Veal Marsala Meatballs and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

Veal Marsala Meatballs atop Tomato Basil Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

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I love to find things on sale, especially things that would usually be expensive, like ground veal.

I love cream. Why do I love cream? I love cream because you only need a little, and it stays fresh in the refrigerator for quite a long time. I also like it for those occasions when I have run out of milk for my coffee. I prefer milk.

That’s what happened to me this morning, I ran out of milk last night, and not wanting to the store unwashed, I used a little cream in my coffee. I’ve had that cream in my house for quite a while, and I knew today was the very last day to use it.

When we were at the supermarket today, someone was buying red sauce for spaghetti. That almost sounded good, but I wanted to use up what I had in my refrigerator. No problem, I thought, I can make spaghetti and meatballs, but use the veal, and make the sauce with the cream.

Veal has very little fat, so these meatballs are a good choice for those watching their weight. Omitting the cream makes the sauce another good low calorie choice. If you have vegetarian friends, serve the meatballs separately.

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Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla Carbonara

Last night was Spane’s Chorus performance at John Muir Elementary School. Spane has been in the chorus since first grade, and he really likes it. He’s in the third grade now. It brought tears to my eyes seeing those children all dressed up in their best white shirts and black bottoms, most with red Santa Claus hats. The kids were just wonderful, lead by the talented chorus directory, Mrs. Melano. Those children worked very hard practicing and they did a really good job.

When we got home, I wanted to make something was easy, but a little celebratory. Spane has always liked Pasta alla Carbonara – it’s easy and flavorful.

I’m very grateful to the U.S. troops who brought bacon and eggs to Italy in the Second World War. Some Italian cook got the idea to combine the two and put them over pasta. We’ll never know the true origin of the dish, except that it does not appear in any cookbooks until after World War II.

The funny thing is, even though this is a quick dish to make, Spane had fallen asleep by the time it was finished. He was really tired. I had a little, and we wound up eating the rest for breakfast. Hey, bacon and eggs, right?

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Mexican Feast – Coleslaw, Black Bean Dip and Taquitos with White Sauce

Mexican Feast

Mexican Feast

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This afternoon when I was at the local store, I had a taste for Mexican food. I already had frozen taquitos in my freezer (I’m too lazy to make them myself), so all I needed was avocado. Well, surprise, surprise my little store didn’t have any, so I decided to make the white sauce similar to the fish taco white sauce at Rubio’s.

I also had some cabbage in the refrigerator. I love cabbage and it’s very good with Mexican food. I picked up a can of black beans so I could make the same black bean dip I used for my Black Bean Tacos.

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New School Hamburger Gravy

When I was in grammar school at Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood, California, about once every two weeks we had Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes.  I really loved that dish, it was my favorite.  All the other stuff was pretty bland, and actually kind of nasty, especially the paper thin cheeseburgers.  For years and years, I have been trying to replicate the special taste of that gravy, and have been pretty much successful.

Years ago, when I first met Chef John Farion, he treated some friends and I to dinner at another chef’s restaurant on Melrose .  I ordered the filet mignon with blue cheese sauce.  It was truly fantastic, and I have been pairing blue cheese with beef ever since.  I guess I’m not the only one, even Carl’s Jr. now has a steakhouse burger featuring blue cheese.

I get my blue cheese at the Armenian stores, for several reasons, 1) because the cheese is of a superior quality, 2) because it is much less expensive than the major chain supermarkets, and better quality.  I just bought a half a pound brick a few days ago, and it was sitting in the cheese drawer waiting to be the star of some dish.

I had an epiphany!  Why not make hamburger gravy and add blue cheese at the end?  I tried it, and it was, well, fantastic!  This was much, much better than the gravy I had had when I was a child.  Now, just because Spane gave it a big thumbs up, I can’t guarantee that every child will like it as much as we did.

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Shrimp Stuffed Wontons

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I Love Shrimp!

I wanted to make wontons for dinner tonight and stuff them with cream cheese and jalapeño, like I did with the Pope’s Hats. Since they have no meat, they are perfect for Fridays. But, on my way home from dropping Spane off at school, I stopped in at the local Hispanic market, where they had some lovely raw shrimp. So, I got some of that, and when to the local Armenian store to buy fresh cilantro, and fresh spring onions.

When I was a little girl, I had a severe allergic reaction to something, and I was tested and no one could figure out what it was. When I was in my twenties, I went to Encinada, Mexico and I again had a severe allergic reaction. Finally, a few years after that, I had one more allergic reaction. I thought about it, and realized that every time I had had a severe allergic reaction, I had eaten shrimp. But, I had been eating shrimp all my life, what was so different about those times? Then I realized each time that the sand vein had not been completely cleaned – I had eaten some of the sand vein. What is the sand vein in a shrimp? It’s their digestive tract, in other words, that’s where their poop is. There is also the “blood vein” (a euphemism for the ventral nerve cord) along the inner curve of the shrimp’s body that also has some nasty black stuff. I finally figured out after all those years that I was not allergic to shrimp itself, I was allergic to the sand vein, or to be more precise, the poop. I’m pretty much convinced that people who are allergic to shrimp are allergic to shrimp poop, not the shrimp itself, just like I am.

Why am I telling you all this? I am telling you this because, even if you are not allergic to shrimp poop like I am, there is still no excuse to leave the nasty digestive insides of shrimp intact. It may take a few seconds to clean, but it is well worth the effort, now that you know what that dark stuff is.

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The Maze of Mayonnaise

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise

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Ambrose Bierce’s definition of mayo from his 1906 Devil’s Dictionary:

One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

It is said,

“It is highly probable that wherever olive oil existed, a simple preparation of oil and egg came about – particularly in the Mediterranean region, where aioli (oil and garlic) is made.”
M. Trutter et al., Culinaria Spain p. 68 (H.F. Ullmann 2008)

Let’s put to rest the group fantasy that mayo is “salmonella pudding,” Mayo has a high acid content that prevents bacterial growth. Mayo will spoil only if you mix it in already spoiled food.

If you are afraid of tainted maise you make yourself, start with pasteurized eggs.

For a different variation, try Japanese Style Mayo: “Japanese mayonnaise is typically made with apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar and a small amount of MSG, which gives it a different flavor from mayonnaise made from distilled vinegar. It is most often sold in soft plastic squeeze bottles. Its texture is thinner than most Western commercial mayonnaise. A variety containing karashi (Japanese mustard) is also common.”

As for the mayo on the wall…that’s a different story. 🙂

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