Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

February 9, 2016

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So I know good ole Punxsutawney Phil has declared that Winter is on the way out and Spring is right around the corner. However, Spring hasn’t yet stepped out in this neck of the woods. It has been damp, cold and really pretty dreary recently. In fact, today it is actually snowing. Soup weather without a doubt and I have a great recipe for a soup which is not only flavorful and warming, but also pretty fun as well – Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup. This is definitely one of the Husband’s favorite soups. He LOVES meatball anything…cocktail meatballs, meatball subs, spaghetti & meatballs and on the rare occasion that we have ventured into an IKEA, you can rest assured that you’ll find him in the cafeteria sampling those Swedish Meatballs. So when I came across this recipe, I knew it would be a winner with him. This soup features mini meatballs which are chock full of Moroccan spices and Israeli Couscous in a chicken broth base. The meatballs are baked prior to going into the soup which helps them retain their shape. I prefer ground beef for my meatballs, though the original recipe calls for lamb. So if you are a fan of lamb, feel free to go with the original recipe. Either way, these Moroccan spiced meatballs are quite tasty!

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The Israeli Couscous adds a wonderful nutty flavor as well as a lovely texture to the soup. If you’ve never tried Israeli Couscous before, now is the time! It is really delicious. Similar to Moroccan couscous, this toasted pasta is much bigger and is shaped like little balls. This couscous works perfectly in soups because it retains its shape well and tends to not clump together. Though I will say, this soup does thicken if you have leftovers saved in the fridge. Before reheating, just add few glugs of chicken broth to it and it will be good as new! Quick and easy to make, you’ll have this soup on the table in no time flat. Serve it up with a big loaf of rustic, crusty bread and this comforting soup will make you forget all about the crappy weather outside. And don’t despair, I have great faith that our beloved weather predicting rodent was correct…Spring is on the way!

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Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • the leaves from 4 -5 fresh sprigs of thyme (leaves only – no stems! You can substitute 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, but I think the fresh thyme is better if you have it.)
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground beef (can substitute lamb in if you want to be a tad more authentic)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste

For the soup:

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml) water
  • 1 cup (6 oz./185 g) Israeli couscous
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional – but we like it spicy!)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint (I do not actually use the mint when I make this dish)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the meatballs, preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, curry powder, oregano, thyme, mustard, chili powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the ground beef and tomato paste. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. For each meatball, scoop up 1 tsp. of the mixture. I use a small cookie scoop to do this. It makes it a bit easier and all of your meatballs are similar in size. You should end up with around 40 meatballs. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the meatballs and couscous and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mint (If you are using it) and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

OXO Good Grips Small Cookie Scoop

Chef’n Zipstrip Herb Stripper – Fantastic tool for stripping herb leaves from their woody stems!

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven

Israeli Couscous, Tri-Color – This link is for the tri-color couscous. Of course you do not have to use tri-color, you can use regular or even whole wheat if you wish. I just like the look of the tri-color style.


Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpea Salad

August 22, 2014

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Hold everything! Stop what you are doing and lookie here!!! I think this might be my favourite new recipe that I’ve made this summer. Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpea Salad. It is just perfection on a hot and steamy summer’s evening, though we loved this so much I think it will continue to appear on our dinner table well into the Fall and Winter. This meal is fresh and light yet also hearty and filling at the same time. The meatballs are spicy and tender and that chickpea salad is amazing. So flavorful, zesty and served refreshingly chilled.

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I found this recipe in Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It was just brilliant. As usual, she knocked it out of the park. If you don’t have this cookbook yet, you simply must go out and get it tonight. I’m serious. It is without a doubt a kitchen essential! And while you’re shopping for the cookbook, make sure you pick up some new spices as well. I love to go spice shopping and can’t seem to make it out of a Penzey’s store without laying down some serious bucks. That place should have some sort of flashing cautionary lights. I totally lose control there. But back to the recipe at hand…The two spices that are used in this recipe, but might not be hanging out in your spice rack at home are Aleppo Pepper and Ground Sumac. Both are often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Aleppo pepper is rated moderately hot on the pepper scale and imparts a tart, ancho chile like flavour. Ground Sumac is made from the ground berries of the sumac bush and adds a tangy, lemony zing to foods.

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The husband loves meatballs! He loves the cocktail variety, the ones on top of spaghetti, and the ones stuffed into subs. I mentioned this before when I shared a recipe with you for Konigsberger Klopse (German Meatballs). So I’m always on the lookout for a good meatball recipe. He was completely over the moon with this one. As I’m sure you will be when you taste it. So what are you waiting for, get cooking!

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Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb (455 grams) ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup (40 grams) fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons (15 grams) sesame seeds, toasted
  • olive oil to coat pan

For the Chickpea Salad:

  • 1 3/4 cups (440 grams) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Handful of pitted, halved, and very thinly sliced green olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (we do like our spice!)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (Deb uses parsley, but we love cilantro, so…)
  • 2 Tablespoon (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork, breaking up the clumps of meat until ingredients are well combined. Form the turkey mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs. Arrange them on a parchment paper lined baking tray.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof sautè pan. Brown the meatballs in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan. Transfer the meatballs to a paper-towel lined tray and continue cooking until all of the meatballs have been browned.

Discard the oil and wipe all but a thin layer from the pan. Return all of the meatballs to the pan and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake until a thermometer reads and internal temperature of 160 to 165°, or about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare chickpea salad. Mix all of the ingredients with the exception of the olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Very lightly smash the chickpea mixture with the back of a fork or a potato masher. Continue to smash the chickpeas until you reach a consistency somewhere between hummus and a coarse chop. Dress the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve meatballs with the chickpea salad.

Enjoy!

Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpea Salad brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 


Königsberger Klopse (German Meatballs)

February 18, 2014

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So you know how I pulled that disappearing act back in the Fall? Well there were just a whole bunch of reasons that happened, some fun and some not so fun. But this post is going to be about one of the fun things. My husband had to go to Berlin for business and I got to tag along! Well, what I actually did was wait until all of his work stuff was nearly done and then flew over and met him. I worked out really well. I avoided all of the stressful icky work stuff and turned up just in time to do all the fun vacation-y, touristy stuff. The only thing I was really sad I missed out on was the Donor Kebab shop that turned into a full on disco suddenly at 3 a.m. My husband took me back to the scene but it failed to make it’s dance-tastic transformation for me. But luckily the Disco Donor Kebab wasn’t the only sight to be taken in whilst in Berlin. What a great city!

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We only had a couple of days to play the tourists there, but we made the most of them. Folks were really friendly and we couldn’t have been anymore impressed with the public transportation system. It was so well thought out, it just made it incredibly easy to speed all about the town. The weather was just perfect, warm but not too warm during the day and jacket weather in the evening. We stayed over in the part of the city that had been “East Berlin” before the wall came down, in the Mitte neighbourhood. If anyone is headed over that way, I have to tell you, we stayed in a great little boutique hotel, Casa Camper. Yup, it is owned by the same folks that do the Camper shoes. Our room was  a bit quirky, sleek, modern and spacious. The hotel is in a great location close to tons of shops, restaurants and the Weinmeisterstraße underground station is right across the street. One of the best things about the hotel is that they don’t do those silly little mini bars in your room, instead they have a lounge located on the top floor which is open 24 hours a day. You can always get a snack there and they have a fully stocked honor bar that you can help yourself to any time of the day or night. Makes you feel right at home! On the weekend they serve their generous breakfasts until 2 pm! It was a great find and as far as I’m concerned the place to stay in Berlin. We spent most of what little time we had in the city checking out the various museums at Museumsinsel (Museum island…that’s right a whole island of nothing but museums!), the Fernsehturm (tv tower – tallest structure in Germany),

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the Berlinerdom (Berlin Cathedral)

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and visiting a pub or two or three…

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Statue of St. George in front of Brauhaus Georgbraeu

Besides the many pints of beer we quaffed (uh…there really were quite a few…) we had some really tasty meals. (Good thing or we really would’ve been in a state with all that beer on empty stomachs…) My husband loves meatballs. Seriously. He likes those little appetizer cocktail meatballs, he likes them perched on top of spaghetti, stuffed into subs or just all on their lonesome. So you can imagine how delighted he was to find them on the menu of pretty much every restaurant we visited! When we got back home, he was somewhat despondent that his meatball access had been curtailed. So I set out to find a recipe for Königsberger Klopse (German Meatballs), just like we had in Berlin. These savoury meatballs cooked in a creamy white sauce came close and definitely brought a smile to his face. Cooked in a broth, rather than grilled, these meatballs are very tender, a bit spicy and have a fresh zing from the lemon zest. The original recipe called for veal, but I went with beef, though I think pork would also work well.  Also there seems to be some folks out there who are quite insistent that capers must be included in this dish for it to be authentic. If that is true, I have fallen a bit short here as there wasn’t a caper to be had in my house on the day I prepared them. If you are a caper fan, feel free to toss a bunch into the mix.

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I served these meatballs over Spaetzle, which I made from scratch. I’m afraid though that I don’t really have that recipe down yet. Certainly not enough to share with you. I’m thinking at this point that a Spaetzle maker might be a necessity here, cause I tried a variety of methods from colander, to potato ricer to strainer and often just ended up with some sort of mutant uber-spaetzle blob. So I’ll put that one on hold right now. I will mention though that after struggling with my homemade spaetzle demons, I found a lovely box of Authentic German Spaetzle at the grocery store, just hanging out there with all of the pastas. That might be the way to go to save yourself a bit of frustration if you haven’t already acquired mad spaetzle making skills. Rice or parsley butter potatoes would also be a good alternative as an accompaniment. And don’t forget a tall frosty beer. I went with one of our all time favourite beers, Pinkus Ur-Pils,  which happens to be brewed in Germany, so that worked out just perfectly. As they say in Germany, “Prost!”

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Königsberger Klopse (German Meatballs)

recipe adapted from: Craig Claiborne at The New York Times

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped with additional for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

Put beef in mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper and mix to combine.

Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in saute pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until softened. Add onion mixture to beef. Add breadcrumbs, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and zest, paprika, parsley, chives and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly. Shape mixture into equal sized balls.

Heat remaining butter in saucepan and add flour, stirring with whisk until smooth. Add broth, and wine, stirring continuously. Add meatballs to simmering sauce. Stir gently from time to time so that they cook evenly, about 25 minutes.

Beat sour scream with egg yolk and lemon juice. Add mixture to meatballs. Heat briefly without boiling. Serve hot with spaetzle.

Enjoy!


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