The Mailbox: Teri Watson

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5D

Any hints about Blackbird's salad?

My husband and I had the most delicious salad at the Blackbird Cafe in Sacramento. It included uncooked, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lemon and quinoa.

This salad was excellent. Does anyone have this recipe or one similar? Thank you.

– Fran Rider, Carmichael

Those cupcakes were delicious

I recently attended a birthday party in Palo Alto where, instead of a cake, two different kinds of cupcakes from a local bakery were served. One had a pie crust (like a tart) filled with a banana cake and toffee, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The other cupcake also had a pie crust; it was filled with a lemony, gooey cake and topped with meringue, like a lemon meringue pie. These cupcakes were unusual and delicious. I would love the recipes or ones similar. Thanks.

– Marcellia Elliot, Rocklin

Italian wedding soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves 7

Jean Hunerlich of Davis was hoping someone had a recipe for Italian wedding soup.

Mary E. Brown of Modesto shares this recipe that comes from "Taste of Home Heartwarming Soups."

It says, "Lean ground beef and reduced-sodium broth help keep it light. For variety, substitute garbanzo beans for the kidney beans." This sounds like a good match for Hunerlich.


1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided use

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided use

1/8 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided use

1/2 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)

1/4 cup uncooked orzo or acini de pepe pasta

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Four 14.5-ounce cans reduced sodium chicken broth

One 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chopped fresh spinach


In a large bowl, combine the egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 3/4-inch meatballs. Place in a 15-by-10- by-1-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink; drain.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large saucepan, sauté onion and celery in oil until tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, beans and spinach. Stir in pasta, meatballs and remaining salt and pepper.

Cook until spinach is tender and meatballs are heated through. Garnish with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 264 cal.; 21 g pro.; 31 g carb.; 7 g fat (3 sat., 3 monounsat., 1 polyunsat.); 49 mg chol.; 591 mg sod.; 5 g fiber; 24 percent calories from fat.

Basil beer bread

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves 12

Dorothy Hurd of Sacramento was looking for beer bread recipes. The Mailbox has featured several different versions of beer bread recipes the past few weeks. Today's recipe comes from Barbara Vella of Folsom and calls for fresh basil, active dry yeast and all- purpose flour instead of self-rising flour.


Olive oil for the baking sheet

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

One 1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

One 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably ale

Flour for the work surface

1 cup chopped or torn fresh basil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet. In the bowl of a standing mixer on low, or in a large bowl using a spoon, combine the flour, yeast, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Add the beer and mix just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the basil and knead gently just until incorporated.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and transfer to the prepared sheet. Bake until the loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn the loaf onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Per serving: 174 cal.; 8 g pro.; 28 g carb.; 2 g fat (2 sat., 0 monounsat., 0 polyunsat.); 7 mg chol.; 365 mg sod.; 2 g fiber; 14 percent calories from fat.


If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916) 556-5625. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

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