Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 20 - Mexican Meatball Soup

This afternoon, I was a multi-tasking machine. I was preparing my soup of the day, and at the same time preparing banana muffins and peppermint bark for my little party tomorrow night.

Once again I started up a double boiler. Melted my dark chocolate until it was shiny and smooth, poured it into a pan, and stuck it in the freezer. Then I set about melting the white chocolate, trying to do everything right, never letting it sit for too long, and before my eyes the white chips changed from individuals into one solid clump (with a strong resemblance to mashed potatoes). Oh crap, not again! I just wasted another bag of Ghirardelli's, as the same things happened last week when I tried to make icing to go on top of my Rice Krispies squares. Had I known I was going to screw up, I would have left the smashing of the candy canes until after I melted the chocolate (a little kitchen therapy).

This little experience got me thinking, does every chef have an Achilles heel? Or is it possible to be renaissance cook, knowledgeable and capable of cooking it all? Can a pastry chef still sear a mean steak? I know my mom's arch nemesis is pie crust and I just discovered mine is melting white chocolate. Although, I am a little miffed that my weakness has to be something so lame. Why couldn't it be making a souffle or a Hollandaise sauce?

The Mexican meatball soup was really good in my opinion, but Darien wasn't too keen on it. He found the meatball's a little bland. It probably would have been more flavorful if I had used the mint in the meatballs instead of cilantro.

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball soup)
Source: Elise, Simply Recipes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
3 quarts of beef stock OR water OR a mixture of both (we usually use half stock half water as the meatballs will create their own stock)
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 lb of string beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup of raw white rice
1 raw egg
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves and/or parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
Dried oregano, crumbled
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

*Chef's Note: I didn't have any mint or parsley, so I made my meatballs with cilantro. I also added celery to the onion and garlic mix.

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and minced garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and broth mixture. Bring to boil and simmer. Add carrots and string beans.

Prepare meatballs. Mix rice into meat, adding mint land parsley leaves, salt and pepper. Add raw egg. Form beef into 1-inch meatballs.

Return soup to gentle simmer. Add meatballs to soup, one at a time. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add peas towards the end of the 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish soup with chopped fresh cilantro.

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