Tuesday, March 29, 2011

While waiting ... An Irish Gal’s Italian Meatballs and Sauce

When one is waiting for life to happen - or the inevitable to pass - it is good to cook.

There is something blessed and calming about the nature of preparing food. Searching for a well-loved recipe passed down from one’s mother, or inventing a new dish of your own – it doesn’t really matter. Whether you enjoy the satisfying rhythm of chopping with a newly sharpened blade, or prefer the whir and speed of your shiny Cuisinart – the “secret ingredient” is the piece of your heart that you add to nourish the bodies and spirits of those you cook for.

With all due respect to my Italian brother-in-law, Skip, and my vegetarian daughters, Julia and Siobhan-- here is my favorite meatball and sauce recipe. (My own!) Make it for your favorite people, for wedding or christening or wake, to celebrate one of life’s most basic pleasures: the comfort and joy of sharing a satisfying meal with the people you love.

An Irish Gal’s Italian Meatballs and Sauce

For the meatballs, you will need:

• Three-quarters of a pound of ground pork

• Three-quarters of a pound of ground beef

• Three large eggs

• Three-quarters of a cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs

• 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley

• 2 cloves of garlic

• One-quarter of a large sweet onion

• 1 rib of celery

• 1 teaspoon Italian-style dried herb seasoning

• 4 tablespoons dry sherry (The real stuff. – NOT “cooking sherry” )

• Extra-virgin olive oil

• Grated parmesan

For the sauce you will need:

• 2 quarts of your favorite pasta sauce. (I like “Prego Traditional” or “Paul Newman’s Marinara”)

• 2 large sweet peppers. 1 green and 1 red, yellow or orange. (For color!)

• The other three-quarters of your large sweet onion

• 2 cloves of garlic

• 3 ribs of celery

• 1 cup dry red wine

• Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

2. In your electric mixer bowl, mix the four tablespoons of sherry and Italian bread crumbs. Fluff the breadcrumbs with a fork to make sure that they are all coated with the sherry.

3. While that mixture is resting, take one rib of celery, the quarter onion and the two cloves of garlic and mince – until very, very fine -- in your food processor (or by hand, if you prefer).

4. Heat a large skillet on your stovetop and add a tablespoon of good extra-virgin olive oil. You're going to brown the chopped vegetable mixture in the olive oil.

5. Cook over low to medium heat until all pieces are tender and slightly brown. Set aside to cool.

6. Beat three eggs and add to your breadcrumb and sherry mixture. Turn your mixer on low speed to combine ingredients. (Use bread hook attachment as this will be a very heavy mixture when all ingredients are added.)

7. When your cooked vegetables are cool, you can add to the breadcrumb/egg mixture.

8. Add your meats and continue to blend until all ingredients are incorporated. Form into golf- ball sized balls (about 1 inch) and roll in grated Parmesan.

9. Place the meatballs on a foil-lined baking dish/lasagna pan. Cook for 30 min. in your 325° preheated oven.

10. While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, you can begin to make your sauce.

11. Take your large red pepper and core it and cut into thin slices. Do the same with the green pepper.

12. Take the rest of your large sweet onion and slice that into lengthwise slices.

13. Finely mince two cloves of garlic.

14. You can use the same pan you cooked the meatball veggies in to save prep and clean-up time. – Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and cook your peppers, onions and garlic until tender.

15. Add 1 cup of dry red wine and 2 quarts of your favorite prepared spaghetti sauce.

16. Bring to a simmer.

17. After your meatballs have cooked in the oven for about 30 minutes, add them to the sauce to finish cooking. Simmer over low heat for about one hour. (That should be the minimum time you cook!)

18. For more flavor, simmer longer. Be careful to gently stir every once in a while to prevent the meatballs/sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

19. This is excellent to make ahead for your meal the next day, or you can put all or some in your freezer for one of those days that you just don't have time, or energy, to cook.

In my house these days, we typically don’t eat our meatballs with pasta. We make homemade mashed potatoes and put the red gravy over the potatoes. (That must be the “Irish Gal’s" part.) The meatballs, along with a side of steamed green beans, complete our tummy-and-soul-satisfying – and yummy – meal.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Solstice + One

Soltice + One

It is snowing out.


I could

just weep.

The little tit-mouse runs

up the jasmine bush

looking for a berry.

They are

all gone.

It has been

a very




Spring fooled us.

She came along 

for three days

last week.

The ice melted.


The birds

began to chirp.


And everyone


brighter, lighter

when you met them

in the store,

or walking

down the street,

or talking

on the phone.


The alpacas

rolled in the dust,

hidden so long.

They had

been longing

so long

to roll in

that dust.

The dust

that is gone.

Now it's mud.


I could

just weep.


I must

take them water.

I must

take them warm water.

Warm from the tap.


To take away

the chill

sudden return

of winter.

They line up

by the gate.


in long thirsty gulps.

I wonder.

Is it

the water

they crave

the warmth

they need

the hope

of a thaw?


I could

just weep.


has been

a very