Spanish-Style Meatballs

Albondigas (aka Spanish-Style Meatballs)

Ingredients for the Sauce (A Books n’ Cooks Original; inspired by this Food Network Recipe and this recipe from Spain Recipes)

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-28 oz. cans whole tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. red wine
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper

Ingredients for the Meatballs (Adapted from this recipe from Spain Recipes)

  • 1 lb. ground beef or meatloaf mix
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. plain breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic

I had used up all my manchego cheese before making this, but would like to add the recommended 2 Tbs. of grated manchego next time.

Make the Sauce

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions & garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

While the onions are cooking, open the cans of tomatoes and roughly chop the tomatoes (save the juice!). This step is in here because I got ahead of myself and forgot to chop the tomatoes. 🙂

Add tomatoes, and remaining ingredients to the onions & garlic. Lower heat and let simmer.

Make the Meatballs

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with your hands.

Roll mixture into small balls and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, until browned (I forgot mine in the oven, hence why they’re a bit crispy looking!)

Meatballs 1-1

Add meatballs to sauce. If you’re serving them within the hour, let everything simmer together. Otherwise, turn off heat and reheat on low at least 20 minute before serving.

Meatballs 2-1

Braised Beef Braciole

This was a surprise for the hubby, a romantic dinner for two after a long week. Even used the good China!

Bracoile 3-1

A bracoile is an Italian dish — essentially flank steak rolled up and pan-seared with a tomato sauce. Bracoile can be served over pasta, with a good piece of bread as a sandwich, or even as an appetizer if sliced thin. My bracoile was served as a main dish.

Before you start this, make sure that your dutch oven is ready to go (mine was rusty and I had to re-season it before using… my fault, I’m a slacker and had been procrastinating on that).  Secondly, be aware, that you probably want at least 2 hours to make this — you have the prep work (minimal), searing the meat, browning the onions, and then cooking for 1 1/2 hours.

Braised Beef Bracoile Stuffed with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

Source: Fine Cooking, Big Buy 2009 (p. 34)


  • 1 2-lb flank steak
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 c. bread crumbs (I used Italian breadcrumbs)
  • 12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces (I used pre-chopped basil I had frozen in water from my summer garden)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 1 – 28 oz. can (3 cups) whole tomatoes and their juices, pureed (see note below)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 onion, sliced in slivers
  • Orzo (optional, see note below and step #6)

Note: I forgot to puree the whole tomatoes, so I just broke them up in the pan after cooking for a little while minutes. Next time, I’ll probably just use crushed tomatoes.


1. On a large cutting board, slice the steak lengthwise along one side. It’ll look like you are opening up a book. Season all sides with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs, and basil. You may want to use a mini-food processor to combine mixture. Place stuffing inside beef and roll it up, lengthwise, jelly-roll style, with the mixture inside. Secure roll with cooking twine or toothpicks.

3. Heat half the oil in the dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add rolled steak, searing on all sides. Transfer to plate.

4. Add rest of the olive oil and onions. Season with a bit of salt. Cook until slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and red wine, cooking until wine reduces (about 2 minutes). Add pureed tomatoes and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil.

5. Nestle steak in the pan, among the sauce. Add mushrooms. Reduce heat and cover, cooking until meat is tender and can be easily cut with a pearing knife, about and hour and a half. Stir and rotate meat occasionally.

Bracoile 1-1

6. Since I forgot to puree the tomatoes, my sauce was much more liquidy than the thick tomato sauce that was supposed to go with this recipe. In the last few minutes of cooking, I added orzo pasta to the sauce as my accompaniment.

7. Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Bracoile 2-1

Barefoot Contessa’s Company Pot Roast

The original Barefoot Contessa recipe was meant to serve 8, with a 4-5 lb. beef chuck roast. Since I made this for just me and the hubby, I tried to half the recipe, which is reflected below.

The meat was wonderfully tender, the fall-apart kind that I never seem to be able to get. The sauce was slightly sweet and a wonderful compliment to the beef. I think in the future, I’ll probably puree the sauce part way through cooking, so that I can add some potatoes to the pot.

Barefoot Contessa’s Company Pot Roast

Source: Ina Garten, published in Back to Basics and on the Food Network

Prep Time: 30 minutes    Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours

Serves 4


  • 1 (2-3-lb) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging and 2 Tbs. for finishing the sauce
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped carrots (2 carrots)
  • 1 c.  chopped yellow onions (1 onion)
  • 1 c. chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 c. good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 1 Tbs. brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 chicken bouillon cube (cut it with a very sharp knife!)
  • 2 branches fresh thyme
  • 1 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 325 F and heat a Dutch oven on the stove, medium heat.

Dry beef and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the roast in flour, so that the entire roast is completely covered.

When Dutch oven is hot, add 2 Tbs. olive oil and heat. Add roast and sear on all sides (including the ends) until browned, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate.

Add 2 more Tbs. of olive oil to the Dutch oven and heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, 1/2 Tbs. salt, and 1 tsp. of pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Add the wine and brandy and bring to a boil. Then add tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Tie the thyme and rosemary branches together with kitchen twine. Add to the pot.

Put beef back into pot and bring to a boil.

Move Dutch oven, covered, to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Lower temperature to 250 and cook for another hour and a half, until meat is tender and a meat thermometer reads 160.

Transfer roast to a cutting board.

Remove herb bundle. Careful not to scrap the bottom of the Dutch oven, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth.

On the stove, heat sauce on medium-low heat. Add the butter and 2 Tbs. flour, stirring until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.

Cut string from roast; slice roast and serve with sauce on top.