Mum’s Buffalo meatballs


Meatballs are a staple in a variety of cusines , but the Italian version always springs to mind first , draped in a zesty tomato basil sauce and topped with freshly gated parmesan cheese . Cook up some pasta , and you are ready to eat . This is a homestyle , ” sunday ‘ type dinner in our home , simple , rustic and so satisfying .  These are baked and not fried as we like to keep fat to a minimum . Please remember buffalo meat is naturally very low in fat so do not overbake them or they will be dry.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 lb ground Bison ( Buffalo meat )

2 large eggs , beaten

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley , finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 small spanish onion , finely chopped

5 garlic cloves , minced

1 tbs heavy cream

1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

salt and black pepper , to taste

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( optional )

Preheat oven to 350*F . Spray a foil lined baking tray with olive oil or Pam cooking spray .

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl . Do not squeeze , keep the mixture well mixed but not tight . Form teaspoonfuls of meat mixture into meatballs and place them on the prepared baking tray.

Bake till just cooked through , about 20 minutes .

Serve

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Buttermilk Scones


These scones from John Baricelli’s wife , Veronica have the perfect balance of sweet and savory . They are light and flakey , so ideal for tea time or a sandwich . Luckily for me , they do not contain eggs , and I have not tested them substituting butter for something like Earth Balance , so I am not sure if they would be suitable for vegans . Once the dough is prepared , they are easy to freeze just before baking . Place them on a baking tray , well covered with plasic wrap into the freezer , once frozen the scones maybe stacken in a resealable freezer bag and frozen up to 1 month . Follow the baking instructions when ready to bake , do not thaw please !

John Barricelli

Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 TBS sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 Tbs ( 3/4 stick ) cold unsalted butter , cut into small pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper ;set aside

In a large bowl , whisk together the flour , sugar , baking powder , salt and baking soda.

Work butter into dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs . Add  1/2 cup of buttermilk and fold with a rubber scraper or your hands until the buttermilk has been absorbed . Then continue adding buttermilk , 1 tbs at a time , just until the dough comes together and there are no dry patches .

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface . Divide the dough into 2 balls and pat each ball into a 7 inch disk , 3/4 to 1 inch thick . Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife , cut each disk into 6 equal wedges . Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 1 hour .

Set the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 *F.

Bake , rotating the baking sheet about  2/3   of the way through , until the scones are puffed and golden brown and the bottoms are lightly browned , 16 to 20 minutes .

Cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes . Using a metal spatula , transfer to a rack to cool.

Spicy coleslaw


I am simply smitten by this vegan coleslaw by Patrick Clark . It is tangy , crunchy and spicy . The slaw needs to rest at least half and hour for the flavors to marry but anything beyond 4 hours and it starts to lose its crunchiness. This is a perfect accompaniment to ribs , chicken or fish .

serves 6

Patrick Clark

3 cups shredded green cabbage

1  1/2 cups julienned carrots

1 cup julienned jicama

1 sweet onion cut into julienne

salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste

1 cup apple cider vinegar

3 shallots , chopped

1 jalapeno pepper ,chopped

3     1/4 inch thick slices peeled gingerroot

2 garlic cloves , sliced

10 black peppercorns

1 cup olive oil

In a large bowl , combine the cabbage , carrots , jicama and onion and season lightly with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan combine vinegar , shallots , jaslapeno , ginger , garlic and peppercorns and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and whisk in olive oil.

pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours before serving.

Pastitsio, Greek baked Pasta


I love baked pastas for their ease and convienience. They maybe prepared ahead of time and baked off just prior to serving. Pastistio is a Greek style ,well spiced lamb baked pasta. The trick is to have the right ratio of bechamel topping (also known as white sauce ) to lamb and pasta filling.

This winning recipe is from Martha Stewart.

This makes a large serving for 10 to 12

Meat Sauce

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 white onions , cut into 1/4 inch dice

2 lbs ground lamb

2 tsp coarse salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup red wine

1 six oz can tomato paste

2 bay leaves

Bechamel

6 tbs unsalted butter

9 tbs all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3 cups milk

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

pinch ground cayenne pepper

To Assemble

Butter for baking dish

1 one lb box curly elbow macaroni ,uncooked

SAUCE

Heat olive oil in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Add onions , cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add lamb , salt ,cinnamon ,pepper and nutmeg. Cook ,breaking into pieces ,until lamb is no longer pink. Add wine ,and cook until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in tomato paste ,bay leaves and 2 cups water. Cover , and let simmer 30 minutes, skimming the fat occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside ,covered.

Bechamel

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter is bubbling , add flour and baking powder. Cook , stirring constantly with a wire whisk , for 1 minute. While whisking , slowly pour in milk. Continue cooking , whisking constantly , until mixture bubbles and becomes thin. Remove pan from heat , and stir in parmesan , salt ,black pepper ,nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Set aside , covered , until ready to assemble.

Heat oven to 375*F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch glass or other oven proof dish ; Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta; cook 2 to 3 minutes under manufacturer’s instructions , until very al dente. Transfer to a colander; drain well. Stir noodles into meat mixture. Pour meat and pasta mixture into prepared pan . Spread bechamel over mixture , and bake until top is set and golden brown , 30 to 40 minutes . Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Hazlenut and Date Panaforte


Panaforte is a speciality of Sienna ,Italy. It is a bread like cake containing fruit , spices and nuts. Delightfully it is an Eggless confection and keeps well for about a month , wrapped well  and refridgerated,for a candylike texture serve chilled .

Source Williams -Sonoma

1 1/4 cups lightly toasted hazlenuts

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa ,plus extra for dusting

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 cup packed coarsely chopped dried figs

3/4 cup packed chopped pitted dates

1/2 cup diced candied orange peel

1 tbs grated orange zest

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tbs unsalted butter

8 oz bittersweet chocolate , chopped

Preheat oven to 300*F, butter a round 8inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment.

In a large bowl , stir together hazelnuts ,flour ,cocoa, cinnamon ,nutmeg ,cloves, figs ,dates , candied orange peel and orange zest.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat stir together the sugar ,honey ,orange juice and butter . Heat ,stirring , until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high . Boil till candy thermometer  registers 250*F about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the flour mixture with  a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan , pushing it to the sides with a spoon.

Bake until the top feels dry ,about 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a baking sheet;peel off the parchment and let cool completely.

Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave till melted. CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE CHOCOLATE. Pour half of the chocolate over the top of cake. Smooth with spatula, refridgerate till set, about 1 hour. Repeat with other side.

Dust top of cake with cocoa powder to cover lightly. Cut into wedges to serve.

Spiced Mixed Nuts


Nuts are always a welcome addition with drinks, I especially love Cashews and almonds. Really any mix of nuts will do with the exception of Brazilnuts , as they have a high fat content making the coating slide off them. Go ahead ,impress your guests with these spicy nuts ,I am sure you’ll love having them on hand.

Yield 4 cups

1 lb  (4 cups ) mixed unsalted nuts , such as Cashews ,Macadamias , Walnuts ,pecans or almonds . (I LOVE TO ADD UNSALTED PISTACHIOS IN THEIR SHELLS )

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs dark brown sugar

2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350*F. Scatter the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, shaking the sheet a couple of times during baking,until the nuts are nicely toasted, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile ,set a small heavy skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the coriander and cumin and toast till aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat and add the butter, brown sugar ,Rosemary and cayenne. return skillet to heat and stir until the butter melts and sugar dissolves, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Keep warm.

Tip the nuts into a large WARM bowl  (this will help the spice butter coat the nuts evenly) , pour the spiced butter over the nuts , stir until nuts are well coated and taste to adjust seasoning.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

FINE COOKING

Creamy Roquefort Dip


This is such a great dip ,I have been known to boil pasta ,thin the dip with some cooking water ,toss the pasta and top the dish with toasted pine nuts and parsley. That said ,this is a delicious ,creamy , slightly tangy dip I love for entertaining. Serve with a great assortment of vegetables , crackers and bread. I make this dip a day ahead and refridgerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Fine cooking

2  1/2 cups

1 medium clove garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 lb Roquefort cheese

1  1/2 cups creme fraiche  or sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

Mash the garlic with the back of a chef’s knife. Transfer to a bowl and add the cheese. Roughly mash the cheese with the back of a spoon. Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream and several grindings of pepper. Add the cream until the texture is slightly thicker than sour cream. Taste for seasonings. Refridgerate till ready to use, bring to room temperature prior to serving.