Thursday, March 3, 2011

Catch Up Day: Porcupine Meatballs, Lamb Curry, Strata and Spotted Pup

I didn't cook yesterday, so today I am playing catch up.  It wasn't a big deal that I didn't cook, as I had leftover Ballymaloe and my husband treated us to take out pizza for supper.  Those extra meals that I have tucked away in the freezer could have been pulled out and heated up also, instead of eating out.  I wasn't complaining, though. It's nice to eat someone else's cooking once in a while.
When we cook and eat at home, and make homemade lunches for Don, we can have a lot more room in the budget to eat out. We usually we go someplace nice, like our favorite steakhouse, or Chinese or Mexican restaurant rather than eating several times at a fast food place, and eating junk.  
Tonight, we are having breakfast for supper.  I have a whole dozen sourdough rolls that went hard before we could use them, so I needed a recipe that included breadcrumbs or stale bread.  I chose strata, as I had thawed out some turkey sausage to make soup, and it will be delicious with the bread and eggs and vegetables.  
You can use whatever vegetables you like for strata.  Today we will use mushrooms, onions, and roasted red peppers.  
I had hamburger and lamb burger that didn't get used yesterday, so I will make some porcupine meatballs with the beef, and a quick lamb curry for lunch today while I am cooking. 
I am also making some spotted pup.  Spotted pup, or some people call it cowboy pudding, is rice pudding with raisins.  It is a favorite lunch item for my husband to take with him, and the babies love it.  
I make mine with the addition of canned coconut milk, and this time instead of all raisins, I'll be adding in some snipped dried apricots left over from holiday baking. 
It is a good idea when you are turbo cooking many meals at once to pick recipes that have similar ingredients.  For instance today, the spotted pup, the porcupine meatballs and the lamb curry all have rice.  
Often my meals will come from a master recipe.  Like my meat gravy.  I will make a huge batch, and then divide it, and season it differently to make three or four recipes.  I'll make bolognese sauce, sloppy joe filling, taco filling, chili topping for hot dogs, etc...All taste very differently, but have similar ingredients, just different spicing.  Once I've seasoned, I can serve one meal, and freeze the rest in zip lock bags, flat on a cookie sheet, and then store them like books in my freezer.  I can brown three pounds of hamburger , open three cans/quarts of tomatoes, and chop three onions just as easy as one, and so I have saved time in the long run.

Here is my Porcupine balls recipe.  I loved these as a kid, because they come out of the oven with the rice sticking out in all directions, just like a porcupine.  These have a sauce based on grape jelly, and tomatoes.  You can omit the jelly, or in my case, use sugar free.  I might sound weird, mixing catsup and jelly, but you won't be disappointed if you try it! 
Porcupine Meatballs
1-2 pounds ground meat
1/2 C uncooked rice
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg
12-14 crackers crushed (or 1/2 C breadcrumbs, or 1/2 C oatmeal)
Mix together all ingredients.  Form into balls, and place in a 9x13 baking dish that has been greased.  
Top with sauce:
1 C catsup
1 jar grape jelly
add enough hot water to make a thin sauce
Mix with a whisk until well combined and pour over meatballs.  Cover with foil, and bake at 350 F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  You can also do this in the crock pot on low for eight hours. 

This is my quick curry recipe.  It starts by making a masala of fresh ingredients, blended together in a food processor.  They are then added to browned ground meat.   I am using lamb, but you could use turkey, beef or even cooked fish.  
The stems of fresh cilantro are edible, and extremely flavorful.  They get blended in the masala in this dish, but you could also tie them in a bundle with butcher's string, and add them to soups and stews.  You can also lay them on the cooler side of the outdoor grill when you are cooking meat or vegetables, and let them smoke and add flavor that way. 
Lamb Curry in a Hurry
1 pound ground meat browned
2 tomatoes
1 yellow onion
the stems from a bunch of cilantro
1 T or two cloves garlic
1 T garam masala
a pinch of red pepper
1/3 C drained jalapeno chiles
1 tsp curry paste or dried curry
Add all the masala ingredients to a food processor or blender, once it is processed, add it and 1/2 C dried fruit, we used cherries, to the lamb.  Keep on the burner until it is just heated through. Serve this over boiled white rice or for an even quicker version, you can make Couscous with beef broth and a tsp of cumin. 
If you don't have Garam Masala, here is my homemade version: 
Garam Masala
2 T black pepper
4 tsp cumin seeds
1 T coriander seed ground
2 tsp cloves
1  tsp cardamom pods
1 tsp cinnamon
Toast all the spices in a hot dry skillet, and then grind them, or place them in a plastic zip lock when they cool, and smash them with the rolling pin, or a heavy bottomed pan. 

My rock hard sourdough rolls are soaking in a C of buttermilk.  I will crumble them and use them to make my strata.  As long as bread hasn't become moldy, you can certainly use it this way, or bash it into breadcrumbs and store it in the freezer.  
Strata is a great weekend breakfast or brunch, as you can assemble it the night before, and then pull it out of the refrigerator and bake the next morning.  
1 dozen stale rolls, or enough bread to cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan
soaked in 1 C buttermilk, and crumbled reserving milk
1 pound breakfast sausage browned with
1 pkg sliced mushrooms and
1 diced onion
Add meat mixture to the baking dish and top with
8 eggs scrambled with reserved buttermilk from soaking the bread
Salt and pepper to taste and
Roasted red peppers.
1 tsp dried basil
Bake at 350 covered for one hour. 
I serve this with a hot cheese sauce, a chopped fruit salad and hot fresh coffee. 

Spotted Pup
1 C sugar or splenda
2 C uncooked rice
2 cans coconut milk plus enough regular or canned milk to make 3 quarts
1 pound of raisins 
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients
I make this in my slow cooker with a plastic liner that I have sprayed with cooking spray.  It needs to cook on low for eight hours.  If would not recommend making it on the stove, as the high sugar content and starch plus milk make for the perfect conditions to scorch.  
You can pour it into a greased 9x13 baking dish, or covered  corning ware casserole, and bake it at 325 F for one hour.  You should put the casserole or covered 9x13 pan in a larger pan and add about an inch or so of  hot water to the larger pan to keep the pudding from scorching.  This is called a Ban Marie.  If you have an oblong crock pot, a roasting rack, and a casserole that will fit in the crock pot, you can add water to the bottom, and cook it in the crock pot Ban Marie style.  Either way, make sure to tightly cover the pudding with foil, or a lid.

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