Pork meatballs

Enough for 4 people. I froze half of mine for a later meal.

  • 1 large slice of stale bread;Pork_meatballs
  • 1 large portobello mushroom;
  • 1 medium sized onion;
  • 1 clove garlic;
  • 1 small red chilli deseeded;
  • Small bunch of mixed herbs (eg parsley, rosemary & thyme);
  • 500g pork mince;
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup;
  • 3 ‘shakes’ of Worcester Sauce;
  • Black pepper;
  • 3 tsp tahini;
  • Oil;
  • Plain flour.

Finely chop the bread, mushroom, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs (I used my Cuisinart Mini-Processor).

Thoroughly mix the chopped ingredients with the pork in a large bowl. Mix in the ketchup, Worcester Sauce and black pepper.

In small bowl, gradually combine a small quantity of cold water with the tahini, until it becomes slightly runny. Thoroughly mix this into the pork mixture.

Using a plate of flour, take ping-pong ball sized piece of the mixture in your floured hands, and roll in the flour until ball shaped. Place on a flour tray. I made made 24 meatballs from this mixture.

Oil a baking sheet and place the balls on it, brushing or spraying them with more oil.

Bake at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown.

I served twelve of my meatballs in a pasta bake, made with penne (3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked)), 1 quantity of Tomato Sauce, topped with grated cheddar, and cooked in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4). This will feed 2-3 people.

Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

Flat breads and baba ganoush


The flat bread recipe is rather like pizza (but with water rather than milk) – this should make six large flat breads (which would be fine for 4 people – I served the left overs the following day with chilli):

  • 500g of half white and half wholemeal strong flour (sieved into a large (microwavable) bowl)
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp active dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat 100ml of the water (in a measuring jug in the microwave) to blood heat (c. 37C – or when you put your finger in it and it’s neither hot nor cold). About 350W for 10 seconds may achieve this, but it’s a bit hit and miss, and depends on the starting temperature for the water. If it’s too hot allow to cool for a bit to avoid killing the yeast.

Stir the sugar into the water and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave covered in a warm place (eg airing cupboard) for about 15 minutes (it should start foaming on top).

Heat the flour (microwave at 750C for 15 seconds) and microwave the remaining water to about 37C. Stir the oil into the yeast mixture, make a well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast mixture and most of the water and mix together with your hands. The aim is to create a ball of dough that sticks together but isn’t very sticky. Add more water as necessary.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.

Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover (I find those charity clothes collection bags really useful here!) and place somewhere warm. You don’t need to use an airing cupboard, the dough will rise at any reasonable room temperature, but it will take longer. In an airing cupboard the dough should be ready within 1.5 hours.

When the dough has risen. Divide in to 6 balls. Flatten them out, and roll each on a floured surface until they are the size and shape of a large plate. Transfer to sheets of baking parchment, and allow to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes.

I cooked mine, by removing the parchment and placing them directly onto oiled baking sheets in the oven, at 260C (Gas mark 10), for about 3 minutes, and then for 1 minute on the other side. I think the result may have been better had I used the smooth side of griddle, or a heavy bottomed frying pan. Don’t try cooking too many flat breads in the oven at once, as they puff up a lot during cooking (I used two baking sheets).

Keep warm and serve with dips, such as hummus or baba ganoush.

For baba ganoush (for 2 people):

  • 1 medium sized aubergine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of parsley (chopped)

Wash the aubergine. Pierce the skin in several places with a fork. Place in the microwave and cook at 750C. Turn the aubergine over and cook for another 2 minutes. It will be cooked when it begins to look squashed. Remove from the microwave, wrap in a towel and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Remove the stalk and peel away the skin from the aubergine, and then cut into small cubes.

Place all the ingredients except the parsley in a liquidiser or food processor, and blend until smooth. Turn out into a bowl and stir in the parsley.

Serve cold with flat bread.