Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about what makes me happiest in life and for me, nothing is more relaxing, than spending some time on my own in the kitchen. Looking at what I have and figuring out what can I make with these ingredients is just exciting for me and I like to challenge myself to keep coming up with fresh and new ideas. Last week, we had such a random, but delicious mix of foods in the fridge and I was craving a couple of different things so I decided to make it a tapas night!

Trio of Sauces Tapas Menu:

Chinese Style Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce
Pasta Salad with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and (the best) Balsamic Reduction (you'll ever have!)

Each of these dishes could have warranted a meal of their own but I really wanted to make all three. I thought just couscous and pasta salad would be too strange together and I had this ground turkey and so I decided to just go for it. If everything is gonna taste delicious, why question whether it should go together or not?

 See recipes below and let me know what you think!

Chinese Style Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce:
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 onion diced
A good spoonful of freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg

I had never made meatballs before but I read some recipes online about how to make them moist and delicious so I combined a couple of things and came up with these and they are so addictive! Preheat the oven to about 180 C (400 F). Basically, I just sauteed up the onion and garlic for a couple minutes, put the ginger in for the last 2 minutes. I let that mixture cool. While that's cooling, I poured the milk over the breadcrumbs. Then I combined all the ingredients together and used an ice cream scoop to form the meatballs so they'd all be the same size. I put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked them up for about 20-25 minutes.

I cranked up the heat for the last 25 min of my slow-roasted tomatoes so the meatballs could share the oven

Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce:
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1 tsp sesame oil

I just love dipping sauces and this one is so easy (and doesn't require any additional equipment or cooking or anything!)

Pasta Salad with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and a Balsamic Reduction:
500g (1lb) box of Bow Tie Pasta
10-20 fresh and slow roasted cherry tomatoes (halved)
Black Olives (I pitted them myself)
Handful of torn fresh basil leaves
Diced mozzarella cheese

I really wanted pasta salad and since I'm mayo's worst enemy, of course I didn't want anything even similar to a mayonnaise-y dish. I became a little obsessed with the delicious sweet taste of slow roasted tomatoes and since I can't get sun dried tomatoes here in Croatia, I decided to make the slow roasted ones again for this pasta salad. You can really put whatever you like in pasta salads, which is what's great about them! I loved this one, especially because for this dish, I made our house's favorite sauce - syrupy, sweet, delicious balsamic reduction.

The Best Balsamic Reduction You'll Ever Have (That you'll want to put on everything!)
You'll need:
1 Onion, diced
1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs of brown sugar
1 Tbs butter

I know a lot of other people have recipes that call for more sugar or less balsamic, but really it's to your taste. What you  need to do is really take your time with this one. First things first, melt a little butter (and/or oil) in the bottom of the pan or pot you're using. I prefer to use a small pot so I can see how much the balsamic has reduced. Spread out the onions in an even layer and make sure each piece is coated in a little butter or oil. Now, leave the onions alone! Don't stir them, don't be tempted! Just leave them on medium heat or so for at least 15 minutes! Don't stir them! You can peek and if they're getting brown, that's a good thing! They are caramelizing and getting oh-so-sweet and good. If you absolutely must stir (or something is burning, of course put down your heat and give it a little stir) try to wait til at least 10 minutes has past.

After at least 15 minutes (20 is even better!), turn your stove fan/vent thing on and maybe open the window! Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pot. I keep mine on medium heat and let it boil up and then simmer for a good 20 minutes. After the vinegar boils, I add the sugar and then stir occasionally, checking the consistency of the reduction. The longer you let it reduce, the more intense the flavor will be. It gets so delicious and the sweet onions soak up the reduction so beautifully. It's outrageous how good it is. You will literally want to pour this over everything and the best part is that a tiny bit goes a long way! Once you've reduced your balsamic reduction to your liking, put a little tab of butter in it, just to give it that rich, smoothness. Let it melt together. Finally, you can put it in an air tight container and keep it in fridge for a week (or even longer, I'm not sure, but it's so tasty it probably won't last that long!). It's delicious over steak, potatoes, salads, cheese, pizza, literally anything and everything you could think of!


  1. Oh, how i'm gonna make everything..i can't wait!

  2. Uh...I'm envious. I really dislike cooking. I like baking, for the most part, but cooking usually just stresses me out!

  3. You just have the most AMAZING food to eat! You always make me hungry with your food blogs! LOL

  4. These look so good. If only I didn't hate cooking.

  5. You guys should seriously try to make this stuff! The only reason I've been cooking so so so much more in Croatia is because I can't buy the same stuff that I can in the States so it's fun for me to try to re-create flavors of stuff (like Thai take-out!) here and idk...it's just so fun and relaxing for me to make. If nothing else, my non-cooking lover friends, try to make the meatballs, they are super easy and quick! And couscous takes only 5 minutes!!



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