Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

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One of my ultimate comfort foods is the humble meatball. The funny thing is, we NEVER had them growing up. My mom, grandma, and aunts never really made them. Sure, we had spaghetti with meat sauce, but never meatballs. I always longed for a plate of pasta and meatballs, a la Lady and the Tramp. It’s just that kind of nostalgia evoked via cinema and whimsy that you sometimes crave. You know? As an adult, I have made certain meatballs have become part of my cooking repertoire.

Recently, I was contacted by Le Creuset and Williams Sonoma inquiring if I’d be interested in participating in a traveling potluck, dubbed #lapispotluck, using the exclusive Lapis French Oven. My answer was obviously, YES…duh. I have a Le Creuset Braiser that I treasure and use often, so I knew I would love a chance to use the French Oven. I’m just a sucker for enameled cast iron.

When I was thinking of what to make with this beautiful oven, I really wanted something with a color that would pop against that deep blue. Enter these Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches. I love meatballs a top a pile of spaghetti, but there’s just something so irresistible about a messy, meatball sandwich. I knew the red sauce with bits of bright-green basil would compliment the Lapis hue perfectly, plus it would make a delicious dinner.

I made these meatballs with turkey, since it’s spring and some of us may be seeking comfort foods on the lighter side. Even though these are turkey meatballs, they are still juicy and full of flavor thanks to the sausage, aromatics, parmesan, and plenty of fresh zucchini. I like to brown my meatballs a bit before dropping them into the sauce for an extra layer of flavor, plus those brown bits leftover are perfect for helping to season the sauce–all made in the same pot! The meatballs are great on their own, but piled on top of a lightly toasted roll and topped with plenty of melty cheese and fragrant basil is absolute meatball sandwich perfection.

[recipe]

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Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

Makes several sandwiches (at least 6).

For the rolls, I used some sausage rolls made in the bakery of my favorite market. Small hoagie or sub rolls, or even portions of a baguette would work perfectly.

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. turkey Italian sausage (hot or sweet, depending on your preference)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 heaping cup shredded zuchinni

1 heaping cup minced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Sauce:

1 onion, diced fine

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1, 28 ounce, can crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

For sandwiches:

basil

shredded mozzarella

parmesan

sandwich rolls

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. I like to use my hand in a claw-like motion, stirring in one direction vigorously until well combined. Scoop meat into golf-ball sized portions and set on a sheet pan or large plate. Heat your French oven, or other wide pot, over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches, on at least 2 sides, remove the browned meatballs back to the plate or sheet pan (they do not need to be cooked through, cooking will continue in the sauce.

Once the meatballs are done, lower the heat to medium and add the onions for the sauce to the pot, adding about 1 tablespoon of olive oil if needed, plus a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as the onions become soft and release some liquid. Once the onions are translucent, add in the garlic, and cook for about 60 seconds. Add in the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook until the tomato paste becomes a rusty-red color, about 1-2 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, and add a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and add in the meatballs plus any juices collected on the sheet pan/plate. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Taste for seasoning before building your sandwiches.

Preheat the broiler, split your sandwich rolls, place on a sheet pan, and toast lightly under the broiler. Top rolls with a few meatballs, mozzarella, and parmesan. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly, remove from under the broiler and scatter with some torn or shredded basil. Serve hot and melty! [/recipe]

I was compensated by Le Creuset & Williams Sonoma for the development of this recipe. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own. 

Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

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So, I know this should probably be a post about pie, which I love, or pumpkin pie…which I HATE. I know…I’m a jerk. I like pumpkin things, but never pumpkin pie.

I’m not sorry.

Anyway, let’s talk cake.

This cake is super simple in both assembly and flavor–the batter takes minutes to make and there’s zero special equipment required. Don’t get it twisted though, because even if this is just a chocolate-on-chocolate situation, it is so, so good in it’s simplicity. The cake is dark and rich, but not so much that it doesn’t benefit from a glazing of glossy ganache. The crumb is fine and very moist, my favorite. And, I know ganache sounds fancy, but it’s so not…two ingredients, mixed together. DONE. I’m pretty sure this is my new go-to cake. It’s so easy, a little rustic, but pretty. It’s a gem.

[recipe]

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Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

Makes 1, 8-inch, round cake.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Use your favorite cocoa powder for this cake. I prefer Valrhona because it is rich and dark with intense chocolate flavor.  

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2/3 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray an 8-inch, round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a measuring cup whisk together the milk and vinegar, whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla into the milk and vinegar mixture and pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently with a spatula until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out. Cool completely before glazing with ganache.

Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces chopped, semisweet chocolate (or chips)

Heat the cream until scalded, when little bubbles form around the edges, add the chocolate, remove from the heat, and cover. Let the chocolate and cream rest for about 5 minutes, until the cream has melted the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour warm ganache over the top of the cake. Let the ganache set 10 minutes before serving. [/recipe]

Soft Pumpkin Sandwich Buns

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So, originally this post was supposed to be a pie…but it turned into a swamp of sour cherries and melted crumble topping, despite the perfect, flaky crust. I mean, we still ate it…but, I couldn’t bring myself to share that fugly mess.

So, I made these tender buns (haha, tender buns…I’m 5). Soft, little buns perfect for post-Thanksgiving sandwicher-y and flavored with Autumn’s ever-present flavor, pumpkin. I made these buns in advance for next Thursday’s turkey burger-ing. I think I may have mentioned before that we are not doing it up Thanksgiving-style this year, but instead making an abbreviated turkey-full dinner and then going to see Catching Fire because I REALLY want to (even though I suspect Sean is lukewarm about it, he’s also nice).

Anyway, I’m going to build these burgers, that taste like thanksgiving in a few bites, on these here buns. I’m excited about it.

Back-to-back bread posts must mean it’s a CARB-PARTY.

[recipe]

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Soft Pumpkin Sandwich Buns

Makes about 12, 2.5 ounce buns

These bun can be made in advance (weeks!) and popped into the freezer. It takes an hour or two for them to defrost at room temperature and they are still delicious. I like to split them, spread with a little butter, and toast ‘em up before building burgers or sandwiches. 

3/4 cup warm milk (about 100˚F)

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons yeast

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pie mix)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

egg wash: 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon cream

black sesame seeds for sprinkling

Stir together the warm milk, honey, and yeast. Set aside until foamy.

Whisk the egg with the pumpkin and cooled, melted butter in a small bowl.

In a mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the yeast + milk mixture, and the pumkin mixture. Turn the mixture on medium and mix for 8 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, we want it this way.

On a well-floured surface turn out the dough and knead it about 5-10 times, adding flour as needed to handle. The less flour you add the more tender and soft the buns will be. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic. Allow to rise until doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Prep two baking sheets by lining with parchment.

Punch down the dough and divide it into equal pieces—I use a scale for this and go for 2.5 ounce buns. Roll each dough piece into a ball and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the buns with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Preheat the oven to 400˚F and bake 1 pan at a time for about 15 minutes, or until the buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving or freezing. [/recipe]