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!

Don Chipotle

It’s picnic season here in Londontown. The many parks are fragrant and colorful, and even overcast days still feel green and healthy. But this glorious explosion of nature, paired with a good book, the right company, some fresh strawberries and a bottle of chilled champagne could be dangerous. Like the title character in Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, too much exposure to romance could go to the head and cause one to go a bit crazy. That’s why it is of the utmost importance to pack some hearty snacks for a London picnic – so that the amorous surroundings (and a bit too much champagne) don’t get the best of you.

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A dozen eggs

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1 tbsp mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp chipotle powder (or more, to taste)

1 celery stalk

Salt and pepper to taste

Instruction:

1. Boil eggs for 8 minutes (from the time they come up to the boil). Remove and submerge directly in ice water (this stops the cooking immediately).

2. Carefully peel shell from eggs. Rinse eggs to remove any lingering bits. Slice eggs in half long-ways (for two symmetrical halves).

3. Separate the yolk from the whites. This is usually easy to do by gently squeezing the whites, but you can use a teaspoon as well.

4. Set whites aside to use as base for the deviled eggs. In food processor, combine egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Fold in finely chopped celery; transfer to piping bag. Pipe yolk mixture into the egg white base.

Enjoy devilish deviled eggs with Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

The Girl with the Dragon Cashew

Over the weekend, we hosted an open house so that I could see family and friends before moving to London. From Saturday morning until well into the Sunday brunch hours, people from various walks of life came and went. In the midst of the haze of food, wine, laughter, and plenty of hugs, I began thinking about how each person at the party had influenced my life and my decision to begin an adventure across the pond. Every guest differs in age, personality, and role in my life, but they’ve all contributed a bit to what happens next.

Cooking is like solving a mystery. As a chef’s job is to find the perfect flavor combination, a crime novelist must make multiple seemingly random elements come together in the end. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, Stieg Larsson introduces multiple characters, each with a complex history that contributes to the plot. Like a fiery red pesto with surprising flavors, this novel’s many elements make up a delectable story. The audience may not understand throughout the creation process, and to the outside eye, some of the ingredients may seem bizarre, but the end result makes perfect sense.

SONY DSCPesto:

1/4 cup cashew nuts

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I used the jarred kind soaked in olive oil, drained.)

1/4 cup basil

1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt, to season

1/2 pound angel hair pasta

Instruction:

1. In food processor, combine cashew nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes. Slowly add olive oil and allow it to incorporate as processor is still going. Season with salt.

2. Cook angel hair pasta in boiling salted water. Mix with pesto and thin out with a few tablespoons of pasta water, if necessary.

Enjoy fiery pesto and angel hair with Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and check in at warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!