Here’s our first guest chef post courtesy of Ally’s mom! How this hasn’t happened before is mind-boggling because she is an amazing cook. Ally was super lucky to grow up with a mom who made homemade dinner essentially every night of the week. As a typical ungrateful teenager, Ally used to not appreciate this as much as she does now, instead being jealous of her friends who got to order pizza for dinner. But we definitely appreciate it now! Ally’s mom has a repertoire of her classic dinners that they ate growing up, that her kids salivate over now. But she also has started experimenting and trying new recipes, now that she doesn’t have four whiny kids to cook for every night.
Last night we were definitely the grateful beneficiaries of one of her new attempts. Hopefully it becomes a family classic because it was so delicious! The recipe originates with Bon Appetit magazine; she made very slight changes to that recipe. The meatballs are flavorful and juicy, and the pesto is an interesting change, with the minty flavor and a sharp bite of garlic. This dinner is also a nice option for a dinner party as it can be scaled up easily, it can be pre-assembled up until the point of rolling out and baking the meatballs, and it looks pretty!
Lamb Meatballs with Minty Pesto
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh mint
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Greek yogurt for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Whisk the egg together with all of the other meatball ingredients, except the lamb. Once combined, work the lamb in with your hands.
- Meanwhile, combine all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Blitz until herbs are finely chopped and the sauce is well-combined. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Using your hands, roll the meat into golf-ball-sized meatballs. [This should yield ~20 small meatballs.] Place the meatballs on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until browned.
- Serve meatballs with pesto and a dollop of greek yogurt. Rice or couscous is a nice side to go with these meatballs.
Selim’s father is one of our most loyal blog readers. He’s been telling us for years that we should try a twist on the traditional baklava that we usually make. Our baklava recipe is a fairly traditional Turkish one and incorporates tips from him. But he’s been suggesting that we try to make a Southern twist on baklava using pecans instead of more traditional nuts like walnuts or pistachios. We’ve thought this was a great idea, but just never have gotten around to doing it.
Lo and behold, we had our baby last week (she’s pretty awesome), and Selim’s father is in town from Texas to visit and meet her this week. Texans seem to love pecans, hence how we got to this point! Since he’s here, we decided to put him to work and today he and Selim gave Southern Baklava a whirl. The main difference, outside of the substitution of pecans, is the addition of cinnamon and maple syrup.
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted, clarified butter
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 cups pecans
- ~40 sheets of filo dough (usually 2 packages)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- (If you have clarified butter, melt the appropriate amount. If you only have regular butter, melt it in a saucepan and then skim off the foam and slowly pour the liquid into a bowl making sure to not transfer solid milk fats which are at the bottom.)
- Prepare the syrup: combine cold water, 2 cups of sugar, the maple syrup, and whole cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat to barely a simmer. Continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the cinnamon sticks open up and the syrup thickens.
- Stir in the lemon juice and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine pecans and 2 tbsp sugar in food processor. Process until “medium” ground – don’t let it get too fine.
- Now brush the inside of a large cookie sheet with clarified butter.
- Place a sheet of filo dough in the pan. Brush with more clarified butter. Continue in this pattern until you’ve placed half of the sheets (~20) of filo dough in the pan.
- Now spread the pecan-sugar mixture onto the top layer of filo dough. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and then drizzle with more clarified butter.
- Return to the pattern of layering dough and clarified butter until you use all of the rest of the filo dough sheets. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.
- Take a very sharp knife and dip it into hot water. Slice down halfway through the height of the dough into the size and shape of baklava pieces you want at the end.
- Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven.
- Lower heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Slice all the way through, along the lines you previously made.
- Pour the syrup over top, along the cut lines.
- For best results, let sit for a day before eating. This is hard to do and it’s still delicious if you eat it immediately. The longer the syrup soaks in, the better though!
As promised, here’s the recipe for the gorgeous salad hidden in the corner of one of our pictures from Saturday night’s Patatas Bravas with Super Garlic Aioli! Ally’s cousin Emily is responsible for this dish, and we’re hoping this is the first of many of her creations we’ll share on here (you should see some of the incredible desserts she makes). This salad is beautiful for your eyes and your taste buds – I mean, you can’t really go wrong with cheese, summer peaches, and prosciutto! The ingredient amounts are easily adjustable for different numbers or preferences of diners. Basically framework for a beautiful summer dish! Emily mentally combined a few recipes she’d come across to yield the final result of this one – inspiration from here, here, and here.
This salad came together, in part because of the THREE MASSIVE BAGS of fresh, juicy summer peaches that my aunt/Emily’s mom brought home from Saunders Brothers. August is National Peach Month, and we definitely know why! ❤ ❤
Peach & Burrata Salad
- Mixed greens
- 3-5 peaches, peeled & sliced
- 2-4 balls of burrata, cut into chunks
- 6-8 slices of prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces
- Fresh mint, chopped
- Balsamic glaze (homemade or store-bought*)
- *If making your own balsamic glaze, reduce balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a 4:1 ratio (ie: 1 cup vinegar to a 1/4 cup sugar) at a simmer until thickened and syrupy.
- Assemble salad by placing mixed greens on a platter or in a large bowl. Top with the remaining ingredients.
- Oooh & aahh at your pretty salad!