A once aspiring domestic goddess, but now a flustered mum that creates the odd flash of cosy domesticity, though progress on that front is being hampered by two growing children, two West Highland Terriers, one better half and the small but not insignificant detail that I have to work for a living. Why not sit down and have a cuppa whilst I share with you my latest cooking exploits and random musings?
Lola and Finn's Mum
Thursday, 21 March 2013
A meal for Finn - Mediterranean Meatballs with Tomato and Basil Sauce.
My son Finn. In some ways he is very obvious and then there are times when he has me completely flummoxed. I mean I suppose this keeps me on my toes and stops life being dull but trying to feed him is a bloody nuisance. Given the chance, the boy would exist on a diet of chicken nuggets, spaghetti bolognese, eggs in any form and a selection of yoghurts until the end of time, so not what you would call adventurous. And then he will quite happily polish off mussels, (Moules Mariniere in Honfleur, last Summer, ate every last morsel), prawns and the most recent revelation, caviar(!) when we were at a party recently. He eats caviar but won't eat carrots. Maybe he just has a more discerning palate, or else he just likes seeing his mum put her head in her hands when he declares for the umpteenth time that he "doesn't like it. It's too spicy..." Spice for him means flavour - he'll call it spicy when no spice has been anywhere near it. Strange boy!
Finn - being discerning; Lola rocking out by the looks of it...
But here is a gem. I made this and he cleared the plate. I should have taken a picture of it, because it's a gastronomically momentous event. I mean, I know this dish isn't much of a departure from the spaghetti bolognese that he enjoys but it is different and that is not always a good thing. If it doesn't look right then it isn't right., to Finn.
This recipe is from what I have in my mind as one of the first grown up cookbooks that I bought. I can't really quantify for you what a grown up cookbook is really, save for the fact that in my own mind it is full of the recipes of one writer/cook and it was recommended in the book review section of The Times. This bit may or may not be relevant. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that the cookbooks I had before were perfectly fine bargain basement generic collections of recipes like 'Italian' or 'Desserts' or something and this book was the first had more of a personal aspect. Or something.
Anyway, for Finn... and I will cook it you again soon babe, and for you the recipe:
Mediterranean Meatballs with a Tomato and Basil Sauce, adapted from the recipe in 'The Fish Store' by Lindsay Bareham
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad and one other
My adaptations in red
1 large onion
Half tsp thyme leaves
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper taste
20 basil leaves
15 pitted black olives
1 thick crustless slice of bread
Milk or thin cream for soaking
1 egg yolk
500g minced lamb
1tsp oregano (my addition)
salt and pepper to taste
Chunk of Parmesan to serve
First make the tomato sauce. Saute the onion in the butter until it's translucent, about 5 - 10 minutes, then add the thyme. Cook for another couple of minutes and then remove half of the onions to a mixing bowl where you will eventually combine the meatball ingredients.
Add the tinned tomatoes and stir to combine. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes.
Shred half of the basil and add it to the sauce.
Finely slice the olives. The original recipe suggests adding the olives to the meatball mixture but I didn't - I added them to the sauce so I could still have an olive dimension to the dish but pick the offending beings out when I served Lola and Finn's helping. If you want to add the olives to the sauce like I did, now you can. Lola and Finn hate olives, me and Phill love them!
To make the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk until the bread absorbs the liquid. Squeeze the bread and then break it up into little. Combine the bread with the reserved onions, the rest of the shredded basil, the olives if you are using them, the egg yolk, the oregano and the lamb mince. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and then form the mixture into balls.
When the balls are made, put them into the bubbling tomato sauce mixture and allow them to poach. The balls will render some fat which will leech into the sauce and make it a little richer.
Poach for about 8 - 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook some pasta according to the packet instructions.
Serve the meatballs and sauce over the pasta with a few torn basil leaves and a sprinkling of Parmesan.