Tag Archives: Lynda Balslev

Braised Lamb and Feta Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs tastefood

Moroccan lamb kefta meets smothered Italian meatball: Two of my favorite recipes are rolled into one fragrant, warming and satisfying dish. I took my go-to  lamb keftas and fluffed them up with breadcrumbs, egg and a nugget of feta nestled in the centers before browning them in a skillet. I then popped them into the oven to braise and finish cooking in a blanket of my roasted tomato-pepper sauce. Just like Italian meatballs marinara, these lamb meatballs are very comforting, and I dare say even more tasty with the addition of North African spices and heat.

Braised Lamb Meatballs with Feta
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds ground lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces feta, cut into (1 cm.) cubes

2 cups Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or mint leaves

1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the feta, in a bowl. Using your hands, gently mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
2. Shape the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls. Make a small indentation in the centers with your thumb and insert a feta cube, then close the meat around it. Place the meatballs on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, without overcrowding, and brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 5 minutes. (The meatballs will not be cooked through at this point. They will continue to cook in the sauce.) Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
4. Add the sauce to the skillet and cook briefly over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Return the meatballs to the skillet and nestle them in the sauce, turning to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked through, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, sprinkle the crumbled feta over the lamb.
5. Serve with couscous or rice and garnish with chopped mint or cilantro.

Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce tf

If you are like me and enjoy homemade tomato sauce year round, this recipe will do the trick. While summer tomatoes are ideal for any tomato sauce, you can still manage a decent sauce with your supermarket variety. Start by roasting the tomatoes to coax out and concentrate their flavor – and don’t hold back on the seasoning. In this recipe I roasted an armful of plum tomatoes and added a roasted red pepper for extra sweetness and bold color. If decent plum tomatoes are nowhere to be found (it is March, after all), you can make the sauce with the ubiquitous grape tomatoes readily found in most shops. The key is to taste, taste, taste. Add a spoonful of sugar for the extra sweetness you miss.  Crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper add dimension to the sauce with a nice kick. And don’t be bashful when it comes to the salt. Keep on tasting, then let the sauce rest for a few moments to allow the flavors to meld. You will be pleased with the results: This no nonsense, faux summer sauce is a bright and fresh condiment to splash on pasta, smear on pizza, or layer into gratins any time of year.

Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce

Grape tomatoes may be substituted for the plum tomatoes. Note that you will not be able to remove their skins, which will yield a more chunky sauce.

Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds plum (roma) tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, quartered
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush the tomatoes and peppers with oil and season with salt. Arrange in a rimmed baking pan, cut side down. Roast until  softened, beginning to shrivel and slightly golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch, then remove the skins. Combine the red bell pepper and tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent without coloring, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Green Garlic

green garlic veg soup

In this in-between time of winter and spring, a chicken vegetable soup is appropriately light and soothing. In this recipe, the comfort of chicken stock is enriched with carrots, fennel, and green garlic.  Green garlic is unique to spring. Resembling a thick scallion, the green stalk and bulb of young garlic is harvested before the plant matures and the bulb divides into cloves. In its raw state green garlic has a pungent aroma, yet when cooked it grows tame, providing a mild, sweet and herbaceous backdrop to the chicken stock.

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Green Garlic

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green garlic, white and pale green parts
Salt
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup orzo
2 heaping teaspoons fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the green garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until the garlic softens and its aroma loses its pungency, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and fennel and continue to sauté until the carrots brighten in color and the vegetables begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, orzo, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, until the orzo is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired. Stir in the chicken and parsley and continue to cook until the chicken is warmed through.

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraîche and Tarragon

This chilled soup is light and luscious. Each billowy spoonful is a harbinger of spring in both its simplicity and presentation. A sweet blend of English peas is balanced by the brightness of lemon and the tang of crème fraîche. The licorice notes of tarragon and slivers of peppery radish finish the soup, adding freshness and texture, not to mention a beautiful swath of pink to the emerald purée.

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraîche, Lemon and Tarragon

I prefer the savory flavor of the chicken stock in this recipe, but vegetable stock may also be used. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shelled English peas, about 2 pounds in the pod
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Fresh tarragon
Sliced radishes

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent without coloring, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
While the stock is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until vibrant and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water or shock in ice water to prevent further cooking.
Combine half of the cooled stock and the peas in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Add additional stock a little at a time and process to achieve desired consistency. (The soup should be a little thick and not too runny). Transfer to a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
Whisk the crème fraiche and lemon zest in a small bowl. Gently swirl the cream into the peas, leaving light traces of the cream visible. Carefully divide among serving bowls. Garnish with snipped tarragon leaves and sliced radishes.

Chocolate Stout Pound Cake 2.0

chocolate stout cake tastefood

I’ve had a recipe for Chocolate Stout Pound Cake on this blog for a few years, and this weekend, with St. Patrick’s Day looming, I decided to make it. As I read through the recipe, I found myself itching to make a few changes to the measurements and method. It’s not unusual for me to tweak a recipe – in fact I rarely follow one to a T.  It’s also interesting to see how recipes evolve with time. I find myself making small tweaks to older recipes when I haven’t made them in a while. So, I hereby present you with this newly minted and perfected 2015 version of Chocolate Stout Pound Cake. The recipe yields one hefty pound cake. While its size is generous, the crusty exterior yields to a moist, tender, and fine crumbed cake, subtly laced with stout and Guinness. Goodness knows why it took me so long to remake it. For an extra indulgence, serve it with the whiskey cream. The recipe for the cream is below, and I haven’t changed it one bit. (Some recipes should never be changed.)

Chocolate Stout Pound Cake
Makes one

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup stout beer
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a loaf pan, then line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust the pan with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.
2. Heat the butter and stout in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the dark chocolate and stir until smooth.
3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
4. Whisk the eggs and sour cream into the chocolate. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine without over-mixing.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it will be quite full). Place the pan on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the cake is set and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes clean, 55 to 65 minutes. (If the top is beginning to darken before the cake is completely baked, loosely cover with a piece of foil.)
6. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream.

Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Irish Whiskey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk are visible. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to whip until soft peaks form.

Rhubarb Cobblers

Cobbler Lynda Balslev

You’ve got to hand it to rhubarb. In the land of seemingly eternal winter, when spring is but a rumor, the dependable rhubarb plant will begin to sprout. It’s no wonder that rhubarb is a favorite in Scandinavia, where the winters are long and dark. By March, the weather may be bleak, but you can be sure that the rhubarb will shoot. Something about rhubarb’s tartness is fitting for the season. Not too sweet, but fresh and astringent, it’s like an early spring cleanse in the form of a plant.

Rhubarb Cobblers

Rhubarb and citrus muddle together in this bright cobbler crowned with a crumbly lemon-flecked dough. The bubbling filling can barely contain itself, and neither can we when this is served for dessert.

Serves 6

Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups diced rhubarb, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
2. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Place the remaining filling ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine. Spoon the filling into 6 individual ramekins or an 8-inch square baking dish.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add the egg, cream, and lemon zest  and pulse until the dough comes together.
4. Drop spoonfuls of the topping over the filling. Bake the cobblers in the oven until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes for the ramekins, and 45 to 50 minutes for the baking dish. Remove from the oven and cool.
4. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream. The flavors will develop as the cobbler cools.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

quinoa kale tabbouleh tastefood
Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

I call this salad tabbouleh, although most of the ingredients are not what you will find in a typical Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Tabbouleh traditionally consists of bulgur or couscous, chopped tomatoes, onions, and gads of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, and cilantro. While the grains are a main ingredient in tabbouleh, the salad is usually dominated by the fresh herbs, creating a hearty, satisfying, and decidedly fresh vegetarian meal or side dish.

This recipe switches out the bulgur for quinoa, which adds plenty of protein and a universally pleasing gluten-free option. In addition to handfuls of parsley and cilantro, I add a bunch of shredded tuscan kale – readily found in the markets during the winter. First I rub the kale with oil and lemon to slightly soften the sturdy leaves so that they yield more to the salad, while never becoming too soggy once folded into the salad.

For the vegetables I add poblano and jalapeño chile peppers for their heat and flavor in addition to red bell pepper for sweetness and color. This recipe can be prepared in advance and will remain fresh for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you prefer, add the chopped herbs slightly before serving to prevent wilting.

The key to making this salad is to taste as you build it. There should be a balance of citrus, fragrance, heat, and spice – as well as a balance of textures. Quinoa requires a good deal of seasoning for good flavor, so season the quinoa before adding it to the salad. You will also find that the flavors of the tabbouleh will meld the longer is sits in the refrigerator, so taste again before serving.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Kale:
1 bunch tuscan kale (6 to 8 leaves)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Salad: 
6 to 8 thin scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large poblano chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve under cold running water for 30 seconds, then drain. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the quinoa is tender and releases its germ (the white tail), about 20 minutes. Drain the quinoa and transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cool to room temperature.

Remove the stems and tough ribs from the kale leaves. Roll up the leaves and thinly slice in chiffonade (narrow ribbons). Place the kale in a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Toss with your hands, while rubbing the oil and lemon into the leaves, for about 15 seconds.

Combine the quinoa, kale, peppers, and garlic in a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the parsley and cilantro. Stir well to thoroughly coat the ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Fold in the parsley and cilantro and taste for seasoning again., If desired, add more oil or lemon juice if the tabbouleh is too dry. Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

Havarti Cheese Fonduta

PARTNER POST – Get creative with any of Castello’s uniquely crafted cheeses. Click here for a $1 off coupon to create your own gourmet masterpiece.

Castello Fonduta TasteFoodRoasted Potatoes and Broccolini with Havarti Cheese Fonduta

No, this is not about fondue…or not quite. Fonduta, is an Italian specialty hailing from the Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta regions. Like its French and Swiss alpine cousins, fonduta consists of melted cheese. Where it differs is in its preparation. While fondue is made in a pot with wine and simmered table-side over a flame, requiring constant stirring to prevent curdling, fonduta is a melty blend of cheese, milk, and often egg yolk, with a creamy yet stable consistency, allowing for more versatility, such as dipping or pouring.

Fonduta CruditeVegetable Cruditées with Havarti Cheese Fonduta

This recipe is an easy variation of fonduta, which takes advantage of the robust flavors of Castello’s Wild Garlic Havarti. The egg is omitted and the milk is partly replaced with cream, creating a rich canvas to allow the cheese to shine through. Served warm on a plate with roasted vegetables, it provides a comforting “soup” or drizzle. Served warm in a cup, it’s a lovely complement to crisp fresh cruditées.

Havarti Cheese Fonduta
Makes about 1/2 cup

4 ounces melting cheese, such as Castello Wild Garlic Havarti, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, toss the cheese and cornstarch to coat. Heat the cream and milk in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheese in 2 batches, stirring constantly to melt the cheese before adding the next batch. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat. Season with black pepper. Serve immediately as a bed for hearty roasted vegetables or with cruditées for dipping.

PARTNER POST – Get creative with any of Castello’s uniquely crafted cheeses. Click here for a $1 off coupon to create your own gourmet masterpiece.

Winter Root Soup with Celeriac and Parsnip

winter root soup

This rich and velvety soup will have you guessing it’s laden with cream. Well, guess again. A thick puree of celeriac (celery root) and parsnip is evened out with milk and chicken stock, providing a light and smooth yet surprisingly rich soup.  If you haven’t tried celeriac, it’s time you did. Don’t let its gnarly exterior dissuade you – the inner meat is nutty with mild celery notes. When cooked, its flavor is mellow and sublime, which provides a nice balance to the sweet and earthy parsnip. Thyme and garlic round out the flavors of this slurp-worthy bowl of soup which promises to keep you warm and sated in the cold weather.

Parsnip and Celery Root Soup
Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 pound parnsips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound celery root, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup whole milk plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the parsnips, celery root, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Carefully transfer the soup to a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more milk to your desired consistency. Gently heat over medium-low heat until hot and taste for seasoning. Serve hot.

Lime Marinated Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean Salsa and Spicy Rice

Lime shrimp tostadas

This post is tricky. For my East coast readers, I want to offer you a rich and meaty stew, guaranteed to bring warmth and comfort amidst teetering snowdrifts. For my West coast friends, I am tempted to make happy south-of-the-border food in honor of the ridiculous summer weather outside. So here is a compromise: These tostadas are warming and bright, satisfying and fresh. They go equally well in front of a crackling fire with a bracing shot of tequila, or eaten grill-side with a festive shot of tequila. Each of the components are stand-alone good, and when heaped onto a crispy corn tostada shell, it’s a winter (or summer) party on a plate.

Lime Marinated Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean Salsa and Spicy Rice

Serves 4 to 6

For the black bean salsa:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn kernels from one ear of corn (or 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful cilantro sprigs, chopped

For the rice:
1 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cayenne
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1 teaspoon salt

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

Tostada shells
Lettuce leaves
Tomato salsa or hot sauce
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine all of the salsa ingredients, except the cilantro, in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Before serving, add the cilantro.

2. Prepare the rice: Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and cayenne and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring, to lightly toast and thoroughly coat, about 1 minute. Add the stock and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.

3. Prepare the shrimp. Whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium high heat (or prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat). Remove the shrimp from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid, and transfer to the skillet 0r grill. Cook the shrimp until pink on both sides and just cooked through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

5. To assemble the tostadas, lay a lettuce leaf over a tostada (corn) shell. Spoon some of the rice over the lettuce, then some of the black bean salsa over the rice. Top with 2 to 3 shrimp. Drizzle with a little tomato salsa or hot sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime. Serve immediately.