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Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs

 It is no secret Passover is traditionally NOT a good time to begin a health-food diet.  I usually post baked goods, but today I'm posting a Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe that is about as good as dessert.  To me, anyway!   Since the recipe uses brown sugar and apricot preserves, it qualifies as dessert-like.   I know everyone who celebrates Passover has probably made theirs already and you probably have an old standby that your relatives made, but these are easy, delicious, and worth a try. No one could find my grandmother's recipe.  I knew she used a citrus soda pop and brown sugar, but I didn't remember any of the other details.   It took me years of trying out less successful recipes (my family can confirm) to finally get everyone's favorite.   The secret is lots of eggs and onions.   I also cook the meatballs in the sauce.  I used to bake the meatballs and then add them to the sauce later because it was easier to skim off the hamburger fat. I don't eat these meatballs often and they taste much better cooked in the sauce  so it is a guilty pleasure I'm not going to mess with.

Here is the recipe...

Approximate assembly time 30 minutes
Approximate cooking time:  60 minutes

For the utensils you will need:
  • 8 quart Stock pot
  • large mixing bowl
  • cookie sheet

For the meatball mixture you will need:
  • 3 pounds of lean ground beef-I use about 85% lean.  This time I used ground beef, but I have also used a mixture of 2 pounds ground beef and 1 pound ground turkey.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups matzoh meal
  • 1 medium finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
For the sauce you will need:
  • 12 ounce jar of apricot preserves (or any other fruit preserve)
  • 2 small cans (6 oz each) of tomato paste
  • 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) of tomato soup +1 can of water
  • 26 ounce can of Hunt's plain spaghetti sauce (or any other brand you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
  • 2 medium finely chopped onions
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Make sauce first. Put all of the sauce ingredients into an 8 quart pan.  Heat  and stir sauce on medium until it begins to boil.   Stir occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.  While the sauce is heating up, make the meatballs.
You will need a large bowl.  Add six eggs and beat with a fork or eggbeater just until they are blended. Add the chopped onions, ketchup, salt, matzoh meal, and stir until well combined. Add the hamburger and mix until combined well. I use rubber gloves for this part.   
Roll meatballs so they are about an inch and a half in diameter.  Set the meatballs on a cookie sheet as you roll them.   When you are finished rolling meatballs, drop them one by one into the boiling sauce.   REDUCE TEMPERATURE TO MEDIUM LOW.  
Cook for 30 minutes gently stirring a couple of times from the bottom up. At the end of the first 30 minutes stir so that meatballs on the bottom are redistributed to the top. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Notes:  The meatballs will not all be covered by sauce at first.  I sometimes spoon a little sauce from the side up and over the top meatballs trying hard not to break any of them. As the sauce and meatballs cook down,  they will sink.
If you decide to bake the meatballs and then add them to the sauce-or just eat them plain, reduce the salt in them by 1/2 teaspoon.   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Coconut Cupcakes With Cocoa Buttercream Frosting

If you are a Mounds bar fan, you will love these cupcakes!  I was browsing my favorite blogs and found White Mountain Coconut Cupcakes on Cookie Madness.  They looked fairly simple to make and I love coconut so I thought I would give them a try.   I didn't have cake flour so I improvised with the standard substitution of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to replace 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. DON'T DO IT!!!  The weird thing is the cupcakes ended up tasting like corn muffins.  I like corn muffins, but not so sure I liked them with the chocolate frosting though....So, I decided to cave in and invest in cake flour.  Glad I did.   These cupcakes were tender and had a faint flavor of coconut. I did improvise on the cupcake and made up my own chocolate buttercream frosting (most of them are too sweet for me) by combining a few different recipes to come up with my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting.

You'll have to excuse the cupcake model-I'm not good at dressing and posing models.

Here is my slightly modified recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons)  salted butter at room temperature (add 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup room temperature coconut milk (I used full fat, not reduced fat)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, not toasted.

  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting by Gloria:

  • 1 stick salted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup regular unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1/4 cup (approximately 1.5 ounces) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk or more if needed
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted plus a 1/3 cup of un-toasted coconut**

  • Instructions for Cupcakes:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
    Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners.
    Mix the flour, baking powder and salt ( if using unsalted butter) in a bowl and set aside.
    In a medium sized mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat well.
    Beat in half the flour on lowest speed. When flour is blended, beat in the coconut milk. Beat until blended, then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat on lowest speed until smooth.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of shredded coconut.
    Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for about 22 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched. Mine were done in about 21 minutes.   Frost as soon as they are room temperature.

    Make the frosting:
    Melt chocolate in a microwave proof measuring cup for about 30 seconds on high. Stir until completely melted. Set-aside.
    Beat room temperature butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix 2 cups of powdered sugar with cocoa until well combined.  Blend sugar mixture alternately with coconut milk beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and beat until smooth.
    Immediately after frosting cupcakes sprinkle toasted shredded coconut on top. Otherwise they won't stick to the frosting after it sets up.  
    Frosting tip learned from a video posted on Cookie Madness:
    cover the whole top of the cupcake with a layer of frosting so you don't see any of the cake.  This helps prevent the cupcake from drying out.  

    **  Toast coconut by spreading it out on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Heat the oven to 350 and bake for about three minutes. Remove from oven and stir. You want less than half of the coconut to be brown.  When cool, I mix in about a 1/3 cup of un-toasted shredded coconut.