from the center cut) or New York cuts. They are the perfect combination of tenderness and flavor. Look for ones that are uniform and well marbled. Good steaks require little more than salt, but be sure you bring them to room temperature before cooking. For a bit of extra umami I used sea salt flavored with powdered sea weed.

One steak will easily feed two adults, maybe three, if you cut it into slices (once rested so the juices settle). My mother told a favorite story about my English grandmother’s first visit to a steak restaurant in the U.S. Nanny was unfamiliar with the typically generous portions served. When they placed her steak in front of her she protested that she didn’t want to carve for everyone! I won’t get on a soap box here (at least not too much) but I think portions have gotten out of hand in many restaurants. We would all be better off with vegetables taking the center stage and meat the supporting role.

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Hobo Potatoes and Pickled Chiles

  • For the steaks:
    • 1 – 2 rib eye steaks, 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick
    • Sea salt with dried seaweed (or 1 tablespoon crushed bonito flakes and 1 tablespoon kosher salt). Don’t over worry if you don’t have these on hand. You could also use a minced anchovy or simply leave it out.
    • olive oil
  • For the potatoes
    • 1 pound of scrubbed new potatoes or larger ones cut in chunks
    • kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • optional: 4 shiso leaves cut into chiffanade (or cilantro)
  • For the pickled chiles
    • Juice of 2 limes
    • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (or jalapeños for more heat)
    • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • For garnish
    • cubed avocado
  1. First season both sides of the steaks with sea salt flavored with sea weed (or the crushed bonito flakes or anchovy). Let them come to room temperature, about 2 hours. Drizzle both sides with olive oil.
  2. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water (you can start most things that are in the ground, such as potatoes or carrots, in cold water). Add about a tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down the temperature to medium. cook until they are firm tender, 10-15 minutes depending on size. Drain.
  3. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces if large. Arrange them in the center of a large rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil, drizzle with sesame oil. Pull the ends of the foil together and fold over to seal. Crimp the sides to make a package with the potatoes inside.
  4. Make the pickled chiles by combining the lime juice, chiles, and red onion in a small bowl. Mix to combine and add salt to taste. Use them immediately for the most heat and tartness, or cover and refrigerate for a few days. They will become milder with time.
  5. Prepare your charcoal grill or preheat the gas one to 450-500 degrees F. When the fire is ready add the steaks and grill, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes a side. Cover the grill and continue to cook (turning once) until done to your liking. The time will depend the thickness of the steak. This could take 5 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature for medium rare is 120 degrees F. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest.
  6. Put the potatoes on the grill or rest them in the coals. Cook until tender and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Transfer the potatoes to a large platter and sprinkle with cilantro or shiso or basil. Season with sea salt. Slice the steak into thick slices and arrange on the potatoes. Spoon some of the pickled chiles on top, reserving additional chiles to be added to taste.
  8. Garnish with avocado and more cilantro (or shiso).
  9. Serve.
    Grilled Rib Eye Steaks the Hobo Potato Packs and Pickled Chilies

    Grilled Rib Eye Steaks the Hobo Potato Packs and Pickled Chilies

    This recipe is adapted from one that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle Food section this past July.

    Pour yourself a glass of rose to sip while your meal cooks on the grill. You only need a simple salad to complete things. The “meat and potato” fans in your household will be pleased.

    I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #84 sponsored by Angie from the blog The Novice Gardener co-hosted by Effie at Food Daydreaming and Steffie at Ginger and Bread. It’s my first post on the party site for several weeks (summer vacation is history, here we are September!). Come join the fun and fantasy taste some really amazing dishes.

    Fiesta Friday

    Fiesta Friday