09 September


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.

Maple Leaf Cookies

September 23: Autumn Equinox/Fall Season Begins

Happy fall, y’all! Now that we live in Texas, after having resided in Illinois and New Jersey for a few years, we miss seeing the colors of the leaves on the trees change when the seasons and temperatures transition from summer to fall. Even though a visit to Lost Maples in Vanderpool, Texas, allows us to experience the glorious fall foliage in the southwest, it is not the same or as abundant as when we lived in colder climates. But Islander still appreciates the vibrant and colorful leaves on the mainland during the autumn season that she did not see while growing up in year-round tropical Hawaii.

To celebrate the arrival of autumn, Islander made maple-flavored cookies. She texturized them with a leaf veining mat and used cans of edible color spray to decorate them since she does not own an expensive airbrush machine. The color mist can be layered to give variations in the maple leaf cookies and add natural beauty to these seasonal sweet treats.

For an edible equinox dessert this fall, make maple-flavored cookies misted with glorious autumn colors.

Recipe

(Adapted from Kitchen Lane)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons maple flavoring
  • 3 cups flour (all purpose white)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • fondant (golden yellow, light green, orange, burgundy)
  • powdered sugar for dusting the surface
  • Wilton brand color mist spray (orange, green, red, gold)

Directions

In a bowl, mix the butter with sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and milk. Add the maple flavoring.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the other ingredients and blend well to form a dough. Divide dough in thirds and roll into a ball. Then flatten each ball into a disc and place between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼-inch thick (we used ¼-inch thick acrylic sticks as guides). Stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30-45 minutes). They may also be frozen for 15-20 minutes.

Take one stack of flattened dough out of the refrigerator or freezer. Peel away both front and back to loosen, leaving the dough on one sheet of the waxed or parchment paper. Cut out the maple leaf shapes. Place on foil-lined greased cookie pan about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the cookie pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut more shapes, refrigerating if the dough gets too soft. The dough needs to be cold and firm in order to retain its maple leaf shape. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven when done and let sit on the pan for about five minutes. Transfer each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Using the same maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes on fall colored fondant (roll out to 1/16-inch thickness on a clean surface that has been dusted with a bit of powdered sugar to prevent from sticking. Cover the fondant maple leaf cutouts with plastic wrap to avoid them drying out while working on assembling the cookies.

Place a fondant maple leaf cutout on a leaf veining mat (we used Wilton brand flower impression mold). Lightly press to create the leaf vein texture. Brush maple flavoring on the cookie (see Notes). Position the fondant on top of the cookie and smooth out the edges with warm fingers. Repeat for all cookies.

Line a cookie sheet with paper towels. Place a few cookies on top of the paper towels. Shake the color mist can and lightly spray back and forth on the maple leaf cookies. Layer some of the other fall color mist sprays. Let the cookies dry completely before serving.

Notes

  • Instead of maple leaf flavoring, use clear piping gel or water to position the fondant shapes on the cookie.
  • Color mist sprays were our substitute for airbrushed cookies. The color mist shows up better on lighter fondant. Make sure the kitchen area is well ventilated or use the color mist sprays outside.
  • We could have used oak leaf-shaped cookie cutters but we are partial to maple leaves as this is the symbol of Highlander’s birth country, Canada.
  • Some years the autumnal equinox falls on the date of September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Make these cookies and other maple recipes on National Maple Syrup Day on December 17.

Rum Punch

September 20: National Rum Punch Day

There is an old poem about Planter’s rum punch that we followed to make a classic cocktail for National Rum Punch Day. The beverage was invented at the bar of Planter’s House hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, and the poem was published in the New York Times on August 8, 1908:

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Modern adaptations of this recipe still use limes, something sweet (such as simple syrup or grenadine, the latter more for its fruit punch color), Old Jamaica (we used Caribbean rum) and something weak (ice cubes for a stronger taste or water to dilute the drink). Just remember 1-2-3-4 for measuring the ingredients, whether making rum punch for one or a crowd. Happy National Rum Punch Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 measure/ounce of lime juice, fresh squeezed (around 2 limes)
  • 2 measures/ounces grenadine or simple syrup
  • 3 measures/ounces rum
  • 4 measures/ounces cold water
  • ice cubes

Directions

Slice the lime(s). Reserve a few for garnishing the glass (optional). Squeeze out the lime juice. In a glass, fill halfway with ice cubes. Pour in the lime juice. Add the grenadine or simple syrup. Stir in the rum and cold water. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Notes

  • Search our blog for other classic cocktail recipes.

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