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Balls!: Round the World Fare for All Occasions

Overview

One simple shape, so many options.

Among the many foodstuffs getting recognition, there has been one glaring omission. The beloved meatball has been totally overlooked. For the millions who cherish this easy comfort food and its many round companions, Balls! now gives this perennial favorite center stage.

Award-winning food writer Angela Murrills offers up recipes for all kinds of balls, from meatballs osso bucco to black bean balls with spicy ...

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Overview

One simple shape, so many options.

Among the many foodstuffs getting recognition, there has been one glaring omission. The beloved meatball has been totally overlooked. For the millions who cherish this easy comfort food and its many round companions, Balls! now gives this perennial favorite center stage.

Award-winning food writer Angela Murrills offers up recipes for all kinds of balls, from meatballs osso bucco to black bean balls with spicy sauce. Balls! does not limit its interpretation of the round and tasty to the meatball. There are chapters on fish balls, vegeta-balls, fancy balls, sweetie balls and, of course, ballistic cocktails. Along with recipes, there are little-known facts about all things round -- and anecdotes, too.

Recipes include:

  • Pecan-crusted chicken balls with chutney dip
  • Minty lamb meatballs with zippy dipping sauce
  • Sushi style crab balls
  • Black bean balls with spicy sauce
  • Arancini (Sicilian rice balls)
  • Melon ballet
  • Keftedes (Greek meatballs)
  • Gâteau St. Honoré de Balzac.


Discover how different nations have embraced this shape with its undeniable global appeal -- from a classic French birthday cake to spicy Asian fishballs to the Italian meatball. Have a ball (who could resist this line?) cooking up this simple yet scrumptious fare.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552858677
  • Publisher: Whitecap Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Angela Murrills is a Vancouver-based food and restaurant critic. She has previously published several books, including Food City: Vancouver. Her food writing has won awards in Canada and the United States.

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Preface


Introduction


When you're cooking, thoughts meander and ideas arrive out of the blue. The inspiration for this book came somewhere between undoing a brown-paper-wrapped package of lean ground beef and serving up supper straight from the skillet. In between, I'd hauled out the trusty Cuisinart for breadcrumb-making and onion-chopping purposes, mixed in some herbs, and opened a can of tomatoes. It was all very relaxed and meditative. Just what you want at the end of the day.

That's the first thing to know about meatballs: they're undemanding. They don't call for obscure ingredients or split-second timing, which probably (I realized) explains why so many cultures have this global food: from Germany's sharply sauced Königsberger klops to the bitterballen they snack on in Amsterdam bars, to the various meaty nuggets, fragrant with cumin and oilier spices, that show up on laden tables around the Mediterranean. The thing was, if meatballs are so popular, how come they never make it onto posh menus? Simple. Posh ingredients don't lend themselves to ball form. Theoretically you could seek out perfectly formed Périgord truffles, but if you tried scooping neat globes of foie gras with your trusty melon baller (a gadget I'll get to on page 136) it would melt in your fingers.

Meatballs, on the other hand are fun to make -- modeling clay for grownups. It feels good to scoop up some seasoned mixture and roll it between your palms. If you're alone, it shifts you into a contemplative mood. This is also where the whole family can meet over the kitchen counter. Not to be too sly, but kids who help make their own supper are far more inclinedto end up eating it.

Meatballs aren't overly fussy about temperature either. Blow-on-your-fingers hot from the pan, or at room temperature, or cold the next day, they still taste good -- which makes them (unsauced obviously) terrific food for picnics, lunch boxes, or road trips. In many countries they're street food. You stand around a little stall, charcoal smoke rising, waiting for the owner to scoop his meatballs off the grill into a piece of flat bread. In fact, it's odd that more Western fast food companies haven't roamed beyond the meatball sub.

From reminiscing about the many forms and flavors of meatballs I'd eaten, it was a short jump to thinking about other spherical foods. Flawless scoops of sorbet or ice cream. Satanically calorie-laden chocolate truffles. The rococo desserts, glistening with caramel, in the windows of French patisseries. But if these were the glamor side of the round world, there was also a dark side -- in the shape of the many round foods (beginning with meatballs) that don't get the respect they deserve.

With a few exceptions -- musky, flawless truffles come to mind -- round vegetables are as far down the vegetable social scale as meatballs are on the carnivorous one. These days, tomatoes are only acceptable with the culinary cognoscenti if they are heirloom varieties and any other color but red. Beets or beetroot or silver beet, depending where you come from, the same. Plump, pale button mushrooms don't have the same cachet as porcini or ciiantereiies. How about turnips and rutabagas, the earthy paysans of the vegetable community? They rarely get invited to dinner parties. Frozen peas? Be serious. These recipes are.

They're also fast and easy to make. It's daunting to watch a TV chef throw together a meal for 10 in 30 minutes, including commercial breaks. What you have to bear in mind is that others have chopped, measured, sliced, and diced so that all you see on TV is basically an assembly job. But while this is not high-end fare that takes itself too seriously, it is food that's seriously good. And -- like any dish, whether haute cuisine or, well, meatballs -- good food starts with good ingredients.

Thrift isn't a topic that crops up much in foodie circles or chef-written cookbooks. Hands up, those who haven't been burned by the realization that two pounds of smoked sablefish Actually Costs Rather a Lot. One scallop dish apart (and it's worth the investment), all recipes here are economical. Consider the cost of a pound of ground beef compared to the same amount of steak. Look at ground lamb -- it's a third the price of those expensive little racks. Then realize that the old-fashioned way of thinking, that a pound of protein -- boneless beef or lamb, fish, or chicken -- feeds two, needn't apply these days when we all want to put more veggies and grains on our plates. By and large, these recipes call for a pound of meat but they feed four. Finally, you can cook most of these dishes on top of the stove. Easier on your utilities bill. Easier on the planet.

But four servings? "What if there's only me, or me and my friend, or us and the three-year-old?" Like you, I've often wondered why, in a time of dwindling household sizes, most recipes are designed to feed four or even six. I've opted for four servings in most cases because doing the math is easy if you want to halve it. If you're on your own, do that and ask someone over, or have leftovers the following night.

I'll be honest. The book's title has provoked the odd giggle and the occasional outright splutter. But good taste prevailed (literally) and, while tempted, I didn't include recipes for Rocky Mountain oysters, cowboy caviar, or barnyard jewels (or a whole lot of other euphemisms I found on the Internet). Equally, while I adore puns, I came up with only the names -- not the recipes -- for Jugged Hare Balls, Fried Cricket Balls, and an adaptation of the famous dish called socca, served in the back streets of Nice, because they didn't sound as though they would taste very good.

These are not three-star-restaurant dishes. This is easy, delicious food to make with love for yourself and the people you care about. Food that goes with conversation, discussion, and laughter as you all sit down at a table.

Preferably one that's round.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

When you're cooking, thoughts meander and ideas arrive out of the blue. The inspiration for this book came somewhere between undoing a brown-paper-wrapped package of lean ground beef and serving up supper straight from the skillet. In between, I'd hauled out the trusty Cuisinart for breadcrumb-making and onion-chopping purposes, mixed in some herbs, and opened a can of tomatoes. It was all very relaxed and meditative. Just what you want at the end of the day.

That's the first thing to know about meatballs: they're undemanding. They don't call for obscure ingredients or split-second timing, which probably (I realized) explains why so many cultures have this global food: from Germany's sharply sauced Königsberger klops to the bitterballen they snack on in Amsterdam bars, to the various meaty nuggets, fragrant with cumin and oilier spices, that show up on laden tables around the Mediterranean. The thing was, if meatballs are so popular, how come they never make it onto posh menus? Simple. Posh ingredients don't lend themselves to ball form. Theoretically you could seek out perfectly formed Périgord truffles, but if you tried scooping neat globes of foie gras with your trusty melon baller (a gadget I'll get to on page 136) it would melt in your fingers.

Meatballs, on the other hand are fun to make -- modeling clay for grownups. It feels good to scoop up some seasoned mixture and roll it between your palms. If you're alone, it shifts you into a contemplative mood. This is also where the whole family can meet over the kitchen counter. Not to be too sly, but kids who help make their own supper are far more inclined to end upeating it.

Meatballs aren't overly fussy about temperature either. Blow-on-your-fingers hot from the pan, or at room temperature, or cold the next day, they still taste good -- which makes them (unsauced obviously) terrific food for picnics, lunch boxes, or road trips. In many countries they're street food. You stand around a little stall, charcoal smoke rising, waiting for the owner to scoop his meatballs off the grill into a piece of flat bread. In fact, it's odd that more Western fast food companies haven't roamed beyond the meatball sub.

From reminiscing about the many forms and flavors of meatballs I'd eaten, it was a short jump to thinking about other spherical foods. Flawless scoops of sorbet or ice cream. Satanically calorie-laden chocolate truffles. The rococo desserts, glistening with caramel, in the windows of French patisseries. But if these were the glamor side of the round world, there was also a dark side -- in the shape of the many round foods (beginning with meatballs) that don't get the respect they deserve.

With a few exceptions -- musky, flawless truffles come to mind -- round vegetables are as far down the vegetable social scale as meatballs are on the carnivorous one. These days, tomatoes are only acceptable with the culinary cognoscenti if they are heirloom varieties and any other color but red. Beets or beetroot or silver beet, depending where you come from, the same. Plump, pale button mushrooms don't have the same cachet as porcini or ciiantereiies. How about turnips and rutabagas, the earthy paysans of the vegetable community? They rarely get invited to dinner parties. Frozen peas? Be serious. These recipes are.

They're also fast and easy to make. It's daunting to watch a TV chef throw together a meal for 10 in 30 minutes, including commercial breaks. What you have to bear in mind is that others have chopped, measured, sliced, and diced so that all you see on TV is basically an assembly job. But while this is not high-end fare that takes itself too seriously, it is food that's seriously good. And -- like any dish, whether haute cuisine or, well, meatballs -- good food starts with good ingredients.

Thrift isn't a topic that crops up much in foodie circles or chef-written cookbooks. Hands up, those who haven't been burned by the realization that two pounds of smoked sablefish Actually Costs Rather a Lot. One scallop dish apart (and it's worth the investment), all recipes here are economical. Consider the cost of a pound of ground beef compared to the same amount of steak. Look at ground lamb -- it's a third the price of those expensive little racks. Then realize that the old-fashioned way of thinking, that a pound of protein -- boneless beef or lamb, fish, or chicken -- feeds two, needn't apply these days when we all want to put more veggies and grains on our plates. By and large, these recipes call for a pound of meat but they feed four. Finally, you can cook most of these dishes on top of the stove. Easier on your utilities bill. Easier on the planet.

But four servings? "What if there's only me, or me and my friend, or us and the three-year-old?" Like you, I've often wondered why, in a time of dwindling household sizes, most recipes are designed to feed four or even six. I've opted for four servings in most cases because doing the math is easy if you want to halve it. If you're on your own, do that and ask someone over, or have leftovers the following night.

I'll be honest. The book's title has provoked the odd giggle and the occasional outright splutter. But good taste prevailed (literally) and, while tempted, I didn't include recipes for Rocky Mountain oysters, cowboy caviar, or barnyard jewels (or a whole lot of other euphemisms I found on the Internet). Equally, while I adore puns, I came up with only the names -- not the recipes -- for Jugged Hare Balls, Fried Cricket Balls, and an adaptation of the famous dish called socca, served in the back streets of Nice, because they didn't sound as though they would taste very good.

These are not three-star-restaurant dishes. This is easy, delicious food to make with love for yourself and the people you care about. Food that goes with conversation, discussion, and laughter as you all sit down at a table.

Preferably one that's round.

Read More Show Less

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