Sunday, August 14, 2011

Comfort Food

I hate this kind of question, but have you ever been asked what you would eat if you could only have one thing for the rest of your life? For me, there's no hesitation at all. I would totally choose spaghetti and meatballs. Wait, let me add to that - my mom's spaghetti and meatballs. No contest.

I'm a meatball snob. I don't like not knowing how they were prepared, so I rarely eat meatballs outside of my own home. Except, y'know, spaghettios with meatballs. Somehow, those are okay. But they're kind more like cat food than anything else, so they don't really go in the meatball category. Anyway...

I will reveal the family recipe here. It's powerful, so use it wisely. Like, to woo a date. Maybe with some focaccia too. No, wait, save the focaccia. Make straight up italian bread. The following recipe (yes, two recipes!) makes the most beautiful loaf of bread I have ever seen. Not kidding, it looked plastic it was so perfect. I don't care that it's August, make these now. And then report back to me and tell me how it went over.

Amazing Meatballs
(I'm going to assume you have a pot of sauce that's been cooking for a while. If you just want to eat sauce-less meatballs, that's okay too. Oh, also, this recipe makes like, 30 meatballs. So if you don't want that many, feel free to fiddle with the measurements.)

2 eggs
2 lbs ground beef
8 oz. box panko (or bread crumbs. Panko has less salt.)
2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp black pepper
1 cup milk
1/4 fresh, chopped parsley or 2 Tbsp dried
1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment or a silpat, set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs well. Add the ground beef, panko, garlic, pepper, parsley, salt, and cheese and mush together with your hands (yep. Best way to do it.). Add milk until desired consistency is reached, you need to be able to roll a golf ball sized piece without it falling apart. Roll into balls (mine were somewhere in between a golf ball and a tennis ball). It doesn't matter how close together they are. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Okay. If you are adding these directly to a premade sauce and eating immediately, you need to cook these longer, until the internal temp reaches 160 F, probably around 45 minutes. If you are letting these cook with your sauce for at least an hour, you should be fine taking them out at 20 minutes. I prefer this way, it makes the sauce more flavorful and your meat very tender.
Serve with spaghetti and fresh parmesan cheese.

Italian Bread


2 cups lukewarm water (~100°F)
1 package active dry yeast
5 to 5¾ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Stir the yeast into ½ cup of the warm water. Let proof as you measure out the dry ingredients.
Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture, remaining water and olive oil. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on lowest speed of electric mixer (stir setting on a KitchenAid) until a dough starts to form, adding more flour as needed. Knead on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and need by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
Remove the plastic wrap, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with tapered and rounded (not pointed) ends.
Preheat the oven lined with a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles to 425°F.
Place the dough on a baker’s peel heavily dusted with flour, or alternately on an inverted baking sheet. Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a floured canvas cloth, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash the dough lengthwise about 1/4-inch deep, keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle.
Spray the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place in the oven on the baking stone. Immediately close the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Open the oven door and spray the dough again with the water bottle. Close the oven door and bake for an additional 3 minutes before spraying the dough for a third time (the spraying of the dough will ensure a crisp golden brown crust).
Bake the dough for a total of 45 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.


  1. I don't think I could narrow it down to just one food...I fear my choice would be something sweet in nature though....ehehe.

    Excellent all looks so good.

  2. Thanks! Don't get me wrong, I love sugar, but I dunno if I could survive on it. I think I could go for a while on ice cream though <3

  3. I think I would pick rice and gandules... or pizza... is that cliche? :D

  4. Rice and what?? No, that's not cliche, cause you can do so many things with pizza!


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