Super Bowl Roundup

I can't say that I've ever really been all that into the Super Bowl, but I can of course always get down with the food. This year, however, I will be actually watching the game (and, obviously, the Beyoncé half-time show) in addition to enjoying some delicious snacks. Ari is a die-hard 49ers fan (though perhaps "fan" is somewhat of an understatement) and he'll be in New Orleans for the game, which means I'll have to fend for myself here in New York. That said, if I were hosting a Super Bowl party, I pulled together a few recipes from my archives that I would make:

_MG_3583Chicken Lettuce Wraps

mg_2244Ricotta and Honey Crostini

_MG_2802Harvest Focaccia

_MG_1668Avocado and Corn Salsa

_MG_3691Turkey & Pork Ricotta Meatballs

And for something a little sweeter..._MG_3796

Lemon Bars, my go-to recipe for parties

_MG_2534Or this quick Orange-Olive Oil Cake, which is easily transportable.

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Are you rooting for either team? (Go Niners!)

Spaghetti & Meatballs

It would seem that fall has officially arrived. I am always reluctant to let go of summer, but something about the crisp air brings on wishes for apple cider doughnuts (of which I had some last weekend), warm soup, and sitting by a fire. Lately, I have had a particular craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, growing up in my family, the classic meatballs were Swedish, not Italian (but just as delicious). However, having studied abroad in Italy, I came to love Italian food and culture -- and in fact, one of my uncles is convinced we are part Italian, so you never know. In any case, these meatballs make an excellent and hearty dinner, and even better leftovers for lunch the next day. I modified the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using mostly ground turkey instead of pork, but you could also use pork only. I also love how the ricotta makes the meatballs surprisingly light. Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from Food & Wine, serves 6-8)

1/2 pound sliced white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 cups) 1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 pound lean ground pork 3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta or bacon, minced 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces) 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper Kosher salt Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed Freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons shredded basil 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
16 oz spaghetti or fettuccine (I used whole-wheat)
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and add the turkey, pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, thyme, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix well. Shape into 20 meatballs, using about 3-4 rounded tablespoons of the mixture for each. Transfer the meatballs to a medium roasting pan.
Roast the meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, puree the canned tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and cook uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the sauce is very thick and the meatballs are very tender; turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti or fettuccine and boil until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil so the noodles don't stick.
To serve, place 3-4 oz. pasta in a bowl. Spoon sauce and 2 or 3 meatballs over pasta. Garnish with basil and Parmigiano Reggiano and serve hot.

Homemade Ricotta

Ohh ricotta. I could eat it every day, smothered on toast or with strawberries and sugar, mixed into a simple pasta sauce or tossed with salad. The first time I ever made ricotta was a couple of years ago and believe me, it sounds impressive, but it's dead simple. You basically bring a pan of milk and cream to boil, and then let it drain for a couple of hours. That's it! As long as you have a couple of hours on your hands and some cheesecloth, you are pretty much set to go. Other ricotta recipes I have made used only whole milk, rather than a combination of milk and cream (the traditional manner), but I actually think that this recipe came out much creamier and produced a lot more curds as well. Fresh Ricotta (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 cups whole milk

1 cup cream

Juice of 1 lemon

1 baguette, thinly sliced

Honey

Heat milk and cream in a large saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and heat to 190 degrees, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let sit for five minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour in milk mixture, and let drain, 1 hour for runnier cheese and two hours for firmer cheese (what I did). Discard the whey and transfer to a container. Store, covered, for 3-4 days.

To serve: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of ricotta on each slice, then drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.