Monday, April 26, 2010

Meatballs III

On Sunday, as I was pondering what to make for dinner, Dave pointed out that perhaps it was time for Meatballs III. I remembered a great recipe from this cookbook

The recipe is called "Polpette d'Artusi alla Villa Gaidello", and was adapted from a 19th century cookbook. The meat mixture is formed into patties, rather than meatballs. This recipe had by far the longest listing of ingredients for the meat mixture I have encountered: ground pancetta, ground chicken thigh, ground beef, chopped parsley, onions & garlic, currants, toasted pine nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The meat patties were browned first and then finished in a sweet/sour sauce of glazed pearl onions, reduced stock and balsamic vinegar.

I made a side of brussel sprouts steamed and then sauteed in garlic and olive oil. The wine was a Cline mourvedre from the Sonoma-Carneros district whose bright berry notes went well with the currants in the meatballs and the sweet/sour balsamic vinegar sauce.

Dave says that of the 3 meatball recipes I've made lately, this one is the best. We'll have to see if I can top it...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meatballs II

I loved the tartness imparted by the pomegranate juice in the sauce of Meatballs I so much that when I decided to make a Spanish meatball recipe I chose one that had lemons in it. I have many Spanish cookbooks and each cookbook carries several meatball recipes, but this is the first recipe I've ever seen that used lemons. The recipe, "Pilar Monteoliva's Meatballs in Lemon Sauce", is taken from Penelope Casas' latest cookbook, La Cocina de Mama.

The pork-and-beef meat mixture contains chopped cured ham, parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, two whole eggs and fresh lemon juice. This is browned in olive oil and then cooked in a sauce of onions, chicken broth and white wine. To finish the sauce, a crushed mixture of parsley, garlic and saffron, together with more fresh lemon juice, is added at the end. Now the next step is interesting. Two egg yolks are first thinned with some broth and then added to the sauce to thicken it. The egg yolks and the saffron from the crushed mix contributed a yellowish hue to the sauce, which goes with the idea of lemons, I suppose!

The crushed mixture of parsley, garlic and saffron imparted a very typical Spanish meatball flavor to the dish. The lemon scent and very slight tartness made the meatballs very appetizing. Dave said they were so easy to eat, he ate almost the whole thing! I made some green beans with garlic, smoked paprika and olive oil as a side and we had a bottle of Limerick Lane Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley to go with it. The beautiful table runner was made by Dave's mom (check out her quilting projects here).

I think these Meatballs II are even more decadent than Meatballs I (where a friend pointed out, rightly, how it was funny that I tried to make MEATballs healthier by using olive oil instead of butter!). I didn't attempt any healthier substitutions in this recipe, but I did make a side of green vegetables to go with it, and the red wine will hopefully work its "French paradox" magic...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meatballs I

So I had recently made something from a cookbook I own that I hadn't used for a while (ie, a few years!). It was a bulgar wheat pilaf with green and red peppers, chickpeas and tahini sauce that Dave had requested for a picnic we were going to with a middle eastern theme. While flipping through the pages after I had made the pilaf, I noticed a meatball recipe from Azerbaijin (a country in Eurasia bounded by the Caspian Sea, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran). The recipe caught my eye because of its unusual sauce made from pomegranate juice. I love meatballs, from spaghetti and meatballs to albondigas tapas, and I just had to try the recipe and I thought that, much as I was on a ravioli kick earlier, I could go on a meatball kick and make all the unusual as well as old favorite meatball recipes I could find and blog about it. Dave realized that he would be benefiting from this blogging idea and he was all for it.

The beef-and-lamb meat mixture was flavored with allspice, paprika, onions and mint. After browning on all sides (it was supposed to be browned in butter, but I substituted olive oil as a healthier alternative - although I shouldn't have mentioned that because once Dave reads that he's going to want me to make it again with butter) and then simmered in a sauce of pomegranate juice (I get mine from The Spanish Table outpost in Berkeley) and chicken broth and sprinkled at the end with chopped mint leaves. I made some steamed rice flavored with salt and butter to go with it, which was the perfect accompaniment to the tangy sauce. Here's a picture of the meatballs (taken before I remembered to sprinkle them with the chopped mint leaves), with the cookbook next to it

Stay tuned for more meatball entries!

Tailored tops for the summer

After sewing all those knits, I was ready for a change of pace and since summer is upon us (even though it never gets very hot in San Francisco) I thought it would be nice to have some short-sleeved shirts made from woven fabric.

I made this February 2009 Burda magazine blouse (#125) from a black cotton blend, sort of as a wearable muslin because of reports from some people that the sleeves come out a little tight.

Here's my version

It fit fine, although I don't know why there are wrinkles across the upper chest in the picture. I think I'm going to make the same pattern in a different, brighter color.

Next shirt is a shortened version of this dress (#116) from the April 2010 Burda magazine

When I was tracing it out, the collar came in two sizes, and I accidentally made my shirt in the larger size destined for a different pattern. I didn't like it at first, but I think the unusual large collar is starting to grow on me...

That's it for the woven shirt-sleeved shirts for a while. The weather got cold again and I'm thinking about warm wool jersey tops again...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Going crazy with the serger

I have not been blogging lately because I've been busy sewing, or should I say, serging, instead! I've re-discovered knits because of my new toy, the serger my mother-in-law gave me. It is a breeze serging seams instead of sewing them and I love the professional-looking finish I get on the inside of my garments. Also, it is very easy to stabilize the shoulder seams and the neckline with clear elastic by feeding it into the serger foot.

My first dress made with the serger is this pattern (#129) from the June 2009 Burda magazine:

I made it from a aubergine 100% wool jersey and the weather turned cold enough briefly for me to wear it once last weekend:

Dave actually likes this one, despite the gatherings at the waist, which he says usually make me look like I have something to hide. He says that the gatherings in this design look good, for a change!

Following the dress, I decided that I needed more knit tops, so I made this interesting one with the puffy sleeves (#118) from the February 2009 Burda magazine:

Here's my version, and I love it for the fit and how comfortable it is to wear:

Then, because the weather got cold briefly, I decided I needed a long-sleeved top, like this one (#114) from the October 2009 Burda magazine:

Here's my version:

Dave dislikes this one, he says the gathers at the front make me look pregnant, but the girls at work complimented me on what a nice top it was. I think it's not really one of my favorites, but it is very comfortable to wear so I'm sure I'll wear it a lot. Dave also wonders what the tab is for, and what would happen if he removed it. The answer is nothing, it's just a design element; it looks like it's holding the gathers together but it doesn't really do anything structural. It actually gave me a bunch of problems, I installed it incorrectly and while I was ripping it out, I ripped a hole in the garment. Luckily, 1. jersey doesn't fray, and 2. I had read about someone repairing a tear by ironing on a piece of fusible stretch interfacing over the tear, which I did and then I stitched the tab over it and now it is hidden. My goodness, that could ruin your whole day, finishing a garment and then tearing a hole in it at the last step!

I also made this cute flounced-sleeved top (#106 from the January 2009 Burda magazine) but haven't worn it yet so I don't have pictures to upload:

And lastly, although I made the following dress a while ago, before I got the serger, this seems like a good place to post a picture, as it has become one of my very favorite dresses. It's from the January 2010 Burda magazine, dress #130:

My version is made out of stretch velvet and lined with brown cotton/lycra jersey. Because it is lined, the inside of the dress looks nice and there are no exposed seams. I wear this dress everywhere whenever we go out!

Next I think I'll do something different for a change, some short-sleeved, collared tailored tops from cotton or linen wovens for the summer. Stay tuned!