Monday, October 18, 2010

October 17, 2010

We met today at Teresa's. All were in attendance, except for the busy traveler, Janet. We missed Janet and look forward to seeing her in November at Carol's!

Appetizer (Mary): Quiche
Main Dish (Teresa): Swedish Meatballs
Side Dishes (Tonya, et., all): Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce
Bread (Tonya): Artisan Bread
Salad (Carol): Nicoise Salad variation with Vinaigrette
Dessert (Angie): Swedish Apple Cake

We started the evening off with Mary's quiche. The picture is horrible, so imagine cute, individual servings of delicious, crustless quiche with bacon (or ham?), onions and spinach. Very tasty. I have been craving quiche lately and made it two weeks ago, using all the vegetable left overs in my refrigerator. That is what quiches are best at: being very versatile and forgiving!

Keebler Club Crackers (used bread crumbs instead)
3/4 cup shredded cheese
6 slices bacon cooked crisp and then crumbled
1/2 cup thin sliced green onions
5 tsp all purpose flour
6 large eggs
2 cups half and half (can use fat free version)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 350. Butter ramekins (I just sprayed with butter flavored Pam). Sprinkle crumbs on bottom and sides. In bowl stir cheese, bacon, green onions, and flour. Spoon mixture in ramekins. Crack eggs in bowl, lightly beat. Whisk in half and half and salt and pepper. Pour in ramekins over cheese mixture. Place ramekins on baking sheet in oven. Bake 30 minutes or until set in centers. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around edges of ramekin. Invert on to individual plates. Garnish as desired. Makes 6 servings.

** I felt like the recipe needed some spinach so I wilted some in a hot skillet and added to bacon/cheese mixture.

Here is the lonely quiche we saved for Janet!

Carol brought a beautiful tray of vegetables (asparagus, radishes, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers and carrots) along with a bowl of butter lettuce for a "make it yourself" salad. To accompany the salad was a delicious vinaigrette.


Yields 4 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
6 tablespoons olive oil
To taste: Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the salad dressing, combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, and shallots in a medium mixing bowl. While whisking quickly, drizzle in the olive oil by drops to form vinaigrette.

Carol tripled the recipe and also used a food processor instead of whisking.

Tonya made a beautiful Artisan Bread (and video) that was so perfect looking that we all thought it was store bought. It was delicious! Crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. Tonya said it was very easy to make.

The one change she made was to let the shaped ball of dough rise on a sheet of parchment paper. Then after preheating the dutch oven, she picked up the corners of the paper and put the dough in the dutch oven, paper and all. The baker in the video picks up the dough and just sort of throws it in the hot dutch oven, but Tonya is convinced she would burn herself or drop the dough ... or both. Safety first!

Teresa's main dish pick of Swedish Meatballs came with recipes for two side dishes: pickled cucumbers and cranberry sauce, which are also incorporated into the meatball recipe. Below is the recipe for the cucumbers but we instead made Teresa's quick mid-western recipe for cucumbers. Instead of pickling liquid into the meatballs we used white wine.

Teresa's cucumbers were very good... the vinegar and milk make like a buttermilk and the cucumbers are tart and salty. Yum!

Pickled Cucumbers

1 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 cups sugar
1 bay leaf
2 allspice berries
1 English cucumber, sliced as thin as possible (Carol suggests scoring with a fork for a fancy look)

Bring 3 cups water, vermouth, sugar, bay leaf and berries to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove pan from heat and cool, about 30 minutes. Place cucumber slices in a large plastic container with a lid. Pour cooled pickling mixture over the slices, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid in a separate bowl for the meatballs. Place the drained cucumbers in a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Teresa’s Quick Pickled Cucumbers

Cucumbers, peeled and sliced (unless using English cucumber)

Mix milk, vinegar and salt to taste (should be tangy). Add sliced cucumbers and set aside until serving.

We all were skeptical of no-cook cranberry sauce and it turned out to be delicious! Unlike cooked sauce, you could really taste the berries and the texture was a little crunchy. It was very fresh tasting and wonderful. I think some orange zest would be nice and Carol thought adding some chopped celery, apples and nuts would make a nice salad.

Cranberry Sauce

8 oz (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen
¾ cup sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cranberries and sugar on low until the cranberry skins have burst and the sauce is slightly thick and syrupy, about 40 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Transfer ½ cup of the sauce to a separate bowl for the meatballs and set aside. Place the remaining cranberry sauce in a small serving bowl and set aside until ready to serve.

These were some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever had. The texture was so smooth and they were perfectly seasoned. I had never heard of using olive oil in mashed potatoes, but a quick Internet search shows many recipes for doing just that. These potatoes would dress up any meal.

Mashed Potatoes

8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Ground black pepper

Bring the potatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and enough water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until a paring knife slipped into the centers of the potatoes meets very little resistance, 15 to 20 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the potatoes are done, melt 2 tbs butter in a small heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan frequently until the butter turns light brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Combine the milk and cream in a medium, microwave proof bowl and microwave on low until warm to the touch, about 15 to 30 seconds. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes. Set a food mill or potato ricer over the now empty but still warm pan. Working in batches, drop the potatoes into the mill or ricer and process the potatoes into the pan. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the browned butter, remaining two tablespoons butter and olive oil until incorporated. Gently whisk in the milk mixture, add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.

These were very good meatballs. They were tender and flavorful. I think you should go ahead and cook all the way through in the skillet and then just warm in the sauce. With all the meat I would not want to depend on the sauce cooking the balls through.

Meatballs (with our modifications to the cooking method)

1 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 ½ cups dried bread crumbs (about 2 ½ ounces)
2 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
12 oz ground beef
12 oz ground veal
12 oz ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbs honey
Salt and ground pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan to cool. Set pan aside for cooking the meatballs.

Combine the bread crumbs and 1 ½ cups of the heavy cream in a medium bowl. Stir the mixture with a fork until smooth. Combine the beef, veal, pork, sauteed onions, eggs and honey in a large bowl. Add the bread crumb mixture, 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper to the meat mixture and mix until fully incorporated (suggest using your hands). Using a 1 ½ inch ice cream scoop, lightly shape about 1 ounce, or 3 tablespoons, of the meat mixture into round meatballs the size of a golf ball without compacting the meat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have about 36 meatballs (we had 3,000).

Cook meatballs in batches in the pan used to cook the onions (there should be enough oil remaining from the onions... if not add a bit... not necessary to have a lot if using a non-stick pan). Cook meatballs until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, turning as needed. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.

Pour off all fat from the skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add the chicken broth, remaining 1 cup of cream, reserved ½ cup cranberry sauce and reserved ¼ cup of pickling liquid. Simmer, scraping browned bits off the pan bottom, until the mixture thickens slightly and is reduced to 1 ½ cups, about 20 minutes. Return meatballs to the skillet and simmer until they are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve: place meatballs and sauce on top of the mashed potatoes and accompany with the pickled cucumbers and cranberry sauce.

Swedish Apple Cake (sockerkaka med applen)

The cake was very easy to make, using items I already had in the pantry. I ended up only using one apple because it covered the cake in a circular pattern. I realize now, I should have completely covered the cake and not been distracted by making a pretty pattern because when you add the remaining cinnamon sugar topping to the cake, you no longer could see the apples. Also, my sliver of cake only had one bite of apple. Next time I will use 2 apples and completely cover the cake. This tastes a lot like coffee cake and it is even better a day or two after making.

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