Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Creamy Pappardelle with Chicken & Bacon

This quick comfort food dish uses store-bought rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. I loved the freshness and pop of color from the fresh herbs and the minced carrot.

The recipe was adapted from Antoni Let’s Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye. My daughter and I are big Antoni fans! 🙂 I modified the proportions. Next time I would reduce the amount of chicken meat- just personal preference.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt
  • 8 oz bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz pappardelle (I used two 227 g packages)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, at room temperature (I used 6 cups but would reduce the amount next time)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sauce or a wide heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through with crispy edges, about 5 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, add the pappardelle and carrots to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce with 3/4 cups of the pasta water, the chicken, and the reserved bacon. Toss to combine.
  9. Add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if desired.
  10. Top with cheese, parsley, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Irish Ale Bread with Caraway & Herbs

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Other than wearing green, we typically celebrate the holiday by having a festive meal. 🙂

This year, instead of making a new soda bread, I made this Irish version of beer bread. I loved the caraway seeds (which I also love in soda bread) and the flecks of green from the fresh herbs in the dough.

We ate it for dinner with shepherd’s chicken pot pie, roasted asparagus, and green salad. It would also be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional celebratory corned beef and cabbage meal.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the baking time to bake the loaf in a pullman loaf pan in a convection oven. The bread was delicious with and without salted butter.

Yield: one Pullman loaf or one 9-inch loaf

  • 260 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 T honey
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 12 ounce bottle or can Irish lager, such as Harp
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Mist a Pullman loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, caraway, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the dill and chives, then toss well.
  5. Drizzle in the honey and 4 tablespoons of melted butter, then add the beer and whisk gently just until evenly moistened; do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 25 minutes in a Pullman pan on convection, or up to 40 to 45 minutes in a 9-inch pan in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: Don’t slice the bread while it’s warm. Like all quick breads, this loaf slices more easily and cleanly at room temperature. Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

Coffee Blondies

When an amazing baker like Sarah Kieffer says that she’s been making these blondies for almost two decades, I had to try them. Right? They did not disappoint.

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. I used espresso, fine sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. We ate them with and without (caramel) ice cream. 🙂

Yield: one 9×13-inch pan of blondies (about 12 large or 24 small)

  • 213 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 297 g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T strong coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 86 g (3/4 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 128 g (3/4 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I used 72% dark chocolate chips)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on 2 sides. (I clip the overhang with binder clips to keep it in place.)
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture come to room temperature. (I transferred it to a large bowl to expedite the process at this point.)
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if you haven’t already).
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently until incorporated.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into squares.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

Buttery Pear Dutch Baby

This beautiful Dutch Baby was extra special for my pear-loving family. Including pears made it taste similar to a clafoutis. I served it dusted with powdered sugar but others drizzled it with maple syrup as well. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I used sea salt and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose. Easy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4 (one 10-inch Dutch Baby)

  • 1 cup (120g) whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 T (57g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 large pear, optional, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used an Anjou)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • pure maple syrup, for serving, optional
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla until incorporated.
  4. Whisk one-third of the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly add the remaining wet ingredients, whisking until smooth.
  5. Place the butter into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put it in the oven to preheat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the butter melts and starts to sizzle in the pan.
  6. Using an oven mitt, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. If using pear slices, sauté in the hot butter for 1 minute.
  7. Pour the batter in and immediately return the skillet to the oven.
  8. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and crisp and the pancake has risen and puffed. (I baked mine for 18 minutes on convection.)
  9. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup, if desired.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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