Home Cooking with Gordon Ramsay-Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

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When I see Gordon Ramsay cook, I see a chef who has enormous passion for excellent food. You can see the excitement in his eyes as he describes the way the sauce should taste or how the meat is cooked to perfection. He loves his craft and he loves to teach others.

This Michelin star chef is no stranger to the camera with all of his TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell and Masterchef US. He has shown us that he can run a kitchen and scare young apprentices half to death, if they make a mistake.

With his Ultimate Home Cooking series, he has shown us his other side. He has shown us that he is a husband and father of four budding chefs; his children. While he cooks with his family, you can see that they love this special time with their father. It is clear that they have cooked together, often.

I really enjoyed watching the series, so I bought the cookbook. It is a wonderful compilation of recipes that you will want to cook for your family and friends.

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The recipes are divided into chapters like Classics with a Twist, Good Food for Less, Cooking for Friends, Cooking in Advance; to name a few. Each section offers a variety of dishes that inspire the casual dining that most of us enjoy so well. These are recipes that you would make for a family dinner, a brunch for friends, or an intimate evening with someone special.

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Recipes that I have tried from this book include:

Pork Chops and Peppers

and

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts (see below)

The instructions are very clear, the photos are beautiful, and the ingredients are items that most of us have easy access to.

I am really excited to try more of the recipes from this book! They are not written so that you need to be a Michelin Star chef to prepare them. This book is for anyone who loves to cook at home.

Orechietti-and-meetballs

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
8 oz. kale, shredded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

For the meatballs:

1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3-4 tbsp. milk

Directions:

First prepare the meatballs. Saute the onion and garlic with salt and pepper to taste in a hot oiled frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured, adding the chili flakes after a minute or two. Place the beef in a large bowl and add salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and moisten with milk. Add salt and pepper, then stir the breadcrumbs and onion mixture into the beef and combine well. With wet hands, shape the beef mixture into small balls about ¾ inch wide. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the meatballs for 6 minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until tender, then add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Sweat the kale over medium heat for 5 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of cooking water form the pasta. Taste to adjust the seasoning as necessary, then stir in the pine nuts.

Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Tip the pasta into the pan with the meatballs and stir over medium heat until well mixed. Add a good handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese and mix well with a little cooking water to help coat the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve garnished with another grating of Parmesan.

Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking

I got my copy of the cookbook at Amazon.com

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Meatball Sliders

Meatball-Sliders

It has been a little more than 2 years since I launched my blog. During that period I have developed my baking skills, traveled through France, taken you on a tour of Italy through food, carried you along on my fitness program, enrolled in a culinary arts program and cooked more than 80 recipes.

They say that life is a journey and I can confirm that writing this blog has certainly been a journey. I have learned so much and I hope to continue on this path for a long time.

The interesting thing is that I started writing this blog to entrench myself in the world of food and to grow my food photography business. Yes, my passion is photography.

Saying that you well understand my frustration that my new camera is in the repair shop. I bought a Nikon D800 a couple of months ago and have been back to my local camera store a few times because it has gobs of oil on the sensor. Yikes!!!

I kept wondering what kind of dust was causing black blobs on my shots so I tried the self-cleaning function on the camera and blew air on to the sensor to blow the dust away. The gobs only moved and multiplied!!!

I realized I needed to get professional help so I took the camera back to my camera store and got my sensor cleaned. A few weeks later it happened again. Then it was time for the internet search to find out if this is a common problem. Apparently; this happens in new Nikons and Canons but usually corrects itself after 2-3 cleanings.

My camera is now in the hands of Nikon because I have well passed the normal adjustment period and the self correction did not happen. I believe that I have a lemon. Not the kind that you eat or cook with but the kind that brings frustration and loss of productivity. I am waiting for a replacement camera because I believe that Nikon backs its products. In the meantime I have rented a Nikon D3X which is awesome!!!

I shot these meatball sliders with my D800 and removed the blobs in Photoshop.

Sliders are my version of diet food. If you like burgers, pulled pork or meatballs and are watching your weight you can do portion control by eating a slider instead. It may not be perfect science but it makes me feel better.

Meatball Sliders

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. Italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 (20-oz.) can tomato puree
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
Soft rolls, sliced in half horizontally
Fresh basil leaves
Mozzarella slices

Directions:

Combine the ground pork and pork sausage, red pepper flakes, 2 cloves of the chopped garlic, panko, grated cheese, eggs, parsley, kosher salt and black pepper, to taste, in large bowl. Form into 2-inch meatballs and set aside on a platter.

Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides. Transfer to plate.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Add the 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and the remaining garlic. Sauté until the onion begins to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the tomato puree and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the meatballs and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for approximately 40 minutes.

To serve, put a meat ball on the bottom of each roll and drizzle lightly with some sauce. Top with a fresh basil leaf and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Cover with the roll tops and transfer to a platter. Serve warm.

Recipe from FoodNetwork.com

Meatballs for a Rainy Sunday

It is a cool and rainy Sunday morning here in Toronto. Thousands of runners are braving the elements to run in the Toronto Scotiabank Marathon. As much as I enjoy running, I cannot imagine trying a marathon. These committed athletes are making their way around our city while the rain relentlessly beats down on them. They are truly dedicated to their sport.

It is the kind of day when you want to stay in, curled up with a blanket and a cup of tea and some comfort food. A friend told me that we crave comfort food in the fall so that our bodies can store fat for the winter. I plan to feed my craving while working it off later at the indoor ice skating rink.

Yes, I am learning to skate all over again. Last night I donned ice skates for the first time in over 20 years. I was extremely tentative on the ice because I was trying to skate in hockey skates. I learned to skate with figure skates so I kept try to use the pick on the front of my skates but there was none. A sweet little girl came up to me and congratulated me for learning so fast. I was embarrassed because I used to skate quite often as a child. It just goes to show you that you need to practice to be a good athlete. My years of being off of the rink made me skate like a beginner all over again.

I will feed my craving today with one of my favourite comfort foods, homemade meatballs. They don’t have to be served on top of spaghetti to be good. In fact, you can serve them on the side of some vegetables or potatoes or pasta. Any way that you choose to serve them will make a heart warming meal.

Meatballs al Forno

Makes 24 meatballs or 8 servings

Ingredients

¾ cup day-old crustless bread
¼ cup whole milk
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating
½ large yellow Spanish onion, minced
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 extra-large eggs
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tsp. pure ground red pepper flakes
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground veal
6 ½ oz. pancetta, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour for dredging
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 quart tomato sauce
1 quart chicken stock
3 dried bay leaves
6 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

Put the day-old bread in a small bowl, pour in the milk, and set aside to soak for about 5 minutes.

Combine the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, onion, parsley, eggs, garlic, ground red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the pork, veal and pancetta. Squeeze the bread in your hands to press out the milk, discard the excess milk. Add the bread to the bowl with the other ingredients and use the tips of your fingers to combine the ingredients without overworking them. Divide the meat into 2-ounce portions and roll each portion into a ball.

Pour the flour into a large bowl or another dish convenient for dredging. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, shake off any excess, and place them on a baking sheet. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the meatballs for at least an hour or overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour the live oil into a large Dutch oven or ovenproof skillet and add more if needed to cover the bottom of the pan to ¼ inch deep.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is almost smoking and slides easily in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Working in two batches, place the meatballs in a single layer in the pan and sear them until they are lightly browned all over, about 6 minutes.  Be gentle with them when turning so they don’t fall apart.

Remove the meatballs to a plate. Add more oil to the plan and repeat the process for the second batch. Turn off the heat and wipe the oil and browned bits from the pan. Return the meatballs to the pan. Combine the tomato sauce and chicken stock and pour the liquid over the meatballs. You want to make sure the meatballs are submerged but not drowning in the liquid. Add the bay leaves in place the meatballs in the oven to braise for 1 hour. Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow them to rest in the sauce for at least 10 minutes.

The meatballs can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance.

To serve, remove the meatballs to a plate and skim off and discard the fat from the sauce. Spoon a thin layer of sauce on a serving platter, lay the meatballs on top of the sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the meatballs, sprinkle with basil and serve.

Recipe modified from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno