Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Meat balls with tomato sauce

Nom, nom..
Here comes a kid's hit, at least in our family.
Yesterday we were preparing a 15 liter pot, yepp, that's about 16 quarts, of stuffed cabbage, and not gonna say how many pieces, but let's just approximate it was over 200.
This time it is made of a mix of beef (60%) and pork meat (40%), and I bought the usual Costco quantities, ending up with just a "tiny" extra that was ready to be used for something else, plus I have a hubby who demands home made food.. Tell me about some spoiled family.. *sigh*

Anyway, this was a relatively easy dish, and to tell the truth, it is one of our top favorites! Maybe because this was the only edible dish at the highs school and university cantines :D.
I'll not go into details how to make the meatballs, I guess everybody is familiar with them.. or maybe later..

meat balls, 5-6 /person
mashed potato, I usually count with two larger, or three smaller, potatoes for each person
tomato sauce: 1 can organic tomato sauce, dried lovage leaves, if you don't have use dried celery leaves or if you don't have that either use basil, water, salt, black pepper
Make a potato pure using creamy potatoes (Golden potatoes are still our favorite for that), salt to taste, butter and sour cream.

Tomato sauce

Empty the tomato sauce in a small pot. Fill the empty can 1/2 or 2/3 with water, depending how thick you like the sauce, and add it to the tomato sauce.
Add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and a tsp of the lovage leaves.
Boil together on very low heat for 3-5 minutes, leaving the lovage some time to flavor your sauce.
Back home we always added some flour to thicken the sauce as there was limited tomato sauce available, but nowadays I prefer to use more tomato pure and no flour at all for thicker sauce.

Serve.. It can be  served also with the microwaved potato side, minus the duck sauce (use some melted butter instead).
Bonn appetite!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Potato side dish

Some family members are not big fans of mashed potatoes, so I tried to be innovative during he holidays.
I wanted to have potato with the broiled duck, plus, I wanted to have some sort of mashed potato, and on top of all I wanted it ready really fast.
This is what the result of my brainstorming was..

golden potatoes
ha;d bunch of parsley, finely chopped
fat & juice saved from the broiled ducj 

I washed two golden potatoes / person, placed them in a plastic bag, and put them in the microwave at highest power for about 20 minutes. (I was expecting to have 11 people for dinner, so I placed 10 middle sized potatoes in a bag, twice, microwave boiled them for 10 minutes each bag separately, and at the end I placed both bags together for another 10).

When ready and I pealed them under running cold water (it was very easy this way), and cleaned them from the black spots (they are bittery and weird tasting).
I prepared a pot and pressed them through a potato press 2-3 at a time.
After having a layer of potatoes, roughly 6 potatoes evenly spread at the bottom, I sprinkled them VERy lightly with salt, a generous pinch of finely chopped parsley, and 3-4 tbsp of the fat & juice saved from the duck (the one I drained after the first hour of baking).
I repeated it three times and let it sit under the lid.

When serving, I lightly scooped roundish balls of potato with a tablespoon, like you'd scoop ice cream, into each plate.

Served immediately.
Bonn appetite!

Broiled duck

Now, who would've thought I like duck meet prepared by myself?
Well, I did not..
Luckily my friend buys and broils duck regularly, brought two over for Thanksgiving, and they were delicious! Even my non-poultry eating hubby liked the duck meat, and agreed to purchase more.
So I did..
With friends coming over for Xmas dinner, I headed for 99 Ranch and came home as a proud owner of two large ducks..
Don't let the size betray you! There is sooo much fat in these ducks that one will be barely enough for 4 people.
My first thought was to search for a recipe.. which I did, and it asked for spices that I knew I'd need, but I forgot to purchase, like the fresh rosemary.
Never mind, such a small hiccup won't stop me from adding some herbs to my duck in addition to the must have salt and black pepper.
Here is what I came up with..

1 duck (about 2.5 kg, 5 pounds), fresh or frozen (thawed)
1-2 apples
2 oranges
2-3 branches of fresh lemon basil
10-15 pieces of pink pepper
freshly grind black pepper
4-5 garlic cloves 

potatoes with parsley and duck juice
orange to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F, 175-180 Celsius.
Prepare the duck. The one I bought had its head, neck, feat and stuff on it, so I had to chop it apart. I removed the wings (for soup), feat, neck and head, and I cleaned it from the leftover feather cases. They are just disgusting to have them in your meal..

Next, I rinsed the duck well, inside and out. I mixed 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of black pepper, and generously sprinkled the insides of the duck. Next I threw the pink peppers, and 2 crushed garlic cloves, inside my duck.
I put one apple (next I'll definitely put two!!) and the lemon basil branches, and I placed the duck breast up in a tray that had 1 inch tall sides, while rubbed the skin of the duck well with some of the leftover salt and pepper mix.
Cut the oranges in half, and place 4 orange halves around the duck, and throw in the leftover garlic clover. Crush the garlic a bit, again, it will let the flavor better mix with the juice.
Covered with aluminum foil, and baked for 1 hour.
I removed the duck, poured the fat with some yammi brownish juice in a small bowl, turned the duck with breast down, and placed it back to bake for an additional hour under foil.
Do not discard the juice!!! We will use it to flavor the potatoes, and the fat is just nom, nom, nom with toast..

After an hour I removed the foil and broiled the duck just a bit, 5 minutes each side, and poured the fat again in a bowl.
You can discharge the orange halves, but do not discharge the apples from the inside!! They are some heavenly addition to your duck and potato garnish..
You will actually not believe how easy this dish is to prepare, and how many compliments you'll get as it taste like some gourmet restaurant dinner..
Serve with potatoes and a side salad of your choice.
Bonn appetite!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Easy grilled trout

Just one, before last, main dish "recipe" before the year ends..
Very easy, ready in about 40 minutes including preparation, budget friendly, too, still a festive enough dish, at least for us, for Xmas eve.

Let's start with the fact that is from Costco. :) They sell the most fresh trout I can find near and far, not to mention the cleanness, and as bonus a smell free fish section.
That's not the only reason while these are one of my favorite food on the party food list.. The main reason is the simpleness...
The fish is reasonable clean as is, but I recommend to open each one and rinse well as they sometimes have clogged blood stuck along their spine.
In addition, I like to lightly scrape the skin under running water to scale them, even though there isn't much to clean.
It will take 30 seconds each side, so totally worth it.
Wrap them in aluminum foil, fold back the top and bottom (the juice will be dripping) and place them on a pre-heated table grill (griddle).

I recommend 1 fish/person for a hungry bunch.
We serve it with Jasmin or Basmati rice and salad, and some drips of soy sauce on the rice..
If you are not superstitious to believe that eating fish is bad omen for the new year as it will swim away with your fortune, this is a very easy entertainer for the New Year Eve ahead.
Bonn appetite!

PS. I serve it with the wrap on, they keep warm until people are ready to eat. And in our family... well, you never know when that moment comes.