Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things we're doing. Things we're eating.

So we've made the move from Burgundy to our magical new apartment in Paris. We're settling here until the end of 2014, so we're pretty psyched that we like the apartment and the neighborhood as much as we do.

And yes, our apartment did come with a trampoline...

So our move to Paris has pretty much been a hit, with only two small hitches:

1.) It's a fifth floor walk-up. Which is a long way up when you're counting steps in french and english with a two-year old. (Luckily, he loses interest in walking up after the first two flights, so at least it doesn't also take F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

2.) Our bedroom ceiling is about 69" tall, at it's highest point. So there's only one place where I can fully stand up, and John has to put his head out the skylight to put on his trousers in the morning. BUT-- we have a truly spectacular view of the Eiffel Tour from both of the skylight windows, so he gets to see that every morning too. I think it pretty much evens out pro vs. con. (He might vote differently.)

One of the best meals we made before we left for Paris was an adaptation of Marco Canora's "Veal-Ricotta Meatballs". I've eaten these meatballs a hundred times in New York, and I'm pretty much addicted. They serve these bad boys on a "ficelle" baguette at Marc's restaurant Terroir in the East Village, and when I saw a ficelle baguette at our local boulangerie, it planted a seed of such intense meatball-desire, that I just succumbed and attempted to make my own. (Yes. Meatball desire is a thing.) We had to adapt a little because we were in rural France, but if you can get these ingredients exactly as described, all the better. Now that we're here in Paris, I'm going to take another crack at it for dinner guests we've invited over this evening, hopefully using all the proper ingredients. I'll report back if it makes a big difference...

Veal and Ricotta Meatballs

Time: 3 1/4 hours, plus 1 hour chilling and overnight draining of ricotta

1 pound ricotta cheese *I confess. I did not drain my ricotta overnight the first time. And it was actually a french equivolent of ricotta, because I couldn't find any in Dijon. I'm a traitor. 
1 pound ground veal (triple ground by butcher or at home), chilled *Yep. Triple-grinding didn't happen either. Still turned out delicious. What can I say? 
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon salt, or as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg, as needed
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup flour, or as needed
4 cups mild tomato sauce.

1. Wrap ricotta in cheesecloth a day before serving and place in a sieve set over a bowl. Weight cheese, cover and refrigerate overnight. (Cheese should then have consistency of tofu.)
2. The next day, combine all ingredients except oil, flour and sauce in a bowl and mix with hands until completely smooth, pale and homogenized, about 4 minutes. Test seasoning by frying a bit in hot oil. It should taste assertively salty (braising in sauce tames seasoning); adjust salt if needed. Cover and chill before shaping into meatballs.
3. Dust a baking sheet and your hands with flour. Keep remaining flour nearby in bowl. Gently form meat into nine balls. Place on baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
4. Place about 1 1/2 inches oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry meatballs, moving them as little as possible. When bottoms are golden brown, after about 2 minutes, gently turn them. Fry until uniformly brown on all sides. Meanwhile, heat sauce in pot over medium-low heat and when meatballs are done, remove from oil with slotted spoon and add to sauce.
5. Simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes; they can remain in the sauce for hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be refrigerated overnight, and gently reheated. Serve meatballs in sauce alone, or over pasta, with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano passed separately.
Yield: 4 servings.

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