We all love Ikea meatballs, right? Tonight I decided to skip the mash, gravy and lingonberry jam, and go with pasta instead. But what sauce to make..? I made this up (with a smidge of MEATLiquor-inspiration) and it was plate-licking good.
Serves 1 adult, 2 teenagers & 1 child.
- 400g good quality pasta (I used De Cecco miniature penne)
- 23 frozen Ikea meatballs
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- half an onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 fat clove of garlic
- heaped teaspoon of sugar
- squirt of Heinz tomato ketchup
- half a bottle of red wine
- half a Knorr beef stockpot thingy
- 1 tablespoon of plain flour
- half teaspoon each of chilli powder, dried oregano, dried thyme
- salt, pepper
- some fresh basil & parmesan to garnish
Put the oven on – 225 degrees C – for the meatballs.
Finely chop the onion and fry on a low heat in the oil. As it starts to colour, add the garlic, chilli powder, thyme and oregano. Fry for another minute or so, taking care the garlic doesn’t burn. Slowly add the wine and then the beef stock cube. Add a can of tomatoes and a can of water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 or 1o minutes and add the Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, small amount of salt, pepper, sugar. Then add the sieved flour, and when you are happy everything is cooked, blitz with a hand-blender. Check the seasoning, add ketchup to taste. Simmer and reduce for 15 minutes or so while you cook the pasta on the stove and meatballs in the oven.
You should end up with a thick, rich sauce. When the meatballs are cooked, plop them in the sauce pan (hey, I wonder if that’s where the name comes from…) so they soak up that umami-rich loveliness. Dish up a portion of pasta on each plate, add meatballs & sauce on top, garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh basil. EAT.
Bit of a happy experiment – lacking the peanut butter required for a Dead Elvis (Nigella has a healthy version here – healthier than the MEATLiquor book one, at any rate), I decided to make a burger-style bacon sandwich instead. Fry the bacon until it’s cripsy, once flipped add a slice of the cheapest, most-processed cheese you can find to the top of the bacon and leave in the pan until it melts. Place between two slices of thick white bread garnished with Heinz ketchup, French’s American mustard, shredded lettuce plus possibly mayo, sliced tomato and a dill pickle. EAT.
Not, I must admit, the fish. The drink.
I have long held it an unassailable truth that the greatest drink in the world is the Bloody Mary. I have strong views on how it should be made (chiefly: no horseradish, no stick of celery).
But after reading The MEATLiquor Chronicles, that has all changed. I discovered the unholy / holy marriage that occurs when you swap the vodka for gin and add a dash of absinthe. This drink is just indescribably, insanely great. It’s as different from a Bloody Mary as Dr Pepper is from vintage champagne.
They are quite firm in the MEATLiquor book on not over-spicing. Now I agree, but I think even their recipe is a bit over-generous on the Tabasco. So here’s my take. Serves 1 (rather than the 8 given in the book. Though I could probably drink 8).
- 12 cm high glass
- 5 ml absinthe (or more – I think more)
- tomato juice (unspiced)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 scant tsp Tabasco sauce (or less)
- 1 tsp dill pickle juice
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- shake of celery salt
- shake of cayenne pepper
- squeeze of lime juice
- shake of smoked paprika
- half a teaspoon icing sugar
- freshly-ground black pepper
Fill your glass with ice cubes. Pour in and swill round the absinthe. Three-quarter fill the glass with tomato juice. Add all the other ingredients and stir/shake vigorously. DRINK.
The smell of this filling the house on Christmas morning is divine…
- Half a red cabbage
- small onion, cut in quarters
- 5 cloves
- tsp mixed spice
- 1 large apple
- tablespoon dark sugar
- glass of red wine
- vegetable stock
Heat the pan and melt the butter. Add the onion and sliced cabbage. Fry until soft, then add the spices, apple, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer on a very low heat for an hour or two. Heavenly.
SonA wanted one of these monsters with custom bacon tortillas for Christmas Eve breakfast. I didn’t quite have the time (or the stomach) for that, so I simplified…
Makes 3 burritos.
- 1 huge potato (or 3 small ones)
- 1 medium or small onion
- some fresh chillis
- half a red pepper, diced
- 3 eggs
- 3 sausages of choice
- 5 rashers of bacon
- salt, pepper
- olive oil
- smoked paprika
- chilli sauces of choice
- 200g grated cheddar cheese
- 3 tortillas / wraps
Put the grill on, grill the sausages and bacon. Remove the bacon when crispy.
Peel and grate the potato and onion – I used a food processor and picked the gratings out by hand to leave the juice out. Fry the potato and onion in a big pan. If it sticks and goes brown in places, so much the better. Add the diced red pepper, fresh chilli, salt, pepper, some smoked paprika. After about 10 minutes, chop the crispy bacon into chunks and add to the pan, stir. Crack in 3 eggs and mix, stirring until the egg is cooked. Then add the cheese and stir until melted.
Now get your 3 tortillas and place a cooked sausage in the middle of each. Surround the sausage with the mixture from the pan, and add your chilli sauce of choice at this point (we like the Wahaca ones). Fold your burrito and quickly grill them in the same tray you cooked the bacon and sausage in.
I’d have taken a better photo, but they didn’t hang around long enough. Not quite as epic as Epic Meal Time’s, but a whole lot quicker and easier. And so, so tasty. We could all have eaten another one…
A welcome addition to Lee High Road in Lewisham, London SE13: a new upmarket burger place called RoxBurger.
It’s small but nicely-decorated inside, with a ‘lounge’ upstairs that you can use for larger groups. The menu is pretty short, but shakes and puddings are on their way, as is an alcohol licence in a couple of weeks.
We had 2 RoxClassic burgers and a Veggie Burger. All were very good. You have a choice of chicken or beef for the meat burgers – we had beef – and we were asked how we wanted them cooked, opting for medium-rare. The bun was a thick, soft, sweet brioche one and the filling was topped off with creamy avocado. The burgers were served in baskets wrapped in plain greaseproof paper for easy eating, with cutlery, ketchup & mustard on the tables – not that I needed either. The burger was not quite as awesome as a Dead Hippy from MeatMarket, but darn close. And RoxBurger has the advantage of being on our doorstep.
Drinks were served in matching tall jars (shades of MeatLiquor), Cokes from bottles with ice & lime. Unlike MeatLiquor, being in a shop with large windows I didn’t need to use my phone’s torch to read the menu. The regular fries were quite skinny and skin-on, and tasty. The ‘Rox Fries’ (seasoned with dried oregano and parmesan cheese) were a bit too heavy on the oregano for my taste – I’ll stick with the regular ones next time.
£11 a head wasn’t the cheapest burger & fries I’ve ever had, but it was delicious, filling food – more than we could eat. We won’t be needing supper. And we’ll be back.
This was perfect meal for a wet and not-at-all warm half term supper. Adapted from Jamie at Home.
Serves 4 hungry young hippos.
- 1kg pork shoulder, skin-on, seasoned with salt & pepper
- 1 or 2 onions, thinly sliced
- some fresh chillies
- 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tsp dried oregano and/or marjoram
- 2 red, orange or yellow peppers
- 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- rice, soured cream, wraps to serve
Heat the oven to 180C. Fry the pork, fat-side down, in some olive oil in an 0ven-proof casserole for about 15 minutes. When the fat has rendered a bit, put the pork to one side and fry the onions, chilli, paprika, fennel seeds, herbs and peppers for about 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar and pop the pork back in. Top up with water and put in the oven for an hour or two, until the pork is cooked and pulls apart in tender strands.
Serve with rice and / or wraps and soured cream. Delicious.
Just made the most delicious chicken to go with a small Middle Eastern medley… made with some spices from Jerusalem.
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 2 or 3 tsp of zatar (a mix of thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp seasalt
- 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cranberry jelly (don’t ask why – it just worked!)
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp agave nectar, or other sweetening agent
- 1/4 onion
Pound the garlic and salt into a paste and add all the other ingredients. Mush up into a thick gloopy paste, which you then smother over the chicken meat. Leave it marinade for as long as you can, then fry in olive oil on a high heat to begin with with a quarter onion cut into thick slices. Reduce the heat and turn the chicken to ensure it is cooked all the way through.
We had this with warmed pitta bread, salad, couscous, home-made hummus and falafels. Utterly divine.
This is adapted from a recipe in Rick Stein’s Fruits of the Sea – only we didn’t have conger eel or tamarind – though if Waitrose do a line of ‘ESSENTIAL conger eel’, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. This is a delicious, quick, easy, economical meal that helps keep hunger at bay and the wolf from the door.
- 2 Sainsbury’s Basics frozen white fish fillets, defrosted and chopped into large chunks
- Optional: handful of defrosted frozen prawns
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 2 fresh chillies
- small (160ml Waitrose Essentials) tin of coconut cream
- 3 cloves of garlic
- tin or carton of Basics chopped tomatoes
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
- small handful of fresh coriander
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
To make the paste, whizz up in a blender the chillies, ground coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric & garlic.
Fry the onions and red peppers in some oil, add the paste – fry for a bit more so the spices seep into the oil, then add the tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, add the fish and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Add some chopped fresh coriander at the end, and serve with boiled basmati rice. Delicious and warming on a dark and stormy winter’s night waiting for Sherlock to come on TV.
I’d have taken a photo, but it didn’t hang around long enough.
Adapted from Quick & Healthy Dinners Guardian leaflet by Marcus Wareing.
- lamb, cut into 2cm chunks, fat trimmed off
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- garlic clove, crushed & chopped
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- finely chopped fresh rosemary
- veg oil
- mixed salad leaves
- 200g yoghurt
- chopped mint
- half a cucumber, peeled & grated
- salt & pepper
- plain tortilla wraps or flat breads
Marinade the lamb chunks in the soy sauce, cumin, garlic, golden syrup & rosemary. Mix yoghurt with mint & cucumber – the original recipe says to de-seed the cucumber, but by the time you’ve peeled, de-seeded and grated a cucumber, you’re frankly not left with much. Life’s too short to de-seed cucumbers. What was it Dr Johnson said…?
Fry the lamb chunks in vegetable oil until cooked – 10 minutes perhaps. Set aside, clean the pan with a chunk of bread. Eat the bread. Nom. Then warm some tortilla wraps or flatbreads in the pan, fill with lamb, salad & yoghurt dressing. Simple and delicious.