Indian Meatballs (Kofta)

We learned three things from this recipe:

  1. You CAN get a restaurant-like texture to your sauces at home if you’re patient enough to let them simmer the full time and are willing to get a few more pieces of equipment dirty
  2. Metzgerei Salzberger is our new hookup for ground lamb in Regensburg
  3. A rice cooker is certainly a convenience a lot of the time, but we can do great pilau rice on the stovetop, too.

More on those three points:
Continue reading Indian Meatballs (Kofta)


I’ve made meatballs a few times, but I never got around to posting a recipe for them. Finally I did a sampling of several recipes to see exactly what the common elements were and…well, improvised. I like my meatballs baked instead of fried – no need to add more oil.

1 1/2 c fresh bread crumbs
1/3 c milk
1 T olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 450° F. Combine everything except meat and egg in a large bowl and stir until just mixed. Add meat and egg and stir gently until just integrated. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Roll your meatballs gently and bake on the cookie sheet for 15-25 minutes (shorter if you’re simmering them in a sauce, longer if want them done all the way through). After taking meatballs out, place them on paper towels to drain for a couple of minutes. Makes about 24 golf-ball-sized meatballs.

Perfect Chili

This is originally from here, but I made a few changes. I was tempted to add more spicy elements, but was glad I didn’t – the chili powder, chipotle pepper and pepper flakes really combine to create a nice, cumulative burn.

2 T olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large chipotle pepper, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t salt
2 t cocoa powder
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 T molasses
1 c chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 c amber beer
1 c tomato sauce
1 t Worcestershire sauce

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium and sauté the onion, garlic, pepper and chipotle until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until mostly done, then drain fat. Combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, cocoa and red pepper flakes and stir into meat until just fragrant. Add molasses, broth and tomatoes and break up tomatoes with spoon, then add beans. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, the stir in beer, tomato sauce and Worcestershire. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 45 minutes or until thickened.


There are several different national versions of ‘pilaf,’ a rice dish. This is the Ukrainian version. I first had it at Natasha’s and I wanted the recipe, but she couldn’t give it to me because she didn’t have one – she just sort of threw it together instinctively. Not to be deterred, I searched around for a recipe and I watched her do it again for good measure. Here’s my take on it. Like many of recipes I seem to gravitate to, timing is everything here. And, it really needs to be served with a big salad.

¼ c sunflower seed oil
1 large onion, chopped
1½ lb stew beef (or lamb), cut into bite-sized chunks
15-20 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
1 lb carrots, shredded medium fine
2½ tsp salt (at least – season to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ c rice, uncooked
1½ c hot water

Do all of your chopping ahead of time so the ingredients are ready to add. In a large pot with with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil (it seems like a lot, but you need it) over medium-high heat. Drop in one piece of onion. When onion is black, remove it with a fork. Your oil is hot enough to cook with now.

Add meat to oil. It will spit, so be careful, but do not reduce heat! Allow meat to brown in oil, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes. Now add garlic cloves* and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Next, add onion and cook for 3 minutes (or until translucent) and, finally, add carrots. Stir mixture frequently.

When carrots just begin to become tender and a little of the color begins to fade, add salt and cumin and stir just to mix in. Next add rice and hot water and turn heat to high. Make sure water completely covers other ingredients, plus about ½ inch extra. Stir just to combine, bring to a boil and cover with vented lid (best is a glass lid). You want to not have to stir the plov (although some stoves make this impossible), but you need to know when all the liquid has cooked off – at high heat, about 10 minutes. When liquid is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup cold water, turn heat to lowest setting, cover with un-vented lid and allow to cook for another 20 minutes.

*It sounds like an awful lot of garlic, I know. But if you add whole cloves – not even cutting off the bottoms – they have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. You can always reduce the amount if you’re really garlic-sensitive, but the flavor is so mild that I don’t think it’s necessary.

Susie’s Meatloaf

A classic — with slight modifications by Cliff and Sarah

Fresh breadcrumbs (2-3 slices bread)
1 carrot, finely shredded (use a food processor)
2 ribs celery, also finely shredded (use a food processor)
2 Tbsp. minced dried onion
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. basil
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce or Kitchen Bouquet
1 tsp. celery seed
11/2 lbs. ground beef (the leaner, the better)
1 egg, lightly beaten
splash milk
salt and pepper to taste
ketchup or barbecue sauce (we recommend Smokestack)

1. Mix all ingredients except barbecue sauce in large bowl until well-integrated. Note from Cliff — make sure to remove the paper from the bottom of the ground meat. Get your fiber elsewhere.

2. Place meat mixture into a 9×13 pan. Form into a loaf shape in the middle of the pan. Brush entire surface of meatloaf with ketchup or barbecue sauce.

3. Bake at 350°F for 1-11/2 hours. Brush with more ketchup or barbecue sauce half-way through cooking time.

Xiyan’s Beef & Broccoli

Xiyan served this to us recently at her house and we were so wowed by it that we just had to steal the recipe from her. Of course, she wanted our recipe for the Butter Cake we’d brought for dessert, so it was a fair trade.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. beef sirloin sliced into thin strips
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 medium/large onion sliced into thin strips
2 red Thai chilis
1 lb. broccoli, chopped into florets
2 Tbsp. Sambal Oelek
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. hot Chinese chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/3 cup water

1. Steam broccoli for five minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in pan or wok to high heat. Add beef and cornstarch and sear beef; remove from pan and set aside.
3. Turn heat down to med. high and add garlic, green onions, ginger, onions, and chilis and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add more oil if needed. While vegetables are cooking, add chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir well.
4. Add beef back in with Sambal Oelek, soy sauce, and water. Cook everything together 1-2 minutes until thick sauce forms. Add broccoli, stir to distribute, and serve over rice.

Chinese Dumplings

It’s high time for a few updates on this recipe. While the ingredients for the original version have remained pretty much the same, we’ve streamlined a few preparation steps, been shown a vegan filling option, discovered a video about folding and stumbled on a really efficient way to cook them. Time consuming, but worth every moment!

6 leaves Napa cabbage
5-6 dried Chinese mushrooms, rehydrated in boiled water for 20-30 minutes, squeezed and quartered
1 clove garlic, very roughly chopped
1 in/2.5 cm fresh peeled ginger, very roughly chopped
2/3 lb ground pork or mixed beef and pork (meatloaf mix)
1 egg white
2 t dark soy sauce
1/2 t white ground pepper
1/8 t Chinese chili powder
1 t salt

About 2 c flour
About 1/2 c water

*Homemade dough is delicious, but if you can buy wrappers (gyoza or wonton, doesn’t really matter), do it! The whole thing will go so much faster.

Dipping Sauce
1 t black vinegar
2 T light soy sauce
1 t Shao Xing wine
½ t sugar
A few drops chili oil

  1. After washing cabbage leaves, tear each leaf into pieces. Put into food processor with rehydrated mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Chop to fine in food processor. Place in medium mixing bowl. Add ground meat, egg white, soy sauce, pepper, chili powder and salt to mixing bowl and mix all ingredients well. Once filling is mixed, make dumpling dough. If you’re using store-bought wrappers, skip to step 4.

  2. In another medium mixing bowl, combine flour and water. Knead together with hands, adding more water or flour as needed. Dough should be slightly sticky, yet firm and pliable. Or, use a food processor with a blade attachment and a feeder tube. Put the flour into the food processor bowl, turn it on and add the water through the feeder tube. The dough nearly assembles itself.

  3. Place finished dough on floured surface and roll with hands into a long, cylindrical shape (you might have to break dough into halves and roll out two separate cylinders), about 11/2 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut cylinder into 1-11/2 inch pieces, turning roll with each cut so that you don’t squish the roll on one side. Press each dough piece with heel of hand to flatten, then with a floured rolling pin, roll each dough piece into a round flat shape. THIS PART IS TRIAL AND ERROR!! The rounds of dough should ideally be about 4-5 inches across and thickest in the middle.

  4. Put a dollop of meat mixture in the center of each dumpling wrapper (about 11/2 t). Seal the edges of the dough around the meat filling and place on floured surface. Check the video above for dumpling wrapping help.

  5. To steam, place in steamer basket lined with cabbage leaves and don’t let the dumplings touch (they’ll stick to each other). Steam for 20-25 minutes. To steam-fry (suggested!), heat a large, deep skillet with an unvented lid and 1-2 T oil (we use sesame, but vegetable is fine) over medium-high. Add dumplings to pan, not letting them touch. Pour 2-3 T water into the pan (it will spit), cover with lid and cook 2-3 minutes (until browned). Turn dumplings and brown on other side, another 2-3 minutes. Cook in batches and add more oil and water as necessary. Always be conservative; you can always add more, but too much could ruin your dumplings.

    Notice the crispy bits!

  6. To prepare the dipping sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a small, deep bowl.

Vegan Filling
5-6 leaves Napa cabbage (large center rib trimmed), torn
5-6 dried Chinese mushrooms, rehydrated w/hot water (30 minutes), squeezed and quartered
1 clove garlic, very roughly chopped
1 in. fresh peeled ginger, very roughly chopped
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1-2 T vegetable oil
1/8 t ground turmeric
salt and white pepper to taste

Fit food processor with blade attachment and add first 4 ingredients, chopping until pieces are fairly even in size. Heat a large, deep skillet to medium and add oil. Cook onion until very tender, then add contents of food processor and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until well mixed and heated through. Add turmeric, salt and pepper, stir well and taste, adjusting as needed. You will probably need to add salt a few times, just to make the veggies pop. You don’t want them to taste perceptibly salty, just like the most intense versions of themselves. The salt also serves to temper some of the carrots’ sweetness.

Fill and steam or steam-fry as outlined above. The dipping sauce is especially great with this variety.

Lamb Feta Stuffed Peppers

1 chopped Onion
3 Cloves minced Garlic (we use 5 or 6)
6 Medium Bell Peppers*
4 T Dill
1 1/2 tsp Season Salt
1 tsp ground Allspice
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 C cooked Rice
1 lb ground Lamb
1 C crumbled Feta Cheese

2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finey chopped
26 oz tomato puree (I just used regular canned tomato sauce)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 c fresh dill, chopped
2/3 c chicken broth
*Make sure peppers have even bottoms so that they stand up by themselves!

1. Make the sauce: over medium-low heat, sauté garlic in oil until soft and translucent. Add tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in dill and chicken broth and simmer 5 more minutes, then set aside.
2. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft.
3. Slice tops off peppers and remove seeds. Stand peppers upright in 9×13 baking dish.
4. In large bowl, combine onion mixture, dill, season salt, allspice and pepper. Mix in rice and lamb, fold in feta. Stuff peppers with mixture.
5. Pour sauce over peppers and bottom of dish. If any lamb mixture is leftover, stir into sauce on bottom of dish. Cover with foil.
6. Bake in 375°F (190°C) for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 15 minutes until meat thermometer inserted in center of filling reads 160°F (70°C).