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PEPPERONI MEATBALLS SPAGHETTI

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EACH MEATBALLS CONTAIN… A TON OF AGE-FORTIFIED FAT-BITS AND TIME-CONSUMING FLAVOURS

Last night, as I unleashed the freezer-section dumplings onto my most festive-looking plate, as part of our mostly-take-out Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner that didn’t even get bothered to be removed from its cleanup-friendly plastic-wares, and watched the annual city-wide shelling of fireworks carried out by every other citizens across the Beijing sky… I realized something.

I am a lousy… lousy… content curator.

There’s… something wrong with this picture.  Now is supposed to be the high-season for binge eating for most Asians, rivalling Thanksgiving in its contribution to glorified gluttony, a perfect cue for an Asian food-blogger such as myself, to abuse recipes like… banquet-style fried whole fish drenched in thickened sauce, or glistening red-braised pork ham-shank the size of my own thighs, or… or, at the very least, too much batter-fried sticky rice cake to regret over in the very next morning.  But instead, I’m here talking to you about something as generic as… meatball spaghetti.

Well, I blame it on this.  A 2 feet long monstrosity which I believe they call, who-the-hell-buys-a-whole-freaking-stick-of pepperoni, stretching its long leg into every last inch of leg-room inside my economy-class refrigerator for the past 2 weeks.   It was a generous remnant from a lunch gathering and ever since, I’ve been struggling to put it to a just rest.  On pizzas… in between sandwiches… blended into my Olay’s night cream.  Then just when I was about one-lost-chapstick-away from rubbing it on my lips for good use, I was reminded of an old trick.

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It was a never-failing method, inspired by an epic dinner spent in Lupa in the West Village of New York many years ago, a genius method to inject the kind of flavours only old age can produce, by blending dry-cured meat products into fresh food preparation.  The very same method, using trimmed prosciutto fats, landed me on the most insanely flavourful meatballs braised in white wine that I’ve ever tasted.  And I thought if it already looked hot in white, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t look even sexier in red, right?

So here, amidst the Chinese festivity of lunar New Year, comes the Italian pepperoni meatball spaghetti braised in a red wine tomato sauce.  May not be the most promptly cued entrance, but each meatballs contain not only the usual suspects of mixed ground meats, breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano cheese, herbs and whatnots, but also a ton of minced pepperoni sausage with all its age-glorified fat-bits and time-consuming flavours.

There’s a complexity that only exists inside the cultivated molecules being farted out by a workforce of happy bacterias over a long period of occupancy, which is completely welded into the meatballs just after a relatively short period of braising.  The fats get partially absorbed by the breadcrumbs within the meatballs as well as partially rendered into the sauce, deepened by just the right amount of red wine then heightened with a good dab of Dijon mustard at the end.  It’s just not your regular, daddy’s Prego meatball spaghetti.  It’s a time-fortified, age-defined, pepped-up meatball spaghetti that, consider yourself warned,  might just be mean enough to hurt your grandmother’s ego.

So excuse me if I didn’t mention rice cake.  Pardon my neglect for a CNY feast.  Today, I’m afraid is just gonna be meatball spaghetti…

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PEPERONI MEATBALLS SPAGHETTI

Serving Size: 4~6 ppl

Ingredients

    THE MEATBALLS:
  • 1 cup diced (150 grams) pepperoni sausage
  • 1/4 cup (1 small handful) parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, cut into chunks
  • 400 grams ground beef
  • 280 grams ground pork
  • 3/4 cup (50 grams) Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • THE SAUCE:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1200 grams (three 400 grams cans) peeled Italian tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 3" parmigiano cheese rind
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Chopped parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Preheat the oven top-broiler on high. Run diced pepperoni, parsley leaves, garlics and onion in a food-processor until they resemble chunky, coarse meals. Transfer to a bowl along with ground beef, ground pork, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano cheese, ground cayenne, crushed fennel seeds, ground paprika, salt and black pepper. Gently mix just until even, then shape the mixture into 8 tightly packed meatballs and place on a parchment-lined baking-sheet. Place in the middle-rack in the oven and toast until golden browned on all sides (flipping once). Set aside.
  2. TO MAKE SAUCE: In a large pot, cook extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, celery stalk, fresh thyme and tomato paste with a generous pinch of salt over medium-high heat, until the onion is soft and the tomato paste starts to brown on the sides of the pot. Add dry red wine and cook for 5~6 min until almost completely evaporated. Then add the purreed tomatoes, parmigiano cheese rind, bay leaves, chili flakes, honey, ground black pepper, and all the browned meatballs with all the juice and dripping.
  3. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat to low, cover the pot with just a small slit for steam to escape, and let simmer for 2 hours until the liquid has reduced by 1/3. You should give it a gentle stir once every 20~30 min to prevent burning on the bottom. Re-season it along the way with salt if needed. The stew can be made days ahead. Before serving, gently mix the Dijon mustard into the sauce.
  4. TO SERVE: Cook 500 grams of dried spaghetti a couple min BEFORE al dente. Drain and transfer to a large pot, then add enough sauce to generously cover the spaghetti. Cook for another 2 min until the sauce is slightly reduced and coating every pasta, then transfer to a serving plate with the meatballs on top. Scatter more chopped parsley and a generous amount of grated parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/02/19/peperoni-meatballs-spaghetti/
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MISO CARBONARA W/ MINI SAUSAGE MEATBALLS

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THIS COULD VERY WELL BE, THE ONLY SENSIBLE THING THAT SHOWS UP HERE FOR THIS ENTIRE WEEK…

Jason is going away for this entire week.  This isn’t the first time it happens, nor is it a rare occurrence.  But what you’ll feel differently about this week, not including this particular post, is going to be somewhat of a breakthrough.  Thing is, if you had any presumptions about me, as someone who likes to cook and carries out every meal big or small, with a sense of class and dignity, for the next 7 days, you’ll find your theory… horrifiedly misguided.  Pretty scallion-oil chicken rolls on a pedestal?  Gourmet popcorns to accompany DVD-binging?  Pffff~ pleeease… you’re too cute.

The fault, is mine.  For I haven’t exactly been honest about what goes on in here, when there’s absolutely nobody watching.  Truth is, like comedians being freakishly quiet off stage, cooking for me, is a hobby that erodes with the absence of audiences.  Truth is, what I “cook” for myself and myself only, is inexcusably, for lack of better words, horrendous.  So here I am.  I don’t know where I found such commitment, but I’ve sternly decided that we (as, you and me) have entered a phase in our relationship, where “truth” is required for the hope of a sustainable future together…

Which prompted this new segment I would call, as previously mentioned:  The stuff Shit I Eat When I’m By Myself.

Do not be mistaken that these are products of desperations.  You’d hurt my feelings.  They are all – and it takes great courage to admit – “foods” that I sickeningly and hopelessly, love to eat.  Regardless the fact that you may find them only socially excusable, if I was a college student who just spent the the last $20 on alcohol school supplies.  Some of them may be accompanied with a “recipe”, as others may, thankfully, not.  But whatever you will take away from this, I hope that they at the very least, entertains you.

So enjoy this one before “The Shit” hits the fan, the last proper dinner I made before the “audience” decided to leave me to rot in the land of culinary-ruin, creamy and nutty miso carbonara with tiny sausage meatballs.  For this could very well be the only sensible thing that shows up here for this entire week.

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TIRAMISU CHURRO + WARM COFFEE CUSTARD

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The problem with me as a recipe dreamer hallucinater during the still-ongoing Thanksgiving carnival is that every year, in utter rudeness, I always feel like leaving the table even before the turkey makes it out of the oven.  Evidently from my premature and inappropriate blabbering of the X’mas blend coffee bars in last November while the whole town was still chattering about tweaking pumpkin pies to death, to now this uncooperative side-tracking dessert that doesn’t even rhyme with “ies” and ” akes”, it is obviously true.  I have no table-side manners.  Now before I leave, pass me the damn stuffings.

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THE INCONVENIENT RAGU-TH

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I almost couldn’t wait to tell you all about this hysterically inconvenient ragu.  I started curating its debut so many weeks ago, impatiently waited for the temperature to drop and the first damn leaf to fall, until everything… every single elements in the atmosphere ready your hearts for the most glorious, madly delicious ragu you have yet to try.  I even prepared a number of high-impact vocabularies to describe its entire four hours of making, two of which involves you standing by the stove remorselessly scraping the bottom of the pot in the name of culinary commitment, because I was gonna tell you that there’s no compromise when it comes to what I call the art of harvesting caramel, and you’re going to eat it all up.

The recipe has been sitting in my cue for a week now and I haven’t been able to lift a finger.  Well… you know what happened.

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spicy cheesy. gochujang spaghetti

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The wee-light of early morning started seeping in through the curtain, adding to my sense of unease particular to someone who knew she had done wrong and was most certainly about to get caught.  Jason’s morning-siren promptly started barking at 6:30 (no, really, the alarm is a dog barking…) and was ignored for 5 minutes as usual until eventually, he turned over and witnessed my crime scene.  Like the most gasping moment in a horror movie, an unsightly picture of an irresponsible grown-up, holding her i-pad with an earphone giggling like an idiot, secretly pulling a marathon on… a new-found television series.  ALL NIGHT and 18 episodes in, not even of something socially excusable like Game of Thrones, or House of Cards to demonstrate depth, but a retarded high-school version of True Blood with a name too embarrassing to even pronounce… VaVampire Diaries!  God!  Just hang me by the neck!

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Improved Smoked Cheese Risotto

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I have a severe case of post-vacation depression. NOT that I don’t miss my kids achingly on each and every trip, and want to tell’em about places where they could potentially live in the next life where they’d be allowed into every eateries (woof!) and crumbs shops PATISERIES (woof! woooof!). But for reasons beyond me, they instead insist on residing in a city that I loathe full-heartedly. Not an uncommon problem among modern parents I guess. So every time I return home, my kitchen becomes a laboratory for recreating things that I crave from each trip to ease the symptoms (which, if left untreated, could develop into doomsday-scale meltdowns). The shwarma sandwich from Paris. The laksa from Malaysia. Bonci’s pizza bianca from Rome. Oh, right. Rome. Well, about that… I haven’t told you everything yet.

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Fully Loaded Baguette

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Wow!  What a weekend last Saturday, uh?!  Golden Globes?  Did you watch it?  What a fantastic sequence of showmanship one after the next uh?  First came Jodie Foster’s neurotic ramblings of a speech though I’m not going to argue with the world who apparently thought she was phenomenal.  Then Oh-glory’s-the-name-of-vengeance Ben Affleck won best director and fired a bullet with his love-declaration for Gardner right in the heart of who else but J “LOW”!  Oh snap!!  And how about Ann Hathaway giving all she’s got on an AMAZING performance acting surprised at winning supporting actress!  Flaaaaawless!  That’s another award in itself I’m telling ya.  OH oh and Kristen and Will’s HILARIOUS little team-up was PURE comedy gold!  Missed it?  Geeet ooout of heeerree!!  Finally FINALLY Tina Fay and Amy Poehler’s opening act was marriage made in heaven… come on… I laughed the tears out of myself!

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