Tag Archives: Meatballs

Sunshine in a Jar (Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Meatballs)

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”Meister Eckhart

Moroccan Meatballs in Sauce
Moroccan Meatballs in Sauce

Ever since I watched Kitty Morse stuff lemons and salt into a jar…

…while she cheerily chatted about life in the Kasbah to the Culinary Historians of San Diego, I’ve been fascinated with  Moroccan cuisine. 

Studying cookbooks like Kitty’s Mint Tea and Minarets and Fatema Hal’s  Authentic Recipes from Morocco, I tried various dishes, getting a sense of characteristic flavors: preserved lemons, harissa (hot chili pepper paste), caraway seeds, pine nuts, mint, tomatoes, coriander seeds, cumin, dried apricots, cinnamon, chilies, olives, ginger. Many of these ingredients I knew from other cuisines, like Mexican or Indian or Greek, but these were new combinations.

My Take on Moroccan Meatballs

Then, when I was planning a holiday party, I made up my own recipe: Moroccan Meatballs. I used ground turkey instead of lamb for a lighter (but definitely not traditional) base, and included a tangy tomato sauce. 

The recipe makes lots of meatballs, which freeze well and then reheat well in the tomato sauce in a slow cooker, keeping them warm and easy.  

Recently I updated my recipe, mainly because the ground turkey I bought came in a different sized pack, so I had to adjust the other ingredients. I also wanted to make it a little spicier, with a new dash of cayenne.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Although you can buy preserved lemons from some specialty shops (but I can’t remember where I saw them…) or from Amazon (but they are heavy so shipping is expensive and the glass jar makes it risky). The best is making your own preserved lemons, but it does mean you have to think ahead about a month, or always keep a supply on hand. 

Some recipes you’ll find also include adding other seasonings like bay leaf or coriander seeds, but I prefer the simplicity of the traditional, using just the basics:

  • Five or six organic lemons (either Meyers lemons or Eurekas), some more for juicing, if needed
  • At least 1/4 cup sea salt or Kosher salt (without the chemicals of common table salt)

You’ll need a wide-mouthed pint jar and a sharp knife.

  1. Rinse and dry the lemons. Slit them in quarters down to 1/2 inch, without breaking them entirely apart, picking out any seeds that come out easily.
  2. Put a tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle salt liberally within each lemon, then squeeze the quarters together, and place it in the jar.
  3. As you add each lemon, push it down into the jar, squeezing the juice from the one beneath, sprinkling on more salt to draw out the juice. You’ll be surprised how many lemons will find in the jar as they give up their juice, and you keep pressing them down beneath the level of the juice.
  4. It’s very important that the lemons are completely covered with juice to prevent the growth of mold. If needed, add more freshly squeezed lemon juice when the jar is nearly packed, within an inch or so from the top.
  5. Cover and set the jar in a warm place for a couple of days, maybe on your kitchen counter, so that you can shake and turn them over to distribute the salt and juice every day or so.  Label the date you put them up, maybe also with the date a month later when you can start using them. 
  6. When you want to use one, use a spoon or tongs to take it from the jar sanitarily. Give it a quick rinse under cold water to remove excess salt. You can remove the seeds and inside pulp, if you like — it’s the skins you use as the flavoring, sliced or chopped.

The lemons are good for several months on the counter or in your fridge. Just make sure that the liquid fully covers the lemons.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Turkey Moroccan Meatballs

Moroccan Meatballs with Delicata Squash
Moroccan Meatballs with Delicata Squash


This recipe makes 80+ 1-inch Moroccan meatballs, with 6 cups of sauce.

Great for large parties or for freezing family-sized batches for fast and easy mid-week suppers.


Ingredients (Onion)Ingredients

For meatballs:
  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup (5 oz. by weight) spicy Harissa paste, a traditional Moroccan seasoning, either pre-made from a store or Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Mina-Harissa-Traditional-Moroccan-Pepper/dp/B004U771H4)  or made from a recipe, like this one – http://mideastfood.about.com/od/dipsandsauces/r/harissa.htm or this one – http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/harissa-51185010
  • 1 – 2 preserved lemons, rinsed, and cut into small dice (1/4 inch)
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons dried mint, OR 4 Tablespoons fresh mint, cut small, OR a combination (my favorite) of 1 Tablespoon dried, 3 Tablespoon fresh
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper, or to taste, depending on spiciness of Harissa
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a quick sprinkle from the jar) – optional
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups panko or homemade breadcrumbs, PLUS 2 cups more for rolling meatballs before baking
For sauce:
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3-12 oz cans organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups organic or homemade turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon honey, or to taste  
  • 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, or to taste

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, then add pine nuts. Set timer for 3 minutes. Keep stirring and turning pine nuts, lifting the pan, to make sure that they don’t burn. After 3 minutes (or when brown spots begin to appear on nuts), remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the pine nuts into a bowl to cool.

2 – Preheat oven to 350˚F.

3 – In a large mixing bowl, assemble turkey, harissa, lemon, pine nuts, apricots, onion, garlic, mint, salt, pepper, 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds, cayenne pepper (optional), 1 1/2 cups panko, and beaten eggs.

4 – Pour 2 more cups panko into a separate, shallow bowl.

5 – Wearing food handler’s gloves or using very clean hands, mix all ingredients to combine. Using a 1-inch scoop or a tablespoon measure, form  the mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Roll each meatball in the panko and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat, allowing about 1 inch between meatballs.

6 – Once one baking sheet is full, put it in a 350˚F oven for 25 minutes, while assembling additional baking sheets of meatballs. Bake one sheet at a time, or extend cooking time to 30 minutes for two-sheet baking, switching the baking sheet positions halfway through baking time.

7 – Remove the baking sheet from the oven, allowing meatballs to cool for five minutes on the sheet. Carefully remove from sheet and cool on a wire rack.

8 – While the meatballs are cooling, make the sauce:

  • Toast spices in a dry 3-quart sauce pan until aromatic (a couple of minutes), then add diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and turkey or chicken broth.
  • Heat to simmer. Add honey and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

9 – Either cool and freeze, or put in heated sauce for serving immediately or in a slow cooker on Warm setting for holding for up to 3 1/2 hours.

First seen on www.CulinaryOracle.com, Barbara Newton-Holmes, Dec. 16, 2015

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Either/Or (Truffles)

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Truffles, Truffle Salt,  & Trufflized Meatballs

Trufflized Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
Trufflized Meatballs with Marinara Sauce



Ashley got the job…




…out of 33 interviewees!!!

Congratulations, Ashley!!!
Of course, this called for a Treo Happy Hour.

I wanted to bring something hearty and flavorful, a dish that spoke of strength and steadiness and home and friendship. Meatballs in red sauce seemed a choice, but not those dry little hard balls of cork that so often go by the same name. I wanted something sexy and robust and delicious, with depth. 

My muse got busy. I’d leave off the pasta as a concession to calories, but these meatballs were going to have flavor. I’d use pork and parmesan cheese, as well as turkey. These meatballs were going to have…TRUFFLES, in some form.

Truffles — those lumpy tuberous fungi that grow underground, particularly in Italy, France, and Oregon, mingling among the roots of specific indigenous trees, releasing their heady fragrance only with their spores, only in season. This hidden treasure requires the olfactory superiority of dogs or pigs to snuffle them out.

Since Greek and Roman times they have been sought out as a delicacy, medicine, and an aphrodisiac. Ranging in price from $250 to $450 a pound, it’s a good thing that only a slice or two is needed to season a risotto or a whole bottle of olive oil.

In truffle salt, it looks more like the pepper got mixed in with the salt by mistake more than anything intentional, but it’s those specs that drive the price up to almost $20 for just a couple of ounces of salt. Yet, it’s one of my favorite, quick seasonings.

  • Put a 1/2 teaspoon of truffle salt in a flat bowl as a dip for freshly rinsed organic grape tomatoes, and you’ve got yourself a delicious snack, so low in calories, high in flavor and vitamin C.
  • Add a few pinches to sautéeing mushrooms (truffles’ more humble cousin) to add an elegant note to a prime rib or steak side.

Trufflized Meatballs
I found a small can of white truffle porcini cream sauce that I’d bought at the Buon Appetito Market (which also often carries truffle salt and truffle olive oil) that I thought might do the trick for richness in this dish. Another time, an alternative might be portobello mushrooms (or baby bellas or rehydrated porcini) with heavy cream, truffle salt, and truffle extra virgin olive oil.

I used half ground pork and ground turkey. But, another time, I could use all turkey, but spiked with HP sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

I found a couple of inches left of a salami that I minced into tiny pieces. Another time, I could use just fresh garlic and a few anchovy fillets.

For details, see Trufflized Meatballs.

Other Truffles?
The meatballs were a big hit on the pot luck table. I saw Laurie going back for seconds. My friend Mark told me they were flavorful and that he didn’t usually like meatballs because they usually were so boring. But, I’m not sure I saw Ashley have any.

And then, it hit me!

Ashley doesn’t usually eat meat!! I’d been totally confused… I should have made those sweet and voluptuous lumps of ganache, named after the fungus for their similarity in appearance — Chocolate TRUFFLES!!

Those would have been the perfect dish for Ashley.

Have a beautiful and delicious day! - Barbara
Have a beautiful and delicious day! – Barbara
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Trufflized Meatballs

Ingredients (Onion)

Yield: about 50 1-inch meatballs

  • 12 oz. organic ground turkey
  • 16 oz. natural ground pork OR organic ground turkey with 2 Tablespoons HP sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, small dice
  • 1/2 cup celery, small dice
  • 3 Tablespoons fennel, small dice
  • 1/2 cup Italian or curly parsley + 1/4 cup more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup salami, minced OR 3 large cloves garlic, minced and 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 6.1 oz White Truffle Porcini Cream Sauce OR 1/2 cup portobello (or baby bellas) mushrooms, small dice, with 1 Tablespoon Truffle extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon truffle salt
  • 2 teaspoons salt OR only 1 teaspoon, if using truffle salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 – 6 grinds black pepper
  • 1/2 plus 1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs + 1/2 cup more for rolling
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 25.5oz jar organic basil tomato marinara
Preparation (Chef's hat) Preparation

Food handler’s gloves are great for mixing this with your hands, instead of a spoon.

1 – Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2 – In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat, onion, celery, fennel, salami (or alternative), truffle porcini sauce (or alternatives), salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, parsley, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, beaten eggs, and 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs.

3 – Mix everything together well, then use a 1-inch scoop (or two Tablespoons) to dig out portions, rolling them into spheres.

4 – Add the additional 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs to a shallow soup bowl. Roll each meatball in panko, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicon baking mat.

5 – Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160˚F.

6 – While meatballs are baking, heat marinara sauce on low. Do not boil.

7 – When meatballs are cooked, arrange in a warmed bowl (or slow cooker set to Warm). Pour on the heated marinara sauce and sprinkle on 1/4 cup cheese and 1/4 cup parsley.

8 – Serve as is, with spaghetti, with sliced baguette, or cheesy garlic bread.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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