Meatballs & Spaghetti

Loved by adults as much as children, this has been a firm favourite family dish in our household,  for many years.  You could buy ready made meatballs if you are pushed for time, but this recipe is so you can have a bash at making your own. A mixture of pork and mince beef is used so that the meatballs don’t dry out.  You could use just beef if you so wished but they will be a drier texture.

 

meatballs and spaghetti

 

Ingredients

Olive oil
400g minced pork
400g minced beef
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese – plus extra for garnish
2 eggs beaten
Salt and black pepper

Sauce Ingredients

800g of tinned chopped tomatoes
690ml jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
10 fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
Optional – 1 tbsp sugar.

Preheat the oven to 220 Degrees C. Rub a large baking sheet with the olive oil and set aside. Place the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, parmesan and eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix gently with a wooden spoon until everything is thoroughly combined.

Take small golf ball sized amounts of the meat mixture and roll into equal sized balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet and then bake for 12 minutes.  Baking rather than frying the meatballs off, helps the meatballs to retain their shape and not break up.  Plus you get a lovely colour to them.

To make up the sauce, put the tomatoes, passata and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the chilli flakes and some salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce, if it is too sharp for you, then add the optional sugar.

Carefully place the meatballs in the tomato sauce making sure you partially cover the pan again. Simmer for 30 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally. If the sauce is getting too thick, add a little hot water from a kettle.  During this time, cook your spaghetti according to pack instructions. To serve, scatter over a few fresh torn basil leaves and additional parmesan if you wish.

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Quick Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

There are times when you want to cook something tasty, but don’t want to slave over the stove making sauces and the like.  This is a good dish that you can make up pretty quickly with the illusion you have been slaving away at it all day.  Just make sure you test for seasoning.  If of course you don’t want to cheat with the bechamel sauce then by all means make you own.  I made it this way, to help a lady who gets in a blind panic making sauces.  She also hates the frozen ready meal options of this dish that are often available.  I agree with her that the frozen ready made taste, is just not the same as a good homemade version!

spinach and ricotta cannelloni

 

Ingredients

500g ricotta cheese
150g spinach leaves, chopped
2tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼tsp nutmeg
6 sheets fresh (not dry) lasagne
500ml shop-bought béchamel sauce (or you can make your own)
50g freshly grated Parmesan – you can use vegetarian variation if you wish.

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Put the ricotta into a bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the spinach, basil and garlic and mix well. Sprinkle with nutmeg and season well with salt and ground black pepper.

Cut each fresh lasagne sheet in half (if the large sheets). Spread 2-3tbsp of the ricotta and spinach mixture down the centre of each then roll into a tube, ensure the edges overlap slightly.

Spread a layer of béchamel sauce over the base of an ovenproof dish Place the cannelloni tubes with the seam-side down, in a single layer on the dish. Pour over the rest of the béchamel sauce and then sprinkle the freshly grated Parmesan over the top. Bake the cannelloni in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

I love to serve this with a crisp green salad.

Chocolate Fondant Puddings

Apologies if you are on a diet, but I am posting this recipe now so that people can practice ready for Valentines.  I mean how could anyone not fall in love when you eat one of these?  Dariole moulds are available from many good cookware suppliers, and of course online.  You could always use greased ramekins too.  Don’t forget to let me see photos of this recipe that you recreate, on my facebook page.

chocolate fondants

 

Ingredients

Butter and cocoa powder to grease 4 dariole moulds
200g of dark chocolate chopped – make sure the dark chocolate is a good quality and has over 70% cocoa solids
100g butter into cubes
100g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs plus 2 extra yolks
50g Plain Flour

Grease and dust your dariole moulds and place in a freezer to keep cool.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and place a heatproof bowl over the top (ensuring the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl), then add the chocolate and butter.  Immediately take the pan off the stove heat so that the steam from the boiled water, heats the bowl so the chocolate and butter melts.  Stir to combine.

Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar into a mixer and whisk until you get a thick mousse.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture carefully, as well as adding a small amount of sifted flour at a time.  Take care with this, as you have just got all that lovely air into the mixture, and you want to retain as much of it as possible.

Pour the mixture into the dariole moulds leaving around 1cm gap at the top.  Place in the fridge for half an hour or longer until needed that day.

Get your oven to the temperature of 200 degrees C.

Remove the fondant’s from the fridge and place on a baking tray.  Cook in the oven for around 13-15 minutes.  Cooking times do vary depending on your oven, so it is always good to give this recipe a trial run if using for a dinner party or special occasion.  That way, you will properly be able to gauge how long you should cook the fondants for.  What you are looking for, is the outside to be well done and risen, and the centre inside to be all yummy and molten.  Once you have taken the fondants out of the oven, just leave them for a couple of minutes, before turning them upside down onto a plate.

Serve immediately as they are, dust with icing sugar if you like and add cream/ice cream.

Creamy Spinach Soup

There are quite a few people feeling run down and under the weather with various illnesses at present.  So with that in mind, I wanted to post a recipe for a soup that will put some good stuff in your immune system.  You don’t have to include the cream if you don’t want to.

creamy spinach soup

 

Ingredients

20g butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
1.3 litres chicken stock
300g spinach
Nutmeg
Juice of ½ a lemon
4 tbsp single cream

Heat the butter in a large sauce pan over a medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook gently for 8 minutes until onions are soft but not brown. Add the garlic and potato cubes and cook, stirring, for a further  2 minutes.

Add the stock, and gradually bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach leaves, and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Purée the soup with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season with some freshly grated nutmeg.

Then, add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the soup back to the simmer and then stir in the cream.

Chicken & Ham Pie

I usually make this recipe using left over chicken, and adding some ham.  You could also use turkey instead of chicken too.

IMG_0772

Ingredients

50g Butter
2 large leeks washed and roughly sliced
3 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp mustard
600g leftover chicken/turkey meat, cut into bite-sized chunks
250g cooked ham off the bone, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon – use 1/2 tbsp if using dried tarragon
200ml single cream
1 free-range egg, beaten for egg wash
Salt and white pepper
Pack of Puff Pastry

Melt the butter in a large non stick pan over a medium heat and add the leeks to the pan. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes, giving the mixture an occasional stir until the leeks are just tender. Remove the lid and sprinkle in the flour over the leeks and stir to mix through. Gradually add in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the mustard, turkey and ham and stir, then add the tarragon and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C

Pour the pie filling into a 1.5 litre pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 5mm thick.  Brush the rim of the pie dish with egg wash, then place the pastry onto the rim and brush it with more egg wash. Make a steam hole in the centre if you have not used a pie funnel.

Bake for 35 minutes on a baking sheet,  and cook until the pastry is risen and golden-brown.