Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Food Ideas From the Tube

I watched a few interesting cooking shows last night. The first was Lidia Bastianich's show, on which she prepared turkey meatballs.

The meatballs were non-traditional -- they included ingredients such as pine nuts and golden raisins -- but I'm willing to bet they were good. She prepared a sauce made up of sauteed garlic, tomato paste, chicken stock, and some veggies (onions, celery and carrots) that had been pureed.

(I couldn't find Bastianich's recipe online, but this recipe was pretty close to what she did.)

Bastianich said the turkey would lower the fat content (as opposed to using veal or pork), but she fried the meatballs in order to brown them. Doing this probably negated any advantage to using turkey, but whatever.

One strange thing is that she served the meatballs with corn on the cob, which was cooked or braised in the tomato-based sauce that she made. That would either be really good or really bad.

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Last night, I also watched a couple of cooks on "America's Test Kitchen" discuss how to make a better blueberry pie. I love pie so (as you can guess) I was listening closely.

They talked about how so many blueberry pies that are made have that gummy, gelatinized texture -- in other words, it's about the corn starch, not the blueberries. So the cooks probed a few ways to make a blueberry pie that isn't like this, yet still holds its shape better than many blueberry pies.

They did two things that succeeded. First, they took about a cup and a half of the blueberries and simply cooked them in a saucepan until they sort of turned into a loose jam. This, they said, released the natural pectin within the blueberries. Then they added this to the other blueberries. Second, they used one tart apple in the recipe, grated it and added it to the blueberries. They said the tartness of the apple would work well with the berries. Plus, apples are naturally high in pectin and that would help give the pie filling, once baked, form and stability.

The pie they baked looked very good, and it definitely wasn't soupy. Nor was it the other extreme -- the gummy, corn-starchy texture that store-bought pies tend to have.

I may give this new-fangled recipe a try the next time I am baking pie.

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