Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)

September 10: Feast Day of St. Theodard of Maastritch

Highlander and his co-workers stopped in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for a day, after a week-long business meeting in Germany. They took advantage of seeing the city before having to fly back to the United States the next morning.  Although it was just a quick tour through the quaint streets by the river, they enjoyed the sights—and snacks.

One of the most popular snacks in the Netherlands is bitterballen (deep fried beef croquettes or meatballs). Islander tried to re-create them at home so she could experience a little bit of what Highlander sampled in Amsterdam.

We also wanted to make a traditional Dutch dish with beef as an ingredient in honor of a seventh century bishop in The Netherlands—St. Theodard of Maastritch—the patron saint of drovers and cattle dealers. Try making bitterballen on his feast day for a taste of The Netherlands.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound beef (sirloin steak)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • oil (for deep frying)

Directions

Chop the beef into ¼ inch pieces. Mince the parsley. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Stir in the flour and mix until smooth. Gradually stir in the broth to make the gravy. Boil until thickened. Stir in the meat. Add the chopped parsley. Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink (about 3-5 minutes).

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl, cool, cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours to allow the flavors to develop and solidify. In a small shallow bowl, put the breadcrumbs in it. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and oil. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and scoop into 1.5 inch sized balls.

Dip balls into flour mixture, then egg and then roll again to coat in breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with mustard (optional).

Notes

  • Bitterballen has a very moist, meaty center. Make sure to fry them long enough to heat the beef inside.
  • We are working on trying more Dutch recipes and will add them to our Theme Menus list soon.

Baked Garlic Parmesan

Chicken Wings

September: National Chicken Month

It’s almost fall, y’all, and it’s time for some football! Our former neighbors, Glenn and Anna Maria B., would sometimes come from across the street to our house to watch the big game on our big screen TV. They often brought over game day goodies to share, like chicken wings from Wing Stop. We especially love the fried garlic parmesan chicken wings but we tried an oven-baked version at home, which is still just as juicy and flavorful.

We miss spending time with Glenn and Anna Maria since we moved away but this recipe will always remind us of the good times and good food we shared together. Bake garlic parmesan chicken wings for fall football game day gatherings and during National Chicken Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Big Oven)

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds chicken wings
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

In a large bowl, place the chicken wings and sprinkle with the dried oregano, rosemary and cumin.

Salt and pepper to taste. Lay the coated wings on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, pour the olive oil in a bowl.

Add the chopped basil, minced garlic and parmesan cheese to the olive oil bowl. Remove the chicken from the oven and toss in the bowl until well coated. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Islander and Anna Maria’s favorite part of the chicken wing is the flap (also called wingette). They usually gave the guys the drumettes to eat.
  • Search our blog for other seasonal football food. Search our blog for other chicken recipes.

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

September-November: National Apple Months

All-American apple pie gets an Asian accent when made into egg rolls! We first tried these at a neighborhood social. Fortunately, we live in a culturally diverse county where fusion foods give everyone an opportunity to try a mixed plate of everything ethnic. They are easy to make and can be frozen until ready to fry up for a fast and fabulous fall dessert for family and friends. Crisp like the autumn weather, apple pie egg rolls are delicious during the National Apple Months of September, October and November—and also all year long!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • package of egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • oil for frying
  • cinnamon sugar

Directions

Open a can of apple pie pilling and chop coarsely into smaller pieces. Set aside. Separate the egg roll wrappers. Beat the egg. Moisten the four sides of one egg roll wrapper with the beaten egg.

Scoop about two tablespoonsful of apple pie filling and spread lengthwise onto the bottom third part of the egg roll wrapper. Fold both left and right sides in. Then fold up to cover the apple pie filling.

Roll and press to seal. Place seam side down on waxed paper. Fry immediately or freeze until ready to fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Drain each apple pie egg roll on paper towels. While still hot, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream and drizzles of caramel sauce (optional).

Notes

  • Try substituting apple pie filling with other flavors: cherry, blueberry, peach, etc. Chunkier fruit fillings work best for egg roll style pies.
  • Search our blog for other apple recipes.

Biryani Chicken

September: National Rice Month

Our Indian and Pakistani friends at university introduced us to biryani, a hearty rice dish made with fragrant basmati rice, spices, vegetables and sometimes meat and eggs. We ate biryani as guests at their student association gatherings and during special occasions (Diwali and Eid). It was also a favorite dish of the Mughals that biryani is often described as a “feast fit for royalty”.

A few years following graduation from university, as newlyweds setting up our own kitchen, we bought our very first cookbook that focused on classic Indian recipes, including biryani. For more than two decades, we have cooked this dish whenever we wanted a main Mughlai-style meal with rich flavors. The ingredients are ironically affordable for such a royal dish, and we get a lot of delicious leftovers, making it worth our while to prepare it to last us for a few days during a busy workweek—and for National Rice Month!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Classic Indian: Easy, Delicious and Authentic Recipes”)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons biryani masala paste
  • 2/3 cup yogurt, plain
  • 3 ½ pounds chicken, boneless and skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bag (3.5 ounces) crispy onions (salad toppers)
  • 1-2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, fresh grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ounces cilantro, fresh chopped (plus additional for optional garnish)
  • 6-8 mint leaves, fresh chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 ½ cups basmati rice, washed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • boiling water (enough to cover the rice)
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1-2 cups frozen steak fries, defrosted and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2+ tablespoons ghee or butter, divided use
  • ½ cup cashew nuts
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • salt to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together the biryani paste with yogurt. Mix in the chicken.

Add the crispy onions, chopped chilies, ginger and garlic to the mix.

Stir in the cilantro and mint leaves. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for at least two hours. In a measuring cup, infuse the saffron with the milk until it changes color slightly. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the washed rice with cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Pour boiling water to cover the rice. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the cinnamon and cardamom. In a large skillet, heat a little vegetable oil. Fry up the chicken and marinade mixture until the meat is no longer pink.

Stir in the potatoes and mix with the marinade. In a deep casserole dish, layer the chicken-potato mixture on the bottom. Add the basmati rice on top.

Poke a few holes in the rice. Pour in the saffron-milk mixture. Dot with a few knobs of ghee/butter. Cover the dish tightly with foil. Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F and bake for an hour, checking to see if the rice is softened and done at 45 minutes. Continue baking until cooked.

While the biryani is baking, heat a little ghee/butter in a skillet. Saute the cashews and raisins to toast the nuts and plump up the fruit. Set aside. Remove the biryani from the oven when done. Carefully remove the foil. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Stir in the cashews and raisins and gently mix until the rice is fully blended with all the ingredients. Serve hot.

Notes

  • The original recipe is made in a heavy pot over a stovetop (such as a Dutch oven, which we did not have at this time). We used a glass casserole dish and baked it in the oven, after several years’ experience of burning the bottom of our pot!
  • Search our blog for other rice recipes.

Chicken Marbella

September:National Chicken Month

Life is always busy and, we admit, that it seems like we rely on take-out foods too much. But after discovering how easy it is to prepare Chicken Marbella, we can plan ahead for a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner.

This recipe is an iconic and original one for the Silver Palate restaurant (established in 1977 and closed in 1993) in Manhattan, New York. Long before the popular eatery opened, chefs Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins wanted to cook comfort foods for their guests and Chicken Marbella was created with ingredients, including chicken and pitted Spanish green olives, they already had in their own kitchen. It was a simple but delicious dish for their dinner party that they put it on their menu and named it after one of their favorite places, Club Marbella (pronounced mar-BAY-yah), in Spain. Chicken Marbella continues to be the most popular recipe in their Silver Palate Cookbook, published in 1982.

This famous chicken dish is one of the popular and favorite dishes at our home, too, because of its simple preparation and symphony of flavors. Try it and make Marbella Chicken during National Chicken Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Silver Palate)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ¼ cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • ¼ cup capers plus juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or other favorite pieces)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1-22 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes and olives.

Stir in the capers with juice. Add bay leaves, minced garlic and oregano.

Salt and pepper to taste. In the bowl or zipper top plastic bag, marinate the chicken in this mixture for at least three hours or overnight.

Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet, arranging the chicken in a single layer with the marinade and prunes, olives and capers around it. Pour white wine around the pan. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken skin with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (adjust the timing for chicken pieces other than thighs). Baste the chicken in the juices 2-3 times while baking.

Remove from the oven and put the chicken, prunes, olives and capers on a separate platter or serving dish. Baste with some of the pan juices. Optional steps: Place remaining pan juices into a small skillet. Boil until reduced to half. Strain the sauce over the chicken. Serve hot over rice, couscous or curly egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Notes

  • We halved the original recipe to feed just to two of us.
  • Chicken Marbella may be served cold/at room temperature.
  • This is a popular recipe during the Jewish Passover Seder.
  • Search our blog for more chicken recipes for National Chicken Month.

Campfire Cupcakes with

Mini Toasted Marshmallows

August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Highlander likes camping but Islander prefers “glamping” (or rather just staying home to cook and blog). Although it has been a while since Highander went out with his buddies on a camping trip, Islander recalls that he would return home late at night and smell smoky. He and his friends had enjoyed sitting around a campfire catching up with stories, singing songs and cooking over a campfire, including toasting marshmallows. “Glamper girl” just toasts her mini marshmallows using a culinary torch in the comfort of her own kitchen and does not smell like smoke afterwards! Highlander the “happy camper” says that toasting jumbo marshmallows over a real roaring campfire is a more fun, social and natural experience and that she is missing out!

Whether over a campfire or by butane torch, the toasty taste of melted ‘mallows is still yummy! As summer vacation and camping season start to wind down, one can continue to go “glamping” in the great indoors and toast marshmallows for some cute campfire cupcakes, especially on National Toasted Marshmallow Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Chocolate cupcakes (any favorite from-scratch recipe or boxed cake mix)
  • Buttercream frosting (yellow, orange and red)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Mini marshmallows

Directions

Bake and cool chocolate cupcakes.

Make frosting. Divide into three bowls. Tint each with yellow, orange and red food coloring/gel color.

In a large piping bag with tip 1M, fill with each of the three frosting colors. Or use three piping bags with a specialty coupler like Wilton Color Swirl 3-Color Coupler. Pipe swirls.

Position four pretzel sticks on top of the frosted cupcakes. Set aside. Put two mini marshmallows on toothpicks. Carefully use a culinary torch to toast the marshmallows. Place on a Styrofoam holder and continue to toast the rest of the marshmallows. Finish topping the cupcakes with the toasted marshmallow sticks.

Notes

  • Thanks to Olga W. for gifting us with the culinary torch so we could make crème brulee as well as toasted marshmallows.
  • Thanks to Karen B. for suggesting this campfire cupcake decorating technique for our blog post.

Baked Bao (with Char Siu Filling)

August 22: National Bao Day

In a previous post, we blogged about steamed char siu bao (also known as manapua in Hawaii). Islander’s brother, Kahuna, prefers the baked version so we are featuring the recipe here for National Bao Day. He thought that the steamed bao could just be baked but the dough is different, although both can be fried as well.

When he came to visit and stay with us during spring break, Islander had pre-made the filling and roux the day before he arrived and prepped the dough in the morning so it could rise while they were out enjoying the day together. By the afternoon, they assembled the bao, then took their power naps (!) during the second rise. They baked the whole batch for dinner and everything was ready when Highlander came home from work. Only a few leftovers remained, which Kahuna packed for the plane as a souvenir/snack.

The process to make baked bao looks long and laborious. But when making manapua (and memories) with loved ones, it is definitely quality time spent together and everyone enjoys the fruits of their labor. So bake some bao for National Bao Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from China Sichuan Food)

For the char siu filling

  • 2 cups char siu, diced finely
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Chop up the char siu into tiny squares. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the water with the cornstarch. Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Stir in the hoisin sauce and sugar until smooth and thickened. Add the char siu and mix well. Set aside to cool (or transfer to a bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight until ready to use).

For the roux

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons water

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the flour with water. Keep stirring over low heat until the mixture is thickened. Place the roux in a cup, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before making the dough.

For the dough

  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 ½ tablespoons butter, room temperature

For the egg wash and topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • toasted sesame seeds

Directions

Before making the dough, make sure that the roux is at room temperature for half an hour and is mixed well. In a stand mixer using the dough hook, place the roux, milk, sugar and salt.

Then add the bread flour, cake flour and yeast. Knead the dough at slow speed for 10 minutes.

Ad the butter and continue kneading on medium speed for another 10 minutes until the butter is well incorporated. Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a cool oven until the dough is doubled in size (depending on the weather, this might take between 2-5 hours).

Remove the dough onto a clean, floured surface. Roll and cut into 8-12 pieces (depending on size preference). Take one portion of the dough and roll out into a disc.

Scoop 1-3 tablespoons of the char siu filling (depending on the prefered dough size) into the middle of the disc. Gather the edges and twist to seal. Turn into over and place on lightly greased baking sheet at least two inches apart.

Repeat the process for the other bao. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise for another hour or until the dough has doubled in size again. Make the egg wash by beating the egg with water. Brush on top of the bao.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly then serve on a tray.

Notes

  • Refrigerate leftover bao in a closed container. They are best reheated in the oven for a few minutes rather than in the microwave to retain a softer texture.
  • See our steamed manapua recipe here.