“Lamb Meatballs with Herbed Yogurt” from Dinner: Changing the Game”

In the past, people have noted that they can tell how much we love a cookbook by how early and often we post recipes. While that’s often true, that is not the case this month.

Even though it’s already the 13th of the month and this is the first review I’ve posted, I’ve already cooked at least eight dinners out of this book. I know it’s not the end of the month yet so I can’t give my final verdict, but I can say that it’s been a very tasty month so far. The reason why I haven’t posted as much as I would have liked is only because life (work, children, etc.) has gotten in the way. It happens.

We made these meatballs for Sunday night dinner (See how far behind I am? And when I say Sunday dinner, it wasn’t even this past Sunday!) and they were delightful. They were tasty but straightforward to make. They had an air of Ottolenghi about them– in the best possible way– but didn’t seem as much faff as many of his recipes.

Tim made Jamie’s chapatis to go with, which enabled the teenager to make multiple wraps with the meatballs and sauce, while enabling me to mop up the herby yogurt sauce.

Delicious. 10/10 would eat again. And happily.

If you’d like to try this yourself, Google Books has indexed “Dinner: Changing the Game” so you can find the recipe by clicking through this link.

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“Lamb Meatballs with Herbed Yogurt” from Dinner: Changing the Game”

What We’re Eating Again: Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce from “Polpo”

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Polpo meatballs and tomato sauce is firmly on the list of our family’s high rotation meals. It’s such a favourite that it guarantees a round of cheers and applause when I announce that it’s for dinner.

With that sort of reception, why wouldn’t I make it all the time?

When I was looking up the previous post, I was surprised to see I’ve been making the Polpo meatballs since March 2013— almost four years ago. Though I suppose that also speaks to its staying power: we loved it then, and despite all the dinners I’ve made between now and then, including other meatball recipes, we love it still.

Unusually, I haven’t altered this recipe in any way. I follow it to the letter. The same goes for the tomato sauce, which is absolutely delicious. But the tomato sauce only happens when I’m forward thinking enough to get it started in the afternoon. You can get it done in an hour, but it really shines when you give the ingredients time to mix, mingle and get to know one another before serving it up.

Also, the yield on this recipe is enormous, but actually that’s a good thing. With all of the leftovers, I do one of three things: freeze the remaining, make meatball subs a few days later (yum! highly recommended) or put the meatballs on one of our pizzas on pizza night (also highly recommended).

Perhaps I’m being stupidly effusive about this recipe, but I can’t underplay how much my family loves it. You should try it. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find the recipe on issuu, where it has an extract of the Polpo cookbook. The meatballs are on page 22-23. Unfortunately, the recipe for the tomato sauce isn’t there.

What We’re Eating Again: Pork & Beef Polpette with Basic Tomato Sauce from “Polpo”

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator: Assorted Dinners from “Bread Street Kitchen”

OK Folks. November sort of got away from me, so I’ve got a few Bread Street Kitchen dinners to tell you about. So I’m cleaning out the refrigerator, so to speak, to show you some of the other things we ate in November.

Butterflied Chicken Breasts with Tomato and Olive Salsa

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This recipe was ACES. Everyone loved it. Sure, the tomato and olive salsa had a 1990s vibe about it, but that didn’t bother me. It was good to eat. Butterflying the chicken also made it quicker to cook, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to get dinner on the table on a weeknight. We would definitely eat this again.

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

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I’m sorry to say that this recipe was less successful. The problem in this family is that everyone loves the Polpo meatballs, and it’s going to have to be a really extraordinary specimen to knock those meatballs out of the top spot. Unfortunately, the Bread Street Kitchen meatballs were not that extraordinary specimen. Don’t get me wrong: We’re always happy to have meatballs for dinner at our house. But it’s a sad day when we spend some of the dinner saying that we’re sorry it’s not the ones we usually have.

‘Njuda Tuna Steaks

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We first had ‘Njuda at Pizza Pilgrims in Soho more than two years ago and we haven’t looked back since. For those of you unfamiliar with this ingredient, ‘Njuda is an Italian delicacy that is a spicy sausage spread. Until now, we only ever dotted it on our pizza. But putting it on top of tuna steaks was absolute genius. Tuna is a bit bland to begin with, but once you add the ‘Njuda, it’s a whole new level of deliciousness. Yum. I will definitely be making this again for Fish Friday. Highly recommended.

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator: Assorted Dinners from “Bread Street Kitchen”

“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

Is there anything better than a nice soup on a cold January night? I think not.

It was the perfect weeknight dinner for a cold January night when half of us had to be somewhere at 7 p.m.* and the other half of us got in from school/work late. We all have nights like that, and this fit the bill perfectly.

This is a very simple recipe with only seven ingredients. Take ready-made meatballs, fry them, fry some spring onions, grate 1/2 a head of celeriac and pop that in there too, add some thyme, beef stock and bring it all to a boil. Finish it off with some grated parmesan and you’re done.

The adults loved it. The teenagers and near teenagers? Not so much. When pressed the morning after, Nicholas, the near teenager at 12 years old said, “It reminded me of Benihana.” When I pointed out that he loved Benihana, he admitted that was true, but that he didn’t think Benihana would serve this. So I’m flummoxed as to why he did’t like it, but perhaps a little bit of mystery will make my life more exciting.

I really enjoyed paging through this book so far. It’s got several recipes that I’m eager to try, which is always a good sign. I know it’s going to be a long month when I struggle to find a selection of things I’d like to eat, but it looks like this isn’t one of those months.

I also very much appreciate the fact that it’s chronological, so I can see what he made and ate in January, when I know he’ll be using ingredients that will be available to me. For every season he’s also got a section of seasonal eats, which are quick and easy recipes that can be made. This recipe was taken from “Winter Eats.”

I’m hoping the success of this recipe portends a good month of eating. We’ll see.

*The lack of photos reflects the fact that I rushed out before they could be taken. Sorry. It’s a Cookbook A Month FAIL.

“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Merguez Meatballs” from “Simply Nigella”

IMG_7885Andrew (16): What is this?

Maureen: It’s called Merguez Meatballs.

Andrew: Is this from this month’s cookbook?

Maureen: It is.

Andrew: It’s another winner then. This is really good. It’s been an excellent month!

Nicholas (12): I think so too.

Maureen: It reminds me of something we would eat at Leon, especially since we’re having couscous with it. It also immediately brings to mind her sausage meatballs, which she had in “Nigellissima,” which I’ve also made many times. 

Tim: I see what you mean. I think it could benefit from a bit more sauce.

Maureen: Maybe. But this is a classic Nigella recipe. Take a few ingredients, be clever in the preparation, add some spices, and bam! you’ve got something delicious.

Andrew: We should have this again.

Maureen: Indeed we should.

If you would like to make this yourself, the Mail Online has a copy of the recipe, which you can read by clicking through this link.

“Merguez Meatballs” from “Simply Nigella”

“Meatball Sub” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

IMG_7016Maureen (while admiring the sandwiches and plating them up): This is going to be SO GOOD.

Nicholas (12): Can you provide a written guarantee for that?

Maureen: Ha. You’re funny. Go sit down.

[Now sitting at the dinner table, and we’re eating outside on the patio because the weather in London has been spectacular.]

Andrew (15, taking a bite): This. Is. GLORIOUS.

Maureen: See? What did I tell you? I couldn’t agree more.

Nicholas: This is good, but messy to eat.

Maureen: Well, sure, but that’s part of the fun. When I was growing up, meatball subs used to be one of my favourite things to eat. Of course, growing up in Northern New Jersey, they knew how to do both a meatball and a sub, so it made for some good eating.

Tim: I think the meatballs get a little lost, with the cheese and the tomato sauce.

Maureen: Always the contrarian.

Tim: It’s true.

Maureen: I can see why you’d say that, but I disagree. I think the extra sauce and the extra cheese is all part of the experience. I see that you’ve followed Gennaro’s instructions to put the rocket salad in the sandwich. I didn’t do that as I thought that was sacrilege.

Andrew: Remember that great meatball restaurant we went to in New York City last summer?

Maureen: That place was great. What was it called?

Nicholas: It was called The Meatball Shop.

Maureen: Good memory! It does what it says on the tin. I would definitely go back there again, and I would definitely make this again. Do you guys agree?

Boys [in unison]: YES.

Tim: Sure, but maybe with less sauce.

Note: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times this month: it does my head in that they can’t list the recipe, or at least list the ingredients, in the text underneath the video on FoodTube. Oddly, there is a recipe for this on Jamie Oliver’s website, but it’s not the recipe that’s in this video– perhaps there’s more than one version of the meatball sub– so I won’t link to it here.

However, if you’d like to see the original video, it’s here:

“Meatball Sub” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

“Meatballs” and “Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

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I’ve loved many of the recipes I’ve made from “Genius Recipes” this month, but I approached this one with a fair amount of trepidation.  I already have a Genius Recipe for tomato sauce and meatballs– from Polpo (first reviewed here), which everyone loves very much. Why mess with success?

I was right to be sceptical.

As this is a food blog, let’s review this particular dish by using a Praise Sandwich. For those among you who are unfamiliar with this term, it means you start with the compliments, put the criticism in the middle, and then finish with a compliment. Apparently using this method is supposed to make hearing criticism easier to stomach. Or something.

Everyone agreed that the tomato sauce was delicious. In fact, I made it again earlier this week when I needed some tomato sauce for chicken parm night. (It is Revision Week here, ahead of internal exams next week, so it’s been a week full of our favourites, and chicken parm is one of them.)

The tomato sauce differs from the Polpo version in that you only used canned tomatoes for this one– Polpo uses a mix of fresh and canned– and also it is a bit quicker to make– 45 minutes compared to 90 minutes for Polpo. But the key difference is the inclusion of a fair amount of butter, as well as an onion that you cook whole with the tomatoes, but then take out before using the sauce. I wasn’t sure about the butter, as that seemed an odd addition to a basic tomato sauce. But what the butter did in the end was add a dairy creaminess, not unlike what you’d have if you’d added cheese.

Half of the family liked this tomato sauce better than the Polpo version, the other half disagreed, preferring the Polpo tomato sauce. This was definitely a split decision.

Where we were all unanimous, however, was in our universal dislike of the meatballs. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t as gloriously delicious as the Polpo version we have come to know and love. I’ve made them countless times since I first tried them in March 2013, and they’ve been a winner. Every time. You’ve got to like those odds.

So in short, a mixed decision. I definitely would make the tomato sauce again (particularly when I don’t have enough time, or I’m in a holiday house, where access to a variety of ingredients is limited) but I won’t make these meatballs again.

But frankly, I’m being picky. In our family, you can never go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

If you’d like to try the recipes mentioned above for yourself:

The Polpo tomato sauce recipe can be found by clicking through here;

The Genius52 tomato sauce recipe can be found by clicking through here;

The Polpo meatball recipe can be found by clicking through here; and

The Genius52 meatball recipe can be found by clicking through here.

“Meatballs” and “Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”