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Recipe: Keftedes (Greek meatballs)

Daisy Pullman King, the News February Cook of the Month, fried up a batch of these meatballs when we visited recently. Then she had to fry up some more, after the photographer and I ate them up.

It might seem like overkill to fry ground beef in oil and butter, but the application of flour gave these meatballs a browned crust that helps make them irresistable. King said the recipe was written out by her father, George Pullman.

Keftedes (Greek meatballs)

1 1/2 pound ground beef, (80 percent lean)
2 small onions chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 egg
3 teaspoons fresh mint chopped fine (or 2 teaspoons dry mint leaves, crushed)
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 lemon
Unseasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil (not extra virgin)
Butter
All purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix ground beef, onion, egg, mint, cumin, salt and pepper. Add
enough breadcrumbs until firm (like for meatloaf). Use your hands to mix well.

Cover, and place bowl in refrigerator several hours, or overnight. This gives the
flavors time to enter the meat.

Form into ping pong size balls, dredge in flour and flatten slightly.

Fry meatballs in 2 parts butter to 1 part olive oil, over medium high heat. The
outside will be brown and sort of crisp.

Remove from fry pan and squeeze on lemon juice. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

Soup's on next weekend in North Tonawanda

If it's February, it's soup time.

If you want to go soup shopping, head to North Tonawanda the day before Valentine's. On Sunday, Feb. 13, Zonta Club of the Tonawandas will be hosting its fifth annual Soup Cook Off.

Attendees can taste all the soups - there were about 30 last year - and vote for the ones they like best. Admission is $10 adults, $5 ages 6-16, children under 5 free.

The event will take place at the Elks Lodge, Main and Sweeney streets, North Tonawanda from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Judging at 3 p.m.)

To enter your soup, register with Debbie Jaeger at 417-2181 by Feb. 10.

Going whole hog: Chef to hold snout-to-tail charcuterie class

Pig butchering as a social event is a tradition going back centuries in rural villages. Only lately has it been translated to entertainment, as a new generation learns to make salami in the city. 

On April 19, Chef Bruce Wieszala will disassemble a whole pig, a heritage breed pasture-raised animal from Lockport's T-Meadow Farms. (He likes doing that sort of thing, and went to Italy recently with fellow Bistro Europa chef Steve Gedra to work with celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini.)

Then Wieszala will use the sausagemaker's armory of spices and cures to turn it into the beginnings of charcuterie. Porchetta di testa, guanciale, basic sausage, bacon, capicola and prosciutto are all on the list.

Set for Tues., April 19, the class starts at 5:30 p.m. with snacks and drinks, at Artisan Kitchens, 200 Amherst St. Tickets are $55.

 

Snow day solution: Recipes to get kids cooking

No matter how fervently kids pray for a snow day, smuggling spoons into the freezer and other acts of juvenile juju, they almost always end up making parents wish the school buses had all-wheel drive.

"I'm bored."

Really? Then get cooking. Here's some recipes that children can make, with adults hovering, and handling knives if necessary. Most use fairly common ingredients, but one or two dishes are worth a grocery store run, if possible.

Sure, you'll have to supervise and probably clean up. But the little dears have to be fed and watered anyway. And when they go back to class they can talk about the lesson they wouldn't have learned at school.

Chocolate chip cookies rule on snow days. Alton Brown offers thin, puffy and chewy recipes. Peanut butter cookies aren't too shabby either, and these don't even need flour.

Scones are the subject in today's Taste section, with veteran scone maker Jackie Masters sharing recipes and techniques.

Gingerbread also makes the house smell heavenly, and if you're up for decorating gingerbread persons, you've got them busy all day.

Cheese puffs, which the French call gougeres, are an amazing, crispy snack made from only flour, eggs, butter and cheese. (Plus water, salt and pepper, and if you like, mustard and scallions.)

The way they puff up and crispify makes them an awesome science experiment that happens to taste terrific.

For dinner:

Pot roast, beef chuck seasoned, seared and braised to fork-tender, takes three or four hours in the oven or stovetop. But it's the most tantalizing home aromatherapy generator ever, and by the time dinner's ready they'll be famished.

Three simple pasta dishesfrom Mark Bittman at The New York Times. If you have garlic, eggs, olive oil and spaghetti, you're in.

Sales of grow-your-own fungus kits mushrooming

Here's an intriguing story from the Wall Street Journal on the rising popularity of mushroom kits. Turns out that with a modest amount of fuss, crops of edible mushrooms will grow readily in your house:

To get started, a few days of refrigeration may be necessary for the kit, followed by a soak in water. Then in as little as a week, mushrooms will start to form. Many growers will get multiple "flushes" or fruitings from one kit—which can mean six weeks to six months of mushroom mania.

Mushrooms do well indoors because they like temperatures from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, "and most people keep their houses in that range anyway," says Donald Simoni, owner of Mushroom Adventures, a Marysville, Calif., maker of mushroom kits.

The story points out that unless you grow outdoors, you'll probably pay more for harvesting your own than buying from the store. (Of course, you might be growing a variety you can't buy from a supermarket.)

Still, for eating local, you can't beat harvesting mushrooms from your kitchen counter.

 

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