Finally, I found a name for my blog. I’ve been thinking about starting this for months and months, but I hit a mental block when it came to choosing a name. I wanted something catchy, then I wanted something that would reflect my bilingual/bicultural background (Greek-English in case you’re wondering), then I wanted something catchy, then I wanted a food-pairing name like “sugar & spice” or “honey & thyme”… then I wanted something catchy. Then I gave up. I thought it would come to me. It didn’t. Today, I thought right, be proactive. So I turned to my buddy Mr. Google and just typed stuff in the magic box. Somehow this brought me to a nursery rhyme site and I got the bright idea to check food nursery rhymes. I was just about ready to name my blog Little Miss Muffet, when my eyes fell on the dreaded words… “On Top of Spaghetti”! The trembling started and I quickly grabbed the mouse to get away as fast as possible from the nightmare. Ok, I’m probably not making any sense right now; bear with me. When I was little, one of my aunties in England use to sing this to me. I hated it. It scared and depressed me, and made me cry. This, however, seemed to amuse certain members of my family! After all, it’s a song about meatballs, they were just teasing me (right?). Anyway for years since, whenever I’d hear the first few words I’d clasp my hands over my ears so hard I’d nearly squash my head flat. But today I thought this was a sign, an omen of some kind. Today I am meant to forgive the idiot who sneezed, and stop mourning over the loss of the poor defenseless meatball, whose life was so cruelly cut short. So I am facing my fear and in tribute, I am naming my blog after this tragic story.
And now, before you start recommending places with comfy couches (if you’ve even read this far), I’ll move swiftly on… This blog will be filled with recipes. Most of them will be other people’s, since I’m better at following instructions that creating things with my own imagination! The more I cook though, the more I’m getting a feel for doing my own thing, so occasionally there will be a triumphant creation or successful adaptation. There may be some flops too! I live in Greece but love all sorts of cuisines, so apart from say a spanakopita (spinach pie), I might also try a steak & ale pie. I hope you enjoy the recipes and tolerate the rambling.
My first recipe couldn’t be anything other than… “On Top of Spaghetti” (meatballs in tomato sauce). I found this on a great blog called Stonesoup, on a post with a collection of meals for a new mum (the author Jules’s sister). The idea was to make various meals ahead of Baby’s arrival, freeze, and enjoy at a time when cooking wouldn’t be an option. I found that to be one of the cleverest and most organized plans ever. There are quite a few evenings here when cooking is not an option so I made a big batch and froze half of it for a fuss-free after-work dinner another day. They froze fantastically. They are very easy to make and create a minimum of washing up. Win win!
Baked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (very slightly adapted from this recipe on Stonesoup)
Cooking time about 1 hour
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes (you want about 800g)
1 tsp oregano or thyme or basil or mixture
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sugar
Salt & pepper
500g minced (ground) beef, or beef & pork mix
75g almond meal (I used no-skin almonds which I whizzed in the food processor as finely as possible)
2 tablespoons butter
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium/low heat, and when it’s warm add the chopped onion. Cook gently, until it softens and becomes translucent
- Put half the cooked onion in a big bowl
- Add the tomatoes to the pan with the rest of the onion and turn up the heat. When it starts boiling add herbs, paprika and sugar, and season with salt & pepper. Turn heat down and simmer for about 10-15 minutes
- While sauce is simmering preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
- Place meat and almond meal in the bowl with the onion, and use your hands to mix. Form little meatballs no larger than a golf ball and put them on a plate
- Place tomato sauce in an oven proof dish or baking tin. Place meatballs on top and scatter pieces of butter over them
- Bake for 30-45 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through
Enjoy over spaghetti (of course!) or rice. Or mashed potatoes. Or even quinoa. They go with pretty much everything!
Sheesh, writing this blog is going to make me hungry all the time…