Tag Archives: spaghetti

Itza Big-a Meat-a-Ball

When making meatballs… make ’em big.

Why not?  It makes for a cool presentation, and tender meatball in a variation from your traditional 1″ meatballs.  These puppies are 2-1/2″ spheres more akin to meatloaf balls than meatballs. I made them in the traditional way (if there is such a thing) …. 1 part sausage / 2 part ground beef.  I sautéed onion, garlic, and chile flake and added them to the meat… along with eggs, panko soaked in milk, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley and more garlic.  I normally put parmesan cheese in them, but didn’t have any, so I used melty munster cheese, which made for a creamy meatball.  I’d definitely do that again.

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Because I used melty cheese, I didn’t want to fry them as they would stick to the pan.  So instead I lined cookie sheets with aluminum foil and sprayed it with non-stick spray, then baked them at 450F for 20 minutes until browned.

I then simmered them briefly in a homemade marinara sauce.

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For plating I made some noodles and béchamel (white cream sauce) and tossed the noodles and béchamel together.. then topped with the big meatball and marinara sauce.  The end product was delicious.  With the béchamel, it was like a cross between a cannelloni and a jacked up spaghetti.  Definitely a make again… and I have extra meatballs for appetizers, first course, or entrees.  I look forward to having them again.

UPDATE:

I made this again with my leftover meatballs for an impromptu dinner for friends. The meatballs were easy to heat up in a pan.  For the sauce I thought I’d make an Alfredo sauce for the noodles, but didn’t have whipping cream so I shook it up.  I liked the resultant sauce so much – a cross between a béchamel and an Alfredo- that I wanted to write it down.

I sautéed half an onion and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic until translucent, then add 1/2 stick of butter allowing it to melt.  Then I added 5-6 T of flour and whisked together to make a paste.  I then added a combination of milk (about 1-1/2 c)  and chicken broth (about 1 c. ) and allowed the mixture to thicken to a nice consistency.  Add more liquid to get to the desired thickness.  It should be fairly loose, but not running.  Then I added 1/2 – 1 c. of grated pecorino cheese.   Whisk in to melt cheese.  Finally I seasoned with a touch of garlic salt, salt, and a pinch of nutmeg and crushed red pepper.

Taste and adjust as desired.

 

 

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Zucchini Spaghetti with Poblano Cream Sauce

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You know that mexican staple side dish, calabacitas?

This dish has a lot of the same elements… summer squash, zucchini, chili… but with a twist.

I ‘spiralized’ my zucchini and summer squash to make a vegetable spaghetti – no starch, no gluten, all fresh and healthy.  It makes for an elegant side or main course.  Obviously you can just slice the zucchini and summer squash, but I love the elegant and fun presentation of the ‘spaghetti’.

I sautéed onion, garlic, and julienned poblano strips until tender, then added the vegetable spaghetti and continued to cook for just a couple minutes.  In the meantime I made a simple roux of flour (~2 T) and water (~1/2 c) to thicken my sauce… and added 1/4 – 1/2 c. of cream, and sautéed until thickened.  I added some salt and marjoram to season.  Add chicken in the dish or on top… or enjoy as is.  Try it… you’ll love it!

Playing in the kitchen

There’s this movement in the culinary world known as Molecular Gastronomy.  It’s old news by now.  It was started some years back by Ferran Adria of el Bulli restaurant in a small little place outside of San Sebastian, Spain.  Disciples such as Jose Andres in Washington D.C. have brought it the US and made it famous, along with Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago and Wylie Dufresne of wd50 in New York.  It’s hard not to go into a fine dining establishment and get some sort of science on the plate.  Many restaurants these days specialize in it.

What is ‘it’?  That’s a much larger discussion.  But in it’s simplest terms, it’s science and the understanding of food and flavors and re-inventing, uniquely presenting it, and wow’g customers with strange and wonderful new preparations.

I am an advocate and practice molecular gastronomy in all its forms.

This week I have been playing in the kitchen, and tried to master the illusive ‘agar spaghetti’.  Agar agar is a natural seaweed that is a gelatin and makes liquids into solids, not unlike Jell-O.  You make a pure liquid, strain it making sure there are no chunks in it… add agar agar, heat to 194F, then suck out the liquid via a syringe into food grade plastic tubing to make long strands.  Put the tubing in ice water to chill, then blow out with a syringe to create spaghetti.

I made two types, asparagus (boiled, pureed, strained asparagus) and spinach.

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What you end up with is pure vegetable (spinach and asparagus) in a spaghetti form.  You can serve it in any way you like… but it is packed with vegetable flavor, tastes of the essence of the spinach and asparagus, in a fun fascinating spaghetti form.  It yields that great question, ‘how did you do that?’.

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I served it in a Sean Brock recipe (Heritage, S.Carolina) with sous vide scallops, tomato confit, oyster mushrooms, roasted acorn squash, truffle cream, and pumpkin seeds.  It was delicious, fun, and impressive.

Scallop Spaghetti

scallop spag_SsiFull disclosure:  I love this dish!

It reminds me of sitting on the coast of Italy dining on this simple and elegant treat from the sea.  I can almost see the boats going by with their nets and fresh catches of the day.  Up the street is a little market with the freshest, ripest tomatoes, basil, and produce just picked.  This dish speaks to me of Italy, and an Italian seafood pasta.

I used Udon noodles, as they are a bit of a cross between fine spaghetti and the fatter fettucine.  Once they were boiled in salted water and just al dente, I drained them and then tossed them in a bowl with sherry wine vinegar, basil olive oil, toasted ground cumin, toasted ground, coriander, salt, pepper, and fresh chopped jalapeño.  The pasta at this point was already quite tasty… but, wait… don’t stop there.  There’s more.

I simmered a tomato sauce and added fresh chopped cilantro and fresh chopped jalapeño to make it a spicy fresh tomato sauce.

Then I sliced the scallops in half, seasoned them, and pan seared quickly so as not to over cook.

I plated the ‘spaghetti’, topped with the spicy tomato sauce, and the pan seared scallops.  I sprinkled fresh chopped tomatoes and cilantro (or use basil) around the plate, and drizzled with basil olive oil.

It was so ‘of the sea’ it took me back to Italy.  Very good.  I could have added capers and red pepper flakes as well.  Maybe next time.