Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was a fastidious child. I was the kid from Louisiana that couldn’t stand seafood, loved macaroni and cheese and chocolate milk for all occasions, and couldn’t stand the sight of meat sauce. But my mother was and is a very wise woman. She knew I wouldn’t eat meat sauce, but meatballs? Of course! My mother understood my weird palate. She knew I was a texture enthusiast and a romantic. When I say I was a romantic, she knew that I would associate spaghetti and meatballs with Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (the funny thing is I still do!). The scene of two puppies sharing a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with an Italian man in the background singing “Belle Note” was enough for me to appreciate and devour any spaghetti and meatball dish in front of me. And I can only imagine my mom patting herself of the back while the song played in my head and I swayed along, eating my spaghetti until it was all gone. Happy plate!

Recipe: Serves 6-8

For Sauce:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pinch of red pepper

2 28oz. cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed

1 pinch of sugar

¼ cup of chicken stock

1 sprig of fresh basil

2 tablespoons of butter

¼ cup of parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium low heat. Let garlic and red pepper shimmy in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for about 5 minutes then lower the heat and add stock and basil. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add butter and cheese. Adjust seasonings if needed. Reserve for meatballs.

For Meatballs:

Olive Oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons of parsley

1 cup of milk

4 slices of bread, crust removed and cubed

2 pounds of ground chuck

1 pound of ground pork

1 egg, slightly scrambled

½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta

Heat a few tablespoons of oil over a medium flame. Sauté onions, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes together until soft. Season slightly with salt and pepper. Let cool.

While the vegetables cool, soak the bread in the milk while you get the meatball mixture prepared. In a large bowl, combine the beef and pork together slightly. Add the egg, cheese, salt and pepper to the meat. Finally, squeeze all of the excess milk from the bread and place it with the meat mixture, along with the cooled vegetables. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until well combined. Shape into meatballs. You can shape them into large meatballs or bite-sized depending on your preference.

Heat a sauté skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté meatballs quickly on all sides. I do this step in 2 batches. Once browned, transfer to simmering red sauce for at least 30 minutes. Toss in the angel hair pasta and mix together.

 

 

 

Tomato Soup

Tomato soup has a special place in my heart. It was the first meal my mom ever let me make by myself. Let me rephrase, it was the first time my mom allowed me to use the microwave by myself. Yes, my tomato soup memories may have come from a Campbell’s can but that little silver can was a symbol of freedom. I craved independence, so having full control over the microwave at five years old to make my own lunch was earthshattering. In our tiny kitchen, I grabbed a stool and sat on the cabinet. I grabbed the can of liberty from the cupboard and carefully opened it with the automatic can opener on the counter. I snatched a small, white bowl and poured out the red-orange contents into my vessel of choice. I covered the bowl with a paper towel per mom’s request. Apparently, the splatter of tomato soup in the microwave was a serious offense worthy of severe punishment. After the soup had time to get warm and snuggly, I used two strawberry potholders and carefully took the soup to my spot at the table. I said grace and lunch was served! I enjoyed my meal to the last drop and skipped away smiling with a red tomato soup moustache. Freedom never tasted so good!

 

Recipe: Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Tomato Soup Recipe

Serves 6

6 Tbs. butter

2 Onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 can of San Marzano tomatoes

3 cups of chicken stock

Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and garlic to the butter. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Let sweat until translucent. Add can of tomatoes to the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook with the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper. Let boil then reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Using an emersion blender, puree the vegetables until creamy and silky. Enjoy!