Tag Archives: meatballs

Cottage Pie

Inspired by the box of meals that I had for my birthday, I decided to make meatballs. That involved buying mince, which we haven’t had for over six months as part of our new healthy eating regime.

As a result, we had a very pleasant meal of meatballs, mashed potatoes and greens. I used nutmeg and chilli as seasoning and it seemed to work well to make a Swedish style meatball. Unfortunately I broke the blender whilst making the bread crumbs (put the lid on wrong, twisted and locked it all together in the wrong place). It won’t switch on and I can’t get it to release itself so I can try again. As a result the kitchen was a mess by the time I’d finished – a broken blender, the mess from making meatballs and, even worse, the debris from making breadcrumbs using a hand blender, a mixing ball and a lid fashioned from a tea towel.

No, I didn’t take photos.

However, this left us with quite a lot of mince left over. That left three choices – cottage pie, spaghetti bolognese or chilli. I suppose the title spoils the surprise.

I softened onions and browned the mince, added a stock cube, Hendersons, mushrooms and, at the last minute spinach. I was working on the principle of using what was too hand and needed using up. As I’d made a vegetable soup earlier in the day I didn’t have as much choice as I normally do, and couldn’t be bothered to chop more veg.

Top with mustard mash and grilled with a cheesy topping, it turned out reasonably well. I wouldn’t normally use cheese, but ordering food by delivery rather than shopping myself has meant we have more of some things than we need.

We had it with stir-fried black kale, because we are quite trendy. Though some of the black bits are there because I fried too much and stirred too little.

Note: this is the second post of the day. The first is here. The first one is more interesting but this one makes my mouth water.

Cottage Pie and black kale

Cottage Pie and black kale

 

 

 

A Meal in a Box

We dined on one of the meals from the birthday present box last night. It contained potatoes, shredded greens, garlic, pork steaks, squares of strong Cheddar and a pot of onion marmalade made by Tracklements, the top notch pickle company. All the ingredients were good and the recipe sheet had a colour picture and clear instructions.

To be honest, I could have sourced the ingredients and made pork steaks with cheese and onion topping with potato wedges and garlic greens without the instructions. However, after weeks of lockdown it’s comforting to be given a meal that hasn’t taken a lot of thought. More to the point, it’s nice to have something different too. We have been getting very dull with our menu. It’s also nice to have something a bit more tasty than usual – I wouldn’t have added the onion marmalade and cheese if I’d been left to my own devices.

Tomorrow we will be having the meatballs with roast broccoli and cheesy mash. The same comments apply. I’d have used ready-made meatballs if left to my own devices, and I’d just have used beef with bread crumbs made from leftover crusts. The kit includes beef and pork mince (in two different packs) and a pack of panko breadcrumbs. It’s a much more elegant way to live.

If I was younger, and had a proper job, I would seriously consider buying a box every week. The quality of ingredients is good, the presentation is good and the result was good. However, I’m one of those old dogs that can’t learn new tricks. Apart from the question of buying a food kit that includes bits I don’t want (like all the cheese) there is the question of ordering things over a week in advance and having to be around to accept a delivery. They had some good ice packs in the box but minced meat and summer heat can be tricky.

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It’s meant to be meatballs – I really must work on my presentation.

Tonight we had the meatballs. It’s the first time I’ve used panko breadcrumbs and they were (a) dry and (b) pointless. I can’t see that they were any better than ordinary breadcrumbs for making meatballs. I have no doubt they are better for some things, but I’m not sure you need them in meatballs.

I just looked them up, and added the link, and see that they absorb less fat when being fried. If that’s a concern, I would have thought the easiest way to cut the fat would be to stop adding cheese to everything.

Tonight’s meal – meatballs with cheese mash and roasted broccoli was very nice but, to be honest, making meatballs does involve a bit more standing than I would have liked. The meal was, I think, tastier than last night’s meal, but the instruction sheet was less clear.

Having said that, they have both been excellent.

The only drawback is the aggressive marketing campaign of the company, which made me sign up for regular deliveries just to redeem the gift voucher, and which made it difficult to cancel. They have already invited me to give them another chance three times.

It has, however, persuaded me that I must start making my own meatballs again. They are so much better than the bought ones, though the bought ones are good because they keep well, which is important in lockdown.

Notes from a Small Kitchen

First up, meatballs. I had intended to make them last night, but Julia was hungry, time was short, the night was cold and the chip shop was soooo tempting.

I had mushy peas with mine and followed up with an apple and a pear. I’d had a banana with my breakfast cereal and salad with lunch so that scraped my five a day. This is important as five a day, which was once sufficient, has now become ten. I didn’t know there were ten sorts of fruit and veg, and until last week certainly had no intention of ever eating 10 sorts in one day.

Getting 10 sorts of fruit and veg into me takes a technique that is closer to loading a cannon than it is to cookery. However, it’s something I will have to work on.

I have a simple meatball recipe. Meat, breadcrumbs, milk, egg and stuff. In this case  the meat was minced pork and the “stuff” was a chopped spring onion and parsley. The milk to dampen the breadcrumbs and the egg all contribute to making a nice, tender meatball. You can do without them, but the end product is more suitable for playing golf than eating.

The bread crumbs may look a bit strange but don’t worry, the bits are just chopped up grains because I used the crusts of a seeded loaf to make the crumbs.

You can season it I suppose but the pork ones always seem to be OK with just herbs. I do season the beef ones a bit, normally using Worcestershire sauce or black pepper. You can also use dried herbs and grated parmesan.

Mix it all together with your hands and roll into balls the size of a walnut (a walnut in its shell, to be precise). Either poach it in a tomato sauce (about 40 minutes) or oven bake for 20 minutes at 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.

I based the bean burger recipe on one by Mark Bittman that was passed on to me by Laurie Graves.

My recipe was a tin of chickpeas, half an onion, parsley, a good shake of chilli powder, a teaspoon of cumin, an egg, some brown linseed (which was just hanging about needing to be used)  and enough oats to make the mixture dry enough to work. I made six burgers but we will only eat four for tea.

We ate them with roasted vegetables and stir-fried black kale, as pictured in the featured image. They still need a little work but are already much better than the previous recipe I was using and as good as any I’ve eaten recently when eating out.

 

 

Courgetti Spaghetti

All is good on the meatball front. I am able to produce a well-seasoned meatball that is soft on the tooth and holds together well when poached in tomato sauce.

When cooked in the oven they tend to flatten on the bottom, form a crust and dry out a bit. I could try a more sophisticated approach to this, but as I like them poached in the sauce I may just stop cooking them in the oven.

I tried frying one batch. It was a soft mix and probably not well-suited to the method. As you don’t actually need to brown them before poaching I’m going to avoid the frying pan in future.

After an unsatisfactory encounter with Boodles – spiralised butternut squash noodles – I’m glad to report that the courgetti spaghetti was far better in both taste and texture. The problem, apart from the cost (£1 for a small portion) is that they release a lot of water, which doesn’t look great on the plate.

I can’t immediately think of a way round this, though I will try dropping the lot into hot oil next time, not heating it gradually. I will also look at a selection of dishes where the extra water won’t be a problem.

Does anyone have an answer to this problem?

Next stop, bean burgers.

Triviata

Yes, was surprised it was a real word too. I was looking for a title that denoted an accumulation of trivia and thought this was about right so checked it up to make sure if it was already taken, and yes it was. Shakespeare introduced 1,700 new words into English, but these days it’s not quite so easy.

There is also a Trivipedia, but no trivicumulation. I’m going to think about that…

I think it can be defined, in my sense, to denote a jumble of trivial news of the sort that makes up conversations between spouses or posts on blogs about normal life. Well, you may discuss world politics or philosophy with your spouse, but we tend to discuss children, what we did during the day, and housework. Or, more precisely, why I have done no housework.

So, his morning, after a day on the road yesterday, I drifted into consciousness just before 7.00 am, looked at the day outside and went back to bed for a while. Feeling energised I then sorted out books for charity, selected clothes for the Salvation Army (they seem to have been shrinking lately) and took a faulty kettle back to TESCO. It hadn’t been expensive but even cheap kettles are supposed to keep the water on the inside.

It’s surprising how long it takes to return a faulty kettle to TESCO. First you have to find someone to accept it, and at our branch that means going and standing at a shabby, anonymous counter at the back of the shop as everyone ignores you. Then, after finally intercepting a passing manager, you have to wait and see if they can find a replacement on the shelves or in the warehouse. They couldn’t. So I accepted a refund on my debit card.

Lunch was soup (Pea and Mint from TESCO) with fresh bread. Yes, I know I should make my own but I wanted something quick.

Blogging next – reading posts and adding bits to some posts I’m mulling over. I still have another post on Crowland Abbey to polish  (you have to ration these things out ) and a few others to develop.

Finally, gardening. I’ve been putting it off until the warmer weather came, and the warmer weather has come. As I have plenty of time this year, it really is time to get on top of the job. It’s also time to add some permaculture design and  wildlife to the garden.

I’m alternating TV, computer and cookery now. Julia is out at a meeting and when she returns she will be expecting meatballs. I’m still looking for a meatball recipe so “relaxed” and “well prepared” are words that don’t currently apply to me.

It will be different tomorrow – the Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry is already done.

Meanwhile, I’d better focus and stop browsing. I’ve just been reading this. It’s cookery, but not as we know it.

Readers of a nervous disposition may be better not clicking the link.