Sunday, 4 November 2012

Meatballs nothing like mama used to make....

...unless your mama was Sicilian, then these should be real home cooking.

I love Italian, but meatballs and spaghetti rarely feature on our table. Meatballs I consider too boring, and spaghetti is simply too annoying, with all it's trying to escape everywhere and covering the surrounding room with sauce. But when I do make meatballs, it just has to be spaghetti, the huge surface area means I get so much more sauce than pasta for a stronger tomato hit.

I stumbled across this recently, and immediately knew I wanted to make them. Meatballs are so cost effective, but this just breathes new life into an old favourite. I made them for He Who Must Be Fed, and my parental bottomless pit, aka my dad. My dad is a hard one to cook for as his opinions on food are usually based on solidity, he's very wary of soup but he once described my meatloaf as a nuclear doorstop, and quickly had to explain that was a good thing, very dense meat = great dinner in his book.

I was thrilled when he came to me afterwards and said "those meatballs, best I ever had, adding the raisins was a stroke of genius". I grinned from ear to ear while explaining I can't really take the credit, but I agree with him, these have a lot more flavour than the usual recipes.

Pinenuts don't come cheap at around £1.99 a bag, and they really add on the calories. You could miss them out if you prefer, although I like the bite and texture they add so I use a small amount in the recipe - it could easily be doubled if calories are no object. I use a mix of beef and pork mince to lower calories while keeping them incredibly moist. This is a great batch cook recipe, and the meatballs can be frozen cooked or uncooked - I freeze the mince in batches


500g beef mince
500g pork mince
6 slices of brown bread, torn and soaked in water for 15 minutes.
100g raisins
50g pinenuts
1 egg
zest of a lemon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Serves: 8
Cost per portion: £1.09
Nutrition: 313 calories, 21g carbs, 28g protein

Drain the bread and squeeze out any excess water.

Add all the ingredients except the oil to a large bowl, mix together with your hands.

Roll the mix into small balls, lay on a plate until ready to cook. You can freeze any mince at this point if required.

Heat the oil in a pan, when hot add the meatballs, cook over a medium heat for around 5 minutes, then turn. It will take approximately 15 mins to cook through.

Serve with your favourite tomato sauce poured over the top, and spaghetti or mash underneath.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Brownie Batter Pancakes

Hello! Did you miss me? Or are you just grateful for the break after all that cake? Well, I'm back with ever more indulgence - but real, healthy food will come by the end of the week, I promise.

I made these up one Sunday morning when I was in a particularly cheery mood, and decided to treat He Who Must Be Fed. I've adjusted the recipe slightly from the one I made to give a more intense chocolate hit, but with fewer calories.


175g self-raising flour
25g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
300ml milk
25g butter, melted
100g chocolate chips or chunks (I use all dark, but a mix of dark milk and white would be gorgeous too)
sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking
golden syrup, maple syrup, whipped cream or berries to serve

Serves: 4-6
Cost per portion: £0.38
Nutrition (based on 6 servings): 179 calories, 24g carbs, 5g protein

Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.

Beat the egg with the milk, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk to make a thick smooth batter.

Beat in the melted butter, and stir in the chocolate chips.

Heat a teaspoon of oil or small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across, your pan will make three or four pancakes at a time.

Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes. The pancakes should turn easily when cooked.

Serve with syrup, cream or strawberries.