It's not gorgeous. But it was pretty tasty.

It’s not gorgeous. But it was pretty tasty.

…so when my friends over on the eGullet challenge launched the current cook-off, the Meatball Challenge, I knew I had to participate.

eGullet is a food forum, bringing together in an unlikely conglomeration professional chefs, enthusiastic amateurs, those just getting involved in cooking, and travelers who share exotic dining experiences and cuisines. I’ve been reading it, and posting on it, for seven or eight years, and I’ve learned a TON, as well as stretching both my imagination and my collection of cooking appliances.

(It is, after all, due to eGullet that I own a sous vide immersion circulator, a steam-convection oven, and an Instant Pot, not to mention several dozen cookbooks. As well as expanding my horizons, it’s contracted my budget. But I digress.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Zucchini parmesan. Good stuff.

Zucchini parmesan. Good stuff.

It was one of those dinners where I started out in one direction and wound up in another place. But it was a good place to be.

I started out to make zucchini lasagna. I wound up making spaghetti and meatballs for Child A and AGC 1, and zucchini parmesan, layered with ricotta cheese and topped with marinara sauce with meatballs.

Good stuff. Very possibly better than zucchini lasagna would have been.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back from, well, here

July 28, 2012

Hellooooo, troops! Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, ‘n all that.

You may (or may not) have noticed I have not been in evidence here at Chez Keyboard for the last couple of weeks. Quite frankly, I have had better things to do, namely standing by and being grandmotherly while Child C birthed Amazing Grandchild No. 2, and then thoroughly enjoying grandparenthood when Child B and Amazing Grandchild No. 1 were here all this week.

Children B and C, AGC 1 and 2. Beats cooking any day.

I cooked. I guess. I was concentrating on other things. Like how to take care of a boychild after he’s been circumcised. (I had girls; I never had to do these things.) Like remembering how one deals with colicky babies. (He was an easy keeper for a while, and then he got over it. Dammit.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Cassoulet, sans duck. You got to read to the bottom to get to that.

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Horsham, PA, just outside Philadelphia, on the first leg of the Christmas Vacation 2011.

Of course, Philly means food. Later today I’m exploring the Italian market, and trying to figure how I’ll get some 10 pounds or so of charcuterie home. Before that, we’re having lunch at the Austrian Village, where hopefully they’ll have the homemade bratwurst, and assuredly they’ll have the red cabbage and potato salad. (Oh, that bratwurst! It’s the bratwurst to die for! And as I’ve learned it comes from a German deli nearby, I may well add some of it to my charcuterie bag to take home.) If there’s time, there’s a stop by the Reading Terminal market. And then there’s dinner downtown at Villa di Roma, home of the meatballs extraordinaire that I extolled on last year’s trip, here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday morning, halftime

April 24, 2011

This, people, is Sweet Baby Jesus good. Trust me.

Seriously good. And seriously pretty. Would be great for a casual dinner or a luncheon.

I have been a busy little bee this morning, I have. To date, we have made 40 meatballs (that’s five meatball sandwiches’ worth) that are presently simmering in marinara sauce (Sigh. It’s Ragu. NS prefers that. I have to admit, it’s easier.), a baby meatloaf with the leftover beef/pork/veal mix from the meatballs, a loaf of Guinness whole wheat bread, and this:

This is a really Cool Thing. You will remember that I had made rye sourdough starter Friday night, with the intent of making rye bread this morning. And I had, in fact, put together said rye bread and was letting it rise when I sat down to peruse some blogs I like to read. And over on Dark Side of the Fridge, the Toy Lady was making the highest and best use of rye bread, which is, of course, in a sandwich featuring either pastrami or corned beef. Except she was baking the insides right there in the loaf, and I thought, “Damn! That’s just pretty cool!”

Read the rest of this entry »

South Philly Italian

December 19, 2010

Oh, dear sweet baby Jesus. I am so stuffed, I’m freakin’ miserable.

No photos. Villa di Roma, 9th just off Christian in South Philly, is not the kind of place you take photos of your food. You just eat. And drink. Copiously. And stagger out the door.

I am replete.

NS’s uncle is a gen-yoo-ine South Philly Eye-talian; grandpa came over from the old country, etc. And he grew up in South Philly. I wanted to get down there to the Italian markets while I was in town, but schedules didn’t allow….so they took me down there tonight for dinner, instead.

Little narrow row-house type building, right across the street from the “boneless smoked whole pig” shop, showing a rather slack-looking pig on what appeared to be a rotissiere. (I am here to tell you, I wanted IN those shops. Already making plans for a return trip.) Maitre’d type named Pepe, who insisted on hugging both the women in the party. (I have his card; I’m supposed to call when I come back.) Waitress named Rochelle (“but nobody calls me that except bill collectors; you call me Honey.”).

Menu full of wonderful down-home Italian favorites. I decided on about six different entrees, and settled on ravioli and meatballs. “Oh,” sez Honey. “Sunday night comfort food. Good choice.”

She did not lie.

I cannot do justice in print to those tennis-ball-sized globes awash in marinara sauce, a dense, rich mixture of pork, beef, maybe veal, finely minced, the taste of garlic and onions but none of the crunch, soaked in a luscious, silky, basil-y marinara, dusted with a healthy shaving of parmigiano….Have mercy!

Thank God it was not a huge plate. I finished off six ravioli that were about four-inch squares, and one and 2/3 tennis-ball-sized meatballs before I threw in the fork. And God help me, I wanted that last third of a meatball, but I just did not have a spot for it, unless I wrapped it in a napkin and stuffed it in my pocket.

Perhaps it was that large portion of a carafe of Cribari chianti. Well, on reflection, perhaps I’ll give up that third of a meatball for the Cribari.

Tell y’mama ‘n ’em to give South Philly a try. Those are some Sweet Baby Jesus meatballs, I’m tellin’ you.

Headed home in the morning to start cooking for Christmas. Check in with you soon.

The tilapia remains unbroiled, the pesto remains unused.

Does it get any more all-American than this?

What we have tonight is pure, unadulterated comfort food.

Meat loaf, mac and cheese, carrots. It doesn’t get much more comfortable than that.

Plus a cookie sheet of 36 meatballs in the oven for meatball sandwiches, pasta, or whatever, later on. I’ll make marinara sauce tomorrow, because, well, tomorrow is another day.

Read the rest of this entry »