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:


Ingredients (About 4 servings)


  • 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


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




  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


  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.



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


  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.

 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.


Mini Yorkshire Puddings


  • 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


  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!

A Word on Steaks

The secret to a good steak is…

Well, for me it’s salt and a good sear. Cooking it on high heat to caramelize the outside, leaving the inside mostly pink will leave you with a juicer piece of meat that has the most flavor. Top it with a nice chimichurri sauce, green peppercorn sauce, salsa–verde or rojo, whatever makes sense for what you’re serving it with to round it out. The cut of the steak you choose also depends on what you’re serving it with, a t-bone goes well largely on it’s own with a generous rub of salt and a quick sear on either side leaving the inside mostly pink served with roasted potatoes and a green salad. A flank steak can also be cooked with a quick sear, but is typically marinated for a few hours before cooking to breakdown some of the tougher muscle fibers. A flank steak requires you cut against the grain, again to break up the long fibers that add to the flavor, but make it more enjoyable to eat when cut this way, serve it with tortillas, salsa verde, and homemade creme fraiche.

The other question is to grill or not to grill? I say it depends on the weather and where you live. Searing steak in a pan on the stove top is very smokey, so take that into account if you take that route. Because steak is typically cooked quickly, a gas grill works great, but of course there are those that consider a gas grill an abomination, so your cooking method is up to you. If you are able to grill, you can smoke the steak while you cook it, even with a gas grill. In that case put some wood chips or pellets in some foil and once you get them smoking and your grill is nice and hot pop those babies on there and smoke while you sear.

If you use the stove top, I recommend a cast iron skillet and a splatter screen for easier clean up. Put a little oil in the pan, turn the burner on high and wait for the oil to just start to smoke, then put your salted steaks in. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, let them rest for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. The time variation is part of an other option, cooking your steaks directly from the freezer. According to America’s Test Kitchen (via, you don’t need to thaw your steaks before cooking them. I’ve been experimenting with this and I have to say I agree, but stick to the 5 minutes per side if you go that route.

Tonight at our house we’re having seared t-bones with spiced basmati rice and oven roasted brussel sprouts, doesn’t get much better than that.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts


  • 2# cleaned and halved brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 3T oil, lard, butter or a combination
  • salt and pepper TT


  1. preheat oven to to 450 degrees F
  2. toss sprouts with other ingredients
  3. put parchment or a silpat on a baking sheet (with sides)
  4. spread sprouts in a single layer, roast until sprouts are turning nut brown, but not mushy–10-15 minutes (Time variations depend on your oven and how often you’re opening the oven door. You may find it takes longer to get the results you want. You’re the one eating it, so adjust the time to suit your taste.)

Spiced Basmati Rice


  • 2 c rinsed and drained basmati rice
  • 1T oil
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 c water or chicken stock (veg stock works great too)
  • 2 tsp salt (if using salted stock omit)


  1. saute shallots in oil until just beginning to brown in a sauce pot with a tight fitting lid
  2. add spices, continuing to saute until fragrant
  3. stir in rice cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently
  4. pour water or stock into pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover
  5. cook 20 minutes–do not remove the lid!
  6. remove the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf before serving

Pan Seared T-Bones


  • enough frozen t-bones to feed your group (we eat 2-3 steaks for dinner for our family of 5)
  • salt TT
  • oil


  1. heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for 3 minutes
  2. rub steaks with a generous amount of salt
  3. add oil to the skillet, once it just starts to smoke, add the steaks
  4. cook 5 minutes on each side–don’t turn it before 5 minutes is up, you want nice caramelized meat
  5. remove from heat, let rest 5-10 minutes before devouring

Braising on My Mind

The seasons are changing and braising is on my mind. Braises require time and patience, once you understand the method you can adjust the seasonings and ingredients to match your tastes and what’s in your fridge or freezer.

When braising, make sure your meat is completely thawed. If you need to thaw your meat quickly, put it in a well sealed plastic bag, then in a container just big enough for it to rest in, and run a small amount of cold water over the plastic bag until it’s thawed. I don’t like to thaw meat in the microwave because it does it very unevenly, which can result in cooked spots while some remain frozen. For quicker thawing you can also cut the meat into smaller pieces.

Once your meat is thawed decide what you’re looking for in your dish. Do you want more of a pulled result, with long pieces of the muscle fiber still intact, like you’d use in pulled beef sandwiches, or are you looking for small bite size pieces, like a boeuf bourguignon? You can also go somewhere in between, it’s completely up to you. The larger the pieces the longer the braising process will take, but don’t be put off by longer time, prepare your meat based on the dish you are creating.

Once you’ve cut your meat, you want to get a good sear on each side. Heat an oven safe pot, with a lid, on high heat; add a little oil to the pot. Place enough meat in the pot so it’s in a single layer and there is some space between each piece. Allow each side to turn brown–don’t turn it too quickly. If you have gray meat, you either don’t have a hot enough pot or you have too much meat in there. Pull some out and be patient, this step makes all the difference to your dish. If you have to do this in stages, set the browned meat aside and continue to add the rest of the meat until it’s nice and caramelized. Once every piece is brown on all sides, set all of it aside for a few minutes until you complete the next step.

Next, deglaze the pan with some type of liquid. Deglazing means you are loosening all of the beautifully caramelized pieces of meat that are going to add more depth of flavor to your dish. Typically deglazing happens with wine, I run with the school of thought that about a tablespoon of water, added in three steps before adding the wine is the best way to do this; you can delgaze with vinegar, beer, stock, cider, any flavorful liquid. It allows everything to get loosened up so maximum flavor enhancement happens. I sometimes throw stock in as well (I recently had some stock I wanted to reduce for my recipe so I did it at this stage). You can quick caramelize some onions here too. From here it’s a matter of adding back the meat and whatever else you plan to use in your dish for the braise. Put it in a 300 degree fahrenheit oven until the meat is falling apart, 4-6 hours typically. The time varies depending on the quantity and how you cut your meat.

Here’s something you can scale to any size, freeze for later, or enjoy tomorrow (a good braise is really a two day project). Hunker down and get ready for winter with this dish.

Hearty Red Sauce with Spaghetti Squash


  • 3# rib eye roast cut into 3-4 pieces (bone in is beautiful for this, the marrow from the bone will incorporate in the sauce giving it extra richness)
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1T oil (safflower or avocado are my go to’s at the moment)
  • 2 julienned onions
  • 3c beef stock
  • 2 rough chopped cloves garlic
  • 1/4c red wine vinegar
  • 1tsp each coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds. toasted and ground
  • 1qt red sauce (slow cooked canned tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, then pureed until smooth)
  • salt TT


  1. preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. rub meat with salt
  3. heat oil in pot, sear meat over high heat until brown on all sides, add a small amount of beef stock to the pot. cover and place in the oven (I’m not following all the of the braising “rules” for this recipe because the sauce is the focus more than the meat for this dish)
  4. after 1 hour in the oven do the following
  5. heat pan to medium, add onions, stir often. once they start to release their liquid, reduce heat to low, continuing to stir often
  6. while onions are cooking reduce the rest of the stock by half, adding garlic and spices during cooking. add vinegar, bring just to a boil then turn off heat
  7. when onions are starting to turn a light caramel color (this will take at least 30 minutes) start adding small amounts of stock, waiting until the liquid has dissipated before adding more. continue to do this until half the stock remains. add the rest of the stock and any liquid in the braising pot
  8. add tomato sauce to the braising meat, return to oven
  9. continue cooking the onion and stock mixture until the stock is just below the top of the onions
  10.  add onions and stock mixture to the braising meat. cook for 3 hours, or until meat pulls apart easily
  11. cool meat, refrigerate overnight before eating

the next day

  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds. place cut side down in a roasting pan. add 2T water
  3. cook until tender, 30-45 minutes
  4. reheat yesterday’s braise
  5. scoop flesh from the squash, pour braise over the top and serve
  6. you can top it with, parmesan, feta, or fresh herbs. serve with salad, bread or by itself

Soup it Up

So in today’s culinary adventures, I used my homemade bullion cubes (super concentrated beef stock frozen in ice cube trays) to make ramen and it was all kinds of yumminess. Then I cooked the fresh ham I’ve been brining for the past three weeks, and while not yet sampled, looks pretty delicious as well.

Yesterday at work I had to make soup and I commented to a co-worker that making soup is my nightmare (no recipe, just making it up on the fly), so today is my day off and what did I do? Made three kinds of soup, and have stuff to make a fourth tomorrow. No recipes, just practicing my soup skills. Soup, you better believe it’s on.


Green Soup


  • safflower oil
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1T minced ginger
  • kosher salt
  • 1 small diced carrot
  • greens–chard, beet tops, kale, collards, mix and match or just use one
    • separate leaves from the stalks
    • small dice stalks
  • 1 diced potato
  • 1/4c mushroom powder


  1. sauté onion, garlic, and ginger in oil until soft and fragrant
  2. add a pinch of salt
  3. in a small sauce pot add carrots and about 2 cups of water, simmer until carrots are soft
  4. add greens to onion mix, careful to add heartier greens first (red kale, collards) and softer greens last (chard, beet tops)
  5. cook until just wilted, turn off heat
  6. puree carrots, mix with mushroom powder, and 2 cups water and 2 T sherry vinegar (or homemade red wine vinegar if you have it)
  7. bring carrot mushroom mix to a boil, pour over greens
  8. add more water for desired consistency
  9. season


Bread Salad


I’m kind of obsessed with bread salad at the moment. It’s quick, easy, and amazingly delicious. It’s a great way to use up cooked or raw vegetables in the fridge and leftover pieces of crusty bread that only keep a day or two, but you feel sad about throwing in the compost.

Start by cutting up your vegetables into bit size pieces, uniformity isn’t important here. I used a braised beet that was hanging around in the fridge, some zucchini and onions I had grilled the day before, and tomatoes. I had a green tomato with a great citrusy flavor that went perfectly with the salad. I added feta and salami as well, but those definitely aren’t necessary. Toss your vegetables (and optional meats and cheeses) in a bit of sherry vinegar, olive oil and some salt and let it marinate while you cook the bread.

Cut the bread into bite size (you want everything to be easy to eat here) cubes and toss with a generous amount of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Heat a large sauté pan on medium high and toss in the bread, you want it to be a single layer for optimal browning, so cook it in batches if need be. Once your bread is nice and toasty looking toss it in with your vegetable mix. Add more vinegar, oil, and salt if you like, fresh herbs can be added at this point as well.

Happy Eating!


Baked Beans

Trying this recipe for baked beans today:


  • 2# navy beans
  • 4 qts cold water
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 T molasses
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 2 onions, small dice
  • boiling water
  • optional-1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce and bacon


  1. Rinse beans with cold water, combine water and beans, soak overnight.
  2. Cook beans in soaking water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer until tender. Skim foam as needed.
  3. sauté onions until just soft
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  5. Drain beans
  6. Combine beans, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce (if using), onions, and tomato paste. spread beans into a 12×9 baking dish, or use two dishes, make the beans no more than three inches high. Cover with boiling water, top with optional bacon
  7. Bake uncovered 3 hours, adding water if necessary
  8. Cool, store overnight in the fridge or freezer.

The original recipe says to line the baking dishes with foil, cool at room temp for an hour and 15 minutes after baking, then put in the freezer overnight in the baking dishes, remove from dishes the next day and return to the freezer. Seems a bit excessive to me so I figure letting them sit overnight to let the flavors really marry is what’s important.

I also didn’t use the hot sauce or the bacon because my daughter doesn’t like either of those (not liking bacon is weird, but I’m ok with it on the side)

Sweet and Sour Carrots

Sweet and Sour Carrots with Caramelized Onions


  • 2tsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, julienned
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • salt TT
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2″ pieces (I like an oblique cut, it looks nice and when the pieces are the same size they cook more evenly)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2-1 c red wine vinegar
  • 1/4c+ honey
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt TT


  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. heat saute pan over medium high heat, cover bottom with oil (you may need less than 2 tsp, you just want to coat the bottom of the pan)
  3. when oil moves easily, add onions
  4. stir frequently, allowing onions to release liquid. Lower heat, if necessary, to prevent browning, continue to simmer 3-5 minutes or until onions start to wilt
  5. turn heat to low, stirring occasionally, cook onions 30-45 minutes or until very soft and starting to caramelize
  6. while onions are cooking, toss carrots in enough oil to make them shine and a pinch of salt
  7. arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, or a sheet tray, and roast 20 minutes, or until they are beginning to brown, but are still slightly firm
  8. remove from oven, and set aside
  9. once onions are caramelized, add more vinegar and the honey. add it in stages as you may like more or less, depending on your tastes
  10. toss in carrots, stirring frequently and adding more honey and vinegar as desired. when it tastes almost as you’d like, add salt and the lemon juice, then adjust vinegar and honey if you like
  11. serve warm as a side to roasted chicken or fish, or room temperature as a salad


Teriyaki Chicken


Teriyaki Chicken with Basmati Rice and Grilled Asparagus



  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shoyu
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • scallions, thinly sliced

Basmati Rice

  • 1 1/2 c rice
  • 1 3/4 c water

Teriyaki sauce

  •  1 c shoyu
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 T sesame oil

Grilled Asparagus

  • 1# asparagus, ends trimmed
  • vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
  • salt TT



  1. marinate chicken 1-2 hours
  2. preheat grill
  3. combine shoyu, mirin, and ginger in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce while preparing chicken and rice
  4. rice rice well, then cook 20 minutes, rest 10, fluff with a fork
  5. while rice is cooking, drain chicken and grill, about 15 minutes depending on your grill-turning at least once
  6. when sauce is reduced by half, add garlic and sugar, continue to simmer until rice is done, add sesame oil
  7. when chicken is done, let rest, covered, 5 minutes
  8. toss asparagus is oil and salt, grill 3-5 minutes
  9. slice chicken at an angle
  10. to serve, mound rice in center of plate, top with asparagus, sliced chicken, and teriyaki sauce, garnish with scallions