Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Swedish Meatballs over Kluski Noodles

The Jan/Feb issue Cook's Illustrated had a recipe for Swedish Meatballs. I always like getting them at Ikea, so I gave it a try. The recipe called for heavy cream in both the meatballs and the sauce. I used evaporated milk - it's cheaper, lower in fat and won't separate when reheating like cream often does. The recipe called for half a pound each of ground pork and ground beef. I doubled the recipe so I could use the whole package of each. I meant to add some fresh dill or thyme - that would have made it better. And I needed lingonberry sauce. Doh!

In my mixer bowl, I made a panade of 4 crustless slices white bread soaked in ½ cup evaporated milk, two eggs plus a half tsp. each of allspice and nutmeg, 2 tsp.each of baking powder, salt and brown sugar plus two grated onions. I gave it a quick mix to form a paste, added the meat, and mixed on medium for 45 seconds until everything was incorporated. Forming 55 little meatballs took forever. I wonder if Swedish Salisbury Steak would be just as good.

The recipe called for pan-frying, but I split the batch between the frying pan and the broiler. Frying takes a lot more attention, stinks up the kitchen and adds extra fat. The fried meatballs were a bit more crispy and fluffy but they also tended to fall apart. With the sauce it was hard to tell the difference. Broil. Just remember to put some water in the bottom of the broiler pan so the drippings don't smoke and stick to the bottom.

The sauce is pretty basic - two cups of broth thickened with flour and enriched with 1/4 cup evaporated milk. The recipe called for chicken broth but I used Better Than Bouillon beef base. It tasted like that was a mistake at first, but once I added the tbsp. of brown sugar 2 tbsp. of lemon juice, the sauce had a bright sweet and sour flavor. I added a little allspice and white pepper too. I tossed the meatballs right in the finished sauce to keep warm while I boiled some Kluski noodles and finished cooking some squash for the side dish.

Frugal Factor: I used the last of my ground pork from the 1/4 pig I bought which worked out to about $4/lb. The ground beef from Shop Rite was $2.19/lb. 12 oz bag of kluski noodles, $1.79; evaporated milk, 12 ox can, $0.89. That's $8.87. Let's round that up to $10 to cover the pantry items (bread, onion, spices, sugar, etc.) Yielded 55 meatballs - 8 portions plus the ones I sneaked while finishing the sauce and such. That's $1.50/portion. (the side dish was a butternut squash I bought for $2.50 - so add $0.42 for that for the meal)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Scallops Lo Mein in Black Bean Sauce

I had some Chinese yam noodles, leftover cilantro, and some scallops in the freezer from the 5 lbs bag I bought on sale for $20 at Shop Rite a while back.
I made a double-portion of fermented black bean sauce from an earlier post and threw half a bag of frozen spinach in the sauce once it was done cooking. drained the liquid from the thawed scallops (added it to the sauce) and tossed them in some soy sauce.
After searing the scallops, I added the sauce w/ the spinach, deglazed the pan, tossed in the cooked noodles and some chopped cilantro and dinner was served
Frugal Factor: $5 for the scallops, $1 for the sauce ingredients, $1.50 for the frozen spinach, $3 for the noodles, $1 for the cilantro. Let's round that up to $11 for four portions - $2.75/portion. Not ultra frugal but cheaper than takeout and way tastier.

Fish in Packets

Fish in packets is an easy dish as long as you can fold the packets of parchment paper. If you can't, well-oiled foil works too. I used 11 lbs Mahi Mahi but any white-fleshed fish works

Julienne one leek and one carrot and toss veggies in bowl with a dash of salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil and vermouth

Preheat oven to 350. Divide fish into four portions. Wrap each of the fillets in parchment with the vegetables. Bake 10 minutes, unwrap and serve.
Frugal Factor: $1 for the leek and carrot, $0.50 vermouth, $6.50 for the fish. Serves 4, $2/portion, not including those mashed potatoes

Fish Cake Sandwich w/ Slaw

This was an easy little recipe to use stuff I had in the fridge. I had some leftover broiled mahi mahi which I supplemented with a can of mackerel. I like to use masa harina, the processed corn flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales, as a coating for fried fish.

Ingredients: 1 can mackerel, a few slices of stale bread pulsed in a in the food processor, 1 egg, 1 tbsp. smoked paprika, 1 tbsp. dried chives, 1 grated shallot, 1 cup masa harina

Mix all the ingredients except the masa harina together. Form into patties. If it falls apart, add a little of the masa. Once formed, dredge in the masa and fry in a pan with 1/2 inch of oil (I like peanut oil for pan frying - it's light, a litttle nutty, and you can get it very hot.

I shredded some cabbage and a carrot and tossed it with some tartar sauce to make a fish slaw, put it on a crusty roll with the fish cake, and had a tasty sandwich.

Frugal Factor: Mackerel, $2; egg, $0.25; cabbage, $0.50. Let's say $3 for four portions, or $0.75/portion plus whatever the cost of the roll you choose.