I’m weak. I do many things that would make it appear that I am a self assured and self confident person, but when it comes to my cooking I have issues that could keep me in therapy for a lifetime. I’m not saying that my husband has to like everything I make, but I can’t say it doesn’t upset me when he either doesn’t say anything at all or he says “nice”.
The first time I cooked for him, I stood over him glaring, in a nervous sweat, waiting for him to tell me what he thought about my lentils from Norcia, with rosemary I had foraged for, gnocchi that I had made by hand, and Parmiggiano Regiano shavings nestled into the dish. He said nothing. I couldn’t take it. “Do you like it, or don’t you” I said. “It’s all right”, he said. I said, “listen, you tell me what you like to eat, and we’ll just stick to that. I think it will be a whole lot easier that way.” He told me he liked chicken and broccoli with a bit of cream. Fair enough, but you can’t make that every night. I knew I had to loosen up. I also knew that with time I could convince him to branch out, and I have, probably more than I have succeeded at loosening up.
Here is something he really liked, little tiny meatballs that cook in a minute that I braised with chic peas, yukon potatoes, rosemary, and marjoram. I know it’s hard to find the fresh herbs, so just rosemary, and maybe a bay leaf are fine. I served this with string beans and garlic. The potatoes create their own little stock without adding anything but water.
In a large saute pan, heat up a little olive oil. Add half of a finely chopped medium sized red onion, a sprig of rosemary, and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Cook this around for about five minutes with a little salt and black pepper. Soak a quarter cup of Italian or French bread in a little crushed tomato, or even milk. When it’s mush, add it to a pound of ground meat. You can add a beaten egg to this, but you don’t have to. When the onions are done and cooled a bit, add them to the meat with a good two pinches of salt. Mix everything gently with your hands, and form them into meat balls. Brown them on all sides in the saute pan, and keep them in there on low heat until they are cooked through. When the meatballs are done, set them aside on a plate. Add the other half of the chopped onion, and a few cloves of garlic to the pan. If there is a lot of fat from the meat, wipe it out and add a little more olive oil. Add a sprig of rosemary, and one of marjoram. When the onion is cooked through over medium low heat, add six small or four medium sized peeled, finely chopped potatoes. Each cube should be about the size of your thumbnail. Let the potatoes stick to the pan a little bit so that they create a pale brown crust on the bottom, then move them around with a spatula. Add some water ato just cover the potatoes, and a pinch of salt. Let the potatoes cook until they are just soft. Add one cup of well rinsed chic peas, a Tablespoon of crushed tomato or tomato sauce, and to thicken the sauce a bit, smush a Tablespoon of room temp butter with a Tablespoon of flour, and add this to the simmering liquid. Add a quarter cup or even a little more of Parmesan cheese. Add the meatballs to heat them through, and serve with string beans on the side, and a baguette.