Wednesday, 18 June 2014
A little ditty about my kitchen and how I like to entertain: Afghan Meatballs #kitchentales
I think my kitchen is the heart of my home. It's not just about the cooking and eating; you can find me sat at the table marking a set of exercise books; it's the place where Lola and Finn's homework is completed, along with the metaphorical tearing out of hair when you try to explain in simplistic terms how division actually works to a bored six year old, and as my kitchen encompasses a dining area, it's the place where I can not only cook, but I can indulge myself with a bookshelf housing too many cookbooks, and a shabby chic armoire, procured from a hairdresser's shop in Manchester, once used for housing alsorts of sprays and potions, but now the place where I keep my 'posh' stuff and the special stuff: it's on show, but literally only used on high days and holidays.
the armoire with fairy lights
Grandma's Willow Pattern tea set
Lola, colouring and posing!
Finn - engrossed in FIFA
Roast dinner! Dig in!
But mainly it's about the cooking, the eating, the drinking, the banter; those special times when everyone is around, putting the world to rights. We haven't lived in this house long - a mere six months - but already the kitchen has established itself as the heart of the home. The recent 40th birthdays of Phill and I meant a kitchen full of people, with the sound of chatter, simple good food served in a 'dig in, your at your granny's' type of way, all helping yourself, the sound of wine sloshing into the glass. The kitchen was alive. This is this type of cooking that I adore - eating in the kitchen, great trays full of family food, often on the worktop, sometimes on the table - and there for everyone to take as little as much as you want. Eating in the kitchen lends itself to that type of informality. And then you put it all in the dishwasher (if you're me), put in a Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablet and finish off that bottle of Chablis.
Here's a recipe ripe for the family style treatment. It was served last weekend, amidst a flurry of hands, the clatter of forks and spoons and the chatter of children, loading up tortillas with some rice, some salad and these amazingly subtle but complex tasting Afghan meatballs, loosely based on the recipe from Sally Butcher's book, 'Persia in Peckham'. It encompasses the methodical and therapeutic making of meatballs, the chopping and slicing of fresh salad, the hum of the oven and the bubble of the water cooking the rice to eventually produce something quite fitting for the kitchen that I want my home to have.
Afghan Meatballs, adapted from 'Persia in Peckham' by Sally Butcher
1 chopped onion
500g minced lamb
2 -3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli powder (or more if you like a kick)
11/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
half a dozen coriander stalks
salt and pepper to taste
To serve, salad vegetables such as spring onion, leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chopped coriander leaves, drizzled with a little lime juice
Tortillas, warmed in the oven
Preheat the oven to 180c
Fry the chopped onion until it becomes translucent.
In a food processor (or of course, by hand!) combine the sautéed onions, the lamb, the garlic, the spices, the eggs and the seasoning. You might be surprised at how much salt meatballs need to avoid tasting bland. You can be judicious at first and add to taste but to ultimately check the seasoning, mix the ingredients together, break off a tiny piece of mixture and fry it in the frying pan you fried the onions in, and then taste it once it is cooked.
Once you are happy with the amount of seasoning, dampen your hands and roll the mixture into even size balls. Mine were a couple of centimetres in diameter, or so. Place them into an ovenproof dish or pan.
Put the meatballs into the oven and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes or so or until the tops are brown. At this point, take the meatballs out, scrape away any excess fat that has seeped from the meatballs, if you like. Then, turn the meatballs over. Pour in the tinned chopped tomatoes around the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so. The tomatoes will cook down a little and thicken, creating a sauce infused with the taste of the meatballs.
Once done, take out of the oven and scatter with some chopped coriander. Serve at the table with the accompaniments mentioned above.
This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum. You can find information on Facebook.