Everything, except celery

I eat everything, except celery.

Category: Recipes

As fussy as you like- Meatballs

There’s been a lot of hoo-hah in the media about the ‘meat’ content in processed foods. A lot of it has gone completely over my head. I don’t really comprehend ‘convenience’ food. As fussy as I am about most things I am especially fussy about how food is prepared and cooked. It’s the old addage of ‘if you want something doing right, do it yourself’ – I’d rather do it myself. I don’t find it convenient to compromise on taste and quality.

With meatballs under fire in the recent press I had a craving for them. Mention a foodstuff to me a few times and I’ll want it. Well, not the meatballs they were talking about, but ‘my’ meatballs. Quick, simple, cheap and wholesome. You can add to the recipe and make it your own, but for starters, all you’ll need is:

1 Small Onion
500g Lean Minced Beef
Salt & Pepper for seasoning.
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Your choice of pasta

Chop the onion in half. Finely dice the first half and pop in a mixing bowl. Slice the second half into strips and add to a large oven proof dish.
To the mixing bowl, add the mince and some salt and pepper to season.
Using a firm spoon, work the onion into the mince until the mince breaks down and starts to stick together. Avoid over working the mince, the more of a paste it becomes, the denser your meatballs will be. Ideally the mix should just and so hold together when pressed firmly.
Now for the sticky bit! Get your hands in the bowl and roll your mince and onion mixture into around 20 balls of the same size (five per person to serve four people).
Lay out your perfect little meatballs in the oven proof dish on top of the sliced onions and pop in a preheated oven on a high heat (around 200c) for 10 minutes.
After the meatballs have been in the oven for 10 minutes and have just started to brown on top, take them out of the oven, pour over the tinned tomatoes and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
During this time, cook some pasta of your choosing (I like spaghetti with meatballs) and voila! A quick and hearty meal with no added blah blah blah.

This is the recipe at its most basic but…
Love garlic? Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic to your mince mixture and some sliced garlic to the onions in the oven dish.
Like it herby? Add some dried basil and/or oregano to the mince mixture and some fresh basil to the tomato sauce.
Like it spicy? Add some ceyenne pepper and/or paprika to the mince mixture and a chopped chilli to the tomato sauce.
Love your veg? Roast some peppers, mushrooms and courgette and mix in to your tomato sauce.

Basically, you can be as fussy as you like with this recipe; play around with it, you’re not going to break it!

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Nutty Cookies

One of my go-to biscuit recipes is for Golden Oatie Cookies, a recipe from the Coupar Angus Abbey Cookbook, a collection of housewives’ favourite recipes that was typed up by my Great Aunty Anna many years ago. I used to bake these biscuits for charity cake sales when I was at junior school and then again in my teens when I was feeling low. Handing out biscuits at school always made me feel better about myself and the baking of them was very theraputic.

When I’m down I like to bake, but sometimes baking an old recipe can bring up old feelings so rather than stick to my tried and tested recipe I thought about adapting it and turning them into Nutty Cookies. If they’ve got nuts in them I can say they’re health food yes? I’m over the moon that, with a few tweaks to the original recipe, the biscuits turned out brilliantly and were a great success so I thought I’d share the recipe with you…

3oz Butter, 1oz Peanut Butter, 4oz Caster Sugar, 3oz Porridge Oats, 1oz Chopped Mixed Nuts, 3oz Wholemeal Flour, 1tsp Baking Powder, 1tbsp Golden Syrup

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and caster sugar until fully combined and fluffy.
Mix in the syrup and then add the oats, nuts, flour and baking powder.
The mixture should be slightly tacky and hold together when pressed, if not, add a sprinkling of water.
Roll the mixture into individual balls (around 20) and lay out on a baking tray, leaving plenty of room around each ball (you might need to do two batches as they will flatten and spread during cooking).
Pop them in a preheated moderate oven (around 180c) for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven while they are still squidgy in the middle.
Allow to cool on the baking tray for a little while and then transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they are firm enough.

If you’re anything like me, the lure of warm biscuits means that not all of them will make it to the cooling rack!

Garbage Soup, and other wonders…

‘Oh it’s leftovers for lunch again’ my Granny will often say.

Fine by me! When everything is home cooked, lovingly prepared and, well, just darn right tasty, leftovers are a veritable feast!

She’d often make what she calls ‘Garbage Soup’, a soup made up of everything in the veg rack, the odds and ends that the more wasteful among us would just throw away.

When I was living on my own I’d make myself a huge roast dinner, and live off it for days, a few days of roast dinner, then bubble and squeak and then some garbage soup with the odds and ends that were left over. Simple, cheap and tasty – it would feed me for the most part of a week.

Waste not, want not!

I was making sausage and mash the other day. We rarely have mash, usually opting for potatoes with the skin on, but sometimes it’s just a mash kimd of day. As I was peeling the spuds I began thinking about garbage soup but I didn’t have much else in. Then I wondered about crisps. You know, the lovely artisan ones that have the skin still on. So I wondered about making crispy potato skin crisps.

I popped the peelings into the steamer and whacked them into the microwave for a few mins, just to soften them. Then I laid them out and removed any excess water/starch with a clean tea-towel, squirted them with some low cal olive oil spray and bunged them in an oven on a high heat.

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Ten mins or so later- voila, crispy potato skin crisps. Husband thought I was crazy for going to so much trouble so as not to waste some potato peelings. But I nipped out for a while and when I came home most of the crisps were gone so I think they were a success!

Tuna Parmesan Fishcakes

Well, I do have to say, sometimes I am a smartypants…
Not only did I lose 2lbs last week, I got home to my lovely dinner after weigh-in and I couldn’t finish my mash! Okay, maybe not the biggest exclamation in the world, but a big step for me. I was brought up under the rule that you finish everything on your plate, whether you want to or not. You were given a helping and could go back for seconds, or everything was laid out and you only took what you could eat lest you be told you had ‘eyes bigger than your belly!’. Probably not the worst insult in the world, but enough to say, don’t be so greedy, don’t be so wasteful.

I’ve carried this with me and if I have overfilled my plate I’ll continue to eat out of habit/superstition/fear of wasting food. But last night I cautiously ate around my mash, eating any that had been touched by gravy, leaving a pile of fluffy, unspoilt potato goodness… I had a plan for this mash…

Fishcakes! So simple, so easy, so tasty. Who says leftovers have to be dull!

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All I did was:
Pop on the grill to preheat
Beat an egg in a small mixing jug
Finely chop a small onion and add to the jug
Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper
Add a tin of (drained) tuna and mix well
Sprinkle in a dessertspoon of parmesan
Add a dolop or two of mash until the mixture is firm but holds together
Cover a baking tray with some greaseproof paper
Use your hands to make the mixture into even sized balls, line them on the tray
Press them down gently to make little pattys and pop them under the grill
Cook for 10mins (until golden) then turn over and do the same on the other side

Voila! Tasty fishcakes!

While my fishcakes were under the grill I grated a carrot, chopped some cherry tomatoes, wilted some spinach and popped it on the plate as a bed for my little beauties. Num!

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