Friday, August 27, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Mushrooms and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

This summer has been a giant cooking homage to American comfort food for me. After meatballs, I got obsessed with everything meatloaf. The traditional meatloaf (if one can call it a tradition), is a smorgasbord of leftovers from the fridge, mixed with ground meat, baked in the oven and finished off with a liberal smear of ketchup. While using leftovers from the fridge is always appealing and economical, the rest isn’t. The question is how to hold in moisture and impart maximum flavour without getting too complicated. So after much experimentation, I’ve ended up with a formula where I brown the aromatic vegetables on the stove-top first, then add them to the ground meat. And instead of using ketchup (which I detest), I’ve come up with a sun-dried tomato tapenade, which I’ve added to the meatloaf mixture itself as well as spreading on the top at the end. No more dried-out shoe leather for supper!!

1 cup oil-marinated sun dried tomatoes
4 tbsp leftover oil from sun-dried tomatoes
6 Shallots (or 1 small onion)
4-6 cloves Garlic
1 cup Breadcrumbs
1 cup milk
3 tbsp Butter
10 oz Mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup Carrots, finely chopped
¼ cup Celery, finely chopped
2 large Eggs
2 lbs ground Turkey
½ cup Parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Sage, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh Thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
1 tsp Black Pepper
Salt (to taste)

  1. In a food processor, grind sun-dried tomatoes, oil from tomatoes, shallots and garlic to a fine paste. Reserve 4 tbsp of paste for later use and put remaining paste in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Stir together breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl and let stand for 5 mins. Transfer to mixing bowl with tomato paste. 
  3. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 2 tbsp butter and sauté mushrooms over high heat for 3-4 mins until golden brown. Transfer mushrooms to mixing bowl with other ingredients. 
  4. In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp butter and sauté carrots and celery for 6-7 mins, until softened. Add celery and carrots to the mixing bowl. 
  5. Whisk eggs and add to mixing bowl along with ground turkey, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and black pepper and mix well with your hands to combine all ingredients thoroughly. (Mixture will be fairly moist.) 
  6. Place mixture in a baking pan and shape into a roughly 9- by 5-inch rectangular loaf. Cover with foil and bake in a 400ºF pre-heated oven for 1 hour. About 45 mins into the baking, spread the reserved tomato paste on top of the loaf and continue baking uncovered. 
  7. Remove meatloaf from oven and let stand for 10-15 mins, Cut meatloaf into 1-inch thick slices and serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home Accents

This continues to be my year of the table! Earlier in the spring, I fell in love with an utterly chic and petite Deco-Shanghai-style console table by Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams that I spied while flipping through an old issue of Elle Décor in my doctor’s waiting room. The colour was a rich carmine, just like the tube of Windsor & Newton gouache paint, and most importantly, it was only 10” deep, which made it a perfect fit for the end of my long hallway. But I had to be practical and reserve my decorating funds for more pressing renos, like the kitchen re-tiling. So, I waited. . . . And when I got wind of a flash, 60% off sale in July at the MGBW showroom in SoHo, I raced down and put my name on the waitlist for the console. It arrived a few weeks ago and, as I envisioned, the red pops beautifully against the charcoal grey wall. The lamp on the console table is by Jonathan Adler. It came with an utterly uninspiring white paper shade. So I swapped it with a bisque-coloured raw silk shade to soften the look.

While I was at the MGBW sale, I also picked up an octagonal, silver-leafed mirror for the living room.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010-2011 Opera Season

Hubby and I just booked our operas for this coming season. It's a nice mix of new productions and repertory performances at the Met. We have one performance every month, except for Dec when we're seeing two, and we're skipping Jan. Here's what we have lined up:

Oct: La Bohème
Nov: Così fan tutte
Dec: Don Carlo, Pelléas et Mélisande
Feb: Don Pasquale
Mar: Boris Godunov
Apr: Le Comte Ory

We may add Orfeo ed Euridice in May, but it depends on whether we decide to stay in NYC for hubby's bday or not.

Can't wait. . . .

 Front entrance of the Met 
with the giant Chagall murals on either side.
The grand staircase—
my favourite perch for people-watching during intermission.

Inside, waiting for curtain-time.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Braised Turkey Meatballs

This recipe is my take on the classic, messy, comfort-food meatballs that are ubiquitous to all the “red sauce” establishments in Little Italy in New York. I’ve been tweaking the recipe for a while now—with Tastey Boy’s vigorous encouragement for further experimentation—and can safely say that it’s pretty foolproof now. I’ve culled the techniques mainly from Marcella Hazan’s various recipes for classical braised meats and tomato-based sauces. Some purists may wrinkle their noses at my cooking the meatballs in the convection heat of the oven as opposed to letting them simmer over direct heat, and others might raise their eyebrows at my addition of milk to balance the acidity of the wine and tomatoes. But I’m not making any claims to “authenticity”—this is simply my elaborate, multi-step homage to Italian-American cookery, perfect for when you want to putter an afternoon away in the kitchen. 


2 Eggs
5 lbs ground Turkey
1½ cup Breadcrumbs
½ cup Parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp Fennel Seeds
2 tbsp Paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp red chilli pepper flakes (optional)
Salt (to taste)

1 cup vegetable oil

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 Bay leaves
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup Carrot, finely chopped
2/3 cup Celery, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 strips Lemon peel (without the white pith)
½ cup dry white wine
Meatballs (see recipe above)
1 cup milk
7 cups canned Tomatoes, crushed with their juice
1 cup Water
1 tsp fresh Thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
2-3 sprigs Parsley
1 tsp Black Pepper
Salt (to taste)
  1. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients for the meatballs and mix well to combine. Let sit for 10 mins, and then form the mixture into golf-ball-sized meatballs (about 50-60 pieces).
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. Fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown and lightly crisp on the outside. Remove meatballs from pan and let drain on a platter lined with paper towels.
  3. Heat butter and olive oil in a deep cast-iron pot (large enough to subsequently accommodate all the meatballs). Add bay leaves, onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 5-7 mins. Add garlic and lemon peel and cook another 2-3 mins until the vegetables soften and wilt.
  4. Add wine to deglaze, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pot and continue to simmer for 5-7 mins until the wine has evaporated completely.
  5. Add meatballs and stir well. Add milk and let simmer gently until it has bubbled away completely.
  6. Add tomatoes, water, thyme, parsley, black pepper and salt, stir well and bring to a brisk boil. Turn off heat.
  7. Cover the pot tightly and place in the bottom rack of a 350ºF pre-heated oven. Cook for about 3 hrs, or until the meatballs feel very tender when prodded with a fork and a dense, creamy sauce has formed. Turn and baste the meatballs every ½ hour while they are cooking. If the liquid in the pot becomes insufficient, add 2-3 tbsps of water at a time, as needed.
  8. Remove meatballs from oven and transfer to a warm platter. Serve hot over linguine or spaghetti cooked al dente, garnished with chopped parsley.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar