Saturday, August 30, 2014

Other People's Food

I think I must have been bored with my own food this week. I have a three week meal plan that I rotate through. I don't follow it religiously, but it does help keep me from having spaghetti every week. I'd been looking for a replacement for my turkeyloaf. The turkey loaf was a replacement for meatloaf when my husband quite eating beef. It was OK. But then I couldn't eat mushrooms anymore and they were an integral part of the flavor. Now the recipe is borderline to me. I'd eat it but I'd rather be eating something else.

So when Mark posted his Kofte (Turkish meatballs) meal, I commented that I'd have to try it when it got cooler as his was very stew like. But it stuck in my head. At lunch I thought I could make that for tonight. I'd turn the stew into a gravy and it would be good.

I made mine with turkey as my husband doesn't eat lamb. The recipe I used said to put it in a pita or over a bed of rice. I thought saffron rice worked well. I also made some tatziki (got to use up those cucumbers) and it went really well with it. The gravy was an onion turkey gravy. I have turkey stock in my freezer as roast turkey is one of my rotating meals. I sauteed an onion and pureed it into the stock and added a few spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper. I cooked it down until it was thick. It worked well, but I thought we needed more gravey. Next time I'll do an onion and a half or maybe two and some more broth. I cooked the carrots in the gravy as it was cooking down.

I liked the meatballs a lot, but thought their way of mixing made the meatball a bit tough. I'll hand mix it next time. Usually I would mix everything but the meat together and then add in the meat without mixing too much. Using a food processor like that is not the perfect texture. Though the meatballs were good, the carrots were to die for. They were so sweet and delicious. Joel liked the flavors too. I usually don't dry the regular mint, just the peppermint for winter teas. But I'll have to do that so I'll have the seasonings over the winter.

And as a side note, have you ever noticed how meatballs are just fritters? It wasn't something that had ever hit me before. But last week I was making zucchini fritters. This week meatballs. They are both just breadcrumbs, eggs, spices, and either meat or vegetables depending on the fritter. Yes the proportions are slightly different (meatballs have about twice the meat) but the idea is the same. I could see making these as vegetable balls if I were cooking for my vegetarian friends. I'd have to use a vegetable stock. I really need to make up a stock since all commercial ones are toxic to me. I get chicken and turkey stock all the time as I make it after I make roast chicken or turkey, but I'll have to actually schedule the vegetable stock so I have it on hand.

The second one (well really the first timewise) was from Bek. Her blog title was "The best quick, easy dinner in the world...". Well I wouldn't say making Okonomiyaki is the quickest dinner in the world. To me that would be melted cheese on toast. But it is quick and for a meal that forces you to cut up all that garden produce it is fairly easy. A lot of the recipes for this called for miso paste or dashi. I can't eat the first and the second is not a staple in my pantry. So my batter was pretty plain: 1/3c whole wheat flour, a heaping T of corn flour, 1/4 t salt, 1 egg, 1/4c water. To that I added the vegetables which were about 2+ cups of mixed vegetables mainly thinly sliced Chinese cabbage (yes I still have some from when I picked it a while ago, the Michihili keeps forever in the fridge and I have recipe like this one that use a leaf or two now and again), carrot matchsticks, finely sliced scallions, and grated garlic and ginger. I mixed them all together well and fried it up in a pan making a circle about 3/4" thick.

Okonomiyaki is traditionally topped with some things I don't have, but the sauces I could at least approximate. For the first sauce I used 1 T Worcestershire sauce and 1 T plum sauce. I spread that over the top. The next one is traditionally plain Japanese mayo, but I used my mayo horseradish sauce. You are supposed to use a squeezer to make nice patterns on the top, but I used a spoon. It might not look as pretty, but it still taste good. I really LOVE this recipe. It is made in a lot of different ways. I took a twist with mine. I used cheese. I put half the mixture down in the fry pan. Then I laid down a few slices of mild cheddar cheese than topped with the other half of the mixture. I think the cheese version really adds a nice creaminess to the pancake. Yum.

The last in the list of other people's food that I've been eating this week has nothing to do with a recipe. We have a friend who made a smoker at the maker space in Somerville. He was talking to my husband and I got sent a couple of smoked spice rubbed chicken thighs. Oh my so good. I never get this kind of food as smokers are always contaminated with things I can't eat. Plus they always rub it with things that have pepper in it. The rub he used had black pepper, but I can eat that.

I sent back four ears of corn. He said it was the best corn he had ever eaten. My husband thinks the same this year. He is going to send me more smoked goodies when he cooks them. So I sent my husband in with some melon since what is coming out of my garden now is really really good melon and I had more than I could eat. He said it was the best cantaloupe he had ever had. What gardener doesn't eat up such praise. Though I think so too. I don't know why my Halonas are so good this year, but they really have been the best. Even better than when I successfully grew Ambrosias one year. Last year they were good, but not the BEST. The year before they were just OK. That year they were fighting wilt since I planted them next to the cucumbers. I know never to do that again. But why are they so dang good this year? I really want to replicate it.

Anyway I'm off the subject. It has been a good week for other people's food. I'm not usually so inspired to make new things. The idea often has to germinate in my head. I'd read about something on a blog and I would make it a week later. This time I read both in the morning. One time I made it for lunch that day. The other for dinner.


  1. There are so many types of kofta! I haven't made the meatball stew variation but I have made a couple of other ones, which I love - the Moroccan "cigar" shaped ones that you put on a skewer & bbq and kofta made with paneer (a type of Indian cheese) in a ceamy sauce. I have never heard of Okonomiyaki but am adding it to my list of those to try.

  2. Great, now I'm hungry, ha. Seriously, my stomach is growling. That some good looking food. :-)

  3. Have you ever noticed how a sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it for you?

  4. I'm so happy to have been able to provide the inspiration for your kofte / meatballs! My version certainly had enough gravy. I thought the baby carrots cooked in the broth were really delicious, so I'm glad yours were good too. It must be so difficult for you to find different meals to make - and it sounds as if your husband's foibles don't help much either... :)

  5. It's like a recipe relay - take a recipe a change it a bit

    How do commercial growers manage to produce tasteless carrots?

    1. I have no idea. They probably use varieties that are bred for fast growth and not taste. Yield is nice, but taste wins out over yield in my book.

  6. Daphne, I love praise for my produce too. It makes it worth so much more worth while. I make veggie fritters all the time and recently with our glut of cabbages ours turned out like Okonomiyaki. A friend tried them and it took him back to Japan and I didn't use dashi or miso in my batter. I had just cooked off the cabbage with some sugar a few days before. Look forward to seeing whats happening in your garden tomorrow.

  7. You know why your corn and melons are so good this year? You dedicated your garden to Annie's Granny! I reflected on her inspiration for my garden and the abundance I have had in my last post.

  8. Your new meatball meal looks delish. You are so good about cooking different things! My husband would be happy with mostly the same thing every week but I like to at least try for two weeks. Your three sounds even better. He doesn't care for zucchini but your zucchini fritters sound interesting. Will have to google to look at a recipe. Nancy

  9. I'm so glad you liked the okonomiyaki! I will say though, if you have an asian grocery store and are able to eat them, the kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes and dried seaweed for the topping do make a big difference.
    Although it really is just a big vegetable fritter. What's not to love?