Sunday, December 18, 2011

Millionaire Shortbread *you're welcome* :)

I remember millionaire shortbread from back in the day.  I don't know if my mother, my aunts or my grandmother made it.  I think my mother made something similar to these, I just remember eating them.

It's my party piece.  No one in my house eats it but me so I make it to take away, sneaking the edge bits or a slice for myself of course.

It's best kept in the fridge and left to room temperature to serve.

It lasts a long time, well, if there's no one in your house.  Otherwise, sorry for your luck!

This is one of my favorite things.

I took it to a party last night and was delighted to over hear, "don't go near those chocolate things on the end, they're like crack! you'll be addicted immediately, I have to go outside to get away from them".

Here's some beauty shots
you can make it in a tart pan and cut it in wedges

in a square pan, cut into chunks
the chocolate cracks and the caramel oozes
dark chocolate or milk chocolate, oh look how flaky

The recipe:


1 1/4 cups a/p flour
tsp salt
1 stick butter or margarine (YES! margarine works just fine here)

MIX with your fingers and press into an 8x8 prepared pan and prick it all over with a fork.  I prepare the glass dish with a stripe of parchment paper so I can lift the entire thing out in one piece for slicing.  And for slicing off the edges, in the name of square-ness, so I can eat them.

BAKE 350 about 20 minutes, until it's pale light golden around the edges.

COOL  (yes, I shove it straight from the oven into the fridge on either a rack or a tea towel. My patience? Not great)


1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk  (NOT sweetened condensed!)
tsp salt

Put all this in a medium sized pan on the stove.  Medium high heat.  Get a glass of wine and stir.  Stir some more and keep stirring, slowly, until the mixture looks and smells like caramel.

You just have to know how to do this, the mixture will boil like mad, get huge bubbles then smaller ones then suddenly, about 15 minutes later, it'll be lava.  The odd blurp and it'll color and thicken fast.  This is not the time to check your email or even talk on the phone.  I stand, with a glass of wine and stir.  I think about things sometimes but mostly I stir and cocktail.

When the caramel is the colour you like and thick, pour it over the cooled shortbread base. Straight back in the fridge if you have no patience, leave it out to set if you do.


1 cup chocolate chips, dark or milk or mix
1-2 tsp plain oil.

Nuke until it's melted, don't scorch it!  Stir it smooth and pour it over the caramel layer.  Score the chocolate layer immediately.

These are very very VERY rich so tiny is fine

Make these, love these, and let me know how it goes.  If you're one of the inner sanctum, keep inviting me to functions and I'll keep bringing these!  :)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Salmon Meat Balls (mini cakes)

T'is the season to be invited to cocktail parties, Christmas parties and just having the chance to get together with friends.  I love feeding people.  I try to do something new, even though I have a couple of hard core fans who demand I bring the same thing over and over.

Every once in a while, I take a bite of something I've made, and made up, and I'm quite simply delighted.  I have had that very experience this morning.

I've been invited to a cocktail/snack Christmas Caroling Singing gathering.  Sometimes, I think, Christmas demands a higher level of snacking than something bought and brought although really, that is perfectly fine. This time of year is also when a lot of us are watching our budgets so I stood staring into my pantry wondering what I could come up with that was a little bit special, a little bit that would feed many cocktailing carolers and something that was absolutely deliciously wonderful.  I wanted to be the rock star.

I had a can of salmon.  *bingo!*

I'll be honest, my mother is queen of the fishcake but I make a killer meatball so what we have here is the cocktail party big bang moment; enter my new party piece, salmon meatballs.

Before I even bothered getting dressed, here's what went down:

Tracy's Salmon MeatBalls

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, chopped small
2 slices hearty white bread (I used my homemade single white loaf and cut a piece about 1 1/2 inch thick)
2 green onions
handful of fresh parsley
1 egg
1 can salmon, picked and liquid saved
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying

In a small frypan, sautee the onions in the butter until they are soft but not brown.  Set aside to come to room temperature.  A trick I use is to fry the onions for a few minutes then squirt in a little water and throw a lid on the pan, this will speed up cooking the onions without adding any color to them.  Finish the onions without the lid to allow any excess liquid to steam off.

In a large bowl, crumble the bread, add some of the reserved liquid, about 4 tablespoons of the salmon liquid, add the onions, green onions and parsley,the egg, mayonnaise, lemon juice and combine lightly.  Add the salmon, trying not to completely crush it in the mixture.  I use a fork.  Toss it together and if it's too liquid, add a little of the panko to help bind the mixture.  It should be soft but not too sticky.

Divide the mixture into tiny balls, roll them lightly and put them on a plate.  Cover and put in refrigerator until needed.  We love the do ahead.  You can just roll them in panko and fry them immediately if you want but there's slightly less risk of disintegration if you let them rest a bit.

Roll the balls in panko bread crumbs lightly, fry them on medium heat until they are beautiful, brown and crunchy.  There really isn't anything to cook heavily inside so these go quickly.  Blot them on paper towel or a brown paper bag, go green, and set aside.  Cook them all.

Serve them with this sauce

Tracy's Salmon MeatBall dip/sauce

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon sweet relish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Combine, chill, serve up with anything.   This is a ridiculous flavor addition to the salmon meatballs.

Serve the meatballs with the dip/sauce and stand back, you're going to get solid rock star accolades.  These are simply delicious little nuggets.  Let me know how much you love them.

Here are the beauty shots:

In a big bowl, here's the breadcrumbs, add liquid from can, a couple of green onions and parsley, chopped up and an egg.  Fry up the onions to soften but not color.

Gently mix it all up and form into 1 inch balls, salt and pepper it all.  Be light handed, no need to pack these tightly, merely enough to hold them together in a ball.  After they are formed, roll in panko breadcrumbs.

lightly fry the salmon balls in peanut oil or some unflavored oil until they are beautiful.

Serve them with/on a little of the sauce and a parsley leaf if you're feeling chef-y.  Alternatively, put them on a platter with decorative sticks to pick them up and dip them.  I might try them on my mini homemade rolls later as a more substantial snack.

Make these as your new party piece.  There's enormous bang for your buck and one can of salmon ($2.29 at my HEB) made 30 salmon meat balls.  You will be a rockstar.

Merry Christmas!!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meatballs, pressure cooker style

Ok, It's December in Austin, Texas.  Notwithstanding what the weather may or may not do regarding the coldness, I am going to winter weather cook.  

Today, I'm making meatballs, these are my simple, everyday, cook balls of meat until they are yummy, meatballs.  I cook them in a pressure cooker.  I used to cook them in a dutch oven.  I think they are more tender in the pressure cooker but they are absolutely delicious either way.

These are weird meatballs, but it's how I do them and I've never had any complaints. 

In a food processor (!) combine: 

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic

Process until it's a paste, leave it to sit a few minutes so the bread absorbs everything.  The mixture is like pablum.  Worry not, it'll work out! 

In a large bowl put 

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp oregano
the ground bread, onion mixture
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg

Mix well with your hands and add up to 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs to help it come together in a moist but cohesive ball.  Form them into little balls, I use the 1 inch portion scoop but you can use any measure you want depending on how big you want them.  I portion half on a sheet of tinfoil and pop them straight into the freezer and when they're frozen, throw them into bags so I can grab as many or few as I may need for another  meal.  Just fry them up, from frozen, and throw them in any sauce or soup or just cook them through and make a killer sandwich.  

But I'm sorry, I digress, fry your little balls until they are beautiful, not to cook them just to brown them quickly.

Pour 1 can of whole tomatoes, chopped up and 1 can of stock or water in the pressure cooker.  A sprinkle of sugar and 1/2 tsp of vinegar really brightens up the flavor.  You can omit these and just throw in a jar of tomato sauce, Hunts works best here for the retro flavor.  Either way, throw in a bay leaf.

As you fry the balls, drain them and pop them into the cold sauce in the pressure cooker.  Pour off all the fat from the pan and deglaze with a splash of red wine and a half a can of water.  Add the liquid to the pot. 

Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes, allow to release naturally.  Eat.  Save.  Freeze.  Refrigerate.  Serve with pasta.  Serve with potatoes.  Make a sandwich on crunchy homemade bread.  Do whatever meatbally thing you'd like.  They are tender, meaty and delicious. 

ALTERNATIVELY, if you don't 'do' pressure cookers; use a covered dutch oven and bake for 45 minutes at 375.



Mmmmm, meatballs goodness

go make some meatballs in the pressure cooker, you'll be delighted.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Potato Appetizer Snack Side Deliciousness

Sunday has turned into football watching day.  I don't think it's because anyone particularly likes football but rather the call of "the games on!" has become synonymous with "it's justification for laying around in jammies and not actually doing to help put the house back together even though the walls are all cracking and there is paper hanging from cracks in all the corners and the child's bedroom window is falling out day".

Since I was sick the day before, there's not a snack in the house.  It's amazing how little gets done when I spend a day laying on my bed feeling well and truly sorry for myself.  I mean the dishwasher backup continued, am I the only one who knows how to empty it.  I'm sure I am not, perhaps it's just that I'm the only one who would think about it?  Am I doomed to be the dishwasher backup emptier and reloader supervisor for the rest of my life?  I mean it's sort of like the toilet paper.  I actually walked in the bathroom the other day and there was a new roll of toilet paper balanced precariously on the empty roll of it's predecessor.  Who thinks of that?  I am sure it took more thought, work and mental process to decide to and then execute the opening and balancing of the new roll than simply changing it out.

I'm sorry, I digress.  We are here to talk about little fried rounds of delightful happiness making and I'm ranting about broken houses, dishwashers and toilet paper. We are here, really, to talk about food.

I think snacks are important on football day.  I like to nibble when I'm staring at the big tv cheering on millionaires who play with little balls for a living.  Ok, I'm being facetious but really, grown men?  In any event, this is the best, easiest, yummiest appetizer snack side dish you'll ever make.

The only make ahead is the fact you have to have cooked mini potatoes in your fridge.  So long as that is done, you're laughing. These, by the way, are also fantastic with eggs in the morning, noon, or night.  It's a breakfast dish, it's an anything dish.

Here we go:

Get some cooked mini potatoes
Get a frying pan
Get some sort of hot fat
Sea salt and any herb you love.

Place the potaotes on your counter, squash them with the heel of your hand.  Not to thin that they fall apart but far enough to crack the skin open and expose the potatoey goodness inside that we are about to crisp!

Squash the little darlings and heat up your favorite fat in a large skillet.  I use a non stick for this.  My husband was recently on a business trip to the UK and I had him bring me back a couple of jars of goose fat specifically for frying potatoes.  IF you don't have a business trip husband, feel free to use bacon fat, or lard or olive oil, whatever floats your boat works here.  It's more the method.

Get the fat really hot and lay the little squashers in, carefully.  They have to be in a single layer and as much as you want to futz with them, do not futz with them. You can give them a little shake to feel involved but really, just leave them.  You need them more than they need you at this moment in time. You will smell they're frying and you will see a little darkening around the edges, that's when you flip.  Carefully, we really want these to stay in tact.

Flip them twice, lay them on a board and sprinkle them with sea salt.  Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. My son likes to use ranch dressing, I like garlic aoili.  Feel free to cheat here and thin a little mayonnaise with milk and grate some garlic into it, add salt and pepper. 

Sprinkle them with whatever fresh herbs you have.  They make a really cool appetizer and unusual finger food for a cocktail party or just for hanging around.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lamb Meatballs or Kebabs

I've made too many chicken dishes lately.

I needed a change.

I really like lamb.  I don't eat it nearly enough.  I think we fall into the chicken, ground beef or pork routine too easily as we're all trying to save on our grocery bills.

I found lamb on sale today and snatched it up.  I was going to make a lamb meatball curry with bananas and coconut milk, oh the plans I had.  I have changed my mind and now it's lamb meatball/kebab hoagie sandwiches for dinner.  These are divine, easy, delicious and have a richness you just don't get from beef or pork.

Here is the list:

1 lb ground lamb
1 thick slice bread
1/4-1/2 cup yogurt (PLAIN!)
salt, pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
a few grates of nutmeg
1/2 onion (grated)
2 large garlic cloves (grated)
1 green onion (chopped)
some cilantro (chopped)

In a bowl, crumble the slice of bread and add the yogurt, mash it around and leave it to rest a few minutes.  The bread will absorb the yogurt (I usually do this with milk but wanted the added acidity) and turn to a mash that will combine with the lamb and help keep it tender.  After it's sat there for a few minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix lightly with a fork.

Cover the mixture with plastic and let it rest for a while.  This really does matter, the flavors blend and the yogurt further marinates the meat.

Form the meat into little football shapes!  They will lay beautifully in the bread later.

These are the loaves I'm going to fill!  They are a simple italian loaf that you'll probably just go and buy, I'm a bit bread obsessive and only eat my own.  I will post the recipe when I next make it and pay attention to the measurements.  I had to add the beauty shots of the bread, the crumb was perfect, in my humble opinion, and we've eaten most of it now!

Make a sauce of yogurt and grated garlic, chopped mint, salt and pepper.  Fry the meatballs in olive oil until they are brown and have a lovely crust on them.  I did them in two batches, browned them then tossed them on a (grotty old, apparently sorry) sheet pan and put them in a 400 toaster oven for about 15 mins.


Cut the loaf into enormous pieces, slice them open.

slather them with the sauce and crispy romaine leaves, pile the hot meatballs on top.

Take some beauty shots, add a bit more sauce for effect and DEVOUR!

Although the original curry plan went strangely awry, there was sheer delight on the face of my 12 yr old as he devoured, lovingly, the enormous "just sandwiches for dinner" before him.

I think this is a keeper recipe!!