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Friday, April 20, 2018

Brown-Butter Chocolate Oatmeal

We have needed comfort food lately, as a little person we love has been fighting for her life in a hospital across an ocean. Here's a comforting, warm, chocolately breakfast for chilly mornings, whether a metaphorical chill or otherwise.


Brown-Butter Chocolate Oatmeal

Source: New York Times
Yields 4 servings

2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 c steel-cut oats
3 T Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 teas salt
2 c milk of any kind
2 1/2 c water
Sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste
Toppings of your choice (cream, milk, coconut milk, butter, flaky sea salt, sliced bananas, shredded coconut, sliced dates, sliced avocado, or raspberries, alone or in any combination that sounds good)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook for several minutes until deep golden brown. Add the oats and cook for a few minutes until they start to color a bit on the edges. Place the oats mixture into a bowl.

Add the milk and water to the same saucepan. Bring to a boil and then add cocoa, whisking well to remove lumps. Stir in the oats and butter, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the oatmeal is done, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add sweetener to taste; enjoy as is or add toppings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lamb Meatballs (Kofte) with Yogurt Sauce and Herbs

For about three years, I've taken Turkish cooking classes at a local Turkish cultural center. Although my teachers haven't yet taught this, my attention was piqued when I saw it in the NYTimes food section recently. This dish has more garnishes than most Americans are accustomed to but they make it beautiful and truly tasty. Use them all or just some of them depending on what you have.


Lamb Meatballs (Kofte) with Yogurt Sauce and Herbs

Adapted from NYTimes Cooking
Serves 6

1 teas ground cumin
1 teas ground coriander
1/4 teas cinnamon 
pinch of ground cayenne
1 1/2 pds ground lamb, not too lean
1/2 c breadcrumbs
2 teas kosher salt, divided use
1/2 teas freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c finely diced red onion
3 eggs, divided use
2 T olive oil
1 c chicken broth
1 c plain, tart yogurt (if you use Greek yogurt, thin with milk and lemon juice)
1 T cornstarch, dissolved in 2 T water
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teas sumac
crushed red-pepper flakes, to taste
ground turmeric, for garnish, optional
3 T chopped mint
2 T chopped dill
cilantro sprigs

Place the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne in a small skillet and toast over medium heat for a minute or so until they are fragrant. Set aside to cool a bit.

Combine the lamb, breadcrumbs, 1 1/2 teas salt (I used less), pepper, onion, and toasted spice mix with your hands in a large bowl. In a small bowl beat 2 of the eggs and add to the lamb mixture; mix until incorporated. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and as much as 24 hours.

When ready to cook, bring lamb mixture out of fridge and break off even 1-inch pieces. Roll into balls and set on a baking sheet. This will be easier if you dampen the palm of your hand. 

Heat oven to 225F. While preheating oven, brown the meatballs in a large skillet with the  olive oil heated over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs in a single layer until they brown on one side (3 minutes or so). Turn them over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.  Do not overcrowd and cook in batches so the balls brown rather than steam. Place on baking sheet or cake pan lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil and set in oven to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Pour excess oil from the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high; add the chicken broth. Heat to a simmer. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl or large liquid measuring cup and add the yogurt, 1/2 teas salt, and cornstarch mixture. Stir until well combined. While whisking constantly, gradually pour the yogurt mixture into the hot broth. Turn the heat down a bit and continue whisking until the yogurt is heated through. Try to keep the mixture from boiling since it can break or curdle. 

Pour the sauce over the meatballs. I liked doing this in individual serving bowls but it isn't necessary and probably too much work for a group larger than two. Drop the crumbled feta over the top and sprinkle with the sumac and crushed red pepper, if using. Garnish with pinches of turmeric powder and sprinkle with mint, dill, and cilantro and serve. This is good accompanied by rice, orzo, or pita bread.