Saturday, October 30, 2010

LA is my lady

Last week, I had the sheer pleasure of flying (by myself) to Los Angeles. It was part business, part pleasure and all around pretty great. LA can get a bad rap- and not the kind with a human beat box- but I love a city whose nail salons have a 20 minute wait during the work day and where palm trees grow in the ghetto. Add that to the fact that many of my best girlfriends are there, that Barney's co-op and Target are within a one mile radius and that no one under two feet tall wanted to suckle on my breast and you've got a recipe for a Mommy week in paradise.

LA has also upped it's food game. A friend told me about bld's lamb-burger. I dreamt about it for three days before finally sinking my teeth in to one. And it did not disappoint. Every day since, I then dreamt about how I could get my next fix.

With the re-opening of Off Vine, me and my friends gathered for a great meal and ordered the pumpkin souffle with our appetizers so as not to wait (though it is worth the 30 minutes).

And leave it to Mario Batali to smuggle in burrata from Puglia. If you've never had this 'taller, smarter and more beautiful' cousin to buffalo mozzarella, stop by Mozza.
If you can't get a table, sit at the bar.

 My only complaint for the week: I spent approximately $57 dollars on coffee drinks. Let's just say I kept up this daily coffee habit for a month. My tab would be a whopping $228. For coffee. How many "Save the Children" children could be saved with that kind of cash? Or a better question (and less altuistic) ... how can I get me a coffee franchise?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meatless balls gone bad

I make a mean meatball,  but recently I came across a melanzane ball recipe. Or eggplant. I am always down for disguising veggies for my kids and I am mad about melanzane myself. So I tried it. And it didn't go well. So I tried it again.

The original recipe called for a traditional red sauce. But here's the thing... eggplant isn't pork or beef. So it doesn't adhere they way real meatballs do (I also got this on good authority from several Italian women who have been cooking for a combined 150 years).  What I got was a saucepan full of broken up (albeit tasty) meatless polygons. I came up with an alternative cooking mode- and it wasn't half bad!

5 long skinny eggplant or 2 rotund (1lb cooked)
fistful of pecorino
fistful of parm
2 eggs
1 c milk
three slices of bread
mint or basil
liter of tomato puree

Peel (or not- depending on your taste) and cube the eggplant in to small pieces. Boil in salted water for approx 5 minutes.
Soak three pieces of bread in milk.
Drain and SQUEEZE all water out of the eggplant. Let eggplant cool. Squeeze water out again, making the mixture as dry as possible. Squeeze excess milk out of bread and break up into crumbs, combining with eggplant. Add pecorino, parmesan, salt, pepper and mint or basil (to taste). Add eggs and mix together. Add breadcrumbs IF NEEDED to make the consistency of the  mixture more solid. Roll in to balls and roll in breadcrumbs.

At this point, the original recipe called for dropping the balls in to the puree and braising . And you can do this- just know it is going to look like glop: 

I also pan fried them- they turned out beautifully but if you ask me they are more like fritters than balls. I served them with chopped tomatoes (cultivated near Mt. Vesuvius) and sweet red onions (from Tropea in Calabria). They were tasty and would be great for a party as they are a good hand held snack that will also keep at room temperature.

And for all you purists.... here is the recipe for the real thing:
1lb ground meat (I have the butcher grind beef and pork)
2 eggs
150 g or 5 oz fresh bread crumbs**
handful of parmasan and pecorino
sea salt
liter of tomato puree

** grind up fresh bread with a food processor or blender OR you can soak the bread in milk and break it up by hand.

Mix, meat, bread crumbs, eggs, grated cheeses, salt, pepper, parsley (to taste). Let sit in fridge for one hour. 

Add oil and garlic to your pan- heat. Add Tomato puree. Salt.
Roll matballs and drop in to saucepan. Cook on low to medium heat for approx 30 covered. And stir occasionally.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Parental Guidance (not necessarily) Suggested

Check out my latest parenting article in The American Magazine. FYI- I have been writing for them for about three years. When the editor gave me a "Parenting Column," my younger sister was concerned saying, "You aren't an expert on parenting. Actually, you have no idea what you are doing!"
She was right  and probably still is.
Stay tuned for this week's recipes- meatballs AND meatless melanzane balls.