Friday, February 3, 2012

Women Game-Changers in Food- #33-Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer-Meatballs with Mint and Parsley

What if you wanted beautifully written recipes, tastefully conceived, and perfectly photographed--all from home cooks--for home cooks?What if you wanted those cooks to have worked professionally (catering, restaurants, magazines) and to have traveled the world so they could bring the best dishes back to you?

Order book here
Enter Canal House Cooking, La Dolce Vita,  #7  in a series of self-published  volumes from a multi-talented duo who have worked at food, cooking, and food writing/photography most of their lives.  After leaving behind the corporate publishing/food world in order to spend more time at or near their homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Melissa Hamilton (above, right) and Christopher Hirsheimer (above, left; she's a she) began cooking together daily in a warehouse and keeping a record of it.   Out of that commitment comes this lovely, popular series of books that is their gift to those of us in the home-cooking "business."   An article from WSJ tells the story more thoroughly here.

To really get to know these women a little more, watch an enchanting tiny video about them and their food in Italy (basis for the most recent book)....Here.

And, when you're done reading and watching, it's time to cook with Melissa, Christopher, and me....
So that you can spend more time at the table (who are you inviting?),  we're making:

meatballs with mint and parsley    makes 24

  (Often served with broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes)

1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
¼ pound prosciutto,  finely chopped
1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta (in the book or David Lebovitz' version)
1 cup grated pecorino*
2 eggs
¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup packed finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
 ½ whole nutmeg, grated
 ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
 ½ cup white wine
¾ cup heavy cream,
 optional salt

   1. Mix together the pork, veal, prosciutto, ricotta, pecorino, eggs, mint, parsley, nutmeg, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
   2.  Use a large soup spoon and scoop up about 2 ounces of the meat into your hand and roll into a ball.   
   3.  Make all the meatballs the same size so they will cook evenly. As you make them, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. You can do this a few hours ahead, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
   4.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs in batches, about 15 minutes per batch, using two forks to delicately turn them over so that they brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Transfer cooked meatballs to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
   5,  Increase the heat to high and deglaze the skillet with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the cream, if using, and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.

*Pecorino Romano is, most likely, the pecorino (hard, often gratable sheep's cheese) available in most American grocery stores.  Milder and less expensive than Parmesan, it's a happy addition to pasta or salads.

Cook's Note: I made one meatball first and cooked it to test the seasoning; I had gone easy on the black pepper and had not added any salt at all.  My thought was to maintain the freshness/lightness of the meatball so that the herbs weren't overwhelmed.  On tasting, I did add a bit more pepper and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  The rest of the batch was perfect.  You could do anything you typically do with meatballs with these, but I do think they're special and complete all on their own.  I served them with broccolini sautéed in olive oil with crushed red peppers and slices of garlic thrown in the last 2-3 minutes.  We started with a little very simple green salad.

Here's a bit of the easy journey in photographs:

                       More info if you're interested...............

Just for fun, here's a sample from the Canal House #7 book and their "on location work:"

We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany --- a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month.

Back in the states, Melissa and Christopher are eating lunch together every day as they take a break from cooking, working, and writing.  Read their blog that chronicles those noon-time meals. 

Listen to their interview on edible radio.

Want to cook more food from Canal House?  You can do it if you.... 
Check out our team of great bloggers writing about 50 Women Game-Changers in Food

Sue - The View from Great Island   
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan -
The Spice Garden              
Heather - girlichef
Miranda of
Mangoes and Chutney 
 Mary - One Perfect Bite
Barbara -
Movable Feasts              
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda -
Ciao Chow Linda              
Linda A - There and Back Again
Martha -
Lines from Linderhof       
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica -
My Catholic Kitchen     
Annie - Lovely Things
Nancy -
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook

Val - More Than Burnt Toast       
Joanne -
Eats Well With Others

If you liked this, you might like my Bacon-Caprese Salad with Fresh Cheese.

Make your own cheese!

or my subsequent post on Meatball Subs:

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood return soon...Woof from Gab and Tuck.
Sing  new song; dream a new dream,

Food photos:  copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012.  Recipe, book and author photos courtesy Canal House. 


  1. These sound delicious. I was inspired for their Asian twist on meatballs but could equally be inspired by these as well.

  2. These sound fantastic - I just love the look of the sauce they're bathed in. Delicious!

  3. What delicious meatballs! I've never seen ricotta used in a meatball before, but now that I think of it, it makes a lot of sense, they must be nice and moist. Your idea of cooking one meatball to test the seasoning is so smart, I'm going to remember that!

  4. Heather and Sue: Thanks! The sauce, made with heavy cream and wine, had no choice but to be decadent and persuasive-- But you could do a healthy fresh tomato or nada; they were lush exactly plain. I liked the ricotta, which served as a binder with eggs and eliminated the need for bread crumbs or that it's great for Gluten-free or South Beach Diet. Makes lots so it's fun to cook once and eat three times---they're coming up Sunday for meatball subs @ Super Bowl.

  5. Your meatballs look so delicious...I purchased volume no. 7 and I may try these this weekend. That sauce...yum!

  6. I hope you try them. I, without realizing it, always thought of meatballs as tedious to make. These weren't. I ordered a hard copy of the book, too, though I should have gotten an ebook; my cookbook shelves are FULL. Oh, and even though I froze the meatballs, I still have that sauce in the frig...silky heaven!

  7. Those look wonderful, Alyce! I love the proscuitto and ricotta in your meatballs...never have tried that. Super photos!

  8. What a lovely post. The meatballs sound delicious and the "extras" you've thrown in for us to read and hear were wonderful. I'm so glad you've joined us. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

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  10. Kind words...thank you, friends. I enjoyed all of these posts this week; I am really taken in by almost all of the Canal House recipes I've seen. My weekend IS wonderful, as I hope yours is as well. (Also pray Bob is feeling well, Mary.)

  11. Alyce, those meatballs look so tempting. I'm going to have to try this recipe——the addition of ricotta is different.

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