Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Italian Meatballs

This recipe is for my friend Sue who seems to love Italian food as much as I do.

I love Italian food, and have eaten in Italian restaurants all over the world not to mention in Italy. I have tried many meatballs, but my aunt makes the best ones I have ever had. This recipe is based on hers, but I have adapted it slightly to my taste, I recommend that you adapt it for yours.

2 lbs ground beef (see note)
3 eggs
3 cloves of garlic crushed
3/4 cup Grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of dried parsley parsley
handful of fresh basil
2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Bread crumbs from 6 slices of white bread crusts removed (rub between hands)

Cut crusts from bread and cut into cruton like pieces, then rub those pieces in between the palms of your hands, they will break into tiny crumbs. Mix remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl seperate pieces out and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball (or larger if you like). Set balls aside onto waxed paper.

Saute in olive oil over medium heat until brown on all sides. I like to add some marinara sauce to the meatballs once they have browned turn the heat to low and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. The meatballs can also be poached in water instead of sauteed. Serve with spagetti or your favorite pasta and extra marinara sauce.

Note: I used extra lean beef, because the meat is heavily seasoned it is full of flavor, and the egg and bread bind the balls together. You can use beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken or a combination to find what suits your taste best.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mozzarella Milanese

I had to post something for my new friend Moo.

Mozzarella Milanese - Cheese Sticks With Marinara Dipping Sauce. These are so easy to make. Absolutely delicious and fairly low calorie considering what they are. Mozzarella is made with skimmed milk so its lower in fat than other cheeses, and the use of egg whites and olive oil also helps.

1 lb of Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of flour
2 eggs beaten (egg white substitute)
1/2 cup of dried bread crumbs (I use Panko)
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes (optional)
1/2 cup of olive oil

Cut cheese into slices about 1 inch by 4 inches (typically the length of the loaf of cheese). Roll cheese in flour then dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs (Panko are Japanese coarse breadcrumbs, they give a wonderful crispiness and texture, but any bread crumbs will suffice.) Make sure cheese is thoroughly coated in mixture. Heat oil over medium heat until hot, then add cheese to oil carefully taking care not to spatter. Cook about 2 minutes or until they start to brown. Drain onto paper towels. Serve with Marinara sauce for dipping.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cooking - Which type of oil?

By now you have noticed the heavy influence of Indian food on this site, the reason is simple, I love Indian food. You will notice that I commonly use olive oil, where most Indian recipes would call for ghee (clarified butter), vegetable oil, or mustard oil.

I choose to use olive oil because of its health benefits. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels.

Recently I have discovered grape seed oil (which can be found in many supermarkets or health food stores) and found that it may have even more benefits than olive oil. Grape seed oil is higher in polyunsaturated fat, which is thought to protect against heart disease, lower blood pressure, and have many other health benefits. Read more about it here: http://www.bodybuildingforyou.com/health-supplements/grape-seed-extract.htm

Because of its unique properties, you only need to use about half the amount of grape seed oil as you would with olive oil, canola oil or most other oils. Also, grape seed oil has a high smoking point (as high as 400° F) which means less smoking or burnt taste when frying or sautéing.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


This is the vegetable dish I promised to post for Mermaid some time ago. It is made with the five spice mix and is a wonderfully fragrant dish. Labra is a staple in Bengal, a vegetable dish often served when family gathers or when guests are present. The ingredients can be varied to what is available that day in the market or even what is available in your refrigerator.

Vegetable oil - 2tbs
Bay leaf - 1
1 teaspoon sugar
Five Spice "Panch Poran" 1/2tsp
Minced ginger - 3tbs
Turmeric - 1/2tsp
Ground cumin - 2tsp
Salt - 3/4tsp
Cubed potatoes - 1/2cup
Peeled and cubed sweet potato - 1 cup
Cauliflower, cut into floret - 2cup
Sliced green beans - 1cup
Cubed eggplant (brinjal) - 2cup
Red chili powder - 3tbs (or to taste) or fresh green chilies to taste
Cooked green peas or frozen- 1/4cup
Chopped tomatoes - 3/4cup
Water - 1/2cup
Garam masala - 1/2tsp

Heat half the oil and add sugar. Fry for a few seconds. Lower heat and add bay leaf and five spice. Sauté for a few seconds until seeds begin to pop then add ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt. Add tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, I like to brown the vegetables slightly, now you can add water, Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add cauliflower, beans, eggplant and red chili powder or chopped chilies. Simmer till done (vegetables should be soft and a bit mushy). Sprinkle some hot water for thick gravy. Add peas, mix well and simmer for a while. Remove from heat and sprinkle Garam masala and serve hot.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Panch Poran (Five Spice)

Panch Poran literally means 5 spice or condiment. This wonderful masala is made up of a blend of whole seeds containing, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard, and black onion seeds. It is excellent for flavoring when used in vegetable dishes, but can be used in dal or fish.

Panch Poran Spice Mix
2 T fenugreek seeds
2 T kalongi or kalogeera (onion seeds)
2 T black mustard seeds
2 T cumin seeds
2 T fennel seeds

Mix all of the above spices together. Save the spice mixture for use in your Bengali dishes. Most recipes call for about a teaspoon of the mixture. Pre mixed Panch Poran can be purchased at your Indian Grocer or online.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

BBQ Time!

Now that it's summer everyone is starting to barbeque. American barbeque is very tasty, but can also be very fattening with high sugar and fat content. Try this simple Greek marinade for an incredible barbeque experience. You can also really impress your friends with this one, and it’s so easy!

Easy Kebabs (Souvlaki)

Souvlaki or Souvlakia are grilled, marinated lamb kebabs that are a delicacy in Greece. As you get more comfortable making them, you can vary the amounts of each ingredient, until you have the perfect kebab for your taste. This recipe takes only minutes to prepare and whomever you serve it to will be thoroughly impressed!

1 lb of lamb leg steak or beef steak such as round
wooden or bamboo skewers
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of red wine or wine vinegar
2 to 3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 bay leaves crushed into little pieces

large bunch of fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoon of dried)
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the meat of any fat and cut into small cubes (you can ask your butcher to do this for you) and carefully thread meat onto approximately 8 skewers. Peel and mince the garlic, juice the lemon straining out any pips and finely chop the fresh oregano. In a bowl place the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, oregano, wine or wine vinegar and salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste.

Place the kebabs in a shallow flat dish and pour the marinade over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill or barbeque. Place the skewers over a medium heat and cook for around 4 minutes each side for medium rare (cook to temperature accordingly), brush with extra marinade and turn once.

Note: Chicken can also be used in this marinade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Recipes - Chicken Cacciatore

I just made this dish for a small dinner party which included my parents. The dish was a huge hit with just the right amount of flavors to satisfy anyones palate. Cacciatore [ kah-chuh-TOR-ee ] means hunter in Italian, and this is the Italian version of hunter’s chicken. Like many Italian recipes it varies from region to region. This is a version I have adapted to my taste, you can change the amounts of ingredients each time you make it until you come up with the perfect version for you.

2 lb chicken, skinned and cut into pieces (Use breasts for a lower fat dish)
1 large onion, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 lb plum tomatoes roughly chopped (canned are fine)
1 12oz can of Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if using dried about 1.5 teaspoons)
1 tbsp fresh basil (1 tsp of dried)
1/2 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 cup of red or white wine (optional) (a good rule of thum to use with wine is put in the wine you would drink with the dinner, you are sure to get a flavor that is not a surprise to you later.)
pepper, to taste
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced (optional)

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium to medium high heat, when the oil is hot add the onion sauté it until it begins to turn light brown, then add the green pepper, mushrooms, and garlic, cook for only a few minutes stirring frequently to avoid burning the garlic. Tip: keep some water next to the pan if the anything starts to burn, just add a little water and stir it in. Remove the onion and green pepper mixture and place it in a small dish. Now add a drop of olive oil to the hot pan and place the chicken peices in the pan. Sear the chicken about 4 minutes on each side, the chicken should be slightly browned, this will lock the juices into the chicken.

Once the chicken is cooked you can add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to pan. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add chicken; cover and cook over medium heat 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook uncovered 20 minutes or until sauce is desired consistency.

Serve with pasta or rice.