The Hound of Tabasco-villes

This past weekend I attended a summer ball at Shakespeare’s Globe. It was a fabulous event – champagne, dinner, and dancing at one of London’s most famous landmarks. There are so many places and streets in London that I come across and immediately recognize from the pages of books I’ve read. In fact, one of the reasons I have always dreamed of living here is because of the adventures I feel I’ve lived through the words of Dickens, Wodehouse, and Conan Doyle.

Baker Street is one of my favorite places to roam around. True, it is swamped with tourists, and 221B is not an actual place, but I still love to imagine the most famous detective duo in literary history dashing around. Like each case that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson take on, these meatballs pack an unforeseen twist: melting mozzarella at their core. The classic Holmes and Watson partnership is the perfect solution to any crime, just as these meatballs and spicy sauce complement each other perfectly.

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Cheese-stuffed hot meatballs:

(Recipe makes 8 large meatballs)

1/2 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or more, depending on how much heat you like!)

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1 shallot, diced

1 egg

1/8 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 block mozzarella cheese, cut into half-inch cubes (best to use packaged, dry mozzarella as opposed to fresh mozzarella in water)

1 cup marinara sauce

Dried herbs to garnish (optional)

Instruction:

1. Combine half of Tabasco sauce, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, shallot, egg, and breadcrumbs in bowl.

2. Add ground beef and mix with hands until just combined.

3. Using an ice cream scoop (to ensure meatballs are the same size), form meatballs. Make an indent using index finger and insert mozzarella piece, covering up with the meat mixture. Repeat to make eight meatballs.

4. Heat olive oil in a pan. Brown meatballs on all sides, then transfer to a baking sheet. Finish meatballs in 350 degree oven – this should take no longer than 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs.

5. In same pan used to brown meatballs, heat up remaining Tabasco sauce and marinara sauce together. Serve with meatballs. Optionally garnish with dried herbs.

Enjoy cheese-stuffed hot meatballs with Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

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The Sage of Innocence

Tonight Edward and I are going to a live broadcast of La Bohéme in Trafalgar Square. For our opera picnic, he’s bringing the wine, and I’m in charge of food. It’s nights like these that make me so glad to live in London – there is the possibility of culture and romance on any given night.

However, it’s also nice to get away sometimes. We spent last weekend in Wivenhoe, a small river town near the eastern coast. We ate dinner at a cozy tapas place and both agreed that it was the best meal we’d eaten in a long time. Our favorite dish was a California-inspired flatbread, light enough to save room for other dishes, but substantial enough to make a lasting impression.

For tonight’s menu, I’ve decided to bring a bit of our quiet, relaxed weekend back to the buzzing city – keeping the same flavors but melting them into travel-friendly quesadillas. Like the New York upper class society in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, a simple shell masks the complex flavors hidden inside. I’m confident that the opera singers won’t be the only stars of the show tonight!

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4 tortillas

1 cup shredded mozzarella

8 slices prosciutto

8 sage leaves, chopped

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup water

Instruction:

1. In small saucepan, bring water, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar to a simmer. Allow to reduce down for about ten minutes, until the mixture reaches glaze-like consistency. (You can test this by seeing if the glaze coats the back of a spoon.) Allow to cool.

2. In food processor, pulse mozzarella until creamy.

3. Working with two tortillas at a time, spread the mozzarella mixture on both. (Leave a half-inch border, as mozzarella will spread when it melts.) Lay prosciutto slices and sage leaves, and drizzle balsamic glaze on one side, and fold the second over so that both spread sides are facing inwards (as a sandwich). Repeat for as many quesadillas as you require.

4. Bake on one side for 5 minutes in a 180-degree oven. Carefully flip the quesadillas, and bake for 3-5 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into quarters.

*Note: sage has a very strong flavor, so use sparingly!

Enjoy mozzarella quesadillas with Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!