Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spicy Apple Glazed Meatballs

Every culture has their favorite way to prepare meatballs.  Whether simmered in a hearty marinara, cooked in a yogurt/sour cream sauce, or steamed in a rich stock they are part of traditional comfort meal.  At our house, we love all versions of the meatball.  I often prepare meatballs in advance and store in the freezer for a later meal.

I serve this with steamed bok choy or sesame green beans and red quinoa.

Ingredients:

Meatball Recipe

1 egg
1/4 cup milk or (use almond or coconut milk for a dairy free option)
2 slices white or whole-wheat bread, torn
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Apple Glaze
1 cup apple juice
1/4 reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 red pepper flakes
6 green onions, chopped diagonally

Directions

In a large bowl whisk together egg and milk. Add bread. Let stand 10 minutes, or until bread is softened. Add beef, shallot, ginger, cilantro, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly with hands. Shape beef mixture into 48 one-inch meatballs.

For Apple Glaze, in a small bowl combine apple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes per batch, turning occasionally until brown and crusty on outside and no longer pink inside. Transfer meatballs to a covered dish; cover to keep warm. Drain fat from skillet and then wipe out the skillet.

Now take the same skilled and cook juice mixture, stiring occassionally until thickened and bubbly. Then cook an additional 2 minutes. Return meatballs to skillet to heat through and coat with sauce. Transfer glazed meatballs a serving dish. Top with green onions.



Recipe at a glance:





                                      

Chef's Tip: *The meatballs may be prepared ahead of time and frozen.  Shape meatballs, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and pop into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from sheet and place into a zip top bag.  Thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours prior to using. * These can be shaped into 1/2 inch meatballs and served as appetizers.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to Make Yogurt at Home

Often times after I test recipes I'm left with copious amounts of basic ingredients like butter, milk or cream.  This week, it just happened to be about a gallon of whole milk. Since I have been wanting to test out a few yogurt based recipes, I thought I would give yogurt making another try. Believe it or not, there are a few recipes that I have yet conquer.   My aunts always made yogurt so I just assumed I had the yogurt making gene...WRONG.  I've attempted yogurt making 3 times, the first time it was watery, the second time the yogurt had a thicker consistency but no tartness, the third time, was a total disaster.  Fourth time, appears to be the charm in this kitchen.  The trick is keeping the yogurt at 100 degrees for 8-12 hours which can be difficult if your house is drafty.  Yes, I can purchase a yogurt maker, but I don't like uni-tasking kitchen tools.  

This batch almost didn't turn out, but after doing some online research, I found a solution that worked for me.  

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients and Gadgets:

1 Gallon Whole Milk (prefer organic)
10-12 oz. plain whole milk yogurt with live active cultures (NOT low fat)
1 clean pot
8-10 mason sterilized mason jars
thermometer 

Directions:

In a large non-reactive pot, bring milk to a near boil then turn it off.  To make life simple,  place the thermometer into the pot and wait for the milk to reach 180 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer look for small bubbles to begin forming around the edges of the pot.  DO NOT BRING TO A BOIL.  

Turn off the burner and immediately remove pot from heat.  Allow the temperature to drop between 107 and 112 degrees F.   The milk should be cool enough to place an impeccably clean finger into the milk and hold for 30 seconds (if you're brave enough) this is the method my aunts used (go figure).

While your milk is cooling, turn on your oven to its lowest setting (200 degrees) for about 5 minutes then turn off.

Gently stir the yogurt starter into the warm milk and mix to incorporate.

Pour warm milk mixture into sterilized mason jars and gently close lids.  If you don't have jars then you may pour the mixture into a large ceramic or stoneware bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  

I placed all the yogurt jars inside my large canner (or a large pot) and wrapped with 2 large towels and then placed into the barely warmed oven.  I checked my yogurt after 6 hours and the mixture was a little watery.  I filled 2 large mason jars with hot water, closed the lids and placed them into the canner with the yogurt jars. And left overnight to continue the incubation process.  The last step may be unnecessary if your oven is not be in a drafty spot near the door.

Place jars in the refrigerator to allow the yogurt to further set.

Voila! You now have delicious, homemade yogurt.  You can stir in your favorite fruit compote or jam, or use to marinate a tandoori chicken.  Check back soon for my yogurt soup recipe.









Chef Tip: 1.  If you are nervous about making yogurt for the first time, try halving the recipe. 
2. If you like tart yogurt, you can add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the yogurt and scalded milk mixture. 3. you may use 2% milk if you prefer.