There is no limit to variations of the meatballs and its accompanying options. This is one of them and it happened to be one of my favourites. It just reminds me of my childhood food. Back then we were not exposed to spices or exotic flavours, food was very straight forward, but never tasteless or plain. I always was amazed how with only few ingredients on hand our Mums and Grandmas managed to come up with accomplished dishes. One of the keys is seasoning. No matter what you are seasoning with, just season and taste, season and taste, until you reach the desired flavour.
I chose to serve it with the buckwheat, just because I love it for its nutty flavour and health properties, but it goes well with pasta, rice or mashed potato.
MEATBALLS IN A CREAMY SAUCE WITH THE BUCKWHEAT
For the meatballs:
500g of your preferred mince (I like to use half & half beef & pork or just turkey)
1 white bread roll or 2 slices of bread
1 big onion, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup of soured cream
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet, hot, smoked)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh dill or parsley to garnish
- Begin by soaking a bread roll in milk, but crumbling the bread in a small bowl and pouring over with milk. Press the bread with the fork, helping to soak up all the milk until it becomes mushy. Leave it to soak for a few minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Then in a big bowl mix all ingredients for the meatballs, including the milky bread, and form the balls, any size you like.
- Place the meatballs into oven proof baking dish or a tray and bake for about 20-30 minutes, depends on a size of your meatballs, or until they are cooked through.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Take any heavy-bottom pan, add the butter and when it’s melted, add the flour. Keep stirring until the butter absorbs the flour, but do not allow it to burn. Then add the chicken stock, continue constantly stirring, to avoid lumps. When it thickens, add the soured cream and paprika, salt and pepper, mix well and cook for a few more minutes. Season, taste, adjust seasoning if required.
- When the meatballs are ready, simply add them to the pan with the sauce or serve it separately, pouring sauce over. Garnish with the fresh dill or parsley.
It also goes well with some pickles on a side, gherkins in particular.
I saw this recipe on Pinch of Yum site and immediately wanted to try it. The suggestion was that it’s a breakfast/bruch casserole dish, but I think it’s great at any time of day on its own with some nice crispy salad or as a side dish perhaps. I’ve slightly adapted this to match my taste, but you can check out the original recipe here. It’s a lovely site, by the way, if you haven’t heard about it.
POTATO AND SPINACH BAKE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 any preferred good quality sausages
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 handfuls of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of milk
1 cup of grated raw potatoes
1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper to taste
- Heat up the oven to 200C. Grease the medium oven proof dish and set aside.
- Heat up the flying pan over medium heat with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the chopped onions and sauté it until it becomes soft and translucent.
- Take the sausages, peel off their outer skin by gently cutting the skin in the middle and peeling it off with your fingers. Then crumble the sausage meat in rough chunks over the onion. Then add chilli powder and onion powder. Mix well and continue cooking until it brown and fully cooked. Transfer this mixture to the prepared oven dish, distribute evenly on the bottom.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to the frying pan, add the garlic and gently cook t for a few minutes, do not allow it to burn. Add the spinach and stir until whilted for a few more minutes. Then scatter over the sausage mixture.
- In a mixing bowl, using fork, mix together the eggs, milk, mozzarella cheese, raw potatoes, salt and pepper. Pour over the sausage and spinach mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown or until it springs back when touched.
Simple and delicious one-pan of your ‘5 a day’ supper. Easy adaptable to whatever is in season, but this Mediterranean selection works very well with Halloumi. Perfect addition for the BBQ or a picnic. Of course, it is even better with home-made pesto, but on this occasion I used shop-bought, which is also just fine. You also can use Feta cheese instead of Halloumi.
EASY VEGETABLE TRAY BAKE WITH HALLOUMI & PESTO
(Originally seen in ‘Red’ magazine)
500g new potatoes, halved lengthways
3 Mixed Peppers, seeds removed, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons good quality pesto
zest of ½ lemon, plus squeeze of juice
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
250g pack Halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
black olives (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain, then tip into a large, shallow roasting tin and scatter over sliced peppers. Drizzle over with the olive oil, salt, mix well, bake for about 20 minute.
- Meanwhile in a little bowl, mix together pesto, zest and lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon of water, if the paste is too thick. Set aside.
- Turn up the heat to 220°C. Add the halved tomatoes, olives, sprinkle half of the pesto mixture and sliced halloumi on top. Roast for a further 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven, drizzle over the rest of the pesto and serve straightaway.
This recipe comes from the latest book by Nigella Lawson ‘At my table’. Since I first saw it a few month ago, I’ve already made it several times. It’s my new ‘go to’ recipe for dinner parties, as it’s perfect for sharing, easily adaptable to the vegetarian version (just replace the beef mince with Quorn/soya mince, or double the quantities of aubergine and add the mushrooms). I normally serve it with the roasted vegetables, couscous or herby bulgur wheat on side. Everyone loves it.
BEEF & AUBERGINE FATTEH
(Nigella Lawson recipe)
For the base:
4 pitta breads, split open and cut into nacho-sized triangles
For the sauce:
500g Greek-style yoghurt
4 tablespoons tahini, at room temperature
1 lemon, juice only
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1–2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, to taste
125g pomegranate seeds
50g toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves (optional)
For the ‘meaty’ layer:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
1–2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, to taste
500g beef mince
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
To make the aubergine-beef layer, warm the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden colour.
Turn the heat up to medium, add the aubergine cubes and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down if they look as if they’re catching.
Stir in the cumin, coriander and a teaspoon each Aleppo pepper and sea salt flakes. Turn the heat up to high, add the mince and use a fork to break it up a little and turn in the pan until it’s lost its red colour. Turn the heat back down to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through. Taste to see if you want to add more salt, then take off the heat.
- To make a sauce, pour about 3cm of just-boiled water into a fresh pan and put over a low heat. Sit the bowl with the ‘tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt’ mixture on top, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Beat well until the yogurt is slightly above room temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Set aside.
- Toast the pitta breads and cut it into triangles.
To assemble, arrange the crisp pitta triangles on a large plate. Top with the aubergine-beef mixture, followed by the yoghurt-tahini sauce. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper or paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and, finally, strew with the finely shredded mint leaves. Eat with your fingers, nacho-style.
My Mum was recommending to try this recipe for ages, but for some reason I always dismissed it. Maybe because we are not really big sandwich or appetiser fans, which this recipe is particularly good for. One day, something took over me and I decided to have a go, and I didn’t regret it. I think it’s brilliant recipe and I only wished I discovered it earlier. It takes no time or effort to prepare, and as a result you’ll have the most succulent, tender and delicious meatloaf. Of course, it is great sliced in sandwiches, but you can also have it on its own with just salad, or with added any grains/pulses/roasted vegetables. Also, it’s perfect dish to take with you to the picnic or beach.
VERY MOIST CHEESY CHICKEN MEATLOAF
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
600g chicken fillets, cut into small chunks
1-2 onion (depends on the size), finely chopped
2-3 carrots (depends on the size), grated
3 tablespoons semolina
200g mild cheese (Cheddar, Edam, Leicester or any other hard mild cheese), grated
salt & pepper to taste
- Fry the chicken pieces with olive oil until all juices run clear and chicken ready, set aside.
- Add more oil to the same pan and fry chopped onion, followed by carrots, until it’s cooked and translucent.
- Transfer in the food processor, or using a hand blender, mix it all until preferable consistency. I like to keep it a bit chunky, not completely puréed, so I’d just pulse a few times. If the mixture looks a bit dry, add few tablespoons of water.
- When you are happy with the consistency, transfer it to the bowl (if you are using food processor) and add the remaining ingredients, season and mix it all well, then pour it into the prepared loaf tin (you might want to butter the tin first).
- Bake in the preheated oven at 180C for 30-45 minutes.
Here is a quick improvisation on one of the classic Italian Polpette, which I made few times before, which I highly recommend. Fennel is this magic ingredient, which transforms these meatballs to another level of deliciousness.
This time I ran out of fennel seeds, instead I just added some chilli powder, paprika & Worcestershire sauce for a little bit of kick, plus cannellini beans for some substance.
PORK POLPETTE IN TOMATO SAUCE WITH CANNELLINI BEANS
For tomato sauce:
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of chilli flakes to your taste
1/2 paprika powder
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 small handful of oregano, finely chopped
pinch of caster sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans (or any other canned beans of your choice)
chopped dill/parsley to garnish (optional)
For the Polpette:
1.5 kg minced pork
3 medium free-range eggs
large pinch of dried chilli flakes
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- To make a sauce, heat half the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and chilli on a medium heat for about 15 minutes. When transparent, add the tinned tomatoes, cannelloni beans and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to bubble on the lowest heat for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, if using, and the oregano. Taste and see if it needs anything else. Set aside for now.
- To make meatballs, preheat the oven to 220C. Put the pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, chilli flakes, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl and massage thoroughly. Roll into approx 45g balls, place them on a greased baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, turning once until they are starting to brown.
- Then poach the meatballs in the tomato & beans sauce for 10 minutes.
- Serve on its own with some fresh chopped herbs and nice crusty bread or focaccia.
Following Nigel Slater TV advice, with a few improvisations, I’ve been using up all remains of Christmas (and the freezer). It takes very little effort to prepare, but tastes very festive and special.
CHIPOLATAS WITH CARAMELISED ONION AND CRANBERRIES
(Adapted from N. Slater recipe)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 red onions, thinly sliced
1 pack of your preferred chipolatas
150g fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons cranberry jam
splash of red wine (optional)
pinch of cinnamon
handful of fresh spinach
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions, stir to coat the onion in the oil. Cover the pan and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning.
- Add the chipolatas, increase the heat a little and continue to cook about 15 minutes or until the meat is almost cooked.
- Add the fresh cranberries, pinch of cinnamon, cranberry jam and splash of wine, if using. Mix well to coat everything evenly, cover with lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking mix in some fresh spinach, give another minute or two, taste for seasoning, serve with some hearty bread or with puy lentils.