Whereas Saturday morning was spent at the Seagull Cooking Cafe helping break in their new cooking school, Saturday evening was spent at the house of Khun Nat, co-editor of the website catandnat.com where some of my entries are cross-posted. After he started editing my pieces and discovered our common interest of food, he suggested we cook together. Our first venture: Hearty Italian Sunday Gravy based on a recipe from Cooks Illustrated.
This over-the-top tomato sauce usually calls for six cuts of meat and half a day by the stove. Thankfully, the CI recipe cuts that down to just three cuts (ribs, sausages, and meatballs) and just a few hours, most of which is in the oven. In addition to preparing the sauce, spaghetti and a salad, Nat prepared an angel food cake. Not wanting to waste the egg yolks, we also prepared two batches of ice cream: one banana and the other raspberry.
I did not go to the trouble of shooting everything, simply because I was being put to work. But here is a video showing the highlights of the afternoon and evening. If you cannot view the video embedded in this entry, the link for it is here.
Raised in New York City, Nat moved here in his mid-twenties and has been here ever since. He is one of those fortunate souls who got to design his kitchen from scratch and it is perfectly laid out to have lots of people involved in the cooking. Off to the left is a seating area where guests can relax and talk with the chef. Very useful arrangement, if only I had another few dozen square meters in my condo!
Iron Chef New York prepares the tomato sauce after browning in the meats in a skillet. The secret behind the rich flavor is that you sautee the onions until they start to brown and then add tomato paste and cook it until nearly burned. While this may seem too far at first, it concentrates the flavors and nicely caramelizes the sugars in the paste, and it ends up adding an incredible richness to the sauce.
After adding crushed canned tomatoes and cooking for a while, you add the ribs and sausages to the sauce and let them bake, covered, in the oven for two hours.
Starting ingredients for the meatballs: Italian parsley, egg yolk, bread crumbs, buttermilk, chili flakes, salt, and spices.
Nicely shaped (golf ball sized) meatballs.
Nat has a half-dozen or more beagles, all of which are very cute. They must have been tortured by the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen!
Fry the meatballs until browned.
Busy kitchen as Tawn and Cha handle the wine, Nat keeps an eye on the meatballs, and the angel food cake rests upside down on the concrete countertop.
The finished meatballs with nice browned bits on the outside, ready to add succulent flavor to the Sunday Gravy.
After the first round of cooking the ribs and sausages in the sauce, we agreed that it needed more liquid so added some water. Then added the meatballs and let them finish cooking.
Beautiful angel food cake. I really should make these more often. They are fat-free and very showy and satisfying desserts, especially with some fresh berries spooned on top. We went for homemade ice cream, but berries would have been nice, too.
Keeping with the Italian theme, a nice mixed salad with cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, salami, feta cheese, and olives.
The meat piled on a platter, ready to serve. Too bad Xanga doesn’t have a smell-o-blog feature.
The final product: whole wheat spaghetti served with rich sauce and three types of meat. Oh, this was good. I hate to rub it in, but you really missed out!
A slice of heaven. Didn’t photograph the two types of ice cream, but you can trust me that they were tasty, too. Is there room in my kitchen for an ice cream machine?
You’re making me hungry… I love Italian food. Man that stuff looks delicious!
that looks like a lot of fun! and surely yummy! Any thougt of giving up ur annex and convert to one huge kitchen party place? lol, just kidding.
I am sure it taste as delicious as it looks. You almost force me to cook this weekend –almost –well I will see.
Wow, those meatballs look extra flavorable!
That’s very good food porn for the day! Khun Nat reminds me of ‘Tommy Tang’, a Thai chef based in L.A. and had a couple of restaurants, back in the late 80’s. The idea of frying the meatballs sounds good!
You can make ice cream with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer… Splurged and bought myself one last year.
There is still an hour before lunch and my stomach is rumbling now! The ris look so tender and the gravy so thick and rich… yes I do wish I had smell-o-vision!!
Such an entertaining post. Glad you had a blast. Thank you for sharing.
Good thing I keep my CI issues…think I’ll look this up and give it a try.
omg. your food pron always look so damn amazing. and on a side note, I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wanna design my own kitchen… sigh… too bad it’ll cost me both my arms and legs… which i would need to cook.
Chris, this was outstanding. I was actually drooling. ( I had a very good dinnere already, and yet…)
Just one question… why did you decide to put the dog picture smack-dabbed in between the meatballs :]the food looks very yummy… i kinda want the salad :]
wow, that food looks amazing! but i’m perhaps even more envious of that kitchen! hahaha
@Devilzgaysianboi – That was the point chronologically when the dogs seemed to be really, really suffering because of all the tasty smells coming from the kitchen. =D@ZSA_MD – I can’t imagine you drooling while reading your subscriptions. You are much too refined for that!@bengozen – A well-designed kitchen doesn’t have to be super-expensive. It is, more than anything, a matter of thinking out how you will use the space and making it efficient.@jandsschultz – I have mine somewhere but Tawn took them to cut up the back covers as an inspiration for his designs. So now I don’t know where my magazines are!@murisopsis – This evening I did a repeat of the sauce and made it just with ribs. A bit labor intensive but caramelizing the tomato paste does wonderful things for the flavor.@nov_way – I’m glad you enjoyed the post.@Toro69 – That’s true, I can. Doesn’t solve the problem of having a small freezer, unfortuantely. =(@CurryPuffy – Using a wok for frying the meatballs wasn’t the best thing. A little too much oil involved.@Roadlesstaken – “flavorable”? What does that mean?@Fatcat723 – What is it going to take to force you into the kitchen?!@stevew918 – Yes, actually I have considered that. If I could open up both sides for cross-ventilation I most certainly would use it as a kitchen!@Passionflwr86 – My plan has worked! You’ve been made hungry! Bwa-ha-ha-ha…@yang1815 – Yeeeees.
@kunhuo42 – What’s even funnier is hearing Nat’s plans for how he would re-design his already dream kitchen. You know how it is, once you start using a space you think of ways to make it even better.
well i guess the expensive i’m thinking is the whole designing it aspect. i’m a complete amateur in house buying, but i’d think that redesigning a kitchen in a previous house (as opposed to designing it when the house it built) would be expensive no?
I am eagerly awaiting smell-o-blog or better yet, taste-o-blog technology. The sauce looks amazing!
well maybe a handsome partner!!
I made some meatballs the other day using pork and beef. I don’t drink a lot of milk so I used soy milk and mushed up a whole wheat bread along with egg, spices and some onions. It was ok – not the best. I wish they sold buttermilk here in small containers. I don’t know what to do with it after I’m finished using a cup for baking muffins. p.s. you got these video blogs nailed down pat now. cute dog btw… lol.
@ElusiveWords – Buttermilk freezes nicely. Also, you can take regular milk from a small container and add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to it. (About 1 tsp acid to 1 cup milk) Stir thoroughly and then let sit ten minutes. The milk will start to curdle slightly, thickening and giving you the same flavor and consistency as buttermilk. Great substitute.@Fatcat723 – Hmm… shall we turn this into a dating service for you? =D@TheCheshireGrins – Taste-o-blog! Patent it, quick!@bengozen – Well, there is certainly some expense involved in a remodel, agreed. I was coming from it more from the perspective that when people talk about dream kitchens it is often fancy marble countertops, every appliance known to man, huge Viking range, etc. A really great kitchen can be made a lot more inexpensively if the starting point is thoughtful layout that matches the needs you have.