Thursday, January 1, 2009

Persian Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce


I love the beginning of a new year. The slate is wiped clean and the days that lie ahead are mine to savour, squander or share as I see fit. I began the new year in front of the fire reading Tillie Olsen's Tell Me A Riddle. She passed two years ago this day and it seems a fitting way to honor the power of her voice and the words she's left behind. I've read this story so often that whole portions of it have been committed to memory. I've learned that when you love a book, it loves you back. So, tears and all, it was a lovely way to start the day. I've made no resolutions but I have renewed my goal to learn one new thing each day. I've also renewed my commitment to ideas passed on to me by two outstanding women. Forty years ago, while hiking in the Canadian Rockies, Bob and I met a family who hiked with us into the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The family was led by the grandmother who was familiar with the trail. As we walked she shared her secret for aging well. It had nothing to do with diet or beauty aids. It was an intent to go through life with at least two friends - one ten years younger and the other ten years older than herself. The goal was to learn from both and keep rooted in the past, present and future. My other inspiration was a seventy-something hiker, this one with a cane, who fought age with movement and resisted the lure of a rocking chair. It took some time but she reached her goal. Persistence pays! On this first day of the new year, I won't speak to you of pan de muertos or hiker's gorp, but in keeping with the theme of renewal I do have a new, more festive recipe to share. I think you'll like this version of an old Jeff Smith recipe. I sampled the meatballs last night, so I have no hesitation in recommending them to you. I'm going to serve ours in pita pockets, but if you want something more substantial rice pilaf would be lovely. Happy New Year to you all. This year will be unlike any other in our country's history - a special inauguration day is coming. We've waited such a long time for this. God bless us and the country we love. Let's hope it is a good year. It will certainly be one of change, challenge and opportunity.

Persian Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

3/4 cup fine ground bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
2 pounds lean ground lamb
1/2 cup fonely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup very coarsely chopped pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Place bulgur in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.
3) Combine ground bulgur, lamb, onions, pine nuts, olive oil, eggs, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice, dill, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well.
4) Form into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, or until just cooked through.
5) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add onion and saute until tender but not brown.
6) Heat yogurt in a small saucepan to a gentle simmer. Mix cornstarch with water; add to yogurt, stirring until smooth and thickened. Add onions and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Keep warm.
7) To serve, place meatballs on a large platter. Drizzle with yogurt sauce. Yield: 6 servings.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Mary what a wonderful two friends idea! I need an older friend.
The meatballs look fabulous especially with that yogurt sauce!
Here's to much happy baking in this 2009!

Cathy said...

Happy New Year to you too, Mary. Above the library entrance at the Univ. of Colorado where my son went to school is written,"He who knows only his own generation remains a child forever." We have much to learn from the past and so much to hope for in the future.

I look forward to trying this recipe. You have used one of my favorite spice combinations.

Schnitzel and the Trout said...

What a wonderful sounding recipe. We love lamb and this will be a treat, especially now that my local grocer carries Greek yogurt. Little things are a blessing :) I like the idea of the two friends, and I will definitely make an effort to read the book that you love so much. A good 2009 for you and yours. Susan

Unknown said...

whatever happended to Jeff Smith anyway- seemed to have disappeared all of a sudden a few years ago

Mary Bergfeld said...

Dale, Jeff Smith died several years ago. I believe he had heart problems that were exacerbated by the stress of a scandal.

Debbie said...

I've always admired this kind of thinking. Can I just second Cathy's comment?
Meatballs look great.

Anonymous said...

Great story and the meatballs sound delicious!

Happy New Year and all the best to you in 2009.

Pam said...

I love the idea of being friends with someone older and younger - it makes so much sense. The meatballs look amazing too - I love the sauce.

I agree with a fresh start for our country - it's going to be a great year...I can feel it!

Peter M said...

Ah yes, the bulgur in meatballs...a good binder and it offers a nice nutty taste.

Andrea said...

I loved this post! I totally agree about a most-loved book, although it's been a long time since I've revisted one. My fiance and I are already planning our menu around these meatballs.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you found us. I hope you'll come often.

test it comm said...

Those meatballs look good and I like the sound of serving them with a yogurt sauce.

javapot said...

Hi Mary, I just love meatballs but don't make them often enough. I tend to rely on commercial ones though I know they are not difficult to make. I'm gonna book mark this though :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

Javapot, welcome to my world. I hope you'll stop by often.

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