Great Balls of Lamb

These were inspired by a lamb burger recipe I meant to make but never did.  Although I love lamb, depending on its preparation, I am sometimes turned off by the stench of lamb.  baaa.  I wasn’t ready to commit to an entire burger made of lamb so I made a mini patty a.k.a. meatball and cut it with beef.  They turned out yummy and were a nice change from the traditional meatball/slider appetizer.

After much experimentation and meatball tasting, we came up with a good general recipe, and by general I mean I did not measure anything.  I used a half ground beef and half ground lamb mixture in this recipe with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, mustard, lemon zest, dill, and a Moroccan spice mixture (courtesy of Spice House).  I usually use eggs as a binder when I make meatballs, but I replaced the egg with whole milk yogurt.  Then I baked them in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees.   The sauce on top is a mixture of yogurt, dill, salt, honey, and lemon juice and zest.

Yuan and I also visited the fabric store for a complementary table cloth. Doesn’t it look lovely?

Lumpia!

This Filipino spring roll is easy to make and the perfect finger food.  Sometimes we replace the ground pork with 1/2 block of extra firm tofu drained and crumbled for vegetarians…thankfully, a rarity amongst our friends.

Lumpia

  • 1 cup green onion, chopped green and white parts
  • 1 carrot, medium chop
  • 1 cup chopped green cabbage
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp of potato starch (optional)
  • soy sauce
  • spring roll/lumpia wrappers
  • vegetable oil

In a large frying pan, saute the cabbage and carrots over medium heat in 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil until they are soft but not browned.  Add green onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add ground pork.  Season with about 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of ground pepper.  Cool until pork is thoroughly cooked, then add soy sauce to taste – I usually use at least 1 tbsp of soy sauce.  (These are conservative estimates of seasonings – make sure that the mixture has enough salt and soy to be tasty!)  I sometimes mix in the potato starch here to help everything hold together.  Cook for another minute, then remove from heat and let it cool so you can work with it. 

Place the lumpia wrapper so one of the corners is pointed towards you and spoon about 2 spoonfuls of the mixture into the corner quadrant of the wrapper closest to you (use less mixture if you are using mini-wrappers).  Fold the corner closest to you over the mixture, then fold the side corners in towards the middle and roll the rest it up tightly – kind of like a burrito.  I moisten the last corner with water to seal the lumpia.  Deep fry the whole thing in vegetable oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels. 

Eat delicious lumpia.

Note: Lumpia/spring roll wrappers can usually be found in the freezer section of any Asian market.  I’ve also seen them in regular grocery stores.  Make sure to completely defrost and carefully peel off each wrapper from the stack without tearing it.  Also, most lumpia wrapper packages come with a handy “how to roll lumpia” illustrated instructions, in case my eloquent instructions above are not entirely helpful.

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Tasty Trio:  Asian Pear & Arugula wrapped in Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper & Herb Goat Cheese Toast, Watermelon Tartare with Feta & Mint

Cheesy Poofs!

One of our favorite appetizers are these delightfully light cheesy dough poofs. This savory cousin of the cream puff is surprisingly easy to make and a great accompaniment to cocktails or meals.

Gougères

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan, stir together over medium heat milk, butter, salt and pepper until just before the milk boils. Dump the flour into the mixture and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Cook on low heat for two minutes while stirring. The mixture will form into a ball and come away from the sides of the pan. Put the hot dough in a food processor and pulse in 4 eggs and grated gruyere and parmesan cheese until incorporated and dough is thick and smooth. Put the dough into a pastry bag or plastic bag with a corner cut off, and pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet. We like our poofs about 1 inch in diameter. Use a wet finger to round out the tops. Brush tops with an egg wash and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Crabby Hush Puppies

These hush puppies are stuffed to bursting with delicious crab, which is in season in the Bay Area starting in mid-November. They are particularly delicious when dunked in remoulade. We made them as a Thanskgiving appetizer with cornmeal my mom sends from the Graue Mill in Oak Brook, Illinois, where they grind the corn between two giant stone wheels powered by a waterwheel. Apparently it was also a stop on the Underground Railroad (you really do learn something every day). Their cornmeal is delicious, sweet with a chunky, uneven grind that only comes from doin’ it the old way.

Crab Hush Puppies

  • 6 cups, ish, vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c plus 2 tbsp well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 c cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • indulgent fistfuls of lump crabmeat – I think we used around 3/4 lb

Heat oil to 375 in a wide, heavy 5-quart pot over medium heat. While oil heats, mince and mash garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with eggs, buttermilk, and scallions.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk mixture until just combined. Stir in crabmeat – we pretty much put in as much as we thought the batter could take without falling apart.

Working in batches of 10, carefully drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Keep them warm in the oven if you can keep your hands off them long enough for them to get cold.

Remoulade

  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped coarse
  • 1 1/2 tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp minced fresh parsley

Pulse all ingredients in mini-chopper until well combined but not yet smooth, about 10 1-second pulses. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

…..fried crab niblets….