Recipe Review: North African Meatballs (Boulettes), Couscous, Roasted Tomatoes


Many countries serve meatballs as comfort food, as David Tanis explains in the New York Times.  A couple weeks ago he published a French/North African version called boulettes that can be made with ground beef or lamb, chopped parsley and cilantro, and  an exotic mixture of spices: turmeric, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, ground ginger, paprika, and cayenne.  The meatballs are dusted with flour, browned in a saute pan, and then simmered in a tomato-saffron stock.  He pairs it with Israeli couscous and roasted tomatoes.

I am going to try a new format with my recipe review.  These are the factors I consider for the bottom line if a recipe is worth doing.  How delicious is it?  How long does it take?  How much does it cost?  There are so many recipes out there that I haven’t made yet – would I make this one again?  If readers have any other suggestions for what they would like to know, please let me know.

Total time: about 2 hours active time

Complexity: multiple steps for the boulettes, including making the tomato-saffron broth beforehand, but nothing too technical.  The roasted tomatoes and couscous are very easy.

Cost: about $10, but I already had all of the spices on hand.  Buying new spices for this dish would be expensive.

Deliciousness: good (3 of 5 stars).  The boulettes are soft, juicy, and aromatic with spices.  They go well with the roasted tomatoes and couscous.

Worth making once: yes, to try this flavor profile

Will I make again: no

Link to recipe here.

Eat Real Fest Oakland


The Eat Real Fest is an annual food festival held at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA, on the waterfront in the East Bay near the container port of Oakland.  The festival showcased many of the great food purveyors in the East Bay and the whole Bay Area.  There were prepared food stands and trucks, and everything was limited to $5 or less.  One of the highlights was The Whole Beast, which had a butchering demonstration on perfectly roasted whole lamb and sold lamb gyros and meatballs.  I tried their great lamb poutine, thick-cut seasoned fries topped with a rich gravy with lamb cheeks and cheese curds.  Whole animal butchery was also on display at the Chop Bar, which offered delicious barbecue pork and cornbread.  One of my favorites, 4505 Meats, had a ridiculously good sandwich called The Fat Bastard, which was a buttery toasted English muffin, honey mustard ranch, chicharrones, pickled jalepenos, market greens, melted aged Gruyere, juicy pork and beer sausage, and house made sauerkraut, all on one sandwich!

It was fun to see all of the local start-ups at the marketplace: there were local chocolates, tempeh, sauerkraut, southeast Asian jerky, pastas, jams, cheese, and baked goods.  Starter Bakery in Oakland had Kouign Amann, a flaky, sticky, buttery pastry with different fillings such as cherry pistachio, which sold out, necessitating a second afternoon delivery that many waited for.  I also really liked the cool t-shirt designs representing the 510 from loakal.

There were classes and demonstrations on pickling, butchering, and other topics that really fit in with the DIY culture emphasized by the Eat Real Fest.  Sour Flour had several bread-making demonstrations.  I went to the bread starter class, where they taught participants how to feed a sourdough starter.  I got a sample and can’t wait to try it to make sourdough bread at home (watch for a future post).  We’re lucky in the Bay Area to have great food events like SF Street Food and Eat Real.

Recipe Review: Old-Fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake


Blueberries are almost out of season now, and this blueberry coffee cake is a great way to use the last bounty of the summer.  It has a moist crumb, ribbon of cinnamon sugar, luscious blueberries, and a golden pecan crumble topping.  The recipe comes from pastry chef Eric Wolitzky at The Bakery at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, GA, which was chosen as one of the ten best new restaurants of 2012 by Bon Appetit magazine in the September issue.  Also included in the issue are chef Wolitzky’s take on American classics such as Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

I also like another blueberry cake published in Bon Appetit in May 2010, from Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, CA.  Their Blueberry Cornmeal Cake has a cornmeal crumb and is incredibly moist due to ricotta cheese and yogurt in the batter.  Try both and compare for yourself!

Link to Old-Fashioned Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe here.

Link to Blueberry Cornmeal Cake recipe here.

Restaurant Review: Ramen Dojo


Ramen Dojo is a popular ramen shop in San Mateo, CA that serves “sutamina” style spicy ramen.  There is a ton of flavor in the slick, rich broth from pork, garlic, chili oil, and many other ingredients.  The noodles were perfectly chewy and the roast pork was tender.  It is served with a quail egg, roast garlic, chives, and pepper threads.  There are many extra toppings one can add on as well.  There are also some great appetizers as well, including specials such as a tofu and shrimp roll.  The tiny shop seats 24, so there is often a line to be seated even before the restaurant opens at 530.  One of my favorites places in the Bay Area.

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