Monday, November 22, 2010


While I formulate my thoughts on Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Pitchfork gave it a 10.0 this morning, the first time they've bestowed this honor on a new release since Wilco's 2002 masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), I'll share my most recent soup exploration and offer a delicious Thanksgiving recipe from the Queen of the Quadruple Bypass, Ms. Paula Deen that I made a few weeks ago. Trust me when I say it is every bit as delicious as you are imagining right now, and even less healthy. Let's get on with the soup.

Albondigas Soup is the Mexican equivalent to Campbell's Tomato. A warm, soothing bowl of comfort that Mexican mothers would whip up for their children with meatballs, tomatoes, and whatever other vegetables/spices were available. I've been hoping for a chance at meatball redemption since my my previous meatball-centric soup was a disappointment, and the god's provided me one in the form of this Albondiga's soup recipe, or so I thought.

Here is the line-up of usual suspects:

1 pound lean ground beef (I used Turkey, USE BEEF)
1/4 pound pork sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 cup cornmeal
6 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
1 onion, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup white rice

Looks like a lot of ingredients, but it really wasn't bad. I had most of the stuff already, and just had to grab some canned tomatoes and beef broth. Start the recipes by dicing your onion, and tossing it into a large pot with the beef broth, tomatoes, salsa, dried basil, oregano and black pepper. Bring these goodies to a boil. Some commenters on Allrecipes mentioned that it's important to use "green chili" salsa in this recipe, meaning a salsa that uses green peppers, ie Jalapeno's, etc. I used Trader Joes roasted yellow tomatillo salsa, which was probably not a stellar idea in retrospect (it was pretty watery and tasted a bit bland). I'd recommend finding a salsa that uses jalapenos.

Here I am doing my best Vanna White.

Next you want to make the meatballs by thoroughly mixing the egg, beef, pork, cilantro, cornmeal, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and milk in a large bowl. It was about this time that I began to get a little concerned about the recipe. The cornmeal was inadequate as a meatball "glue", and it was exceedingly difficult to shape the resulting glop into anything that resembled a "ball". I suspect the turkey was partly to blame for this as well, but I contend that if the recipe called for breadcrumbs, it would have been a breeze.

Thankfully, another commenter on the recipe recommended rolling out the meatball cud into "meat-snakes", which can easily be cut and quickly shaped into a ball. Grateful for this revelation, I followed their guidance (thanks opal~/~dragonfly).

Like a said, "meat-snake" about sums it up.

Shortly thereafter I had this little basket of turkey meatballs, and all was right in the world. I plopped these into the boiling broth and tried not to be scalded by the tomato magma.

They floated immediately, which I did not expect. I also added half a cup of rice as this point to thicken things up. The recipe didn't call for carrots, celery, or any other vegetables, but after seeing the pea pods in the top image, I think it certainly could have used them for a "fresher" flavor. Some recipes also called for potatoes, but that was venturing perilously close to stew territory for me.

After half an hour, all the meatballs had risen and the soup was ready to eat. I ladled it into a bowl.

It was still quite hot, but not too hot to admire and photograph. I then added my favorite garnish and ate it.

And.........I was disappointed. The tomatoes were delicious, and the cilantro was a great addition to the meatballs, but the broth itself was too salty (and I have a huge salt tooth) and the meatballs were a little dry and lean. I had hoped to avoid the greasy meatballs I ended up with when I used plain beef weeks earlier, and this time ended up with something on the other side of the spectrum. If I were to make this again, I would certainly follow the recipe with regard to the beef/pork mixture, and substitute a cup of water in place of the last can of beef stock. This brings us to the double-edged sword of making soup. If it isn't great, you are still eating it for the rest of the week. By Wednesday I was ready to give away my first-born for the assurance I would never see another meatball again.

And now, the special bonus Thanksgiving recipe. I think I took pictures of this, but I don't know where they are and frankly, the photos are inconsequential. I made an Pumpkin Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake a few weeks ago for another work-sanctioned bake-off, which was from another nebulae, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The butter-cake portion is the most melt-in-your-mouth, delicious cake you can imagine. It has a very slight outer crispness and density to it that pairs wonderfully with the fluffy mouse-like pumpkin layer on top. It is everything you love in a pie, combined with everything you love in a cake. I used to scoff at Paula Deen and say uninformed things like "anything tastes good if you melt a stick of butter in it", but she wields that stick of butter like Michelangelo did his paintbrush, and Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake is her Sistine Chapel. If you are responsible for making dessert this Thanksgiving, do yourself a favor and make this. My mother already requested I bring home a batch. Here's the recipe:

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

3. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

4. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

1 comment:

  1. I'm scared. Did you actually create a "mouse"-like pumpkin layer? How many mice did you use? Are these the creatures from the kitchen or did you get them from a sanitary place like an MIT lab?