Thursday, 18 October 2012

Polpette - Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Homemade meatballs and homemade pasta

A few years ago Rosa Mitchell joined the company where I worked to establish a restaurant during the day and then the  kitchen was used as a cooking school in the evening.  We would often enjoy her homemade food at lunchtime and she would cater for our Board meetings where she shared the love of her Sicilian cooking. I am happy to say I have a  signed copy of her book which I love, called My Cousin Rosa.  We have cooked many things from this book and she has since added a couple more to her collection. One of my favourite recipes from this book is Polpette or meatballs in tomato sauce.

I know what you are thinking, how different can meatballs be, meatballs are meatballs, everyone can make them, but these meatballs and sauce are so good I have made them again and again.

I have altered the meatball mix slightly by reducing the amount of breadcrumbs but this still feeds a large family easily, and is great when you are feeding my hungry hoards.

1kg coarsely minced topside beef
500g minced pork
160g fresh white breadcrumbs(I have used less than this)
150g grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
4 eggs
185 ml olive oil
2 onions chinely chopped
2.5kg tinned Italian chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves

How to do it
Mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, parsley and season with salt and pepper  - use your hands for this.
Add 3 lightly beaten eggs and mix again
The miture should come together, if it feels too dry add a little of the 4th egg but don't make it too wet or the meatballs will fall apart.
Start making your balls. The size is up to you, but roll firmly so they do not fall apart.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan that is large enough to later hold all the meatballs.
Fry the onions until soft, then add the tomatoes and cook over a low heat, siring occasionally.
Heat the rest of the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add some of the meatballs, don't overcrowd.  Brown on all sides until golden.
When browned add them to the tomato sauce pan.
When all the meatballs are added to the sauce, add the bay leaves, season and cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
This serves at least 6 very generously.
These freeze well.

Rosa says in an Italian home this would make two meals: the sauce would be served with pasta and the meatballs eaten as a main course with salad. To be honest I could eat them any way them come.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Chinese Chews

How often do we make cakes and things from other bloggers? - I know I admire lots, often comment and "pin" them, but only sometimes do they actually make it to the table. Recently I have made several delicious treats recommended by other blogger and this was the case when I saw these Chinese Chews over at Hotly Spiced.  Many years ago my mother-in-law used to make these (or a variation of) which were "the man's" favourites (he has requested them several times) - it has taken me all this time to get around to making them.

I had a little helper on Sunday afternoon and pottering in the kitchen they were the perfect thing to make  to while away a Sunday afternoon. I did have to scrounge around in the cupboard to find all the dried fruit bits and pieces - there were a few half full packets of stuff twisted tightly and held in place with a peg - you know the type, the ones that seem to get pushed to the back and forgotten about (but I think any dried variations would do at a pinch).

When the man returned from a hard day out on the golf course, he inspected the afternoon's work keenly - he looked at the squares still on the rack cooling, he looked back at me questioningly - surely not his face said.  He tested them immediately and exclaimed CHINESE CHEWS! "They taste just like mum used to make -  how wonderful.  So nice to be appreciated. His Mother's Chinese Chews apparently were the talk of the town and were very well travelled. They were taken to badminton tournaments all around Victoria.  He tells me as soon as the cake tin was opened in the badminton hall and offered around they would be gone in a minute and you had to be double quick to get one or you would miss out.

So here are the ingredients - mine looked a little different to Hotly Spiced but I am sure they tasted just as good.

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
75g (3 oz) melted butter
1 tspn vanilla essence
1/8 tspn salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tspn baking powder
3/4 cup dried dates chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup crystalised ginger, chopped
1/2 cup rolled oats
I had a good helper to do the chopping


and still more chopping....

And Adding the dried dates

And to do all the stirring

And of course

the spoon was just

too too tempting 

And the smell of those cooked chews .......
How to do it

I used my tupperware slice tray that needs no greasing but if you have a normal tray grease thoroughly.
  • Beat eggs and sugar together and then add melted butter and vanilla essence
  • In another bowl gently mix the dry ingredients and then add all the wet ingredients to it and mix 
  • Mix in the fruit and nuts
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 - 40 minutes test with a skewer (if it comes out clean it is cooked). 
  • Cut into squares while still hot.
I am entering this in Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipes No. 21- Store cupboard finds as my dates only saw the light of day to join in for this challenge.