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“Weather like this doesn’t belong in Southern California,” I think as I lay like a loaf on my couch with the fan positioned five inches from my face.
Earlier this week, it was raining — the air cooler than all three Jonas brothers combined. Today, the sun has returned with an intense gaze — penetrating into even the shadiest corners of Los Angeles.
It doesn’t make sense to me.
I don’t know whether to wear a sun dress or my wooliest pair of wool pants. I don’t know whether to label this transitory season an “Indian summer” or the beginning flirtations of fall. And I don’t know whether I should be eating leafy salads and watermelon or a comforting cauldron of macaroni and cheese.
I hate the indecisive nature of this time of year. And I hate the way the temperature has been spiking and dipping and dropping like the tracks of a roller coaster these past couple weeks. I want to scream to the clouds, “Make up your mind, already!”
If it’s going to be fall, I want it to be fall. I want to snuggle up in itchy sweaters, sip steaming mugs of orange spice tea and roast long-necked butternut squashes to puree into soup. This wishy-washy half-way-in, half-way-out business is not for me.
Except when it involves these meatballs.
These meatballs — Orangette’s turkey meatballs with golden raisins and pine nuts — don’t belong to any season. They aren’t strictly for fall, strictly for summer, nor are they strictly for any occasion at all for that matter. They belong in the every day.
On cold days, they are a cuddly comfort food — warm and spicy and soothing to the soul — just like the spaghetti and meatballs my mother made me as a child. On hot days, they are refreshing to a salad-weary tongue. The typically heavy dish is brightened up by the addition of golden raisins and cilantro and the accompanying lemon and cumin yogurt sauce. No matter the weather, they always seem just right. And even more so because of how easy they are to make — especially when using a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer.
There’s no need to get one’s hands unnecessarily dirty with the mixer on the countertop. The ingredients can be dropped willy-nilly into the mixing bowl, while the paddle attachment surreptitiously stirs everything together into a perfectly integrated meatball batter. It’s ready to roll — and be rolled — in less than a minute. And ready to go into the pan in another five minutes.
Unlike the weather, these meatballs are reliably easy-to-make and reliably easy-to-love — regardless of what is going on outside the front window.
I’m not sure what I’ll wake up to tomorrow. I’m not sure what I’ll wear or what I won’t wear. And I’m not sure whether I’ll be drinking iced tea or hot tea in the afternoon.
But I do know what I’ll be having for dinner.
I’m not wishy-washy about that at all.
Doron’s Turkey Meatballs with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
½ pound ground white-meat turkey
½ pound ground dark-meat turkey
1 small yellow onion, minced
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup golden raisins (chopped if they’re large)
½ cup fine bread crumbs
A few pinches ground cumin
½ tsp salt
A few pinches freshly ground black pepper
Lemon-and-cumin yogurt sauce (see below)
Mix all ingredients except olive oil and yogurt sauce together in a bowl, preferably using your hands. You don’t want to overwork the meat—that would make your final product tough—but you do want all ingredients to be evenly mixed. Form the mixture into balls of whatever size you like (mine were about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches). Heat a thin film of olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, and sauté the meatballs in batches, so as not to crowd them. As they begin to color, turn them regularly so that they are golden on all sides. They should be done when they are evenly browned and feel medium firm—but not hard—to the touch. Place on a paper towel to catch excess oil. Serve hot, warm, or cold with yogurt sauce.
Lemon-and-Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Nonfat plain yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
Garlic, finely chopped
Mix ingredients to taste in a bowl, and keep chilled until serving.