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)

Meatballs

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 large chipotle pepper, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
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 tsp Worcestershire sauce

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium and sauté the onion, garlic and chipotle until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until mostly done, then drain fat. Combine chili powder, cumin, 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.

Plov

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

I learned this from my Chinese friend here in Germany. Time consuming, but soooooo good! Yields 25-30 dumplings.

4 leaves Napa cabbage
4 dried Chinese mushrooms, rehydrated in boiled water for 20-30 minutes
1 clove garlic
1 in. fresh peeled ginger, grated
2/3 lb. mixed ground beef and pork (meatloaf mix)
1 egg white
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp. white ground pepper
1/8 tsp. Chinese chili powder
1 tsp. salt
About 2 cups flour
About 1/2 cup water

After washing cabbage leaves, break each leaf into thirds. Put into food processor with rehydrated mushrooms and garlic clove. Chop to fine in food processor. Place in medium mixing bowl. Grate ginger into cabbage mixture. 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.
In another medium mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup water. Knead together with hands, adding more water or flour as needed. Dough should be slightly sticky, yet firm and pliable.
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.
Put a dollop of meat mixture in the center of each dough round (approx. 11/2 tsp.). Seal the edges of the dough around the meat filling and place on floured surface. Place dumplings in steamer basket (NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER!) for 20-25 minutes.