Archive | April, 2012

Grilled Meatball Sandwich with Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce

29 Apr

It has been relatively chilly for late April, especially following a week or two of eighty-degree weather in March.  Oh, the vagaries of Cleveland weather.  So when it warmed up into the low sixties with sunny skies the other day, I decided I wanted to do some BBQ.

This grilled meatball sandwich is absolutely delicious.  So much so that I didn’t even bother to repurpose the leftovers the next day – I simply warmed them up and ate the exact same thing again.  The rich, smokey, beefy flavor of the meatball is offset by the bright, tangy taste of the roasted-tomatillo parsley sauce.  Ensconced in some lightly grilled ciabatta, this makes for a real home run.  I love the crispy edges of the grilled meatballs, balanced nicely with the moist, creamy interior.

The sauce is also particularly lovely with either salmon or eggs, if you have a little bit leftover (which I did).  It’s also nice on a bit of toast, so make extra if you love bright, tangy tomatillos and the herbaceous flavor of parsley.

Grilled Meatball Sandwich with Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce

Grilled Meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef (I used local, grass-fed, free range)

1 large egg

1 slice whole wheat bread, pulsed in a food processor until coarse crumbs

2 slices whole wheat bread, soaked in 1/4 cup milk, squeezed dry, and torn into small pieces

2 tbs. dried parsley flakes

1 tbs. paprika

1 tbs. garlic powder

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat your grill and spray your grill grate with nonstick cooking spray, spreading charcoal into a single layer (if using).

Using hands, mix together all ingredients thoroughly.  Form into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter.  It will yield about a dozen meatballs.  Place on skewers.

Add skewers to the grill.  Grill about 8 minutes per side, being sure not to attempt to move them for at least a couple of minutes (otherwise, they will stick).

The internal temperature of the meatballs should be about 160º.  Remove the meatballs from the grill slightly before reaching that temperature (or desired temperature), because the meat will cook while it rests.

Let rest 2-3 minutes and then assemble sandwich (see below).

 Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce:

3 small tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, halved

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

2 cups fresh parsley

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 tbs. red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add tomatillos, cut side down, to preheated grill.  Cook 8-10 minutes until very soft and charred.  Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes.

Add tomatillos, garlic, parsley, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped.  With food processor running, slowly add olive oil until well incorporated.

Assemble sandwich (see below).


Grilled Meatballs (see above)

Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce (see above)

2 rosemary ciabatta rolls (or store bought rolls of choice), toasted on grill if desired

Cut roll lengthwise, nearly in half.  Spread a few tablespoons of the roasted tomatillo parsley sauce on each half of the bread.  Add 2-3 meatballs and drizzle a tablespoon or two of sauce over top.  Serve immediately.

Kimchi and Egg Grilled Cheese

26 Apr

On Wednesdays and Fridays during the school year, I work from 8:30 to 12:30 downtown.  Because I am a dummy, I consistently do not eat breakfast before I go in.  So, by the time I get home slightly after one in the afternoon, I am ravenous.  Sometimes I spend half of the morning with my mind wandering, thinking about what I could make myself for lunch that would be fast but yummy.  And for some reason, one day I thought to myself, “kimchi grilled cheese.”  In order to cut the heat and pungent fermented flavor of the kimchi, I decided to add a creamy sunny-side up egg.  The bold, sharp cheddar stood up well to the flavorful kimchi.  The mayonnaise added another layer of tangy creaminess.  The flavors were different and interesting, and I am looking forward to playing around with them in the future.

Kimchi and Egg Grilled Cheese

2 slices whole wheat bread

1/3 cup kimchi, thoroughly drained

1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 tbs. mayonnaise

1 tbs. butter

1 egg

Nonstick cooking spray

Spread one side of each slice of bread with mayonnaise.  Top each slice with roughly half of the cheese, and then the kimchi.

Melt the butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add slices of bread and cook until cheese is melted and kimchi is slightly warmed through.

Meanwhile, spray a small pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Heat pan over medium heat.  Add egg and cook until white are completely set.  Add to one half of sandwich and then form sandwich completely.  Serve immediately.

Asparagus, Tomato, and Caper Frittata

24 Apr

I had some roasted asparagus leftover and some fresh eggs from Geauga Family Farms.  I figured a light and flavorful frittata was the perfect way to use them up.  There are a variety of techniques available to make a yummy frittata, such as stovetop alone, stovetop and then baking, and stovetop and broiler.  I chose the latter, because it comes together very quickly and didn’t require the oven to be on for very long.

The flavors were very spring-like and fresh.  The salty little bite of the caper worked well with the sharp cheddar cheese and creamy eggs.  The grassy asparagus and acidic tomatoes tied everything together.  Punched up with the tang of the mustard, this was an interesting and well-balanced frittata, which made for an excellent light dinner warm and tasty lunch cold the next day.

Asparagus, Tomato, and Caper Frittata

5 eggs

2-3 tbs. 1% milk

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tbs. Dijon mustard

6 stalks asparagus, cut into 2″ segments (I had roasted mine in a couple tbs. of olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 25 minutes in a 325º oven until very tender)

1 tomato, chopped

1 tbs. capers

1 tbs. butter

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat broiler.

Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, and Dijon mustard until well-combined.  Season with salt and pepper.

In an oven-safe skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat, making sure the entire pan is coated.  Add asparagus, tomato, and capers in a single layer.  If you choose not to pre-roast the asparagus, add asparagus first and sauté 4-6 minutes until tender crisp and then add capers and tomatoes.

Pour egg mixture into pan and stir once or twice to ensure even distribution.  Cook over medium-low heat until bottom of eggs are fully set and top layer is mostly set, moving pan around to ensure even cooking.  This will take anywhere from 8-10 minutes depending on your stove and the conductivity of your pan.

Transfer to broiler and broil 2-4 minutes until eggs are fully set and top is very slightly golden brown.  Serve immediately or cool and serve room temperature.

Cast Iron Pan Pizza

21 Apr

I have been badly craving pizza.  I wanted a crispy, thin crust pizza with some yummy cheese and a mountain of vegetables.  But I don’t have a pizza stone, and all kitchen purchases are on hold until after we get married this summer … because, really, why buy something for yourself when someone else might buy it for you, amiright?  However, thanks to my one true internet love, Serious Eats, I had another plan in mind – a pizza baked in a skillet.  In particular, cast iron.  I didn’t use any of the methods espoused on their site exactly, though I’m sure any of them would work fabulously.  Sometimes, I just have an irrepressible urge not to follow directions.  So, I started the dough in the cast iron to get it golden brown and slightly crispy on one side.  Then, I added the toppings – tomato sauce and loads of veggies.  I finished the whole thing off by popping it in the oven to cook the crust and veggies a bit, then added cheese for the last few minutes until it was all melt-y and golden brown and delicious.

I was really impressed with the quality of pizza this method produced.  The bottom crust was thin and crispy with a nice crunchy crust that had just enough give to make it toothsome.  There was a nice char on the bottom of the pizza, too.  It was incredibly easy, especially since I simply picked up some store bought dough from Corbo’s Bakery.  As per usual with pizza, this is a highly customizable recipe.  Add your desired sauce and vegetables before popping in the oven and then top with your favorite melt-able cheese.  The real key is to make sure both your oven and your pan are hot hot hot when you get started, and to have all of your ingredients lined up and ready to go before you put the dough in the pan.  I loved the balance of heat from the Hungarian hot peppers, sweet and slightly acidic, from the tomatoes and tomato sauce, salty from the black olive, and creamy from the mozzarella with a nice meatiness from the mushrooms, but consider this more of a “how to” than a true recipe.

Cast Iron Pan Pizza

8 oz. store bought pizza dough (or homemade, if you have a good recipe for a thin crust dough)

1/3 cup tomato and basil crushed tomatoes

1 Hungarian hot pepper, thinly sliced

1/3 cup black olives, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, such as crimini or baby bella

5 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced about 1/8″ thick (I used low fat, part skim and it worked great)

Preheat oven to 500º, or as hot as your oven will go.

Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for an hour before cooking.

Roll out dough on a lightly flour surface (or turn in hands until circular, which is the method I used because it’s easier to get a crust that way, in my humble, non-expert opinion) to a 10″ round.  Heat the 10″ cast iron pan over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes until very hot.  Carefully place the dough in a 10″ cast iron skillet.  Cook, shaking one or two times and turning the pan periodically to avoid hot spots, until the dough is easily removed from the pan, about 2-3 minutes.

Carefully top with crushed tomatoes, leaving 1/2″ rim for crust, hot peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and black olives.  At this point, the dough should have been in the pan for about 5-6 minutes total.  Transfer to the preheated oven and cook about 8-10 minutes until dough is mostly cooked through.  Add rounds of mozzarella and cook another 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

General Tso’s Tofu with Edamame

19 Apr

Americanized Chinese food is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Though I’m usually pretty adventurous and love ordering off the “secret menu” or going to Cleveland’s little Asia-town for an authentic bite, sometimes I want something that you could find in the average mall food court.  Because it’s tasty, gosh darn it.  And General Tso’s chicken is one of my favorites in that category – it’s sweet and spicy with some yummy fried breading to sop up the sauce.  I didn’t have chicken at the house but was inexplicably craving some General Tso’s, so I Googled around and came across the recipe below which substitutes tofu.

We were both very happy with how the dish came out, though in the future I might reduce the brown sugar to a couple of tablespoons, add a tablespoon or two of sriracha and/or bump up the chiles, and actually remember to slice scallions for a garnish and add some sesame seeds at the end.  As written, the recipe is sweet and slightly spicy with all of the classic flavors of a great General Tso’s chicken.  The tofu nicely sops up the sauce and the edamame provides a nice burst of color and texture.

General Tso’s Tofu with Edamame

Adapted from The Life and Times of Grumpy’s Honeybunch


15 oz. block firm tofu

3-4 tbs. cornstarch

1 tbs. vegetable oil


1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbs. hoisin sauce

3 tbs. shaohsing rice wine

3 tbs. ketchup

2 tbs. soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tbs. Korean chile flakes (or crushed red pepper), or to taste

1 tbs. sesame oil

1/2 cup edamame, shelled

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

Slice tofu into 1/2″ slices and then again into thirds.  Place in between two layers of paper towels and place a heavy pan or baking sheet weighed down with canned goods on top.  Let sit about an hour, changing paper towels once.

Whisk together brown sugar, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, water, and chile flakes.

Place cornstarch in a shallow dish.  Toss tofu slices with cornstarch to coat lightly.  Add vegetable oil to a large wok and heat over medium-high heat.  Add tofu, working in batches, and fry until golden brown and crispy.  Set aside on paper towels to drain.

Carefully wipe pan clean with a paper towel.  Add sesame oil and heat over medium heat.  Add edamame and mushrooms and sauté 3-5 minutes until tender.  Add sauce mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Add the tofu back to the pan and toss to coat.  Cook a few minutes to warm through.

Serve over white rice.

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