Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving: Turkey Meatballs with Apple-Cranberry Chutney

I write this in Thanksgiving. For the holiday coming up. For the thanks I offer all year round for this life - with all it's roller coaster rides - for this life. 

My offering for the holidays starts with a meatball. And then I go all-American with it. Apples. Cranberries. Minnesota fare. It has a little spice, and a little fruit (and you know that "healthy" thing). You can make a meal for two or feed a crowd. It's a recipe that owes it's heritage to Italy (meatballs) but is decidedly American.

Grandma Gresio, who served a huge turkey (after the lasagne) every Thanksgiving would approve.

It's jazzed-up turkey meatballs coated in cranberry-apple chutney. Turkey and cranberries. Think about it. It seems to work.

TURKEY MEATBALLS: (Makes approximately 28 1-inch meatballs)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (crushed red pepper, cayenne)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
16 ounces ground turkey
8 ounces cranberry-apple chutney
3 tablespoons orange juice (I used apple cider)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray.

Whisk first six ingredients together. Add milk. Whisk and let stand for fifteen minutes. Add egg and mix well. Add ground turkey and mix well.

Form turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (Very sticky stuff - use hands and consider spraying them. After they were formed, I went over them with a spoon trying to get a semblance of meatball shape.)

Place on baking sheet. Bake for approximately fifteen minutes.

While baking, combine cranberry-apple chutney and orange juice. Heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes. When meatballs are done, combine warmed chutney in bowl with meatballs and serve.

Or place in a slow-cooker on low to use as appetizers for guests.

Cranberry-apple chutney recipes can be found here or here. Or you can do what "expedient Claudia" does and buy Stonewall Kitchen's Apple-Cranbery Chutney.*

*I am not on Stonewall Kitchen's payroll nor did I receive coupons or anything for this plug. I am simply - a big fan.

It's been a rough week for our world. I wish you love.  I wish ...

Hugs are in order.

Smiling and greeting and holding doors open for people seem more important than ever. Throwing love into the universe to counter the unloving has to help.

And somehow, on November 16, the earth still brings forth pink smiles. And I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chicken Normandy: A Very Good Idea

I've taken a lot of detours as of late with my "Italian blog." This is my last detour for a bit and I promise you that you will enjoy the journey. It's a side tripe to France - home of sauces that should be served with cholesterol warnings (unless you're French - the sauces don't seem to affect their cholesterol) - home of women who learn to wear scarves before they can walk - home of Monet, Renoir, Impressionism and all things pretty. 

With Calvados, apples, cream and chicken - you have the perfect bridge from autumn to winter. Plus it's Dorie Greenspan's recipe from Around My French Table and when Dorie is your guide, you know you will eat well. It's a worthy addition to any Holiday Wish List (shhh .... I know it's early November). Plus Calvados is always a good idea. Calvados is an apple-brandy that hails from Normandy and a small shot of it during a chilly eve works as well as a fireplace to lull you into thinking you love the winter cold. You may use another apple brandy or even apple cider.

It comes together surprisingly fast (my mantra now that I am a woman "of a certain age").

Chicken, Apples and Cream a la Normande
Chicken Normandy

flour for dredging seasoned with salt and pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts at room temperature (Patted down a bit if thick; I used six)
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks) (I used 2 medium MN apples sliced thinly and cored but not peeled)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 mushrooms (thinly sliced; I sometimes omit)
1/3 cup chicken broth (I use more)
2 tablespoons Calvados, apple jack or brandy (or cider)
2/3 cup heavy cream (I use a little less)
My addition: fresh thyme sprigs to finish


1. Put the seasoned flour in a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken in it, shaking off any excess.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter (I almost always combine the two even when seemingly unnecessary) in a large deep skillet. If the pan isn't large enough for all the chicken, brown the chicken in batches.
3. Cook each side approximately 3 minutes until they are browned.
4. If needed, add in the other tablespoon of oil and tablespoon of butter (I always need). Leaving the chicken in the pan, add in the mushrooms (if using), onions and apples. If the pan won't hold everything, you can briefly take out the chicken while you sauté the mushrooms, onions and apples. Make sure everything is coated with the oil-butter mixture. Saute for 1 minute and then add in the broth. When the broth boils, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about ten minutes. (Tines will vary depending on the thickness of chicken.)
5. Increase the heat and add in the Calvados (if you're feeling very ooh la la Normandie - use a little more). Boil until it is just about evaporated - about 1 minute.
6. Add the cream and with the heat still high, let the cream boil down about 1/4 - about 3-5 minutes.
7. Adjust seasonings, arrange on platter and serve. I finish it with some fresh thyme.

And now it's your turn - serve it with rice, sautéed spinach or crusty bread - what you think is a good idea.

We've had a blissfully warm autumn. Those of us in Minnesota look to El Nino for "short winters" (under 7 months). There is dancing in the streets when the words "El Nino" first appear in the summertime. Yes, the photo below was taken in mid-October, but I am still am amazed that I have geraniums, petunias, shrub roses, sage, thyme, parsley, bridal veils and other assorted happy plants.

Our patio days are numbered, but the "good ideas" are in full force. A fire on the patio is always a good idea. Calvados remains a good idea.

There have been many family discussions as of late. Matthew is poised to get his doctorate in April/May 2016. He has been "job" searching (for a post-doc). (And obsessing. He is his mother's son after all.) And last week, his number one choice came through and he accepted a two-year position at IPK in Gatersleben, Germany. It's a world-class lab for his work (plant pathologist). My "little guy." Living and working in Europe. Such a good idea.

And below:

He came to us exactly one year ago. Cioppino-Pino-Bambino was a very good idea. The days may be shorter, but November is filled with good ideas.