Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweedish Meatballs

Bishop Hill IL is an historic village in central Illinois not far from where I grew up. It is a place my mother likes to visit for day trips, and she got this cookbook for me several years ago. Bishop Hill began as a group of Swedes seeking religious freedom in this country. They were a utopian, communal society which flourished for 15 years befrore disbanding shortly after the Civil War. You can see pictures of the chamring village and read more about its history here.

This book contains 6 recipes for Sweedish Meatballs, I chose to follow Alfhild Bergen Oberg's recipe. Ground Allspice and Cloves are two spices that all of the recipes have in common. Oberg's recipe did not include cream, many others did. I served the meatballs with mashed potatoes and a spoon of Sweedish Lingonberries. I also had some terrific beef gravy left from a brisket dinner, so I did not use Oberg's recipe for gravy, but I included it as written in the cookbook.

1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs or crackers
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbls butter
3/4 ground beef
1/2 ground veal
1/4 ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon each nutmeg, ginger, ground allspice, and ground cloves
2 Tbls butter

Soak the bread in the cream for about 5 minutes. Saute the onion in 1 Tbls butter til soft, but not browned.

Mix the meats, the crumb mixture, onion, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves until all ingredients are well combined.

Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Brown the balls in 2 Tbls of butter.

Remove the balls from the skillet and make gravy (recipe follows), add the meatballs back to the skillet in the sauces and simmer ther for 30 minutes.

2 Tbls of butter
2 Tabls flour
1 1/4 cup rich beef stock
1/4 tsp instant coffee
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour off most of the grease from the meat balls, add 2 Tbls of butter to the pan and lightly brown the flour. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil, whisking until the gravy is thick and bubbling. Taste for seasoning befor adding the meatballs back into the gravy.

My personal pet peeve about meatballs are that they are usually hard little hockey pucks of meat floating in sauce:making really good meatballs lies in forming the balls. It takes a light hand. You need to form them so that they stay together when browning and cooking, but to compress and pack them too tightly makes for dense and unappetising meatballs, so remember to always use a light touch.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The powers that be-John and Susie, who own the restaurant-have requested more 99 cent fun from the kitchen. This week will be asparagus-check out our Facebook page and let us know what you'd like to buy for 99 cents, and we just might be able to make it happen.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rack of Pork Stuffed with Apples and Dried Plums


2 Tablespoons butter
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup dried plums
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
Fresh thyme leaves, or 1/8 teaspoon dried
2 Tablespoons fruit vinegar-cider or raspberry
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute everything except the vinegar in the butter until soft, but not browned.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, taste for seasoning, remove the bay leaf, and let the stuffing cool.

Prepare the pork rack and vegetables

You need a pork rack with the chine bone removed and the ribs frenched.

Brine the roast for 2 hours in 2 quarts of water with one cup of salt

Butterfly the loin without detaching the ribs, and lightly pound out the surface until it is flat and even.

Salt and pepper the surfae of the pork and sprinkle with some cognac or wine.

Spread the stuffing over the surface, and roll up the pork jelly-roll style, truss with string.

Place the pork on a roasting rack and roast in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1/2 hour.

Blanch the vegetables (I used turnips, potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, and onions-onions do not need to be blanched) until tender-crisp. Drain and hold until the pork has roasted for 1/2 hour.

Add blanched vegetables to the roasting pan, toss to coat them in the pork drippings, and place the pork rack directly on the vegetables, discarding the roasting rack, to finish roasting. Place everything back in the oven for about 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140 to145 degrees-Most safety guideline stipulate 150 degree, but that is too done for me. Let the roast rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ardelle's Figs

One of our farmers is Ardelle Waltog, She supplies alot of spinach and tomatoes for the restaurant, but she also grows figs. During our recent Pumpkin Fest I bought all of Ardelle's figs with the intention of making preserves. They are very sweet and tasty. The recipe and canning are simple.

Weigh your figs, and use an equal amount of sugar.

Quarter the figs and mix with the sugar-add one thinly sliced lemon and the juice of one lemon, bring to a simmer and cook for about 1/2 hour until the jam is bubbly and thick.

Pack into sterilized jars, secure the lids and rings and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.