Saturday, March 30, 2013

Swedish Meatballs

Meatballs for days, Swedish Meatballs to be exact. When I think of Swedish Meatballs, the first thing that comes to mind is Ikea. I'm not the only one right?

Many years ago, I made a trip to Ikea, like many of us have. While pushing the cart and following those useful arrows on the ground I overheard a teenage girl talking on the phone about Ikea's Swedish Meatballs. "Girl, have you had these meatballs at Ikea? Girl, they are the BOMB. Girl, I'll go and bring you some."

Why I remember word for word what she said, I have no clue but the way she said it just got me laughing. At the time, I couldn't focus on the fact she was talking about the Swedish Meatballs. I could only focus on the fact she kept saying "Girl" to begin each sentence!

Well, it's now time to stop thinking about "Girlllll..." and start thinking about Swedish Meatballs!

Swedish Meatballs
Recipe by Marcus Samuelsson
For the meatballs 
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/3 pound ground chuck or sirloin
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the sauce 
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lingonberry preserves
2 tablespoons pickle juice

To garnish lingonberry preserves quick pickled cucumbers

Combine the breadcrumbs and heavy cream in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes, until softened. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, veal, pork, onion, honey and egg, and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Add the breadcrumb-cream mixture and mix well. With wet hands (to keep the mixture from sticking), shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, placing them on a plate lightly moistened with water. You should have about 24 meatballs.

 Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.

 Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, preserves and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through.

-Aaron John

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Arborio Rice Pudding

Another 10 week quarter has finally ended and Spring Break has arrived! That just means it's time to get back on blog bandwagon after a long hiatus!

Because I wasn't baking a lot, I had a limited supply of ingredients at my disposable. When I opened up the pantry and found Arborio rice, I knew I had to at least do something with it. Thus, I tried my hand at an Arborio Rice Pudding.

Now, when it comes to pudding in general, I'm not exactly moving to the front of the line to get some. There's just something about it and I think it's a texture thing. I know, I know, you can say "Well, eat it with Oreos or something" but you know what, sometimes I just don't have a years supply of Oreos lying around in my bedroom. Shame on me. But, Rice Pudding should be different right?

Well, this Arborio Rice pudding was interesting. I'm still not a fan about pudding. I honestly think this recipe needs more liquid. By the time most of my liquid evaporated, the rice was still on the aldente side and it wasn't a creamy textured Rice Pudding I was hoping for. Oh well, maybe my next pudding adventure will be different...

Arborio Rice Pudding
Recipe by Dave Lieberman

1 cup water
Pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup Arborio rice
 2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Few dashes ground cinnamon
Whipped cream, for serving

Bring water, salt, and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until rice has absorbed the water but it still al dente, about 15 minutes.

Bring milk, sugar, vanilla, and a few dashes of cinnamon to a simmer in a separate saucepan. Add the cooked rice and cook at a simmer over medium-low heat until rice absorbs most of the milk and mixture starts to get thick and silky, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer pudding to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator until cool and set. Serve with whipped cream and a dash more cinnamon.

-Aaron John

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Donuts or Doughnuts. It's Whatever Name You Choose

"Hi, my name is Aaron John and I have a problem. I love donuts. There I said it. 'I LOVE DONUTS!'"

Phew, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Is there anything better than a Donut/Doughnut. BTW, is it a Donut or Doughnut? I've always wondered that...Either way, it's some delicious fried goodness. Glazed, chocolate, maple or sugar, just give me a donut and I'll be happy. Even the ones covered in glaze, chocolate, then dipped in sprinkles always find some way into my hands. Somehow, I feel sprinkles make doughnuts taste so much better than the plain jane donuts.

Donuts and I go way back and I remember it like it was yesterday. As my dad and I dropped off my older brother to kindergarten when I was a wee little child, we would always go to the 7-11 that was down the hill from our house so that he could buy me a donut. Chocolate or Maple, those were the only one's I would eat. No donuts filled with jam or cream for me. Just give me that fried bread with frosting and hold the filling, no questions asked.

When we drove back home, I stared at that donut as if that golden ring of bread was actually some sort of expensive jewelry. At the time, that donut was worth it's weight in gold to me. When we got home, my dad would go to sleep after working long night shifts and I would sit on the couch savoring every bite of that donut as I watched Nickelodeon cartoons. Now that's what I call memories.

Ever since then, donuts and I developed some sort of a relationship. When I need to get back to those memories, donuts will always be there. Call me a fat ass, donut junkie, unhealthy, diabetes bound, the man who's arteries are clogging with every bite, but sometimes, we have to live a little, right? For every pound I gain in donuts, that's a memory I was able to relive and I'm A-OK with that. Well...let's just keep it in moderation for now.

These donuts brought me right back to moments like that. These were light and fluffy, just the way I like them. Make sure you invest in a thermometer for your oil if you're making this recipe. It makes your life that much easier.

Recipe by Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman)

1-1/8 cup Whole Milk, Warm
1/4 cup Sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons (one Package) Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
2 whole Large Eggs, Beaten
1-1/4 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt

3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Cold Water Or Milk

Cinnamon Sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp ground cinnamon

To Make the Dough:
1. Make sure milk is nice and warm, but not overly hot.
2. Add sugar to milk. Stir to dissolve.
3. Add yeast into a small bowl.
4. Pour milk/sugar mixture over yeast. Stir gently, then let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Melt butter in separate bowl until butter is almost melted. Stir to finish melting so butter won't be overly hot.
6. Add beaten eggs to melted butter, stirring constantly to make sure the butter's not too hot for the eggs.
7. Add the egg/butter mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.
8. With the mixer on 3 or medium-low speed, pour in the yeast mixture.
9. Allow the dough hook to stir this mixture for a couple of minutes, making sure it's thoroughly combined.
10. With the mixer still going, add helpings of the flour mixture in 1/4 to 1/2 cup increments until all the flour is gone.
11. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, then turn the mixer on the same speed for five whole minutes.
12. After five minutes, stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl.
13. Turn on the mixer for 30 seconds.
14. Turn off the mixer and allow the dough to sit in the bowl undisturbed for 10 minutes.
15. After 10 minutes, transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Toss the dough to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place straight in the fridge.
16. Refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

To Make the Doughnuts: 
1. Remove bowl from fridge and turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.
2. Roll out to 1/4 to 1/3-inch thickness.
3. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut as many rounds as you can, then roll out remaining dough and cut as much as you can, etc.
4. Cut holes out of each round using a 1 1/2-inch cutter.
5. Place both doughnuts and holes on a floured baking sheet.
6. Cover with large tea towel and place in a warm place in your kitchen; my kitchen is very drafty, so I have to briefly warm the griddle, then turn it off and set the sheets on top to keep warm.
7. Allow doughnuts to rise undisturbed for at least 1 hour; 1 hour 15 minutes if necessary. Doughuts should be visibly puffier and appear to be airy.

To Fry the Donuts/Dougnuts 
1. Heat plenty of vegetable shortening in a large pot until the temperature reaches 375 to 380 degrees---do not let it get hotter than 380 degrees! 375 is ideal; keep the thermometer in the pan to continually monitor.
2. One to two at a time, gently grab doughnuts and ease them into the hot oil. Allow them to cook 1 minute on each side; they will brown very quickly.
3. Remove doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, allowing all oil to drip off.
4. Place doughnut immediately on several layers of paper towels. Count to five, then flip it over onto a clean part of the paper towels. Count to five, then flip it over again; the purpose, obviously, is to drain as much grease as possible before it soaks into the doughnut. 5. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and holes. The holes will cook more quickly than the doughnuts; about 30 seconds per side. 6. Allow doughnuts to slightly cool.

To Glaze 
1. Mix all glaze ingredients in a bowl until completely smooth.
2. One by one, dip doughnuts into the glaze until halfway submerged. (Note: completely submerge doughnut holes, then remove with slotted spoon.)
3. Remove from glaze, then turn right side up on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet (to catch dripping glaze.)
4. Serve warm if possible, or room temperature.

Using Cinnamon Sugar
1. Mix the granulated sugar with the cinnamon
2. Dip the freshly fried donuts/doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

-Aaron John


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