Swedish Meatballs

My sister is the keeper of this recipe from our mother.  It is a family favorite and she is the one who is asked to make it.  She has perfected it and the tradition continues…..

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Food is Love

I have posted in the past about my friend Chef Jimmy.  He has Mojo!  And he sells it too!  It is a really great blend of spices that is very healthy and tasty.

It can be found at Amazon under the food section.  You should give it a try.  It’s great on any kind of protein, and it is really good on peanuts.
He made us dinner the other night and it was delish!
The strawberries were so fresh, and juicy so he decided to incorporate it into a salad:
The candies pecans were a nice addition.  Hey, do you suppose he put some of his Mojo on them?
And it had a super yummy dressing:
It was an overcast day, so some comfort food was the order of the day.
Braised Chicken over fresh pasta.  Yummm.
So check him out at Amazon.com. And chefjimmy.com
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Calamandins/ Calamondin

The calamandin is a small sour orange citrus that is not very well know.  My mother had two gorgeous trees that gave fruit year round.  She used them in drinks, and as marmalade and chutney.  It became a very favorite family fruit.

I now have two trees and I have been able to experiment a bit.

I decided to see if it would go well with some salmon.

CALAMANDIN AND MAPLE  SALMON

I took a beautiful fresh fillet of wild king salmon.  Salted and peppered it.  Then I put it in a oven proof dish with calamandins and poured  a little bit of maple syrup over it.  The calamandins are quite sour so it needed some sweetness and I thought that the whole east meets west, Vancouver type of action would be good.  I sprinkled some herbs de provance over it all and ran it in the broiler  until the salmon was just warm in the middle.  The top of the salmon got a nice browning and it ended up being delish!  I plated it over sauteed spinach. And I sprinkled some sesame seeds over the top of it all.  Even my non fish loving husband liked it.  I think it is a nice use of the calamandins.

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So, I grew up in Mexico.  We had fairs every week-end, if you went to the mercado.  But when I was first introduced to one of the largest county fair in the US, I was blown away.  It is huge!  IT IS: THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY!

I’m overwhelmed….I think I can’t post everything in one…it’s just too much!  Sigh, sigh…

That is what it is all about, isn’t it?  Good food, good friends and definitely  goooood times.  It was a last minute decision, but I went there by myself…ok, I took my camera, because I really wanted to take my time checking everything out.  And it was fun!

There is always music… or at least that is what some people call it….hey, power to him.  I can’t hold a note.

And then there is excellence, my niece has incredible talent:

Tru Def

Click on the link.  You will enjoy.  I know, I am biased, but she has won top honors in all her competitions.

As I continued my day, I had the opportunity to see the floral displays.  In years past, no one let me do that… they all wanted to “get to the ride”, “eat that thing”, “buy that gadget”.

The flowers made me nostalgic for when I had a garden.  They were beautiful.

That was one of the best arrangements.  Below is one of the  beautiful dahlias.  A very unusual variety,

More beautiful flowers….

Since it is a county fair, there had to be animals…

Mocha, now that’s a good name for a pony.  I’ll bet half the kids were scared to death.

Moooo

Oink…

Kids, and kids and more kids….no pun intended.

But a fair would not be a fair without FOOD!   And what food…

Even old classics like Orange Julius…

AND THEN…. there was the really, really strange food… Giant turkey legs.

My tummy hurts just to look at it!

But these last two were the weirdest.

I’m not kidding.  Chocolate covered bacon.  And it was at the heart attack shack.

And last but not least:

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Mayonnaise, Mayonesa, Maionese

I love mayonnaise.  It is simple yet complex.  Once you have tried homemade mayonnaise,  you will never ever reach for a jar.

There are several different recipes.  It seems that everyone has their favorite way to make it.  But there are some basic concepts.  Mayonnaise is a combination of egg, lemon juice/ vinegar and oil.  If you follow the Ruhlman ratio, it’s 20:1.  If you follow Julia or Jaques, it has Dijon mustard in it.  It can be whisked by hand or made in a blender or food processor.   Once it is made, it can be flavored in many different ways….chipotle, garlic, shallots, dill, the possibilities are endless.

I prefer the ease of using a blender and the simplicity of only lemon juice.  With that base, I can ….create….

Place 1 egg yolk (you can also use the whole egg) and a pinch of salt in the blender.  Run it at a low speed and add about 2 or 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Let it run for about 2 minutes then slowly add oil.  You will need about 1 cup of oil.  I tend to like to use a mild oil.  Sometimes a very fruity olive oil may be too overpowering.  Taste to see if it needs more salt or lemon.  Add enough oil to get the proper consistency.

If it breaks, you can always rescue it.  I think the easiest way is to start with a clean blender cup and add another yolk.  You should be able to use a tablespoon of warm water.  Some people use dijon mustard, but I think it changes the flavor.  Slowly add the broken Mayo until is emulsifies.  You will need to taste for seasoning and may have to add a bit more oil.

I’ll  post variations on this sauce in the future….

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The Big Green Egg

THE BIG GREEN EGG

Barbeque…BBQ..men cooking.   I always love when husbands say, “don’t worry about dinner Honey, I’m going to grill tonight”.  That means, you are in charge of everything else, I’m standing at the grill  and flipping…

But the funny thing is that when the party gets complicated and I offer to help man the grill (no pun intended), I end up being too preoccupied with all the other dishes I have going on.   And let me tell you that multi-tasking is not a good trait for Q-ing.  I always burn what ever is on the grill.  I know that you should turn the steaks when you see the juices come through.  And you should not keep flipping, and if you turn them only a 1/4 turn, you can make those cool criss-crosses.  But that’s a lot of concentration on one square foot of real estate.

Maybe next time I should just plan to barbeque everything with nothing that requires me to move an inch.  Hmmm…….. let’s see how that works for me…..

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Spring

Spring is in the air….. and nothing says spring like Asparagus.

White and green asparagus are really the same vegetable.  The only difference between the two is that the white have never seen the sunlight and have not formed the chlorophyll that makes them green.  Having grown asparagus, I can tell you that it is a lot of work to grow white asparagus.  The asparagus plant is very easy to grow.  In the spring the shoots come up out of the ground (i.e. the asparagus spears) and as they grow, they turn into the most beautiful fern like plants.

The spears are harvested before they are able to sprout leaves.  The plant will continue to send shoots out for a few weeks.  Once the spears become very thin, it’s time to stop harvesting and let the plant develop if you want to have a crop next year.  Now, about these white asparagus…..remember, they can’t see sunlight or they instantly turn green.  The only way to have white asparagus is to keep mounding dirt over them as they start to grow.  The french also use some very attractive bells to cover the individual spears as they grow.  But you need to keep an eye on them constantly since they grow very rapidly and can end up all crooked if they get larger than the bell.

My Grandparents loved white asparagus.  My grandmother used to grow them in her garden in Mexico.  But it was very frustrating.  She would go out in the evening to the garden and make sure that all the spears were well covered and tucked in for the night and then early the next morning they would be poking out again. They grew so quickly before her very eyes.  And after days of taking care of them, a splash of sunlight would ruin it and they’d be green.

Now every time that I see white asparagus at the market, I just have to pick some up.  I always think of Oma as I carefully prepare them for supper……

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Baked Crepes

Crepes can be extremely versatile.  they can be deserts or they can be main courses.  You can buy the crepes pre-made but they are so easy to make from scratch.

Mix 1 Cup of flour with 2 eggs beaten. Add a pinch of salt.  Then gradually add 1 Cup of milk.  The consistency must be that of a think pancake batter.  Add more milk if it is too thick.  Let the batter sit for about 1 hour.  Check the consistency again before you make the crepes.  In a non stick pan, add a slice of butter and melt over medium heat.  Add a ladle full of batter and swirl the pan around to coat the bottom.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the crepe is loose from the pan.  Turn over and cook the other side for another 2 minutes.  Place on a plate.  Place parchment paper between crepes so that they don’t stick.

Once cooled, you can fill them with cheese, ham, spinach or what ever you would like.  Roll them up and place them in a oven proof dish.

Cover with the Bechamel sauce and sprinkle some cheese on top.  Place in a 300 degree oven until the top is browned.  Serve hot.

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Blackberry Compote

A very simple dessert is poached berries.  It is simple but at the same time it can be very elegant.  You can flavor the fruit with a number of spices.  The blackberries looked wonderful and I decided to poach them with some star anise and some cinnamon.

I placed the berries with the spices in a small saucepan and added a splash of orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of honey. Simmer them over a low heat until the berries are soft but not mushy.

Serve warm with honey flavoured Greek Yogurt.  It’s a great last minute treat that everyone will enjoy.

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Risotto and Family

I recently had some of my nieces and nephews and other family over for an impromptu dinner.  Of course I thought of making Risotto since it is so easy.  It is a dish that all the family loves, since it was one of my mother’s favorite meals.

My daughter, who unfortunately was not in town reminded me that a few of my guests were vegetarian.  I would not have even thought about the chicken stock that is used if she had not told me.  Instead I made it with vegetable broth.  It has a slightly different flavor, but it turned out great.  I was very pleased that I could be courteous to their dietary preferences.

It was a lot of fun to show them how it is made and of course, that came at a price….. they were enlisted to help stir.  All in all it was a very nice evening with family.

I am re-posting the risotto from an earlier posting.  Remember variations are good!

Shallot

Risotto is a very classic Italian dish.  There are numerous variations.  You can mix it up with different vegetables or proteins.  But by far the most classic interpretation is from Milan.   Rice has a starring role in this recipe and as such, it is important to us the right kind.

peeled shalot

Arborio is a good type to use but the preferred rice is the Carnaroli.  It is plump and releases it’s starch in a uniform manner.  This is what give the dish it’s creamy texture.

rice and garlicrice

The saffron imparts not only color but flavor as well.  Don’t be shocked by the price.  When you think that there are only 3-4 of these strands in a single crocus flower, you begin to understand it’s value.  It is worth it.

Saffron

risotto spoon

Risotto alla Milanese

In a large saucepan, sauté 2 finely chopped shallots and 1 clove of garlic in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until softened.  Stir in  1 cup of rice. Coat rice with the oil and then add 1/2 cup of white wine. Add 2 capsules of saffron.  Stir constantly.  Start adding 5 cups of broth little by little.  Keep adding the liquid until the rice is done and creamy. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve.

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