Are you, or any breathless young girl you know, familiar with the Twilight books?
My daughter is obsessed with Stephenie Meyer’s wildly successful teen – romance – vampire series, and I must be way off the buzz wagon, because until I smacked into a towering, goth-flavored display at Borders, I’d never even heard of them. But the Twilight phenomenon is huge – the latest book debuts tonight to Potter-like panic and midnight parties, including here, where Josie and her friends will celebrate this dubious tale of angst, algebra and the undead.
Previously not on my radar, the books suddenly appeared everywhere, including my kitchen counter. Josie had her nose in book 3 last night while I worked on dinner, pausing just long enough to explain their appeal:
So, he’s like a hundred years old, but he looks like a teenage guy, and he loves this girl at school.
They live in the Northwest and there’s a lot of woods around them. He belongs to this vampire family that doesn’t eat people.
Well – suck blood from people.
Then what do they eat?
Uh-huh. They suck the blood from deer and stuff in the forest. They think it’s morally wrong to bite and drink from humans.
His vampire family calls themselves vegetarians, because they don’t eat people. Just animals.
And they don’t eat people.
No – his dad vampire is even a surgeon who works on humans.
Doesn’t he get excited by the blood?
No. He has a lot of control. And he helps young vampires who still need people’s blood.
Um, okay. So – he loves a human girl, right? A teenager.
Right – it is so cool. He loves her but he won’t suck her blood. He watches her sleep but he won’t make her a vampire. Then she kind of loves this werewolf guy, too.
She loves a vampire and a werewolf.
Okay! In other news, I made some delightful meatballs.
4 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
3 ounces cooked ham, chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Use a food processor to pulse the bread to fine crumbs. Remove the crumbs from the processor bowl, and replace it with the ham, spinach, and basil. Process until fine. Place the crumbs and ham-spinach mixture in a large bowl and add the turkey, eggs, ricotta, Pecorino Romano, oregano, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Grind a few generous turns of black pepper over ingredients, and mix well. Shape into 12-13 jumbo meatballs, or approximately 24 smaller meatballs. Transfer the meatballs to a lightly oiled sheet pan or roasting pan.
On very low heat, simmer several cups of homemade or good-quality jarred marinara sauce. Place meatballs in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and use a spatula to loosen each meatball from the pan. Add meatballs to simmering marinara on stove and adjust sauce seasoning, if necessary, with salt, ground pepper, and oregano. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15-30 minutes, until meatballs are tender and coated in sauce.
While meatballs and sauce are on stove, cook the pasta of your choice (I like spaghettini, fine spaghetti) and drain, tossing lightly with olive oil. Serve meatballs and sauce, topped by grated pecorino romano and more chopped basil, over pasta.
Know your meatball crowd! Double as necessary.