Spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I grew up with Vietnamese food and it wasn’t until I met my husband over 15 years ago that I was introduced to Italian food. For the first year that we dated, we ate mainly Italian food because it was a novelty to me--spaghetti, lasagna, gnocchi, and all kind of pasta. I owe my love of Italian food to my husband so I make one of his favorite dishes often, spaghetti and meatballs. 

I like adding fresh tomatoes to the tomato passata for that extra tomato umph. I love using tomato passata because it’s made with high quality ripe tomatoes resulting in a well flavoured tomato base that is more delicious compared to the standard canned tomatoes.   Every family has their own meatball recipe but we found the combination of pork and veal make really moist meatballs.  Spaghetti and meatballs is such a tasty and classic dish that can feed the whole family and make for great leftovers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
14 oz of dried spaghetti
½ tbsp of salt
2 tbsps of olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to serve
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Extra basil leaves to serve

For the sauce:
2 tbsps of olive oil
1 tbsp of garlic, chopped
1 cup of fresh San Marzanos tomatoes, chopped (can substitute with Roma tomatoes)
1 24-oz bottle of passata
½ cup of red wine
1 cup of spaghetti water
½ cup of basil leaves, chopped

2 tbsps sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
½ lb ground pork

½ lb ground veal
½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
¾ cup panko
2 eggs
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
¼ cup white onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
2 tbsps olive oil

1. For the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl combine pork, veal, cheese, panko, eggs, garlic, white onion, salt, and pepper and mix well to combine.

2. Using wet hands, roll 2 tbsps of the mixture into balls and place them on a plate. Cover and refrigerate the meatballs for 30 minutes to allow the flavor the develop.

3. Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning frequently for 5 minutes or until browned.

4.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.

5. In the same pan, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and the garlic and let it cook and become fragrant, about 5 minutes.

6. Add the fresh tomatoes, tomato passata, and red wine to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked through.

7. While the meatballs are cooking, place the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well but do not rinse. Toss the spaghetti with olive oil.

8. If the tomato sauce becomes too thick, add the spaghetti water to thin it. Add basil and season with sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. 

9.Divide the spaghetti between serving bowls, top with meatballs, extra sauce, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese.

Honey roasted figs with goat cheese and Serrano ham on sourdough toast

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fig is hands down one of my favorite fruits, and I eat my weight in figs when they are in season. Lucky for us, figs appear as early as late spring and last all the way until fall. My favorite farmer told me that there are a few weeks left of figs so I’ve been hoarding them for jams, tarts, ice cream, salad, and other dishes. 

Today, I’m sharing an easy dish that we often snack on at home or serve as an appetizer at our dinner party--honey roasted figs with goat cheese and Serrano ham on sourdough. These toasts have a lot of flavor--sweet, salty, and tang from all the ingredients. Make sure you get the soft and sweet figs for this dish. Enjoy!

Honey roasted figs with goat cheese and Serrano ham on sourdough toast

8 figs (brown turkey, black mission, or your favorite figs), quartered if big, halved if smaller
2 tbsps honey
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sherry
¼ cup goat cheese
2 tbsps toasted hazelnuts, crushed
4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
4 thin slices of Serrano ham

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a small sauce bowl, whisk the honey, water, and sherry.

3. Drizzle the cut-side of figs with honey mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes until the figs are just caramelized.

4. Spread one tablespoon of goat cheese over the bread slices. Top with Serrano ham, caramelized figs, and crushed hazelnuts.

5. Serve immediately

Cookbook giveaway: Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The really nice folks over at Abrams Books gave us a copy of Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow to give to one of our lucky readers.  To enter, please leave a comment below and let us know your favorite fall ingredients to cook with.  The winner will be selected at random.  Comments will close on Monday, October 31st at 9 P.M. Pacific. US residents only please :)

*This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party

Cookbook Review: Martha Stewart's Vegetables

Monday, October 3, 2016

When I initially saw the cover for Martha Stewart’s Vegetables, I thought it would be a vegetarian cookbook.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a vegetable centric book but still appeals to the carnivore.  The book is nicely divided into eleven chapters (Bulbs, Roots, Tubers, Greens, Stalks & Stems, Pods, Shoots, Leaves, Flowers & Buds, Fruits, and Kernels) with many interesting recipes.  It was nice to see some of the rarer vegetables getting a spot light in this book like ramps, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, fiddlehead ferns, and salsify.  The jicama citrus salad had a bright note and was delicious.  The rhubarb chutney with pot roast was amazing.  I will definitely be making rhubarb chutney to pair with other meats.  Both the blistered Padron peppers and fig and arugula crostini made the perfect appetizers for our dinner party.  My absolute favorite recipe from the book would be the cornmeal shortcakes with corn ice cream and blueberry compote.  Most of the recipes were easy and approachable with a few advanced one peppered throughout.  The book also included a lot of tips for buying, storing, prepping, cooking, and pairing with other vegetables.  I’m looking forwarding to trying the ramp and garlic scape recipes when they’re in season again.  Martha Stewart’s Vegetables is a great book for those who love vegetables and enjoy cooking with the seasons.