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Cooking, part 1

January 3, 2008

I like to work in advance, so I got started on my salsa.

First, I roasted 8 small tomatoes, five seeded and halved jalapeños, one quartered red onion, and five cloves of garlic, at 400° for about 40 minutes. I pulled them out, dropped everything but the tomatoes into the food processor and pulsed a few times till it was roughly chopped. Right about then I realized I didn’t have cilantro—my bad for not checking the recipe before going to the store. What to do? I decided to continue with the recipe, and get cilantro later. So in went the tomatoes, and I turned the food processor on, to process the heck out of it. In went the juice of one lime and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I finished it by seasoning it with salt and pepper, poured it off into a plastic container, and dropped it into the fridge. Mental note: go get cilantro! I guess I’ll just rough chop it, stir it in, and hope for the best. Preliminary verdict: it’s a little sweet from the roasting, but very yummy, and the cilantro will definitely give it the right balance.

Then I got started on sausage cheese balls. These are a childhood staple for me, and I love them a lot. But I’d never made them, and I was also concerned about the food at the party not being very vegetarian friendly. That’s where the Gimme Lean comes in. The stuff tastes pretty much exactly like breakfast sausage, but is made of vegetable protein. (I’m not sure if it’s vegan, but the cheese pretty much makes this a non-vegan recipe anyway, so I don’t think it really matters.)

This recipe is actually not as easy as it sounds, and I am still not sure I did it right. They taste right, but they don’t look right, and they are a little doughy and puffy. So we’ll see what the verdict is with the guests.

Here’s how you make this: mix 4 cups of shredded cheddar, 1 pound of sausage (or sausage substitute), and a scant 3 cups of Bisquick with 1/2 cup or so of milk. I think there’s probably an easier way to do this than just dumping it all in a bowl, and the next time I make these, I’ll start by tossing the cheese with the flour, then cutting the sausage in the way I would cut butter into flour for pastry. Then I’d mix in the milk until it was all just moistened. I might use less Bisquick, too. I will also wait till the sausage is a little closer to room temperature—my hands were freezing!

Anyway, you get everything mixed, and then press the dough into walnut-sized balls. Mine were too big—once you get to ping-pong ball size, you risk them drying out before the sausage is fully cooked. Luckily, I was using Gimme Lean, so I wasn’t as concerned about them being fully cooked. Lay the balls out on a greased or lined baking sheet (I used a Silpat) and bake for about 18 minutes in a 350° oven. You can pump the temperature up a bit at the end to brown the tops if you want.

So that’s what I cooked tonight.

Tomorrow: Last minute shopping! And cooking, part 2.

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Categories: food
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