Albondigas

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I’m dreaming of albondigas this week. I haven’t made them for a while and the last time they were made in my house my son made them for a school project. I seriously need to bust out the masarepa and make those soon! Check your local bodega for masarepa, it’s different than masa. Masa is corn treated with nixatamal, masarepa is precooked corn meal that is great in quick bread like arepas. I don’t recommend using masarepa for tamales or masa for areas. I also recommend using grass fed beef for this (well for all beef recipes actually), the flavor is worth it.

Here’s our recipe:

Albondigas

Ingredients (About 4 servings)

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup masarepa
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 2T canola oil
  • 1T all purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2c hogao
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro

 

Directions

Meatballs

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add onions, garlic, scallion, red bell pepper, masarepa, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well using your hands.
  3. Form the meatballs and place them on a sheet tray.
  4. Roast meatballs in oven for 12 minutes

Sauce

  1. reduce beef broth by half
  2. heat canola oil over low heat, sprinkle in flour, whisking to combine
  3. Slowly, whisk in beef broth
  4. Add the hogao and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Return the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over white rice.

 

Hogao

Ingredients (MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS)

  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the tomatoes, scallions, garlic, ground cumin and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring until softened.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, add the salt and , cook for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Failure is always an option 

As a professional cook, my job is to make tasty food. Period. Somedays things don’t go as you hope and you have to fix it, in the quickest, cheapest way possible. I’ve done it many times. The goal is not to have to fix things, but the reality is it happens. Mistakes are made, something-equipment, ingredients-doesn’t respond as they should and still food must go out to the guest. So we learn to remedy sauces with cornstarch, add sugar/vinegar/seasonings to make a dish delicious even when it’s not quite what was intended. I’ve shown up for jobs found out there are ten different unplanned special meals needed and had to create something that fit the theme of the event for each of them (it’s helpful when there’s a dry erase board so I can create a chart in those situations!). 

At home I use those skills too.  My downfall in cooking in adhering to a recipe. My special power is looking in a fridge or cupboard and creating something tasty out of anything. When I teach a class, students want to know how the recipe works or what is the technique they should use: the reality is I spend so much time cooking by feel I don’t always know. So when I cook at home it is occasionally, interesting. My sweet children have almost stopped asking, “mom, what is it?” When casually asked to try something I’ve prepared. Their once picky tastes have expanded to include a decent array of flavors. They however hold firm to their opinions of texture and disdain of most cooked vegetables. 

This week I’ve had some down time and I’ve been cleaning out the freezer/fridge/cupboards at home, which has resulted in some delicious brownies (two versions, as usual Baking with Julia had the better recipe), and a mediocre banana cake. That was a combination of equipment fail, mistake, and inability to adhere to a recipe situation. Definitely on the, I’ll try it again list though. 

The best part of this week is I’ve been in a rut as far as experiments go, and now…I feel inspired to read some new cookbooks, try some new ideas, and keep working on improving my ability to adhere to a recipe. Failure is always an option, because that is how we learn. 

Here’s to pushing through and learning!

Happy New Year!

I’ve sat down to write at least three times in the past two weeks and something (or someone) has pulled me away, but at long last the radio silence is over!

My big project for 2017 is going to be focusing on charitable giving. Now as you may know, I’m a chef, and I’ll let you in on a little secret, we are not rolling in the dough (that just gets messy). What I can do though is give my time, and cook. Thankfully Chef Traci over at Succulent Catering is into this idea so we’re teaming up on a couple of projects, with more to come. We’ve been donating extra food to the homeless and firefighters for years (not completely connected, but I do want my firefighters well fed).

In our November planning meeting for the next quarter we laid out a short list of causes we feel passionate about and while there was some cross over, we each have a cause that we are focusing on at the moment. Chef Traci’s passion is seniors and we are cooking (see what I did there??) up a plan to offer lunch to the seniors living at Pike Place Market once a month. As for me, I have a big event coming up in a couple of weeks.

On January 26 we will be hosting an Aid for Syria fundraiser and auction at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I wanted to be able to donate more than just a piddly little $20 to provide some relief to what’s happening in the region so I decided to invite 100 people to join me to donate. I’m so terrified about it. I’ll be honest, there’s a reason I’m a cook. People terrify me, but what’s happening in our world scares me more and I feel compelled to do something.

Other than that I’m updating the Wallingford Culinary Studio calendar this week and planning delicious classes. We have a new private dining room space so we’ll be adding some onsite dinners to our repertoire. AND I just heard there’s a new casual Louisiana style restaurant opening up near our kitchen, so I’m pretty sure that’s on my agenda this month too. I have to do some research for our Mardi Gras Dinner in February!

Lussekatter 

You know those foods that take you back to your childhood? Especially foods that were reserved for special occasions? Lussekatter, or Lucia buns as my mother always called them, were such a food for me.

In Sweden the eldest daughter is selected to act as Santa Lucia on the 13th of December. The origin being tied to something about Santa Lucia providing food for Christians hiding in some catacombs, but the celebration does occur near the winter solstice and is a celebration that brings light in winter to make it less bleak. If you want to geek out with me, check out sweden.se’s explanation of the holiday and make sure you watch the video, the music is a crucial part of the holiday (plus it’s quite cheeky).

Having dressed as Santa Lucia myself, in the 1st grade mind you, and after years of attending Swedish camp in northern Minnesota where I participated in the rounds of delivering early morning hot chocolate and lussekatter to the other campers, the songs are ingrained in my head. And the buns, well, it’s just not December without them.

In years past my mom made the buns for our family, but as she’s gotten older, I’ve taken up the staff and roped my own kids into making them with me. It doesn’t take much convincing because they love to eat them as much as I do.

Lussekatter

Ingredients

  • 2 (14-oz.) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups milk, heated to 115°
  • 2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed
  • 34 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 6 12 cups flour
  • 34 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter,cut into 12” cubes, softened
  • Canola oil, for greasing
  • 64 raisins, for garnish

Method

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 tsp. sugar; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining sugar, along with the flour, salt, and 2 eggs. Mix on low speed until dough forms and gathers around the paddle.
  3. Replace paddle with dough hook and add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour.
  5. Divide dough into 32 pieces and roll each piece into an 8″-long rope. Form each rope into an S shape and then roll each end into a tight spiral. (See Shaping Saffron Buns for illustrated step-by-step instructions.)
  6. Place shaped dough pieces 2″ apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Heat oven to 400°.
  8. Uncover the dough pieces and place a raisin at the center of each of the spirals. Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush each bun with egg mixture. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 16 minutes.
  9. Transfer buns to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Ok, so this isn’t totally recipe related, but it is hilarious. I was still pretty cute in 1978, and I doubt I was as pissed as I look, but who knows, that plastic wreath on my head probably wasn’t that comfortable.

karen-santa-lucia

 Yorkshire Pudding 

At Succulent Catering, we’ve been serving up a lot of Yorkshire puddings this holiday season. We started with Thanksgiving parties and have now progressed to Christmas-we just did a buffet for 200-where these small, airfill, eggy bites of goodness were featured. The funny thing is Chef Traci and I had had them before, but never made them in such large quantities. It turns out they’re quite easy to make, we made them even easier by skipping the pan drippings portion of the recipe.  What, you say?! But they are just vehicles for the pan drippings! It turns out you can make them using canola oil and they will still be fabulous with your holiday roast. I even added paprika, fresh thyme, and cracked pepper to boost the flavor, turns out it was worth it.

If you’ve never had these before, they are a staple of traditional British Sunday dinner. Though to have originated in the 1700’s when wheat flour became more prevalent in Britain it was originally served with gravy as an appetizer rather than with the main meal. If you want to geek out about the history of these little fluffy bites of goodness as much as I do, check out Historic UK, their write up is fantastic.

yorkshire-puddings

Mini Yorkshire Puddings

Ingredients

  • 1 14 cups milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • optional:
    • 1/2 t paprika or cayenne
    • 1 t fresh thyme, chopped and picked
    • 1/4 t black pepper
    • any other seasonings you want, let your creativity run amok

Method

  1. whisk together all ingredients, let sit one hour (a little longer is ok if you’re not ready at the one hour mark)
  2. Preheat oven to 450°.
  3. Put a small amount of canola (or other oil, not olive–it’s smoke point is too low and will add a flavor you don’t want in this situation) into each cup of a nonstick muffin pan.
  4. Heat pan in oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour batter evenly between cups; bake until risen and brown, about 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; bake for 10 minutes to set puddings (you may want to reduce the heat even earlier. If the puddings start to brown in the first 20 minutes, reduce heat and cooking time.)
  7. Serve with prime rib, or any cut of roasted beef.

Happy eating!

I love to travel and I love food (surprise!). At this point in my life travel isn’t something I get to do much, but cooking, that’s another story. So, I’m working on a series of dinners over at Wallingford Culinary Studio to quell my desire to travel. As long as I keep my social media reading to a minimum it works pretty well. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time at the library reading cookbooks about different cuisines. My current favorite is Middle Eastern/North African: I put the two together because there is a lot of crossover, from harissa to hummus, preserved lemons to yogurt there are similarities I am happy to explore.

On my bookshelf at the moment is:

  •  Zahav–Watch the Philly episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, if that doesn’t make you want to eat everything in this book then, I don’t know if we can be friends (I can do my best to convert you though, I’ll make you some halvah then we’ll see how you feel).
  • Mourad: New Morrocan–A student recently described the author of this book as the hot chef with the tattoos (I know, I know it describes a lot of people, but in addition to being an amazing cookbook author, he is pretty photogenic). His description of spice mixes makes me swoon.
  • Plenty–Ok, anything by Yotam Ottolenghi is gorgeous. The man really has a talent for making vegetables sexy.
  • The Food of Morocco–Paula Wolfert is on my short list of people I want to be like when I grow up. Part of what draws me to her is her love of the culture that food represents. What each eat is a reflection of family, location, and tradition and she understands that connection.

The menu for the class I’m currently running is:

Noshes

Muhammara stuffed dates

Hummus and crudité

First course

Chickpea and tomato stew

Entree

Chicken tagine

Couscous

Cauliflower with pomegranate and tahini sauce

Roasted eggplant with sumac spiked yogurt

Dessert

Halvah

If you ever make hummus with me you’ll know I get pretty uptight about it. What many people call hummus in the US is a bland uneventful puree that is fit for drunk college students and pretty much no one else. Hummus should be a creamy, garlicky, symphony in your mouth and for crying out loud, cumin doesn’t belong in it. What better way to enjoy it than with a crudite platter, this is a pre-class photo so the hummus bowl is still waiting to be filled with garlicky goodness.

The tagine is a lot of fun, while I made preserved lemons a few weeks ago, a local treasure here in Seattle,Big John’s PFI, sells some that come from Morocco, so for a recent class we did a taste test. The batch I made was bright and lemony, while the Moroccan lemons were funkier and tasted more like an olive. We put both in out tagine and the flavors  added an extra depth that everyone loved. That’s my favorite part of teaching at the Studio. We set a menu, but what you get during class may evolve in the moment, and we get to do that as a group. Having fun in the kitchen gives you the freedom to explore and be flexible, letting the dish lead you to the best flavor.

chicken-tagine

A Peruvian class is coming up where we’ll take a look at where Japan and Peru collide to make beautiful food. Nordic cuisine, Spain, Slovakia, and West Africa are all on the list for 2017. Join us to travel the world in our kitchen at Wallingford Culinary Studio!

From Morocco to Scandinavia

Candied Citrus

You’ve probably bought candied citrus for a recipe once or twice, but have you ever made your own? It’s not remotely the same thing: like how the movie is never as good as the book.

Due to a small, but delightful, snafu I recently made candied citrus peel when I couldn’t find it in the store. Chef Traci and I wanted to test a traditional English plum pudding recipe and while gathering the ingredients discovered it’s difficult to find suet, citron, and candied peel. In the end we decided to forgo the English fruit cake and make my own grandmother’s cranberry pudding, which has a much shorter ingredient list. We grow a lot of cranberries here in Washington state and because the less bitter Grayland cranberries are available to us, it seems a natural choice.  More on that in another post, we’re here to talk about my delicious experience with candied peel!

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I got a recipe from the BBC because I liked the photo they used (I know you bought a bottle of wine at some point because you liked the label, it happens). I added grapefruit because it adds a little more bitterness to the mix, but to me that’s part of what’s so delicious about citrus peel. As an added bonus, there are now three quarts of a citrus simple syrup in the fridge and I’m mulling over how to use it in a cocktail. Bourbon will definitely be a component, although gin is a strong contender.

Candied Citrus Peel

Ingredients

  • 4 large oranges, or 2 oranges and 2 lemons (I used 2 oranges, 2 lemons, and 2 grapefruit)
  • granulated sugar
  • 100g bar of dark chocolate, optional

Method

  1. Cut the fruit into 8 wedges, then cut out the flesh, leaving about 5mm thickness of peel and pith.
  2. Cut each wedge into 3-4 strips.
  3. Put the peel in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins.
  4. Drain, return to the pan and re-cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins.
  5. Set a sieve over a bowl and drain the peel, reserving the cooking water.
  6. Add 100g sugar to each 100ml water you have. Pour into a pan and gently heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  7. Add the peel and simmer for 30 mins until the peel is translucent and soft. Leave to cool in the syrup.
  8. Remove with a slotted spoon and arrange in 1 layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Put in the oven at 185℉ for 30 mins to dry.
  9. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over a sheet of baking parchment. Toss the strips of peel in the sugar, a few at a time, then spread out and leave for 1 hr or so to air-dry.
  10. Pack the peel into an airtight storage jar or rigid container lined with baking parchment. Will keep for 6-8 weeks in a cool, dry place.
  11. To make into a delicious gift, melt the chocolate in a small bowl. Dip the candied orange peel into the chocolate to half-coat them, shaking off the excess. Put them on baking parchment to set, then pack into small cellophane bags tied with ribbon or pretty kitchen string.