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Archive for October 15, 2015

RECIPE: Veal Meatballs With Vodka Sauce

veal-meatballs-nielsenassey-230

Veal meatballs with vodka sauce. Enjoy them
in a multitude of ways. Photo courtesy
Nielsen-Massey.

 

Want to try a new meatball recipe for National Pasta Month? Looking for something more sophisticated to serve on game day? How about veal meatballs?

Meatballs can be served as an appetizer or a main course, as an accompaniment to pasta, or on a hero roll or other sandwich bread.

As opposed to the more familiar beef-pork meatball blend in a garlicky red sauce, this recipe from Nielsen-Massey for Breaded Veal Meatballs with Vodka Sauce is elegant, while remaining hearty.

In addition to the sexy ingredient, vodka, a combination of cheese and cream, and an assortment of vegetables, herbs and spices, create a rich sauce that pairs nicely with pasta or rice. Or, the meatballs can be served in smaller appetizer sizes with toothpicks.

If you don’t want veal meatballs, you can substitute beef—ideally, grass fed.

You can also eliminate the vanilla bean paste; but it provides a lovely flavor element. The mellow qualities of the paste enhance the full flavors of veal and herbs to create meatballs that are far from bland. And you can use it in many other recipes (see below).

 
RECIPE: BREADED VEAL MEATBALLS WITH VODKA SAUCE

Ingredients For 18 Meatballs & 4 Cups Of Sauce (Serves 6 As A Main Course)

For The Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground veal
  • ¼ cup whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup finely grated carrot
  • 2 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground oregano
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Garnish: fresh Italian parsley, chopped (garnish)
  •  
    For The Breading

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups plain panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Vodka Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (28-ounces) whole tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese (you can substitute Parmesan)
  • ½ cup whipping cream, warmed
  • Garnish: chiffonade of fresh basil leaves (here’s how to chiffonade)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack atop/inside the sheet and coat the rack with cooking spray. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Form the mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside.

    3. BREAD the meatballs, using three medium bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour. In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In the third bowl, add the bread crumbs, Romano cheese and melted butter and stir to combine. Dust each meatball with flour, dip in the egg wash and coat with the seasoned bread crumbs.

    4. PLACE the breaded meatballs on the wire rack and cook until done, about 30 minutes.

    5. MAKE the vodka sauce: Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vodka, basil, salt, vanilla extract, oregano, garlic powder and pepper; cook until reduced by half.

     

    nielsen-bourbon-paste-230

    Vanilla paste. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    6. PLACE the whole tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor or electric blender. Add the reduced sauce mixture; cover and process or blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the grated Romano cheese and cream; stir until thoroughly combined. Simmer for 3 minutes, or until heated through.

    7. SERVE the vodka sauce with meatballs: atop pasta, on a hero-size slice of baguette or on a plate over rice, other grain or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh basil.
     
     
    USES FOR VANILLA PASTE

    Vanilla is a concentrated substitute for vanilla extract in paste form, made from combining ground vanilla with vanilla extract, along with a natural thickening agent (a gum); some products contain sugar.

    It is a replacement for whole vanilla beans for people who want authentic vanilla bean flavor and appearance, but don’t use whole beans often enough (whole vanilla beans will dry out and become hard over time, while vanilla bean paste has a very long shelf life). One tablespoon of vanilla bean paste is equal to one whole vanilla bean.

    Unlike vanilla extract, vanilla paste contains the ground seeds/pods that provide “specks” in lighter-colored dish.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

    Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

    Pumpkin pasta sauce for fall: Buy it or make it! Photo courtesy Cucina Antica.

     

    Here’s a two-fer for National Pasta Month and Halloween: Tuscany Pumpkin pasta sauce from Cucina Antica. You can buy it, or make your own.

    The sauce can also be used to top other foods including sautéed or roasted vegetables, and to blend into mashed potatoes, rice or risotto.

    In Cucina Antica’s sauce, pumpkin and carrot purées and San Marzano tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, rosemary and sage, are simmered with a touch of heavy cream, onions and parsley. There are also hints of basil, cinnamon and honey.

    You can use it with plain pasta, stuffed pasta (gnocchi, ravioli, tortellini) or baked dishes like lasagna. At Cucina Ant5ica, they also turn it into cream of pumpkin soup with the addition of more cream or half-and-half.

    It’s a nice foodie gift, too, available from Cucina-Antica.com in 25-ounce jars. They sell 3-, 6- and 12-packs; a 3-pack is $16.80.

    Or, make your own.

     
    In addition to the recipe below, you can adapt the sauce to be more like Cucina Antica’s, with cinnamon and honey instead of red pepper flakes; or with cream instead of the Parmesan cheese.

    Or, get inspiration from this recipe from Food and Wine, which includes mascarpone cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

    And this recipe from Rachael Ray adds sweet sausage and white wine.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN PASTA SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 can (15 ounces) plain pumpkin purée
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or fresh-ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 cup tomato purée, ideally San Marzano
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Plus

  • Cooked pasta of choice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water; then drain the pasta and set aside.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in the pasta pot over medium heat. Add the rosemary and fry, stirring, until the rosemary starts to brown (1 to 2 minutes). With a slotted spoon, drain the rosemary, the leaving the oil in pot, and drain it on paper towels. It will be used as garnish, and also imparts rosemary flavor to the oil. You can use this technique whenever you are making an oil-based recipe.

    3. ADD the pumpkin purée, garlic, half-and-half, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, optional red pepper flakes and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot. Take care because the oil is hot and can spatter. Stir the sauce until heated through (2 to 3 minutes).

    4. ADD the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Season generously with salt. Serve pasta sprinkled with fried rosemary and, if desired, more red-pepper flakes.
     
    THE ORIGIN OF PUMPKIN

    Pumpkin originated in Central America more than 7,500 years ago. The oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds found to date were in the Oaxaca Highlands in southwest Mexico.

    The original pumpkins bore little resemblance to today’s large, bright orange, sweet variety; they were small and bitter. Domestication and breeding produced the pumpkins we know today.

    Brought to North America, pumpkins were a welcome food for the winter. Their thick skin and solid flesh were ideal for storing for consumption during months of scarcity.

     

    Pumpkin Lasagna

    Pumpkins

    Lasagna made with pumpkin sauce. Here’s the recipe from Taste Of Home. Bottom photo of pumpkins by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Europeans immigrating to New England were introduced to pumpkin by Native Americans. The first known pumpkin recipe they made was found in a book from the early 1670s. The recipe was for a side dish made from diced pumpkin, cooked down and blended with butter and spices—much like acorn squash, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are prepared today.

    During the 17th century, housewives developed an inventory of pumpkin recipes, the most popular of which remains [drum roll…] pumpkin pie.

    In the 1800s it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during holiday dinners. The first proclamation for “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” led to an observance on November 28, 1782. Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been an official annual holiday, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln.

    [Source]

      

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