Tag Archives: appetizers

Balls of Meat

29 Dec

I made these yesterday for a gathering of indie musicians, some of whom played in honor of a final farewell concert at a friend’s house. Mostly twenty-somethings, with a few teens and some oldies, but goodies, too.

Good thing I made a crockpot full, because during each set break, masses of concert-goers (slight exaggeration) would make their way upstairs to the kitchen for more of them, until there were only teensy meat remnants submerged in the leftover saucy glaze. Stephen, one of the musicians whose band was honored, and whose house contained us all, had been ill the past couple days. I had made the meatballs especially for him, since he had worked so hard to arrange the concert. Unfortunately, he missed his opportunity. I suggested that he get himself a spoon and eat the meat remnants with their saucy glaze, which he thought most brilliant. I seem to have that kind of effect on young and impressionable minds, especially on those subjected to little sleep and large amounts of cold medicines.

What I’m trying to say, though, is that my little balls of meat were a smash.

So, just in case you were interested in making some of your own, I’ve included my recipe below.

Cocktail Meatballs aka “Balls of Meat”

Meatballs: Yields 40 to 45 med. sized balls; or 50 – 55 small balls

3 1/2 lbs. ground chuck

2 whole eggs

5 or 6 slices white bread, torn into small pieces

1/4C to 1/3C half/half or mild (whichever you prefer)

1/4tsp.garlic salt

1 sm. onion (to be grated over meat mixture in bowl)

2 – 3 T. worcestershire (prefer Lea and Perrins)

black pepper

canola oil, or other you prefer (to coat bottom of pan)

In small bowl, pour half/half or milk over bread pieces just enough to wet. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine meat with the rest of the ingredients. Add the wet bread into the mixture and, with hands, gently massage ingredients to mix thoroughly. Coat large baking pan with oil. Pat hands with oil to keep the meat mixture from sticking to them. Should be able to fit all meatballs in one large pan. Toward the end of making the balls, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until browned. While baking, proceed to making the sauce.


1 – 1 and 1/2 bottles of Chili Sauce or, homemade. (if making homemade sauce, omit the tabasco, using rest of ingredients along with those mentioned under homemade sauce)

few drops of tabasco

smidgen (1/8tsp. or less) of ginger paste (minced ginger)

6 oz. to 8 oz. grape jelly, or slightly more, depending upon how sweet you like.

1/2 lime, squeezed

10 oz. beer (any will do; don’t be a beer snob)

(If making the chili sauce, which I ended up doing this time because I had mistook the cocktail sauce bottles for the desired chili sauce, then you can follow my recipe below. But first, a question: Why do they make these sauces look so much alike, and sit them next to one another on grocer shelves? Answer: It’s a conspiracy to boost product sales, particularly these, in an effort to boast about large holiday margins. I’m thinking I might have to involve Kaukab in this matter.)

Homemade Chili Sauce: (I hadn’t ever made, but I figured, while out looking for some, how hard could it be? It’s ketchup with chili pepper.)

1  14oz. bottle of ketchup (I prefer Heinz)

1/8tsp – 1/4tsp. dried red chili pepper flakes (start with the smaller amt. or you might have to ladle some away once start cooking in sauce, as I had to)

1/8tsp. garlic salt

1 T. worcestershire

Plus: the lime, beer, ginger, and grape jelly noted above.

In large saucepan (enough to fit all the meatballs, eventually), pour in bottled chili sauce, tabasco, ginger, and grape jelly and heat on med. heat until jelly mostly dissolves. Add lime and beer. Turn up heat to med-high and bring to boil. Turn down heat to med.low and cover partially. Once meatballs are done, put in sauce. Continue to cook on med. low  for about 30min. or until sauce begins to thicken somewhat.

If making chili sauce, first put in chili pepper flakes and ketchup and stir on medium heat for a couple minutes. Then add in jelly, ginger, garlic salt, worcestershire, and continue heat on medium until jelly mostly dissolves. Add in lime and beer, turning up heat to med-high and bring to boil. Follow rest of heating instructions above. 

And that’s really all there is to it. Soon, your balls will look just like these:

Enough to host your own night of concert-goers.

But, don’t expect Kaukab to show up. She’s not much into loud music. Or glazed meatballs.


Tampenade For (Almost) Everyone!

11 Dec

My Olive Tampenade


In Kaukab’s home, olives were served in their original shapes. Whole. With pita.

But, we’re cooking in my kitchen, so we’re going to let loose and pulverize them into a wonderful pesto to appetize on to our heart’s content. Oh, Kaukab’s gonna be real mad.

Don’t you worry, though. It’ll be a while before she finds out. Long enough for you to make this delicious recipe for your holiday party guests.

Let’s get started.

You’ll need these fine ingredients:

12 oz. kalamata olives, pitted (or any other flavorful type you prefer; in fact, a mixture of green and black would be great, too)

1 lemon, used for both lemon zest and flavoring

1/4 to 1/2 C. pine nuts, lightly toasted

3 – 4 med. sized garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise and again crosswise.

1 small bunch parsley, tops only

3 – 4 sundried tomatoes in oil, coarsely chopped

You can throw in a few capers, if you like. I didn’t, but that’s just me. Hubby likes capers, though.

4 oz. parmesean cheese (from wedge), cut into 5 – 6 pieces

sea salt (very little, just for added taste, since you’ve got the salt from the olives)

cracked black pepper

The Ingredients


Firstly, place your pine nuts in a small saute pan and on the lowest heat, possible, toast until lightly brown (about 5 – 7 min.), stirring every so often. Set aside to cool.

In food processer, dump in: olives, tomatoes, cheese, parsley tops, pine nuts, and zest of 1 lemon, and juice of 1/8 – 1/4 lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. Pulse until ingredients become a light paste, like pesto. Taste and adjust, if needed.

Hangin' Out In The Processer


And, that’s it! Simple.

Serve with a crostini or good crusty bread.

Don’t be concerned with that voice coming all the way from Cleveland. It’s just Kaukab wondering: “Why you make like dat?”

Unlike her daughter, who made two bowls-worth of the olive spread–one for violin girl’s college English class party (watch me brag); one for us–you don’t have to answer.

Double Trouble

Just enjoy your tampenade.

Guacamole–Not on Kaukab’s Mezza Table!

15 Oct


Kaukab’s mezza table exists for only one purpose–to feed anyone who comes for a visit–no matter how full the tummy. And on this table is served a whole host of Mediterranean dishes, all of which are carefully and generously prepared by experienced hands.

Avocados weren’t a part of the menu selections. It took me many years later to discover them…far away from Kaukab’s table.

The thing about Guacamole is that so many Americans think you have to use mayo to have a good, traditional dish. I used to be one of them. Then I had some in the Yucatan and discovered Guacamole without mayo. Everything about it changed for the better. The taste was cleaner, lighter. From that point on, I quit the mayo.

Over the years, I tried different ingredients–adding some, excluding others–until I came to making it this way:

4 Avocados (preferrably, Haas), cubed (Note: Please save one pit, to be used later to preserve the guacamole, so as not to turn brown while waiting on your guests.)

1/4 of a small red onion, finely diced (about a 1/4C. or slightly less) OR 1 green onion, finely sliced. If white part of onion is rather large, make a slit lengthwise, then slice across.

1 small jalepeno, finely diced

1/2 of small bunch cilantro, finely chopped

1 small lime

6 or 7 cherry tomatoes, quartered

extra virgin olive oil, just a little for drizzling

2 – 4 drops of tabasco

1/8tsp. cumin powder

sea salt, to taste

Gather your ingredients.

The Ingredients

Here’s how to cut an avocado and remove the pit–in case you needed to know:

Take your knife and make a cut, wedging the knife into the top of the avocado and gently, but firmly, moving the knife downward and around the other side, turning the avocado with your other hand, to meet back to where you started. With both hands, twist apart. Using your knife, attack the pit with force, and twist to remove. Something like thus:

Knife Attack

To cube the avocado, run a small knife lengthwise and then crosswise, making small cubes, which can then be spooned out into a bowl.

Cubed and Ready to Scoop Out

Into bowl, put cubed avocados, onions, jalepeno, and tomatoes, and cilantro. Add lime, first start with 1/2 and add more until has a bright limey flavor (I used 3/4 of the lime).  Finally, add the cumin, tabasco, and salt, to taste. Drizzle a little olive oil, just enough to moisten.

Ready for Mixing

Mix together, gently. You could sprinkle a little parmesean on it, too. I don’t think Kaukab would mind. We lost her at “Guacamole.”
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