Monday, May 18, 2015

Meatball Subs!

One of the things I miss about not living in New York any longer is good pizza.  (And bagels - but that's a different story).  There are acceptable pizza places here in the realm of the Brave Astronaut.  For good NY Style pizza, I tend to like Mamma Lucia's.  Of course, the Italian Inn is our go-to for Pizza / Movie night, but that is a different kind of pizza.

I also miss a good "meatball parmigiana hero" - I put it in quotes because here, they call it a sub, or a hoagie.  But when it's done right, it's a hero.  And heroic.

I spotted this recipe a while back in the Washington Post Magazine - it seems like a lot of work, but it might be worth my time in the future.

Campano Meatball Sub 
Servings: 6

For the meatballs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your hands 
  • 1 small onion, cut into small dice 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 8 slices white/country bread, preferably crusts removed, torn into bite-size pieces 
  • 1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk 
  • 2 pounds ground veal 
  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef 
  • 1 pound ground pork shoulder (butt) 
  • 8 ounces finely chopped or ground prosciutto 
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese 
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 6 large eggs 
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 2 cups "00" flour, for dusting 

For the sauce
  • 28 ounces canned whole San Marzano tomatoes 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Kosher or sea salt 
  • Freshly cracked black pepper 
  • A few fresh basil leaves (optional) 
For assembly
  • 6 sub rolls, partially split 
  • 12 thin slices good-quality mozzarella cheese 
  • 6 slices provolone cheese 

For the meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook just until the onion and garlic have softened but not browned; transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

Combine the bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl; let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the milk is completely absorbed.

Add to the large bowl the ground veal, ground beef, ground pork shoulder, prosciutto, pecorino-Romano, ricotta, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and the soaked bread pieces; use your clean hands to blend the mixture until well incorporated.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the "00" flour in a wide, shallow bowl.

Grease your hands with a little oil. Form the meatball mixture into 65 meatballs of equal size (shell-on walnuts). Coat each one lightly with "00" flour, dividing them between two parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Roast on the upper and lower racks for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through. Discard any remaining flour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Use a food mill to puree the tomatoes. Discard the seeds; reserve the can juices for another use, if desired.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown, then stir in the tomato puree. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then taste, and season lightly with kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper. Stir in 6 to 8 basil leaves, if desired. Turn off the heat. Transfer 30 of the meatballs to the saucepan, turning them until coated. Cool and reserve the remaining meatballs for another use.

When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Open the sub rolls, keeping their halves partially attached and laying them on two rimmed baking sheets. Tear out some of the inside bread (to create room for the meatballs). Spread a tablespoon or two of the marinara sauce over both halves of each open-faced roll; toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes; keep the oven on.

Line each sub roll with the mozzarella and provolone slices, overlapping and/or tearing the slices so the inside roll surfaces are covered. Line up 5 sauced meatballs at the center of each sub roll; return to the oven just until the cheese has melted.

Close each sandwich, top side up, then cut crosswise in half. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

21 Pop Culture References You Make That Go Over Your Kids’ Heads

One of the proudest moments I've had as a father was recently, when Harrison Ford crashed his plane on a California golf course back in March - I was explaining what had happened to LBA.  I asked him if he knew what I had immediately thought of when I heard about it.  He paused for a moment, I hinted to him that I was thinking of a movie line - and he immediately came up with the above.  There are occasions when LBA, Mrs. BA, and I will tell the other "I will text you"

So I'm fairly confident that LBA would get most of these. Via BuzzFeed

1. When you leave the room for a few minutes (it's possible that LBA may already do this):
Orion Pictures

2.  When your kid asks if you like the new Ariana Grande song:

3. When your kid runs to their room and slams the door (although slamming doors in our house means you lose your device for a period of time):
Morgan Creek

4. When your kid asks for milk, then whines that they want something else:

5. When you drop your kid and their friends off at the mall (LBA recently discovered Rick Astley, unfortunately):

6. When your kid graduates from kindergarten/grade school/junior high:

7. When your kid asks if they can have ice cream for breakfast:
Paramount Pictures

8. When your kid is getting on your last nerve:

9. When your kid says something crazy:

10. When you “accidentally” turn off your kid’s video game at bedtime:

11. When your kid freaks out that their crush is going to be at a party (this movie might have to make it into the pizza/movie night rotation):
20th Century Fox

12. When your kid wants you to get up off the couch and play with them:

13. When you tell your kid you’re going to buy them a pony and they buy it hook, line, and sinker:

14. When your kid wants to know “the truth” about something (it's possible that LBA has stumbled onto me watching this movie):
Columbia Pictures

15. When you walk in on your kid making a huge mess:

16. When you see the new trailer for the supercool-looking new Pixar movie:


17. When your kid complains they don’t have any money:

18. When your kid tells you they got the lead in the school play (I am sorry to say that LBA and SoBA have "discovered" Full House - really, really sorry):

 19. When your kid says, “I know, Mom/Dad”:
20. When your kid asks for a snack:
Virgin / EMI

21. When you’re teaching your kid to swim and they tell you not to let go (Ship Sinks - Boy Dies):

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

I would so eat these.  All of them.  At one time.

Via Spoon University

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-14 minutes
Total time: 22-30 minutes
Serving Size 48 Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 10 oz (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder (or 4 tbs. instant-coffee granules, crushed) 
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
  • ½ cup brown sugar 
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cooling rack with paper towels. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. 
  3. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and coffee until well combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and brown sugar and beat until combined. 
  4. Stir in the flour mixture about ½ cup at a time. 
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  6. Scoop out about 1 tbs. of dough at a time, flattening it into disks. 
  7. Place each disk on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. 
  8. Bake until the edges start to darken, 12 to 14 minutes. 
  9. Let the cookies cool for 1-2 minutes and then transfer them to cooling racks.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Air Travel in the Archival Profession

I've been to a fair number of conference since joining the archives profession.  On occasion I have flown to these meetings.  There is often the discussion that if the "archives charter" went down the DC archives profession would be devastated.

There was one conference that Mrs. BA and I were returning from (it was New Orleans the week before Katrina hit that city), we had a very young LBA with us.  We got to board first and as our colleagues filed onto the plane, we were afraid that LBA might not hold it together for the flight.  But he is a very good flier.

Here's a list of "54 Thoughts You Have When Flying With A Colleague." It appears to involve drinking to get through the experience.
  1. Great, another business trip.
  2. I can’t be a wreck when I travel. Must keep it together. 
  3. Although, chances are, Colleague X is also a wreck when traveling. 
  4. Maybe this will bring us closer together? 
  5. Hmm. Should probably avoid being a mess all together — very unprofessional. 
  6. Yes. I will be totally professional. I will have my fancy carry-on and my hair will look perfect.
  7. Will be like Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air.
  8. Should I ask Colleague X to go to the airport together? Is that weird?
  9. It’s not like we carpool to work together…why would we ride together for this? 
  10. What should I definitely NOT talk about?
  11. What mistakes have I made at work recently? Definitely don’t reference those.
  12. Should I suggest we get a drink before the flight?
  13. Everyone needs alcohol before a flight.
  14. Even at 11 a.m., right?
  15. Just one drink. Do not get too drunk.
  16. I mean, but drinking is OK, right? We have happy hour after work all the time. This is no different? 
  17. Except it is. Because you are traveling with your work colleague.
  18. We are representing our company.
  19. This is actually kind of fun. We’re having an alcoholic beverage, discussin’ THE BIZ like COOL BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS. 
  20. Do I admit my fear of flying? 
  21. No, no. You want to seem very impressive.
  22. Just one more drink, maybe.
  23. OK. Boarding time. Do I ask if we’re sitting together?
  24. Is it weird to sit together? 
  25. No, you are technically traveling together, so you should sit next to each other. 
  26. Oh shoot, we’re in different aisles. Do I ask if we ask someone to switch? 
  27. This is awkward. If it were a friend or S.O., of course we’d be sitting next to each other on a plane.
  28. OK. Now we’re sitting next to each other. 
  29. These seats are…close.
  30. Do I look straight ahead while talking? Or turn to look at my Colleague? WHICH IS MORE PROFESSIONAL? I AM TRYING TO BE A MODEL EMPLOYEE.
  31. Time for takeoff. Just be calm. Don’t talk now. Now is not a talking time. Do not make that bad joke about the CEO’s wardrobe.
  32. It’s not a funny joke. 
  33. Except we’re both not talking now and I don’t like this airplane because it is very bumpy.
  34. Ugh, of course you just made that joke about the CEO’s wardrobe. Dumb.
  35. The beverage cart is coming through.
  36. I could sure use another drink. But should I…?
  37. FUCK IT. Yes, I would like a vodka tonic. ::Avoids all eye contact with Colleague:: 
  38. Act natural. You are not being judged. 
  39. Now I’m just going to pretend to go over those notes for the meeting. VERY SERIOUS NOTES. 
  40. Maybe I should try and sleep? 
  41. No. What if you snore. 
  42. Do not sleep.
  43. Oh god, TURBULENCE! 
  44. Do not freak out. You cannot look like a little baby when you are hoping for a promotion.
  45. You must show calm under pressure.
  46. This is all a test. 
  47. And I have failed. I will never get promoted again. 
  48. OK, stop it. We are all just human. 
  49. It is OK to be a wreck while traveling, right?
  50. Just smile and talk about how excited you are to meet VERY IMPORTANT CLIENT. 
  51. Ignore the bumps. 
  52. This isn’t so bad, right? 
  53. And it’s only a few days. 
  54. You can make it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thin Fries

A perfect complement to her Onion Straws.  From the Pioneer Woman.

Thin Fries
Prep Time: 3 Hours
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

  • 6 whole Russet Potatoes, Peeled 
  • Vegetable Or Peanut Oil For Frying 
  • Salt 
  • Ketchup, For Serving 
Preparation Instructions
Peel and rinse the potatoes, then slice them into thin pieces. Next, stack a few pieces at a time and slice them into thin sticks. Place the fries in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Swish them around to get off the extra starch, then pour off the starchy water and replace it with fresh. Do this once more, covering with fresh water and setting them aside to soak for 2 to 3 hours.

When you're ready to make the fries, drain off the water and lay them on baking sheets lined with paper towels. Blot them with more paper towels to dry them as much as you can.

Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy pot to 300 F (use a deep fry thermometer to make sure the temperature is accurate).

In 3 or 4 batches, use tongs to place a small amount of fries into the oil and until the potatoes are soft but not at all starting to brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Remove each batch and drain them on new/dry paper towels. They won't be done at this point! This is just the first frying.

Now, when all the potatoes have had their initial frying, turn up the heat until the oil reaches 400 F. And when the oil's hot, start frying the potatoes in batches again until the fries are golden brown. When they're all done, sprinkle them generously with salt and dig in!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars

The Pioneer Woman Rocks.  That is All.

Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Bars (from the Pioneer Woman)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12

  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour 
  • 1-1/2 cup Regular Or Quick Oats 
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt 
  • 1-3/4 stick Cold (salted) Butter, Cut Into Pieces 
  • 2 cans (13.5 Ounces Each) Dulce De Leche (I Used Nestle La Lechera) 
  • Spanish Peanuts 
  • Butterscotch Chips 
  • Mini Chocolate Chips 

Preparation Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9, 8 x 10, or 9 x 13-inch baking dish with baking spray. (Or you can line with aluminum foil.)

Note: If you use a rectangular pan, you may need an additional can of dulce de leche to cover the surface.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it slightly.

Bake until light golden brown on top and done in the middle, about 30 to 35 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Spoon the dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 45 seconds, just to slightly soften it. Scoop it on top of the oatmeal base and use an offset spatula to spread it out to the edges and into an even layer. Sprinkle on a layer of peanuts so that they completely cover the caramel, and use your hands to gently press them into the caramel. Sprinkle on the butterscotch chips and the mini chocolate chips in generous layers.

Note: The warmth of the cookie base and the caramel should slightly soften the butterscotch and chocolate chips. When that happens, use your hands to very gently press the chips just enough to anchor them together (but not enough to misshape them.) If the pan isn't warm enough, pop it into the oven for 30 seconds or so and gently press the chips to anchor them together.

Chill the bars for 2 to 3 hours to make them easy to slice. Turn them out onto a cutting board and use a long serrated knife to cut into small squares (they're rich!)

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beef Stroganoff

I remember many times growing up, the Brave Astronaut clan would head to my aunt's house for a New Year's Day visit - she lived in NJ, about 2 hours from where we lived on Long Island.  I also recall that she would sometimes make beef stroganoff - something not in my mother's wheelhouse.  I liked it - I can still get a version of it at Noodles and Company. I just saw this recipe and may have to convince Mrs. BA that it's worth the time and effort.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
from Crock Pot Girl

  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef sirloin tip, cut into 1" cubes 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 8 oz. package mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves 
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 1/2 c. beef broth 
  • 1/2 c. red wine 
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 8 oz. carton sour cream 
  • 2 T. mustard 
  • 1/4 c. flour 
  • 1/4 c. water 
  1. Combine everything except sour cream, mustard, flour, and water in a 3-1/2 quart slow cooker. 
  2. Cook on Low heat for 8-10 hours (high for 4-5 hours). Remove and discard bay leaf. 
  3. Combine sour cream, mustard, flour, and water in medium bowl and mix well, using a whisk. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid from the slow cooker to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Return this mixture to the crockpot and stir well. 
  4. Cover. Cook on high for 20-30 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Taste test; you may want to add more salt, pepper, marjoram, or thyme. 
Serve over hot cooked egg noodles.

NOTE: If you have a new hotter cooking slow cooker, check the beef at 6 hours on low.

Happy Crocking!