Meatballs

Berlin style beef balls

Beefballs

A couple of weekends ago I went on a city break to Berlin with a female friend and without my husband or children. I have not been away by myself for years and it was a real treat. We spent most of the time eating, drinking and wandering aimlessly around the city.

We ate at the trendy, vegetarian, Michelin starred Cookies Cream, had a leisurely, retro brunch in the leafy Prenzlauerberg District and drank mind-blowingly strong coffee at uber-cool The Barn. However it was the Berlin beef balls, bought from a small stall in Markthalle Neun, in the Kreuzberg District that was my fondest food memory.

Once home, I decided to copy the idea – helped by the promo card which kindly indicated the ingredients in each type of ball. I just needed a little help from google translate.

Image result for Berlin beef balls

They were fun (albeit time consuming) to make. Once cooked they all looked pretty much the same on the outside so we played an exciting game of meatball roulette at dinner which my son absolutely loved. His favourite were the ‘Bangkok’ but I suspect that’s because he enjoyed saying the ‘kok‘ part exaggeratedly in an attempt to be rude (he is 8 and that is the level of his humour).

In the market hall they were rather more orderly, putting four balls of each kind on a skewer and serving with thin slices of dense brown bread and lashings of butter.

Beef balls (four ways)

Makes 40 small beef balls (10 of each flavour).

Take 1kg of good quality beef mince and divide into four portions of 250g each.

Add the ingredients to each portion according to the lists below.

Mix all the ingredients together well with your hands and roll into 10 small meatballs. I find that dampening  your hands first with a little water helps to stop the mixture sticking to them.

Heat a tiny amount of oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs over a medium heat until they are a dark brown colour. Take your time here to make sure that they are browned well all over. The process will take around 10-15 minutes.

You will need two frying pans for this amount, or you can keep one batch warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

The Berlin

  • ½ a small onion finely chopped or grated
  • A heaped teaspoon of mustard (probably should be German but I used English)
  • A tablespoon of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • A good pinch of salt and pepper

The Bologna

  • 1 heaped teaspoon of tomato puree
  • A handful of chopped fresh basil (do not use dried, leave out if this is all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped (or use dried if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, chopped (or use dried if you like)
  • ¼ of a teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 small clove of garlic, chopped
  • A good pinch of salt and pepper

The Bangalore

  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon of paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Cloves (I used four whole ones and ground them in a pestle and mortar), or use around 1/8 teaspoon of already ground
  • A good pinch of salt

The Bangkok

  • 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass (to prepare, chop off the root and the green top, bash with a rolling pin to release the oils and then finely chop – you should end up with a heaped teaspoon of chopped lemon grass)
  • A handful of fresh coriander (stalks and leaves) finely chopped
  • 10g (a thumb sized piece) of fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • ½ a chili (red or green), finely chopped
  • A good pinch of salt
Beefballscookedx

Beef Ball Roulette

Berlin beef balls Zoe

The joy of a lunchtime beer and no responsibilities!

 

 

 

Pork meatballs with grapes and a whole roasted cauliflower

meatballs with grapes

You can never have too many meatball recipes in your culinary repertoire and this one which uses sweet black grapes in a sauce to accompany a nutty pork meatball is wonderful.

The flavours are very Middle Eastern and although I used to be sniffy about fruit in savoury dishes my more mature self is starting to enjoy the combination.

The recipe is from the ‘Good Carbs Cookbook’ which I’ve already mentioned on this blog. My husband Ben agreed that the dish was tasty but then asked where the carbs were? Like Ben, I always thought that grapes were low in carbohydrates, but a quick google search suggests that they are one of the highest carb fruits there are, alongside bananas. Not that I care too much about that.

I accompanied the meatballs with a whole roasted cauliflower using a recipe from the same cookbook. I couldn’t believe that I had not tried this before – it was incredibly delicious and so very easy. The nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower went perfectly with the sweetness of the meatball dish but I think it would also make a great addition to any standard roast dinner.

Pork meatballs with grapes

For the meatballs

  • 600g of minced pork
  • 2 shallots or small onions, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of hazelnuts, crushed with a pestle and mortar or a sharp knife
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • A little plain flour to coat

For the sauce

  • 100g of sultanas
  • 150ml of freshly brewed black tea
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 270g of black seedless grapes (cut in half if they are large)
  • 200ml of chicken stock
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

To make the meatballs put the pork mince, half the chopped onion/shallot, garlic and hazelnuts in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to your own personal taste. I like a lot of seasoning but you may not.

Form the mixture into balls a bit smaller than golf ball size. Coat lightly with plain flour.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Then brown the meatballs until a dark golden colour on all sides. This will take around 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining onion/shallot. Put a lid on and leave to soften for a couple of minutes. Then add the sultanas with the tea, the stock and the grapes.

Simmer gently without a lid for 10 minutes, there is no need to stir. The sauce will reduce and thicken during this time.

Scatter with fresh, chopped parsley and serve.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

whole baked cauliflower

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon and a good pinch of sea salt
  • 60 ml of olive oil

Set your oven to 220oC.

Trim away the green leaves of the cauliflower and chop off the bottom so that it stands up straight.

Take a pan large enough to fit in all the cauliflower and fill it with water until it comes to ¾ of the way up the cauliflower. Add a teaspoon of salt, put a lid on and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down to a rolling simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Drain well.

Line a baking tin with baking parchment. Put the cauliflower in the middle and drizzle over the olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt flakes.

Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.

Meatballs with brown ale gravy

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I made these last week and they were fantastic – comforting and homely with a good old-fashioned meatball taste (more school dinner or granny’s kitchen than IKEA). Ben said they tasted just like faggots but I disagreed (there is no offal involved for starters, which is good because I hate offal). Everyone in our house loved them and I will definitely be making them again.

I recently began a subscription to Honest Brew beer delivery service. The idea behind it being that I should drink LESS but BETTER beer. It’s expensive (£36 a month for 12 beers, which I have to share with Ben!) but I drink less so it sort of evens itself out. I get very excited when the delivery arrives (sad, I know). Aside from interesting tasting beers I take a huge amount of pleasure in the beautifully designed beer labels – the creative collaboration between illustrators and craft beer makers is a truly wonderful thing indeed.

I used this tasty little number from Siren Craft Brew for the beer gravy with my meatballs.

beerlabel.jpg

Tom Kerridge’s pork meatballs in brown ale gravy

Makes 24 meatballs

For the meatballs

  • 600g of good quality minced pork
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 100g of dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of English mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dried sage (I used fresh because this was all I had)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 egg

For the gravy

  • 2 shallots or small onions, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 300ml of brown ale
  • 500ml of chicken stock (homemade is best but readymade is fine)

Fry the diced onion gently in a little oil until soft (about 10 minutes) and leave to cool (I missed this bit by accident and added it to the meatball mix raw – the results were still good).

In a large bowl add all the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands. The more you mix the better the meatballs will hold together. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight (or for at least an hour).

Divide the mixture into quarters and then divide each quarter into six and roll each portion into a ball so you have 24 meatballs. Put them on a plate and cover and chill again for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Fry the meatballs in a little vegetable oil until well browned on all sides. They do not need to be cooked all the way through. Put them into an oven proof serving dish.

Turn on the oven to 190oC.

To make the gravy, put the onion, garlic, rosemary and 250ml of beer in a saucepan. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and almost all the beer has evaporated. Add the stock and reduce by about a third.

Pour the gravy through a sieve over the meatballs and bake them (uncovered) in the oven for 20 minutes until the gravy has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

To finish pour in the remaining beer, sprinkle over some fresh sage (or I used parsley) and give everything a good stir. I thought it sounded strange to add ‘raw’ beer to the mix at the end but trust me it really does work.

Tom serves his meatballs with buttered peas and mushrooms. I served mine with homemade potato wedges (I  really wanted oven chips). But they would also be good with mash, rice, spaghetti – pretty much anything really.

meatballswithchips

Ikea style meatballs with cream sauce

Ikea style meatballs

I love Ikea design but all that chipboard and self-assembly drives me slightly crazy. There’s nowhere better if you’re setting up home for the first time but I’m old enough now to realise it pays to save up and invest in furniture that lasts.

Still there are some things that make a trip to Ikea worthwhile. Where else can you buy 100 tea lights for £1.75 for example? But the main reason we go these days is to eat in the café. My husband Ben hates Ikea so much (mainly because it’s always heaving at our nearest one in Eastwood) but he can be persuaded if I mention the word ‘meatballs’.

I’ve been experimenting with recipes so that I can make Ikea style meatballs at home and I think this is a pretty good match. It’s an amalgamation of several online recipes the main one being by Celia Barbour for the New York Times.

When I told my butcher what I was cooking he reminded me of the Ikea meatball/horsemeat scandal, so at least if you make your own you don’t have to worry about that. Although it does mean that when I run out of tea lights I don’t have an excuse to drag my husband to Ikea any more.

Ikea style meatballs

Makes about 50 small meatballs

  • 180ml of whole milk
  • 3 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • A large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 2½ teaspoons of allspice
  • 1 pound of lean steak mince
  • 1 pound of pork mince
  • 180ml of beef stock
  • 120ml of double cream
  • Some flour
  • Some oil

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until just steaming. Remove from the heat and add the bread. Press the bread down so that it absorbs the milk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the parsley, onion, egg, salt, white and black pepper and allspice. Give it a good mix and then add the meat and milk-soaked bread. Mix everything up well with your hands.

With damp hands roll the meat mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches wide and coat lightly with flour.

Add the beef stock to a large casserole dish with a lid and put on a very low heat on the hob.

Fry the meatballs in batches in a frying pan with a little oil over a medium heat until they are well browned on all sides. They do not need to cook through at this stage. Once they are cooked add them to the casserole dish. When all the meatballs are browned put a lid on the casserole dish and gently simmer the meatballs in the stock for 20 to 30 minutes to cook through, stirring gently occasionally.

Before serving add the cream and heat until just warmed.

For that truly authentic Ikea café experience serve with oven chips and cranberry or lingonberry sauce.

Of, if you’re more classy/healthy, serve with small boiled potatoes.

Ikea style meatballs with chips