Thursday, January 24, 2013

Balls in My Mouth (Swedish Meatballs) ball and nut jokes ever get old?

Don't answer that. It's likely. But I still giggle every time. 

Something else that makes me giggle? Actually putting meatballs in my mouth. Not because it's hilarious but because it makes my little mouth do back flips.

I love me a good meatball.

If they're on the menu, you can sure as heck bet your right arm I'm going to order them. Unfortunately, restauranteurs often fuck it up. They lack that lovin' feeling and extra touch that makes a truly great meatball. It isn't just about balls of meat. It's a science, nay an art, you know.

There are various secrets to creating a great fucking meatball. One, it's all about the meat. Obviously. Grass fed beef. Very important. Also, don't be afraid to mix genres. My meatballs almost always contain a mixture of beef, veal (still beef, but baby beef - make sure to ask your butcher how the calves were treated - they need to roam free), and pork. That way you make sure you get a good level of fat, of sweetness and of course, beefiness. 

Also, the breadcrumbs. You can get white, multi-grain, whole wheat, fine, coarse, panko, seasoned, herbed, store bought, home-made and even rainbow with bits of unicorn thrown in...Okay, that last one might not be true. Choose something light and fluffy - I often go for panko. They're airy and sop up a lot of moisture. 

Flavor Profiles and Herbs. In the breadcrumbs or aside. Herb that shit up. Parsley is nice. Thyme. Rosemary. Roast some garlic in the oven with olive oil and chopped thyme and then toss that into the mix. Finely dice half an onion and even caramelize it if you feel so inclined. Blue cheese isn't a bad idea either. Maybe a bit of chopped apple? Worcestershire sauce is a MUST. And of course, lemon zest is never a bad thing.

Use a good quality egg(s) to bind everything together. I insist upon pastured eggs. Their whites (the binding agent) are far superior in quality and content and work much better than crappy store bought ones. The same goes for the yolks - good yolk = good flavor and richness.

And of course, last but certainly not least - season the shit out of that mixture. Salt and pepper are our friends, my friends. 

Side note: I usually roll my balls in flour before frying in a pan to brown. It helps hold them together and creates a fabulous outer texture for the finished product.

...And that's just off the top of my head.

Point is: Show your meatballs some love. They'll thank you for it. Or at least your guests will. 

Side note: Don't be put off by the ingredient list - it seems long but comes together very quickly.

Swedish Meatballs
(printable recipe) - serves 4.

Ingredients for Balls:

3/4 Lb. Pastured Pork.
3/4 Lb. Pastured Beef.
2 Medium Sized Pastured eggs.
1 Small Onion, peeled & finely diced.
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled & minced.
Dash of All Spice.
Dash of Ground Nutmeg.
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley.
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce.
1/2 C Panko Crumbs.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

2 C Flour.
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
Extra Chopped Parsley to Garnish.

Ingredients for Sauce:

2 C Beef of Chicken Stock.
1/2 C Sour Cream.
3/4 C Heavy Cream.
2 Tbsp of Flour.
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

What to Do:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a large plate or baking dish with some paper towel and fill a shallow bowl with the flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the balls save for the flour, butter and garnish parsley. You may need to add more panko if your meat has a lot of moisture. Once it is all worked in, firm yet still moist, roll into 1-2" balls and set prepared baking sheet.

Gently roll each ball in the bowl of flour, shake off excess, and return to prepared baking sheet.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and melt until sizzling. Gently drop some of the balls into the frying pan and shake well until the flour coating the balls is moist. Don't over-crowd the pan or you'll end up with steamed balls rather than browned balls. Allow the balls to cook through and get a nice dark color on the outside - approximately 7 minutes in the pan. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on paper lined dish. Repeat until all the balls have cooked through.

Set aside. 

Now make your sauce. In that same pan, Toss in the last 2 Tbsp of butter and allow to sizzle. Stir in 2 Tbsp of flour and heat until fragrant and it starts to change colour. Remove from the heat and gently pour in stock. Return to heat, making sure to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and stir constantly until thickened. Add the cream and sour cream and season well to taste. Gently spoon the balls back into the pan, heat through and serve with a generous helping of the garnish parsley on top.


What are your secret ingredients?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Too Hot to Trot Trio

The Lowdown:

Pain is inevitable. We learn this from a young age when our parents temporarily ruined our lives by taking away our favourite toy. The kid would then storm off saying something along the lines of, "you'll never understand me!" This was followed by one to three door slams, depending on how brave the particular child was. After this, the pouting phase occurs, which can last up to an astonishing three weeks. Funny how kids can't keep a train of thought going in school for more than three seconds, but they can hold a grudge for three months when their Pokemon game is taken away. Ahem, pain is inevitable was the point.

But what about those times when you want to inflict pain on yourself? I'm not talking about leather whips, ball gags, or hot wax either. I'm sure if you're into that, you can find a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I'm talking about the real hot stuff. Meow (that sounded sexier in my head than typed out). I'm talking about heat. Spicy is the spice of life, after all.
After writing for nearly a year, I thought I'd confess my love for spiciness (again). That, and I thought it should be known that hot sauces are all relatively simple to make. Every recipe I browsed contained the same base ingredients: vinegar, salt, hot peppers. Of course, this was only the base and the rest was left up to creativity. Bring it on cold, miserable winter.

The Playlist:

Very Verdi Hot Sauce
15 Cherry bomb peppers (green), de-stemmed & halved
1 cup White wine vinegar
1 cup White vinegar
1/2 cup Lime juice
1/4 cup Cilantro
1 tsp Basil, dried
1 tsp Dill, dried
1 tsp White pepper
2 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
2 tbsp Salt
3 dashes Green food colouring (optional)

Red-Hot Hot Sauce
50 Thai chili peppers, de-stemmed
1 cup Red wine vinegar
1 cup White vinegar
1 cup Water
2 tbsp Salt
5-10 dashes, Liquid smoke

Mellow Yellow Hot Sauce 
4 Banana peppers, de-stemmed
1 cup Champagne berry vinegar
1/2 cup White vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup Lime juice

3 Cardamom pods
2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Corriander seed, ground
2 tsp Garlic powder

The Skinny:

  1. In medium sauce pan: add all of the ingredients, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.
  2. OPTIONAL: you can cook half of the peppers, then add the remaining peppers in the blending process to get a more vibrant flavour, spice, and colour.
  3. Allow to cool, remove the cinnamon stick/cardamom pods, add the uncooked peppers (if done the optional way), then puree in a blender. If desired you can strain so the seeds are not in the sauce.

Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade

Stay Rad -h

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rippin Another Blog: Chocolate Covered Bananas Wrapped in Walnuts

Good morning dear readers!

Can you believe I'm still eating sweets?? 

I can. It seems to me that we crave what we eat. If you're in the habit of munching on salt, you want salt. If you tend to lean toward green, you want veggies. Meat eaters like their meat. And sweet eaters like their sweet. 

Christmas made a sweet eater out of me. And while I'm definitely on the road to vegetables again, I still crave a treat. 

This snack was about as split as banana can be. Well, except for the ice cream and candy sprinkles. But it was half fruit, half sweet. And I'm good with that. Throw in the nuts and you've got yourself one tasty, happy fat rich snack.

The recipe comes from The Joyful Table. A blog by a woman named Noelle who reaches out and touches my little heart soul. Not literally. Ouch. But figuratively - she's all about finding joy in the cherished moments around her kitchen table. That's my kinda scene. And while she touts this recipe as "embarassingly simple" - it's the simple things that make a dish worth eating. 

Thank you Noelle - I needed this today. Or at least my mouth did.

Chocolate Covered Bananas Wrapped in Walnuts
(printable recipe) - Serves 4.


2 Bananas, with the peels just a little green still.
1 C Good Quality Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped.
1 C Roasted Walnuts, roughly chopped.
4 Wooden Skewers.

What to Do:

Peel the bananas and slice them in half lengthwise. Impale them on the skewers and place on a parchment paper lined plate. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Get the rest of the ingredients ready...

Dump the chocolate pieces into a double boiler (a pot with 2 inches of water and a glass bowl that fits over top works well - make sure the water doesn't hit the bowl).  Heat the water to a boil over medium heat, stirring the chocolate constantly to ensure it doesn't burn. Once melted and hot, remove from heat.

Place the walnuts in a large shallow bowl. Set aside.

Remove the bananas from the freezer and dredge in the chocolate and then the nuts.

Place back on parchment paper and place in the fridge for 30 - 60 minutes or until chocolate hardens.


What are your go-to desserts? Are you still stuck on the holiday sweet train? Choo choo!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rippin' Another Blog: Ox Tail Soup

The Lowdown:

As a kid I always wondered what ox tail soup was. Using an actual ox tail seemed more like a tall tale. Of course, now I've realized that ox tail soup is actually made of ox tails. A suiting name I suppose. Really, what else could you call a soup that is made of ox tail other than ox tail soup?

Up until now, I've passed by ox tails everytime I went to the grocery store since time began. Of course time began approximately 10 years ago. I'm going to refer to this era as PP, or the post-parental era. It was the beginning of this era when I started figuring out that grocery shopping wasn't as much fun as it used to be. When you were young, you could sneak whatever you wanted into the cart. This of course was assuming you were sly enough to avoid detection. The only consequence was that pseudo feeling of guilt when you got busted at the checkout line. But in all seriousness, who could blame us? Count Chocula was in fact a food group back then. Well, maybe not for me. I was forced to eat Harvest Crunch because it had less sugar.

The years from 0 PP to 5 PP were tough years. Learning the ropes in the grocery store was a new skill that I had to acquire... Budgeting. Damn you budgeting! They were tough lessons indeed. I mean really, how much Mr. Noodle can you eat before your sick of it. Actually, I still love it, but still. However, things have changed for the better, and now during 9 PP I am finally going to tackle ox tail soup. Well, perhaps it took Noelle from The Joyful Table to teach this not so ol' dog a new trick.

The Playlist:

1 kg Ox tails
2 cups Red wine
2 Onions, quartered
3 stalks Celery, chopped
3 Carrots, chopped
2 tbsp Salt
3-5 Bay leaves
Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Barley (optional)

The Skinny:

  1. Add all the ingredients, except barley, into a large pot and cover with enough water to fully submerge all the ingredients, then some. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower heat and simmer for 6-8 hours.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, skim the layer of fat off of the surface then strain, saving the liquid broth and the ox tails. If desired, you may remove the meat from the ox tail bones. If not, put the ox tails back into the broth.
  3. Add barley and reheat. Simmer until barley is cooked. Serve warm. 

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Years Highlights (Part 2)

Top 'o the mornin' to ya, sugar tops!

As Haydn said last post, we're taking the New Year as an opportunity to round up our favorite posts from 2012. And not only is it the new year but almost our 1 year blogiversary - we're managed to post (relatively) regularly for 52 weeks. Word up, brah. So a round up seems fitting, yes?

My favorite part of the blog by far - aside from harassing Haydn about deadlines and organizing posts - are the Rock Paper Ingredient (RPI) challenges. I love selecting an ingredient and discovering how Haydn and I each spin it. Maybe it's time to open that shit up to more people?.....what do you think? More RPI? More people?

In order of appearance, let the countdown begin...

4. A Mini-Break (not the best post...but the only one for this month). I was moving across the world, as Haydn says. Reality: across the country. Sometimes it feels like the world though.


Happy New Years my friends! What are you looking forward to this year?


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Years Highlights

The Lowdown:

Homemade Naan
Being the first post of the new year, Kristy and I thought it would be fun to highlight our past year. I know, super original and all that jazz. Regardless of the lack of originality we're doing it anyway, because we're just like that (insert 90's hip-hop pose). It has been an interesting year in terms of culinary experiences, and although it may be a boring post, I am too lazy to make food after the holidays. In other words, deal with it (or don't you're an adult).

For starters, my new years lie (resolution) is, and has been for the last 6 years, to try new things. It's ambiguous, fail proof, and encourages you to be a bit more daring. Daring in the sense of trying a different entree at your favourite restaurant, not in the sense of jumping off a roof with a cape around your neck. 

To encourage this, a group of friends and I have started going to a new restaurant every Friday to try out different cuisines or different renditions on the classics. That has brought forward the flavours of Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, American, Tapas, Polish, and German cuisines. Not to mention beer. A whole lot of beer. 

Pistachio Crusted Schnitzel w/ Beet Cherry Chutney
I tried my first octopus this year, which I loved a lot more than I thought I would. I smoked food for the first time. Made homemade bread for the first time. Tried a maple syrup donut beer. Tried bacon vodka. Experienced my first two day hangover (for the love of everything holy, that's the first sign of getting old... or stupid). Tried ox tail for the first time. To sum it up, this blog has inspired me to break my habits and really explore the world of food and beverage. Well, I was doing it on my own prior to this blog; however, seeing as I am writing this post I will simply say it is all because of the blog.

I'm not sure how we are supposed to be doing this post, as Kristy and I have resorted to talking via text messages, but from what I gathered we are putting up a list of our favourite posts throughout the year.

Bodacious Beet & Barley Burgers

The Playlist:

  1. I'd say all in all, my favourite post of the year was the Bodacious Beet & Barley Burgers. They are mind-blowingly healthy, fairly easy to make (other than the dyed hands), and packed a wallop of flavour. Add goat cheese and sliced apple to that mix and you may consider going vegetarian (just kidding). What's better is that you don't feel bad about cooking them on a cast iron skillet (damn you BBQ haters on my strata council).
  2. Although it's not a recipe, my second favourite post(s) has been all of the RPIs. It is an extremely fun and creative way to try new ingredients. It has also been a way to alter childhood classics into something a bit more acceptable (ps. dipping grilled cheese sandwiches into chocolate milk will never be acceptable).
  3. My favourite drink (cocktail) post is of course, the Happy John (Orange Boston Sour). The story still makes me laugh to myself from time to time. That, of course, is secondary to the fact that I actually really enjoy the drink. It makes me feel so sophisticated, suave, and intelligent. So pretty much, everything I'm not.
  4. This blog has helped to enforce that Kristy and I stay in somewhat regular contact with each other. As many of you know she moved across the world, so this helps tie us together. Sentimental, yes; but it is one of the main reasons that I wanted to continue this blog throughout the new year. 
  5. Finally, I'd like to thank every individual person and guest that read, tried out our recipes, pinned (whatever that is), helped promote, commented, or featured our recipes on their site. You're all pretty darn awesome in my mind. Cheers to a new year full of bad jokes, mediocre food, and bickering.
The Happy John (Orange Boston Sour)