Category Archives: Dinner

Recipe: Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs hot from the oven
Italian Meatballs hot from the oven

Ingredients;

1Kg lean beef minced
2 slices of lightly toasted bread
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground
1 Chile pepper, finely diced
1 handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 handful of fredh basil, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 large onion, finely dliced
1 teaspoon of french mustard

Serves 8

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Lightly toast the 2 slices of bread and whizz them in a blender to make breadcrumbs.

Next finely dice the onion, and fry it gently with a teaspoon of french mustard until soft, then let them cool, while you finely chop the chile, Rosemary and Basil.

Next put your meat into a large bowl and add the chile, rosemary, basil, oregano, cumin, egg yolk, the (now cooled) onion and the breadcrumbs and mix it all together, just get your hands into it and scrunch it all together.

Wet your hands and take some of the mixture and roll it into a ball about the size of a golfball and set it onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and repeat until you have used all the mixture.

Next get a frying pan onto a medium heat, add a little olive oil and fry the meatballs gently, rolling them round the pan so they cook (and colour) all the way round.

At this point you can either bag and freeze the meatballs in portions for use later or you can follow one of these 2 options.

I’m in a hurry

Once your meatballs are cooked, turn the heat right down and pour some Italian tomato sauce over them in the pan. Allow this to heat up while cooking up some pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and gently stir in the meatballs and sauce, then serve.

I’m not in a hurry

Heat your oven up to 200C, place your meatballs in an oven tray and cover with Tomato Sauce. Take a Mozzarella ball and either chop it into chunks or just rip it up and sprinkle this over the meatballs. Take a handful of fresh Basil leaves, rip them up and sprinkle them over the top, then grate a handful of parmesan over the lot.

Place this in the oven for about 20 minutes or until all the cheese melts and colours nicely. Then serve on a bed of fresh pasta and garnish with some fresh basil.

Recipe: Tagiatelle

Fresh (naked) Pasta
Fresh (naked) Pasta

Ingredients;

200g of Tipo 00 pasta flour or plain flour
2 medium fresh eggs
Olive oil

Serves 2

When I started writing out this recipe, it became clear that this is one of those things that is far better to learn by watching rather than to try and read a description of what’s involved. So, with that in mind please take ten minutes out (or take 5, twice :)) to watch the video ‘Making Pasta the Not Junk Food way’

When rolling out your pasta, I would strongly recommend a pasta machine, however my 10 year old niece reliably informs me that it can be done with a rolling pin, but it is hard work.

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Fresh Pasta cooks a lot quicker than dried pasta depending on how thick the Pasta is, for Tagiatelle 3-4 minutes in simmering water (with a little salt, pepper, oregano and a lug of olive oil) is usually enough but this can vary depending on the ingredients so taste it to make sure it’s done. Once the Pasta has been drained I usually toss it in a little olive oil (or truffle oil) to make sure it doesn’t stick together.

Recipe: Turkey stew

Turkey stew with mashed spudsIngredients;

1 knob of butter
1 good lug of olive oil
1 kg turkey thigh meat, diced
1 handful of fresh thyme leaves
1 large leek, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 parsnip, chopped
2 large onions
1 handful of plain flour
1 wineglass of rosé or white wine
1 wineglass of milk
1 wineglass of water
1 small tin of sweetcorn
8 pork sausages

Serves 6-8, can be frozen

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Take your Largest Saucepan, and get it on a Low heat, add a good lug of olive oil and a knob of butter.

Next add your turkey meat, fresh thyme, leek, celery, carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, onions and give it about 15 minutes at a simmer, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks.

Get your pan up to a high heat and add a good handful of flour and stir it in, keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes, then add the wine, let it simmer for a minute. Then add the milk and water and stir throughly until all the ingredients combine.

Then bring this to a simmer for about 1 hour or until the leeks and onion have started to break up.

Add the sweetcorn for the last 10 minutes of the hour.

Take your pack of sausages and squeeze all the sausage meat out of the skins. Roll it into a large marble sized balls (wet hands work best). Do this with all the sausage meat and then stir fry them until cooked and add this to the rest of the stew, stirring them in well.

Serve in a bowl with a warm crusty bread roll or some mashed spuds.

Recipe: Pizza Base

A naked uncooked Pizza base

Ingredients;

1kg of strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 x 7g packets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
625ml of tepid water (tepid = 2 parts cold to one part boiling)
1 handful of cornmeal

Makes 6-8 Pizza bases

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Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl or onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle of it.

Mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork (or your hands) start to stir the liquid in the well while bringing in the flour until the dough starts to come together. Then work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Now place the dough on a flour-dusted surface and knead it around for a 2-3 minutes to push the air out. As you are doing this, work the dough into a giant sausage shape. Divide the dough into six or eight pieces (eight if you like a thin and crispy base) and put them to one side.

Take one of the portions and make it into a ball, then stretch that into a roundish shape about 3-4 inches across and place on a floured surface and grab your rolling pin. Rolling away from you and turning the pizza regularly, roll the pizza base out until it is thin (about an eighth of an inch or less) then flour the pizza base and place on a baking tray lined with cling film – if you don’t have a suitably-sized baking tray, you can substitute with a chopping board or any flat surface that will fit in your freezer.

Fold the cling-film back over the top of the pizza base ready for the next one to be placed on top and repeat until all the portions have been rolled out.

At this point, you can dress one of the pizza bases (simply using passata and cheese) on a baking tray or preferably a pizza stone, either way you will need to sprinkle some cornmeal on before placing the pizza on it to prevent it from sticking.

Then place in a hot oven (approx 220 degrees C) for about 8-10 minutes and enjoy.

You can wrap the cling-filmed pile of bases in tinfoil and put them flat in your freezer to be used later.  The bases, once dressed, will cook from frozen in 8-10 mins as well – perfect for a quick dinner when coming home late from work.