Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This flavor-packed weeknight dish was included in Milk Street Magazine’s “Tuesday Nights” series which features weeknight dishes with bold and fresh flavors. I have found that meatballs that incorporate a panade, hydrated breadcrumbs, are very tender- great.

The recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Calvin Cox. According to the original article, these Greek oblong shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. Traditionally, they are served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil). We ate them with crusty bread to sop up every bit of sauce. The dish could also be served with roasted potatoes or a rice or orzo pilaf.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 large garlic cloves, 2 finely gratedn(I used a garlic press), 1 thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and 1/2 cup water, then mix until homogeneous. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate. (This step is very important in order to create soft and tender meatballs.)
  2. Add the pork, cumin, the grated (or pressed) garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then mix well.
  3. Divide into 11 or 12 portions (each about a scant 1/4 cup), then shape each into a 2 1/2-inch-long cigar (oblong) shape.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. (Non-stick can be used; I used a 12-inch stainless all-in-one pan.)
  5. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  7. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  10. Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  11. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  12. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.

Brussels & Broccoli Agrodolce with Cranberries & Chilies

This is a simple and elegant vegetable side dish that I served as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. It was easy to prepare while the turkey was resting after being removed from the oven. The dried cranberries and fresh chilies added contrasting color and flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I substituted Shishito chilies for Fresno. I also modified the method. I wish that I had doubled the recipe! Next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (about 3 cups), halved lengthwise 
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 14 ounces) 
  • 5 T avocado oil or canola oil, divided 
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot 
  • 4 Shishito chiles or 1 medium-size fresh red Fresno chile (about 1/2 ounce), thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) honey 
  • 1 dried bay leaf 
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  1. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 on convection or to 450°F. Leave baking sheet in oven as it preheats. (I set my oven to convection roast.) 
  2. Place Brussels sprouts and broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with 4 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.
  3. Carefully remove hot baking sheet from oven.
  4. Add Brussels sprout mixture to baking sheet; spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and browned and broccoli tops are frizzled and almost burned, 15 to 18 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add shallot, Fresno chile, and coriander; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in vinegar, honey, bay leaf, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  9. Stir in cranberries; cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have plumped slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. 
  10. Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl; add cranberry mixture, and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Sparkling Nectarine & Honey Cocktail

This simple sparkling drink is a very light and refreshing end of summer cocktail. It can easily be diluted with club soda or seltzer, to taste.

The recipe was adapted from drinkoftheweek.com. I used a white nectarine and lemon seltzer instead of club soda. The original recipe also suggests using plums, peaches, cherries, or apricots instead of nectarines.

Yield: One drink

  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz honey syrup (half honey, half warm water)(I used Italian Melata di Bosca honey)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced, plus more for garnish
  • club soda or lemon seltzer
  • fresh mint, for garnish, optional
  1. Muddle the nectarine slices in the honey syrup.
  2. Add the vodka and lemon juice and stir.
  3. Top with ice and club soda or seltzer.
  4. Garnish with nectarine slices and/or mint, as desired.

Spicy Pork Kebabs with Fennel, Cumin & Red Onion

This is a full-flavored, weeknight summer dish. I served it with sautéed Napa cabbage, grilled radicchio, grilled fennel, and brown Basmati rice on the side. We squeezed fresh lime juice over the grilled meat, but next time I may also serve it with a garlicky lime-yogurt sauce.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used cubed pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder and modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder OR 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired (I used an unseeded Serrano chile)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
  1.  Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, chile and honey. Blend until the chile and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Sweet & Garlicky Pork Chops

These Thai-style pork chops were very juicy and flavorful. I used very thick pork chops but this garlic-packed marinade would also be great with pork tenderloin.

The recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I modified the grilling method. We ate it with special Aahu Barah Basmati rice and Ritzy Summer-Squash Casserole– a great combination.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings

  • 4 thick (1 to 2-inch) or 8 thin (1/2-inch) pork chops or pork tenderloin (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 5 T Asian fish sauce or soy sauce (or a combination)
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 T rice wine or sherry wine
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using thin pork chops, cut 1 or 2 cuts in the fat side of each pork chop to keep them from curling during grilling.
  2. Arrange the pork chops in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  3. Combine the garlic and sugar in the bowl of a mini food processor; process into a paste. (Alternatively, pound into a paste using a mortar and pestle.)
  4. Add the fish sauce, honey, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, salt, and pepper; process to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture over the pork chops. Spread to coat both sides.
  6. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. (I flipped the meat over after the first hour.)
  7. Preheat the grill to high on one side and low on the other.
  8. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate.
  9. Arrange the pork chops on the low heat side and cook for 5 to 10 minutes per side for thick chops (possibly half the time for thin), or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
  10. Move the pork chops to the high heat side and continue to cook until nicely browned on both sides, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
  11. Transfer the chops to a platter and serve immediately.

Honey Beer Bread

My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.

This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  3. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
  7. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.

Baker’s Banana-Nut Bread

Yes! Another sourdough recipe- all so good! I love that this recipe combines two of the most popular items to bake during this period of self-isolation- sourdough and banana bread. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour, added turbinado sugar to the topping, and baked the loaf in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I loved that this version included olive oil for moisture and honey for sweetness. Lovely.

We ate it as-is, but the original recipe recommends spreading full-fat Greek yogurt over the top of each slice.

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas (almost black and mushy)
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • turbinado sugar, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and a teaspoon or two of turbinado sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil.
  8. Add in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  10. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts or pecans and lemon zest.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped nuts and sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a Pullman loaf pan or 55-65 minutes in a standard loaf pan. (It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist.)
  14. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Note: This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss.

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