Meatballs in Tomato Sauce… and Cake!

Last Sunday I spent a few hours looking through old cookbooks in my attic. A collection that is busting out of its seams, perhaps even a slight addiction. Some of those cookbooks have treasured recipes that I have made countless of times for my family and have since become favorites. A good example is Feast by Nigella Lawson. No birthday goes by without her old-fashioned chocolate cake. And what would Halloween be without slime soup or blood-and-guts potatoes? Nigella’s recipes (especially the ones found in her first books) bring back lots of fond memories.
Looking through Nigella Bites, I was reminded of her wonderful meatball recipe and decided I wanted to let it inspire me to make a nice Sunday evening meal. For some reason, I was craving meatballs with rice, smothered with thick, hearty tomato sauce. The results were absolutely delightful, so I’m sharing the recipe with you today.
And because no Sunday dinner would be complete without dessert, I decided to make her walnut coffee cake (found in Kitchen). Granted, it calls for an exorbitant amount of butter, but oh man was it delicious!

cake

Doesn’t it look good? It was gone in three days…

Now on to that recipe! PS: The tomato sauce is probably one of the best tomato sauces EVER. And no, not sponsored at all. For those in the Netherlands, the sauce is available at Albert Heijn.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Serves 3
meatballsintomatosauce

  • 500g ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • freshly-cracked pepper
  • 3 tbsps breadcrumbs

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • Himalayan salt
  • freshly-cracked pepper
  • 1 bottle (330ml) Campisi Salsa Pronta di Pomodoro
  • 165ml water
  • 165ml milk
  • rice, to serve
  • chopped parsley, to garnish

Knead all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and shape into 9 meatballs. Refrigerate for 1 hour. To make the sauce, heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the milk) and cook for 5 minutes. NOTE: put the water in the bottle and shake to get out every bit! Stir in the milk and cook for a minute or so. Drop in the meatballs (you do not have to brown them), place a lid on the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the meatballs over gently, place the lid back on the pan, this time slightly ajar, and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the sauce to cook for three more minutes or so. Serve the meatballs with rice and sprinkle with parsley.

Rosé Fricassée

2rosé fricasséeBoy, it sure is cold out there! The kind of chill that cuts right through even the thickest of coats and leaves you wishing you could hibernate until spring, in front of the fire and with endless mugs of hot chocolate.
I am always in awe of people who start diets during the month of January. How can you live on cold salads and grilled chicken when the only thing your body screams is “FEED ME COMFORT FOOD!!” Not for me. Well, I’ve never believed in making new year’s resolutions to begin with. I think it’s only setting yourself up for failure.
Much more sensible to eat according to the seasons, if you ask me — and the winter season demands hearty food! Those who want the best of both worlds can make the following recipe. My rosé fricassée is warming enough to satisfy any winter craving, yet light enough if served with mashed cauliflower instead of the recommended mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. I’d stick with the last two though, if I were you.
Enjoy!

Rosé Fricassée
Serves 4

  • knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp mild olive oil
  • 4 chicken quarters
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly grated pepper
  • 6 shallots, quartered
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 300ml rosé wine
  • 325ml strong chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 250g white mushrooms, quartered

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed casserole and brown the chicken on both sides, seasoning it well. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, place on a dish and cover with foil. Carefully drain most of the fat. Lower the heat, add the shallots and flour and stir while cooking for about 2 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the wine, leaving it to bubble for a few minutes. Now also add in the stock. Stir in the mustard and drop in the bouquet garni. Return the chicken to the pan, adding any juices left on the plate. Lower the heat, place the lid on the pan, and cook the chicken for 30-35 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook with the lid slightly ajar for an additional ten minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes, thick egg noodles or garlicky cauliflower purée.

 

Porc en Croute

2 porc en crouteFor some reason, wrapping just about anything in puff pastry produces festive results worthy of an elegant, well-dressed dinner table. A piece of salmon, an apple, cheese or a tenderloin of beef or pork suddenly become the center of attention. And rightly so. The delicate puff pasty envelops the food in a rich, buttery blanket of goodness that is hard to resist.

My porc en croute is a wonderful dish to cook on weekends or special occasions. You will want to serve it with fresh seasonal vegetables. Wilted spinach would be great and in the springtime, peas or grilled asparagus are the perfect choice. This is definitely a recipe to keep in mind for Easter!


Porc en croute
Serves 4-6
1porc en croute

  • 600g pork tendorloin
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly-cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsps mild olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • a 13x 11cm piece of puff pastry
  • 4 slices raw ham
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 ½ tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 small egg, whisked, for glazing

Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and brown the meat on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the pan, place on a plate and immediately sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence on all sides. Leave the meat to cool for at least ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 190 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the puff pastry on a floured work surface and line the middle with the ham, followed by 5 of the sage leaves. Brush the cooled tenderloin with the mustard on all sides and place on the ham and sage. Place the rest of the sage leaves on top of the meat. Fold the pastry on all sides to form a neat parcel. Flip it over onto the baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with the whisked egg. Using a sharp knife, score the pastry in a criss-cross pattern. Make a few air holes using the tip of your knife. Bake the porc en croute for 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before carving.

Gâteau au Yaourt

gateauauyaourtIn France, the gâteau au yaourt is a true classic and part of the repertoire of all home cooks. There’s a wonderful simplicity about this cake. Even children and the most novice of cooks can make it with excellent results. All of the main ingredients are weighed with a pot of yogurt, hence the name. But the charm of this beautiful yogurt cake is in its tender crumb and versatility. You can flavor it with citrus zest, stir in some fruit or serve it with Nutella or jam. A Twitter friend, Jeremie, suggested stirring in blackberries, assuring me it would be a “taste of heaven”.
Though the cake is suitable for almost all occasions, I like to serve it with tea, on pretty plates with a dollop of  crème fraîche, fresh strawberries and perhaps a few shavings of dark chocolate.
By the way, you can replace the yogurt with sour cream, Greek yogurt or even crème fraîche. All would work beautifully in this cake.
Happy weekend and enjoy!

Note: Check the 20 minutes into the baking time to make sure the cake is not getting to brown. Should that be the case, cover with aluminum foil.

Gâteau au Yaourt
Serves 8

  • 1 pot of yogurt (125 g)
  • 2 pots of all-purpose flour
  • 2 pots of sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ pot sunflower oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 organic lemon

Preheat oven to 190° C. Lightly grease a 20 cm springform tin, and dust the sides with flour. In a large bowl whisk all of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and the batter is smooth and satiny. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack before unmolding.

 

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