Thursday, 31 October 2013

Beef & Lamb Meatballs with Broad Beans

OK, last one of these recipes from this fantastic book Jerusalem and it's a real winner. I normally try not to post too much cooking that isn't mostly, if not entirely, my own - but these were just the best damn meatballs I've ever had. And speaking as the Fatboy that I am, lord knows that I've had one or two meatballs in my time. This is a great dish for a dinner party, or for date night...basically you should cook this for anyone that you're trying to impress. It's delicious and it's simple, and it's full of green things that are sure to satisfy the health-conscious amongst you. Although if that is your thing you might just be on the wrong blog...
The best meatballs all have two or more different kinds of meats. The Italians love a good beef/pork combo and up until recently those loveable Swedes over in IKEA even threw a bit of horse into the mix (full disclosure, I tried the 'new' meatball recipe recently: not as good - I say bring back the horsies). This recipe actually calls for a mix of beef (about 300g) and lamb (150g), and they just work beautifully together. Combine the meat with a diced red onion, 120g breadcrumbs, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1tbsp each of cumin and baharat spice mix, 2 tsp of chopped capers and 1 beaten egg.
Throw in a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper, then mix in 2 tbsp each of chopped parsley, mint and coriander. The recipe calls for the same of dill, but dill's on a very short list of foodstuffs I despise, so not gonna go there. If you're gonna buy lots of fresh herbs and you want to make sure they keep for a while in the fridge, wrap them in damp kitchen towel and then make sure they're sealed tight in a bag or tupperware. Look how helpful I can be when I feel like it.
Form into balls that are as big or as small as you and your mouth can handle - mine were roughly the size of golf balls. Tasty, meaty golf balls. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, then sear your meatballs over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until they're brown all over.
Please would everyone just take a moment to look at the smallest spring onion I have ever seen.
And back to the meatballs. Once they've been fried off, remove them from the heat and set aside. Next turn your attention to your broad beans - a foodstuff that used to be on said list, but has since progressed onto my (much longer) list of favourite foodstuffs. A rare feat indeed. Stick 350g of broad beans - either fresh or frozen - in a pot of heavily salted, boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water then remove the skins from about half of the beans. Heat some olive oil in the same pan that you seared the meatballs in then add 4 whole thyme sprigs 6 sliced garlic cloves (LOTSA garlic up in here), and 8 sliced spring onions (world's smallest or otherwise). Add the unshelled broad beans, 1 1/2tbsp of lemon juice, 80ml chicken stock and a bit more S&P. Cover the pan and let it all simmer away on a low heat for 10 mins.
Return the meatballs to the pan, add another 420ml of stock, cover again and leave to simmer for another 30mins or so. These meatballs are so moist and juicy, they literally drink all of this herby stock. It's a real treat. Just before you're ready to serve add the remaining broad beans, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and another 1/2 tbsp of each of the herbs to freshen it all up a bit. Try and tell me it doesn't get any better than that. Now all of this writing has made me hungry. I'm off to the chippy.

Ingredients
olive oil
350g broad beans, fresh or frozen
4 sprigs of thyme
8 garlic cloves
8 spring onions
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
500ml chicken stock
300g beef mince
150g lamb mince
1 red onion
120g breadcrumbs
2 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 1/2 tbsp fresh mint
2 1/2 tbsp fresh coriander
1 tbsp baharat spice mix
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp capers
1 egg

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tabbouleh

Have you ever come across a dish, or a combination of flavours and thought to yourself - 'if I could only eat that one thing for the rest of my life, I think I'd be OK'? For me, tabbouleh is absolutely one of those dishes. Loaded with fresh herbs and Middle Eastern spices it really does taste fantastic, and it sorta feels like it's doing you some good at the same time, so that's a bonus. Pile it high on a pita or just eat it with a fork, it's your call. Just make it - your life will be much better if you do.
This is one of those brilliant, cut-everything-small-and-mix-it-together-and-that's-all-she-wrote kinda recipes. Pure, unadulterated flavour. You love it. Two big vine tomatoes and a shallot. Dice them up.
Now tabbouleh is traditionally made with bulgar wheat, but as my girlfriend has gone gluten and wheat-free that one was off the menu. I made mine using millet grain, which tastes the same and has a very similar texture - let's just pretend it's the same thing. Either/or, cook about 50g according to the instructions on the packet and leave to cool, then mix with the tomatoes and shallots. Add a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and give it a good old mix.
There's nothing better than a big bunch of fresh herbs, and this - my friends - is a big bunch of fresh herbs. Take about two handfuls of parsley and about half as much of fresh mint and, using a super-sharp knife, shred into tiny...shreds. Add it to your bowl and mix it up s'more.
This stuff, baharat, is great. It's an aromatic and peppery spice mix used in Middle Eastern inspired cooking (see what I did there?). Think Christmassy flavours - nutmeg and cinnamon, allspice and cloves, with a hit of chilli for good measure. I got this as a gift, but I'm willing to guess you can pick it up at any decent supermarket. Add a teaspoon of baharat and a couple teaspoons of allspice to your bowl, then bring the whole mixture together with about 100ml of good olive oil. Season with a little bit of S and a little bit of P for good measure.
And that's your tabbouleh done. Fresh, and packed full of flavour - this stuff is the bomb. And even though it more or less goes against every damn thing I stand for, it's probably pretty good for you too. Which just means you can go ahead and eat twice as much. Right? Right.

Ingredients

50g bulgar wheat/millet grain
2 vine tomatoes
1 shallot
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 handfuls fresh parsley
1 handful fresh mint
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp baharat
100ml olive oil
S&P

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Quick and simple hummus

I've been eating a lot of chickpeas lately. I guess I probably have Tunisia to thank for that, seeing as over there you'll struggle to find a starter, main, or even dessert that doesn't contain heaps of the stuff. But that's OK you know. They're delicious, they're versatile and they're kinda-good-for-you-ish. And there's no better way to enjoy them than blitzed up into a big bowl of hummus. Forget the store-bought rubbish, this is the real stuff - give it a go.
The next few posts are going to have a very noticeable theme. Last Christmas my fiancee's parents bought me this fantastic cookbook - Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi - which is full of wonderful recipes and scenes from the Middle East and, having just come back from there myself, it's safe to say I've got the itch. This book is full of the inspiration I needed to take me right back there - if only it could actually take me back to 11am beers by the side of the pool...
A tin of chickpeas. Hardly traditional but the recipe is 'quick and simple' and so that's what it's gonna be. Drain and blitz in a food processor, then add 3 heaped spoonfuls of tahini, a clove of chopped garlic, a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix in a splash of cold water to bring it all together and mix until smooth-ish, but lumpy-ish. If you get me.
And that's it, quick and simple enough for you? Finish it off with a drop of olive oil and stir through a teaspoonful of harissa or chilli paste. Oh and I bloody love capers, so some of them as well. Serve with pitas. I'm out.

Ingredients

1 tin chickpeas
3 tbsps tahini
3 tbsps lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tsp cumin
water
olive oil, harissa, capers