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Verses from my Kitchen: Kitchen 911

September 6, 2010

Kitchen 911

I love Saturday mornings. I wake up and head to the market and grocery store and stock up on all the goodness my fridge and pantry requires. I take inventory and shop and replenish my fridge, freezer and pantry. I also have time to label and triple-layer my meats with plastic wrap, aluminum foil and a freezer bag. And I rotate all of the meats in my bottom-freezer slide out. No freezer burns for the meats and no waste of good eats for us.

After being away for parts of this long weekend we woke up today to a cold breeze pushing its way through our window screen. I went downstairs to take stock of everything we had for dinner tonight. I opened up the french doors and stared at my barren fridge. I slid open my freezer and barely anything was looking back. I did the same with my pantry to the same effect. And it hit me! Today is a national holiday and nothing is open.

 I quickly did a flashback in my mind of everything I just saw. There was hardly an option available. I checked the fridge again to see milk, eggs and parmigiana and hardly anything else. The freezer had ground meat dated mid-August and the pantry housed some canned tomatoes, garlic, bread crumbs and more onions than a family needs, unless they make stocks and sauces daily. I quickly turned around and saw my new new basil plant sitting on the edge of my window sill screaming at me.

Today, a cold and dreary day that is as much as a calling card for fall as a signal that summer is indeed almost over, is all about comfort food. Spaghetti and Meatballs. Simple, flavourful and comfort food.

I was going to make my favourite sauce with a key adjustment. Instead of bay leaves, which I left behind in Kingston, I was going to use butter. Yes, butter. A little butter adds this luxurious flavour to the sauce and is the perfect compliment to the onions and tomatoes and brings out the best of both ingredients.

With the sauce down it was time to try a meatball recipe I have never made before but always was enticed by the look of them.

For the first time I was going to make the meatballs I saw on an episode of Bobby Flay's Throwdown, "Grandma Maronis Meatballs 100 Year Old Recipe." 

Two key adjustments:
1. I always caramelize the onions before making bolognese or adding them to the meatball ingredients. The end result is meatballs with a greater depth of flavour.
2. I always sear the meatballs before adding them to the sheet destined for the oven. This way you trap the juices inside and the flavour is outstanding. Seared meat equals bigger flavour.

Tomato Sauce with Garlic, Onion and Butter

Serves: 4


1 can whole tomatoes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Basil, small handful
1 tbsp. sugar
season, to taste


1. Put the onion and garlic in an oiled heavy saucepan over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
2. Add the tomatoes, butter, sugar and basil and bring to a simmer before lowering the heat. The sauce should stay at a slow simmer for 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally and break up the tomatoes with your wooden spoon.
3. Remove from the heat and season and keep warm while your pasta finishes.

Nonna Knows Best: 100 Year Old Meatball Recipe

Serves: 8

1 lb. medium ground beef or ground chuck
1/2 c. bread crumbs
4 lg. eggs
4 oz. whole milk
3/4 c. grated Parmigiano
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped flat parsley
1/4 c. finely chopped basil
1 tbsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
2. Caramelize the diced onion and add to the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly in a large bowl, adding more bread crumbs if the mix is a loose.
3. Roll the meatballs loosely to about the size of a golf ball and place in a pan. Sear and brown the meatballs on all sides and add to the baking sheet.
4. Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

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