Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cooking For Children, or Put Away The Hot Stuff, Mamma

Spicy Meatballs So much for the mission statement. What am I cooking tonight? Simmering away on my not-so-ideal Magic Chef stovetop (circa 1965 and cranky about it) is a big pot of spaghetti with meatballs. Did you expect something more exotic? I have three hungry children (two of my own and one spare) and a hungry husband to feed, and since my children have been subsisting on Easter candy since Sunday, I thought I'd try to get some real food--their definition, not mine--that is, familiar food, into their sugar-saturated insides. So spaghetti with meatballs it is. Years ago, I found an amazing meatball recipe on (5 years ago?? Could it possibly have been that long??): see Spicy meatballs. It's fabulous and easy, but in my version, not so spicy. I want my children to eat, remember? Therefore, the red pepper flakes languish in the spice drawer, awaiting their reappearance when all the nay-sayers are off to college. I simmer them in a pot of "New Basic Tomato Sauce" from p. 775 of Rosso & Lukins' The New Basics Cookbook. Here it is with several personal modifications: Basic Tomato Sauce 2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen) 1 14.5 oz. can plum tomatoes, drained 2 tb. olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1/3 c. finely chopped carrot (the food processor makes short work of this) 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 c. red wine 2 Tb. tomato paste 2 Tb. roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley 3 Tb. chopped, fresh oregano (or 1 tb. dried)* 2 Tb. chopped, fresh basil (or 2 t. dried)* 1/2 t. sugar 1 t. coarse salt Lots of freshly ground black pepper In a dutch oven, heat the oil, and slowly saute the garlic, onion, and carrot until the onion is translucent. Add the diced and plum tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper. (Add meatballs) Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, and then, remove the cover and simmer another 30-45 minutes. *Fresh, is, of course, better, but if it's winter or raining in your garden, dried will work. I love the carrots in this sauce. I was leery at first, but now, whenever anyone eschews salad (my family's default position, vis a vis leafy greens), I don't worry so much. I'm the only one that knows about them and I'm not telling. I do leave out the nutmeg--nasty stuff that only belongs in eggnog and Swedish meatballs. Fortunately, it's gone completely out of style (remember the eighties when this book was written?), although occasionally someone will ruin a perfectly good quiche with it. I hear the timer beeping--let's hope they eat it. I know I will.

Good Food

leeks I love good food and I love to talk about good food. I eat out, I eat take-out--I cook for myself, my children, and my friends. Sometimes I diet, sometimes I don't, but I spend entirely too much time thinking about food when I'm not reading about it, cooking it, or, of course, eating it. I'll post my thoughts about what I'm eating, occasional recipes, and intermittent reviews of restaurants.