Friday, April 4, 2008

Flutterbys and Swedish Meatballs

Last night was a fun night. AJ and I went with Charlene and Stasia to The Natural History Museum. Last night was part of the Museum Nights program where they open up the museum to UF students. There is always something fun going on, and last night they let students into the butterfly garden for FREE!!!! This is a big deal because it is normally about $8 per person.

The garden is really cool. It is climate controlled area that looks like a giant netted room. It has butterflies and some birds in it, with lots of awesome flowers. There is also a waterfall that flows into a pond that has turtles and coy. Needless to say I think the pictures will do a better job showing it than I can describe.

The other fun thing we did last night was I made Swedish Meatballs. The other day I was watching my FAVORITIST IN THE WORLD COOK - Alton Brown

He was making meatballs. I decided that I had never really tried making them, other than for the inserts into nano-burgers for my bentos. So I wanted to try adding them to our meal plan at some point. Well, last night I was supposed to make chicken fried steak... I didn't think I had the bread crumbs. Improvise time.... so it was on to swedish meatballs. It was fun, messy but fun. They came out really well. The only complaint that either AJ or I had was that the sauce didn't make enough sauce. That is a reasonable thing to fix.

I actually didn't use Alton's recipe because I was lazy and didn't want to look for it on the foodnetwork site, and I just googled swedish meatballs. Here is the recipe I found:

Swedish Meatballs

Meat: (the main ingredient)
2 pounds ground lean beef
Filler: (to give the meatballs the right consistency)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup torn bread (I soaked the bread in the milk to make it mushy)
Salt and Pepper:
Salt to taste (1 1/2 teaspoons suggested)
Pepper to taste (white or black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon suggested)
More Flavor:
1/4 teaspoon allspice

By hand or on medium speed with an electric mixture, thoroughly blend the ground meat, filler, salt and pepper, and other flavorings. Beat until very well mixed. Form into balls about 3/4"-1 1/2" in diameter: do this by hand, or use a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, or a melon baller. Makes 30-150 meatballs depending on how large they are.

Cooking methods:

Pan-fried: Heat a skillet with 2-3 tablespooons of cooking oil to medium-high heat. Fill the skillet about half full with the meatballs, and fry them for about 10 minutes. Shake the skillet gently during cooking to keep the meatballs turning and to cook them evenly, about 10-15 minutes depending on size. You may need a spatula to encourage some of the more stubborn meatballs to turn over properly. As soon as meatballs are browned, take them out of the pan, let them cool and drain a bit, and keep them warm (try using an oven-proof dish in a barely-warm oven) until ready to add sauce and serve.

White sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup half and half or cream
1/2 cup water or chicken broth (may be made from bouillon)
Fresh dill leaves or parsley leaves (optional)

Add the flour to the butter in a saucepan, mix thoroughly, turn on heat to low heat. Discard the fat from the cooking pan, then rinse the pan in the water or broth to loosen the bits of meat from the pan. Add the water or broth to the butter/flour base in the saucepan and mix thoroughly. (Tip: at this point, mixing the flour/fat mixture and the broth mixture in the blender removes all lumps thoroughly.) Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, and add the half and half or cream slowly. Simmer until a good consistency. Add dill or parsley if desired. Stir the meatballs into the sauce until heated through. Transfer to the serving dish and serve immediately.

I served them over egg noodles. YUM! I think this is getting added to our routine meal plan. It also made enough that I can freeze some and that would make this even easier.

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