Kid-Friendly Food: Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

I don’t know what it is about meatballs, but they seem to be the “it” food these days. I’ve seen recipes for meatball sliders teased on the cover of glossy food magazines and every Food Network personality seems to have a variation; Giada De Laurentis makes Mini Meatball Subs, Rachael Ray has her Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs, and Mario Batali, maybe most tempting of all, has a recipe for Lemon-Scented Meatballs.

Mario’s seem most like the meatballs I grew up eating, the Italian-style ones my mother would make for our Sunday gravy, with the exception that she used beef rather than veal – they were big, tender and simply seasoned with garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese. I still haven’t nailed down her recipe (she never wrote it down, it seems), but these might come close.

I’ve been playing with the traditional Italian meatball ingredients; switching them out for Asian and Latin flavors. After all, every ethnic cuisine includes seasoned meat rolled into balls.

Even better, meatballs couldn’t be more family-friendly; I like to make a big batch and freeze some for a quick and healthy “emergency” meal, served with brown rice and sauteed spinach.

I use ground turkey thigh in this recipe, it’s a lower-fat alternative to beef and the dark meat produces a juicy meatball.

Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl; soak 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, onions, cilantro, garlic, egg, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Add breadcrumb mixture and mix until combined; form 1 1/2-inch diameter meatballs.

Heat the oil a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Arrange meatballs in pan and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

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Copyright (c) 2008 FamilyStyle Food

Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Whoppers

My favorite cookie is a Whopper


A long while ago, I lived in Miami and spent a few years working at a wine store; tasting, spitting, not spitting (a job perk), unloading cases of wine and every once in a while selling wine to customers.

One of my clients was none other than Maida Heatter, renowned cookbook writer and baker. She lived (and probably still does) in Miami Beach and would come in periodically to stock up on wine and gourmet goodies. She had a sweetly disarming way about her; she’d usually bring in some of her cellophane-wrapped homemade cookies for us to sample.

When we’d swoon with delight and thank her profusely she’d yell, “Honey, I can’t hear you, I’m deaf as a post. Now where’s that chardonnay I bought last time?”

I hope that she’s been outfitted with one of those high-tech hearing aids these days, because if she were listening I’d tell her, loudly, about how I’ve been collecting her cookbooks and using her delicious, never-fail recipes for cookies and sweets for years and years now. I just love her.

In fact, my most favorite cookie is Maida’s Chocolate Whopper, a big, fat, brownie-like confection with a crisp, shiny top and a moist, dark and nutty chocolate interior worthy of the word “devilish”.

They come together in minutes, and all you need to do is drop blobs of the batter onto baking sheets.

You will be very popular if you make these and then give them to people. Just keep a few for yourself, too.

Check out everything Maida at Squidoo Food, Anna’s Whoppers at Cookie Madness, and Mondays with Maida over at My Little Kitchen.

Chocolate Whoppers

Makes about 15 large cookies

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup walnut halves, broken into large pieces (or use all pecans; I do because I’m not a walnut fan)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until gently until just melted.

Whisk the flour in a small bowl with salt and baking powder. Beat the eggs, sugar, espresso and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Mix in the chocolate mixture until just blended. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Use a 1/3-cup measure to form the dough and drop onto baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake 17 minutes on the upper and middle racks, or until the tops are dry and shiny, shifting the sheets halfway through baking. Slide the parchment with cookies onto wire racks to cool completely.

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Perfect Roast Chicken

Crisp, golden, juicy roast chicken – it’s really good


We’re just back from our rear end-numbing road trip to Maine, and as good as it was to get outta town, arriving home feels like work. There’s more laundry and unpacking to do, along with grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen, since no matter how much I try to clean out the fridge before a vacation, I’m always greeted on my return by some forgotten container of leftovers and yogurt with green hair growing out of it.

A simple meal like roast chicken is so easy and comforting when the cupboard is bare. All you need – besides the chicken of course – are basic seasonings, a hot oven or, if the weather is nice, an outdoor grill.

I don’t know why, but the thought of cooking a whole chicken (yes, with the bones!) can seem daunting to some cooks. For instance, my mother hardly ever served roasted chicken when I was growing up – instead, it was saved for special occasions at a restaurant.

And I know how convenient it’d be to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but I have a problem with those; by the time you get it home, the chicken has been stewing under a heat lamp for hours; dried out and overcooked.

I’ve been making a version of this chicken recipe for years now. Sometimes we roast it on the grill, which produces an even better chicken with crisp, golden skin and a delicious smoky aroma. The method is from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a cookbook I consider an absolute necessity in the kitchen.

This is also a great way to make use of any leftovers the next day. Make a chicken taco with some shredded chicken, or pile chunks on some crusty bread and make a panini with basil, goat cheese and slow roasted tomatoes.

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 3 1/2 – 4 pound chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 small lemon
Optional seasonings, depending on what you have on hand:
A handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley
One or two garlic cloves

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the chicken in a shallow roasting pan or casserole and pat the skin dry with paper towels.

Mix together the salt and pepper in a small dish; season the chicken on all sides, rubbing over the skin into the cavity.

Poke about a dozen holes in the lemon with a fork or a skewer and place in the cavity. Tuck the herbs and/or garlic in with the lemon, if using, and tie the legs together with a 12-inch-long piece of kitchen twine.

Arrange the chicken breast side down and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and roast an additional 30 minutes.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the skin is golden and juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork.

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing or carving. Save the juices that run out and serve with the chicken.

To roast in an outdoor grill, prepare grill for indirect cooking and heat to medium-high. Place chicken breast down directly on the grill rack and cook as described above.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food