Oldies, but goodies

Some tastes take us on a trip down memory lane. Check out these recipes for your favorite old school comfort foods.

Meatballs (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This week we are back to basics with a few oldies but goodies. Who doesn’t like sweet and sour meatballs, whether served mini with toothpicks or over rice as a comfort meal, they are delicious and still so popular.  This version is traditional with a little sour kick from lemon juice.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Serves 4-6
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 450 grams can tomato sauce
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the meatballs:
1 kg ground beef chuck
2 eggs, beaten
⅓ cup long-grain white rice, parboiled for 3 minutes
1 cup bread crumbs
1 medium yellow onion, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the sauce: In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, then sauté the minced onion over medium heat until tender and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and rinse out the can with half a cup of water to loosen any sauce that remains, adding that liquid to the pan. Stir in the lemon juice and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make the meatballs: Put the ground meat in a large bowl and push it to one side. Add the eggs, rice, breadcrumbs, onion, salt, and pepper to the other side of the bowl and combine with a large fork. Work in the meat, handful by handful, until everything is thoroughly blended. Return the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Using a quarter cup scoop (depending on your preference, I like them smaller but feel free to make them bigger or smaller as you like) shape meatballs measuring about 3cm and drop them gently into the sauce.
Cover and simmer slowly for 25 minutes (30 minutes for larger and less time for mini meatballs), gently rotating and pushing the meatballs around halfway through the cooking so that they are thoroughly coated in sauce after about 15 minutes. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve very hot.

Pear Kugel

Serves 8 – 10
2 large halla breads, crusts removed, somewhat stale
3 Bartlett Pears, peeled and diced
1 ½ cup sugar, divided
Zest of lemon, grated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup canola oil, divided
Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F) degrees.
In a large bowl, tear halla into bite size pieces.  Cover with water and soak challah for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out water, leaving challah wet.  Add pears, ½ cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, eggs and ¼ cup oil.  Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat remaining oil and remaining sugar until golden brown, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn it.
Pour ¼ cup of the caramelized sugar mixture into bottom of 9 x 13 oven-to-table baking dish.  Pour halla/pear mixture on top of sugar mixture, leaving a small gap between mixture and edge of baking pan all the way around.  Pour remaining caramelized sugar into the gap and drizzle all over the top.
Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
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