Next week we’ll be celebrating Ireland’s patron saint by the wearing of the green, the drinking of the green beer and in this case, the eating of the green! I wonder if St. Patrick would love this incredible spinach dip which is, in itself, a celebration of flavors! This recipe, with its ring of bread rolls around the edges and a yummy dip in the middle is made easy by buying frozen dinner rolls rather than making the bread from scratch. Once baked, the bread easily pulls part to be dipped and dunked into a delectable blend of spinach, cheeses and spices. No Irish luck needed here. Just a straight -forward recipe that will most certainly get your St. Patty’s Day Irish on!
Meatloaf with Sweet & Savory Sauce
I’ve never been a picky eater. But meatloaf was not one of my favorites, even though the dish has withstood the test of time as a favorite comfort food. Well, what a difference one recipe can make! I went from never giving meatloaf a second thought to maybe thinking about it a little too much. These days I can’t get enough of this special recipe that makes meatloaf so very flavorful and moist. What secrets does this variation hold? There are several. First, the two cups of whole milk that the breadcrumbs happily soak in. That alone gives the meatloaf a rich and ultra moist texture. Second, sautéing the sweet yellow onion adds to the moisture plus gives the loaf a slight natural sweetness. Then the sauce that gets brushed over the top before baking gives this meatloaf a hint of spice, a bit of heat from the dry mustard and sweetness from the brown sugar. All in all, this is a wonderful meal for the family, especially when paired with mashed potatoes, gnocchi, pasta or just some charred crusty French bread. This quote from Bon Appetite magazine summed up meatloaf the best: “Meatloaf in its many iterations and guises was often a sort of culinary scrap heap, a refuge for leftovers, in the spirit of many casseroles and of shepherd’s pie. It was a way to stretch protein. It was a way to use up excess vegetables. It was a ragtag orchestra of ingredients on the verge of expiration. And it made music more uplifting than anyone could have anticipated.” This recipe is definitely music to my ears and a brand new one woman fan favorite!
Greek Meatballs “Soutzoukakia”
Growing up Italian, homemade meatballs were a dinner staple enjoyed over pasta, in a sub roll or as savory appetizers before the main meal. But last week, while teaching a cooking class on Greek foods, I had to set my Italian roots aside and absolutely drool over Greek Meatballs known as Soutzoukakia. These morsels of magic have a wonderful combination of spices like cumin, cinnamon and oregano with a red sauce that completely enrobes them with even more flavor! Greek Meatballs are delicious with seasoned Orzo, rice or, dare I say, on a bed of Italian pasta?
Zucchini Balls with Dipping Sauce
We are right in the middle of Greek Carnival Season known as Apokries. Greek street foods are, of course, a big part of the celebrations. So this week I wanted to feature one of my favorite Greek appetizers, Kolokithokeftedes. Ok, that may seem Greek to you, but really, they are just delicious deep fried zucchini balls paired here with a fantastic dipping sauce, and pronouncing the word correctly is not part of the recipe, so don’t worry about a thing! (For the record, it’s pronounced Kolo-Keetho- Kef-ted-es.) You’ll love the crunch and the fabulous flavor combination of zucchini, cheese, onion, garlic and a hint of white truffle oil, made even more delicious by dipping them in a zesty red sauce. There’s only one more thing to say about this delightful Mediterranean treat, “Nostimótatos!” ( Delicious!)
Looking back, I feel so guilty. It was the late 60’s. I was in my teens–the years my Mom referred to as “my little hippy daughter’s crazy time.” For some reason I became obsessed with making homemade bread and culturing my own yogurt for the family. I made a loaf of fresh bread every single day and drove my family absolutely nuts in the process. I was convinced that if someone shut a door too forcefully or raised their voice too loudly while the bread was still in the oven, it could cause the bread to fall. That poor family. For one hour every single day, they had to tip-toe around and whisper until my loaf came out safe and sound. For some reason, they put up with it, and I don’t think the bread was even that good. That was just bread. Can you imagine what a mess I would have been had I obsessed over soufflé instead? Ah, soufflé. Whether savory or sweet, it’s one of those things that people tend to fret over. Will it puff up? Will it fall? Where did I go wrong? So when I came across a very old soufflé recipe in a school fundraising cookbook, I almost passed on it. But that would have been a huge mistake. This recipe for Broccoli Soufflé is about as delicious and fool-proof as it gets, and is now one of my very favorite veggie dishes. Interestingly, the recipe calls for heating the milk and adding chicken bouillon to it, which I had never heard of before. It added so much flavor to the dish that I wish I would have known about that technique years ago! Somebody knew what they were doing with this Broccoli Soufflé and I’ll bet they didn’t even drive their family crazy in the process.
Chilled Southwestern Veggie Medley
Picnics, parties, salads and sides. If you’re looking for a new dish that fits in all of those categories, this Chilled Southwestern Veggie Medley is the answer! This tasty, colorful plate of veggies is loaded with Southwest flavors and lots of crunch. It’s perfect for a make-ahead dish, it transports beautifully and couldn’t be easier to make. What makes the flavor? Fresh ears of corn that are grilled in a skillet or on the BBQ, then sliced into niblets of charred goodness. Charring the red peppers before dicing them also adds a great taste. Also, I’ve always cooked with shallots, but these days I’m realizing how much they bring to a dish. (They may be one of the most misunderstood vegetables out there—do they replace onions? Garlic? Can they be used with onions and garlic?) While some folks replace onions with shallots, a shallot has its own flavor profile, and can add so much to a dish! (Try slicing them very thin and frying them to a deep golden brown, then sprinkle them over a salad or potato dish. Wow!! Over the top goodness!) The flavors of the Southwest permeate this salad with the addition of black beans, jicama, avocados and cilantro. The dressing is lively, with the perfect combination of lime juice and zest, Dijon Mustard and a little sweetness to cut the tang. Over all, it’s a great main meal salad for the vegetarian, a tasty side for your grilled burger lover or just spooned into little tortilla cups for a terrific appetizer! Tortilla cups are simple. Just cut 2-3 inch circles out of flour tortillas, tuck them into a greased cupcake tin and bake for about 15 minutes. Done! I love recipes that give you all the flavor and nutrition you need and are pretty darn effortless to create! Here’s to another hat tip to our wonderful flavors of the Southwest!