Have you ever started with a recipe idea in mind, then you end up with something even more delicious than you imagined? That was the case with this recipe for Caldo de Albondigas Rellenas. My friend Denise, who loves to cook, shared a recipe for a French Onion Soup with Stuffed Meatballs. My intention was to try it just as it was written, but ended up not having enough onions and a few of the other ingredients. So, as I do for many recipes, I just pulled from what I already had in my pantry and refrigerator. I added some of my favorites like zucchini, carrots and jalapeño. The results were delicious! A cross between French onion soup and Mexican meatball (albondigas)soup, but with cheese stuffed meatballs. Bonus! A hearty meal, to say the least. The wonderful thing about this recipe, is that you could serve the meatballs in a nice, fresh bollilo roll and serve the soup on the side. Or you can serve it as is with warm corn tortillas.
Caldo de Albondigas Rellenas~(Cheese Stuffed Meatball Soup)
For Cheese Stuffed Meatballs 2 pounds ground chuck, chicken, pork or turkey 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 teaspoon granulated garlic 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chile ancho powder 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 8 ounces smoked cheese, I used gruyere *slice cheese into 16 equal cubes Olive oil for cooking meatballs
Tips* This was prepared in a large quantity for a pot luck meal, but you could certainly cut all of the ingredients by half for a smaller family.
For Soup Base
2 tablespoons Oilve oil 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 large sweet onions, sliced into strips
salt and pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup peas
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups beef stock
3 cups chicken stock
Not the prettiest when all of the onions caramelize and reduce, but the flavor was delicious!
1. To prepare the meatballs. In a large bowl, add the ground meat, spices, bread crumbs and eggs. Mix to combine. Roll 16 equal meatballs. Take each meatball and flatten slightly. Place a cube of cheese in the center and form meatball around the cheese to cover completely. Place on tray or plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. To a large dutch oven style pot, add olive oil and butter. Add all of the onion, and heat to medium/low. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook and saute for a good 15 minutes, stirring often to move so that the onions brown and reduce.
3. Add the garlic, jalapeño, bell pepper and carrots and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add in all of the remaining ingredients for soup. Bring to a boil, reduce to lowest setting and keep covered 3/4 of the way.
4. While the soup simmers, brown the meatballs. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the meatballs and sear for 3 minutes per side. Try to get as many sides browned as you can. You may have to brown them in batches.
5. Once meatballs are browned, raise the heat slightly on soup pot. When it starts to boil gently, carefully add in all of the meatballs. Making sure they are immersed into the broth so they cook properly. Cover pot partially and continue cooking for 30 to 35 minutes, gently stirring meatballs once as they cook. Most of the meatballs opened up on me, but the cheese stayed intact. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro. Yields up to 8 to 10 servings.
Again, one of the hot food trends is fusing two food cultures. For today’s delicious grilled recipe I prepared a fresh marinade combining Mexican and Asian flavors. I literally think I would be happy eating any savory foods, Mexican or not in between a warm corn tortilla, lol! One of the reasons I stopped purchasing store bought marinades was first because of availability. Does it not seem that you find a product at the market and the next time you go to purchase it, they no longer sell it? Happened to me one too many times. For that reason and because I could control what goes into my marinades, I decided to just prepare my own from now on. I do the same with dressing, salsa and pasta sauce. As long as you document how you prepared it, then you can always refer to it when you need more. Today’s blog post features a Citrus Chile Marinated Beef Short Rib. Quick cooking on the grill and great for a starter meal and even better for tacos.
Citrus Chile Marinated Beef Short Ribs
1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, about 1/3 inch thick
For Marinade Juice of 1 large orange Juice of 1 lime 2 serranos, chopped 1 red fresno pepper, chopped(optional) 3 cloves garlic, sliced 1/3 cup cilantro 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons Maggi sauce or Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 1/3 teaspoon Chinese five spice salt to taste
Tips~ You could crush or grind the cumin and coriander seeds using a mortar and pestle. Or you could pop the whole spices into a coffee grinder for a finer finish as I did. I only use the coffee grinder it for spices.
1. Add all of the ingredients for the marinade into the blender or food processor. Pulse to blend for a coarse finish or blend on high for a smoother sauce. Taste for salt.
2. Place beef in a heavy storage bag or in a baking dish. Pour the marinade over the beef to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
3. Remove the beef from refrigerator 40 minutes before cooking. Shake off excess marinade and transfer to a plate. Season with a little more fresh cracked pepper. Prepare outdoor grill and heat to preheat to medium/high. Brush grates with oil and place ribs on grill. Cook beef ribs for 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove from grill, tent lossely and let rest for 5 minutes. Yields 4 servings. Serve over rice with warm corn tortillas, salsa, lime cilantro and onions for making tacos.
Tips~ Ribs can also be cooked under the broiler for the same amount of time.
A fresh Pico de Gallo with added red radishes will result in a bright red, pickled salsa.
I live in a great area for delicious Italian food. Just about on every corner you will find a family owned Italian pizza place or full menu Italian restaurant. My first attempts at preparing lasagna were with the dry noodles that had to be boiled first. Not the most fun experience, lol! Then I tried the no boil noodles. Not very memorable to say the least. Recently while at my favorite market, I came across these packages of fresh, oven ready lasagna sheets. I could not pass them up as they were priced very reasonable. I had in mind a few different sauces I wanted to test out as well. So, first you want to decide on a sauce recipe for your lasagna. If you have the time, I suggest preparing your sauce one to two days ahead. The flavors will improve as it sits. Then pick your baking dish. I would suggest a deep dish pan for best results. This is only if you want to add several layers to your lasagna. Other pans that work well are loaf pans. This way you could make a few smaller portioned lasagna. It makes it much easier to freeze for a later time and easier to defrost as well. In my experience in lasagna making, it’s best to have extra sauce and extra cheese. Nobody want a dry lasagna and you could always serve the extra sauce on the side or ladle some over the top when ready to serve.
Tomato Red Pepper Sauce
Olive oil 1 medium sweet onion, diced 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 large red bell pepper, diced salt pepper red pepper flakes 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed oregano 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet basil 2 cans whole tomatoes (28 oz) 1/2 cup parmesan or cotija cheese, finely grated
1. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to large pot and heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes(or to taste), oregano and sweet basil. Saute for 1 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Using a hand held mixer or the blender, blend all of the ingredients until there are no more chunks. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, adding more salt to taste and other seasonings if you like. Add the cheese, if using the last few minutes. Yields about 8 cups of sauce.
Light Version of Bechamel
8 tablespoons unsalted butter 8 tablespoons all purpose flour 8 cups 2% milk at room temperature 1/4 cup chicken base (this is optional, but adds a little more flavor) 1/2 teaspon white pepper 1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg Salt to taste
*For a more traditional version, omit the chicken base and use heavy cream or whole milk instead of 2%. Any chef would discourage using lowfat milk, but my sauce was still smooth and extra creamy!
1. Add the butter to a large pot and heat to medium. As soon as the butter melts, whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue to whisk, so it does not burn, for 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the chicken base, pepper and nutmeg. Continue cooking on medium/low until sauce becomes thick and creamy. Do not let it boil. Taste for salt. Yields 8 cups.
Fire Roasted Mexican Meat Sauce
Olive oil 1 small sweet onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 poblano, diced 1 serrano or jalapeño, minced 3 tablespoons flour 3 oz. tomato paste 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes 3 cups water 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules 2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon crushed oregano 1 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Pinch of cinnamon Pinch of clove salt to taste 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 pound lean ground beef
1. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot and heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic, poblano and serrano pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add the flour, tomato paste and fire roasted tomatoes. Stir well to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Add all of of the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Using a wooden spoon, break down the beef and it cooks. Cook at a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Yields about 6 cups.
Spinach Artichoke Filling
Olive oil 1 small sweet onion, diced 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 large pickled jalapeño, minced 16 oz frozen spinach leaves (Defrost and squeeze out excess water) 14 oz can artichokes,drained and chopped small Juice of 1 lemon 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Salt to taste
1. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet and heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic and pickled jalapeño. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add all of the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Cook until excess liquid reduces. Taste for salt. Yields about 4 cups
Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce
6 to 8 pasta sheets (5X10) 1 recipe for bechamel sauce 1 recipe for spinach artichoke filling 4 cups of shredded or grated cheese mix * I used a combination of mozzarella, Parmesan and tomato basil cheddar. Shredded them and mixed it myself 1 teaspoon crushed oregano 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon flour *A small deep, disposable lasagna pan works best for 4 layers. I used 2 smaller pans and cut the sheets down to size. I only used 5 sheets.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Depending on the size of pan you will be using, you may have to cut the sheets to fit pan. In a bowl, combine all the cheese, oregano, red pepper flakes and flour. Toss to combine and set aside.
3. To start, layer some sauce on the bottom. Add pasta sheets to fit. Add a thin layer of spinach mix and a layer of cheese mixture. Repeat the layers until you fill the pan, more or less or until you run out of ingredients, ha ha! You should always end with cheese as the top layer.
4. Cover with foil and place pan on baking sheet lined with more foil. Bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, under the broiler for the last minute to brown the top. Remove from oven and let rest fro 30 minutes before slicing. Yields 8 servings.
Fire Roasted Mexican Meat Sauce Lasagna~Lasagna with a Mexican Twist
You Will Need 1 recipe for Mexican Meat Sauce 5 to 6 oven ready lasagna sheets (5X10) 1 cup chihuahua or mozzarella cheese, shredded 1 cup pepperjack, shredded 1/2 cup cotija or parmesan cheese, grated 1 tablespoon flour 1 teaspoon crushed oregano 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro 8X8 pan, but a small, deep, disposable lasagna pan would work better.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine all the cheese, oregano, red pepper flakes and flour. Toss to combine and set aside.
2. To the pan, you will add the ingredients in this order to begin. 1. sauce, 2. pasta, 3. cheese. If using the parsley or cilantro, spinkle a little on top of each cheese layer.
3. Then another layer of pasta, sauce and cheese. Repeat 2 more times, ending with cheese on top. You want to add thin layers of meat sauce and cheese so the lasagna does not end up too tall for pan. This is why I say a deep dish disposable pan would work best.
4. Cover with foil, place on baking sheet lined with foil and bake on middle rack for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, the last minute under the broiler. Remove from oven and let set and cool slightly for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Yields 4 to 6 servings.
Tips~ Whichever pan you use, you will probably have to cut the sheets to fit. I happened to have a vintage Pyrex pan that was exactly the right size for pasta sheets and only had room for 4 sheets.
And if you have a few leftover pasta sheets and ingredients why not try some…
Lasagna Roll Ups
I had leftovermexican meat sauce, so I took 2 pasta sheets and filled each sheet with a layer of sauce to cover surface. Add cheese and gently roll up like a cigar. Place in a baking dish lined with sauce and cover with more sauce and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Broil for a minute to brown the top. Yields 2 servings.
Embracing my Mexican heritage and sharing all the wonderful flavors, colors and foods I grew up with. Join me on this journey as I also learn new foods and cooking techniques. Dedicated to my parents Ramiro and Blanca.