Spiced Lamb Meatballs In A Stewed Tomato And Aubergine Sauce.

Spiced lamb meatballs cooked in a stewed tomato and aubergine sauce, served on a bed of couscous and garnished with herbs and toasted almonds.

This dish is the first time I have been genuinely happy with meatballs I have made, both the flavour and the texture are spot on. This is a fairly quick and simple meal to prepare, but has a depth of flavour that tastes like it has taken all day to prepare.

Firstly a spice mix is prepared from coriander seeds, cumin seeds and smoked sweet paprika – the spices are toasted until aromatic then ground in a spice grinder. Sliced almonds are then dry roasted in a pan until they are toasted on both sides, these give both a wonderful flavour and texture to the final dish.

Meatballs are then made in a small food processor which gives a smooth well mixed meatball, they are flavoured with some of the spice mix, salt, mint, parsley, onion and garlic. Some breadcrumbs and egg are used to help bind the meatballs. Once blitzed into a smooth paste, they are rolled, placed in a fridge for 10 minutes then browned in some hot oil. They are then removed from the oil and set aside as they are finished in the wonderful sauce which comes next.

The sauce is made from first frying garlic, onion, a red chilli and a peeled diced aubergine. Once softened some spice mix is added along with some diced peeled plum tomatoes. A little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some chicken stock, parsley and coriander leaf is added, then the meatballs. The pan is covered and left to stew on a low heat for 25 minutes, during which some couscous is prepared using chicken stock for extra flavour.

The meatballs are served on a bed of couscous, garnished with the toasted almonds and a lemon wedge.

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Serves Two

Cooking time less than 40 minutes

Ingredients and method

Toasted spices and almonds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Method: place a dry frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for approx. 5 minutes until aromatic, shake the pan frequently to turn the seeds and ensure they do not burn. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the smoked paprika and grind until a smooth powder is formed. Set aside for cooking.

In the same pan add the sliced almonds then increase the heat and toast the almonds until coloured on both sides, again shake the pan frequently to ensure even cooking. Set aside to garnish the dish later.

Meatballs

250g lamb mince

1 small brown onion

1.5 tsp spice mix

0.5 tsp salt

8 mint leaf’s

1 tbsp. chopped parsley leaf

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Method: Add the ingredients to a small food processor, blitz until combined and a smooth thick paste like consistency is formed.

Use wet hands to portion and roll the meatballs into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball is best in my opinion. I find it helpful to have a bowl of warm water to dip my hands into as wet hands make rolling the meatballs much easier.

Once rolled place on a flat plate, cover and place in a fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, then warm 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a wide frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches so that there is plenty room in the frying pan. Brown the meatballs, then place them on some absorbent paper, set aside ready to add to the sauce.

Tomato and Aubergine Sauce

1 onions – diced

3 plum tomatoes –  skin, dice

3 cloves garlic – crush, chop

1 red chilli – deseed, dice

1 Aubergine – skin, dice

Rest of spice mixture

0.5 tsp salt

Handful coriander leaf – chopped

Handful parsley – chopped

150ml chicken stock

Juice of 1/4 lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Method: Heat a large deep frying pan (one with a lid) over a medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion, chilli and aubergine, stir frequently and cook until the onions soften. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir through.

Next add the diced tomato, stock and herbs, stir through and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs, lemon juice and stir through the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Couscous

120g couscous

350ml chicken stock

Method: place the couscous and chicken stock in a sauce pan (one with a lid), bring the pan to the boil, reduce heat to low and leave until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid. Remove lid and fluff up with a fork prior to serving.

Serving

Place a bed of couscous on the plate, ladle the meatballs and sauce on top then garnish with the toasted almonds.

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Spiced Coriander, Lime and Chilli dressing

A spicy and zingy fat free salad dressing, perfect for adding a different flavour to your salad. Made from lime juice, chilli, coriander leaf, sugar, salt, pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander and sweet smoked paprika.

Add a special flavour to your salad….

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Ingredients

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 heaped dessert spoons brown sugar

Juice of 4 limes

1 large red chilli – remove stalks and seeds, very finely dice

3 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaf

Method: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve, cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavours to combine and develop. Drizzle sparingly over the salad of your choice.

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Blue Swimming Crab with Spiced Paella Rice

Spiced tomato based Paella rice dish with chunks of blue swimming crab

This recipe, like many good recipes came from me experimenting with store cupboard ingredients and some leftover fresh ingredients. I wished to make a rice dish which was distinctly different from classic rice dishes such as risotto, paella and jambalaya. I am so happy with the results I have decided to share this recipe with you, in the hope you will give it a try.

The flavour base of the dish comes from a fried mixture of chilli, bell pepper, garlic, celery and red onion. This is softened then rice is added along with a spice mixture, this is fried and gently stirred until each grain is coated. White win is then added and cooked off followed by diced tomato flesh, stock, a little water herbs and seasoning. The rice is simmered until it has softened and the juices have almost been cooked off. For the last few minutes chunks of blue swimming crab are carefully placed on top, the steam and residual heat gently warms the crab through. Just before serving the crab is gently stirred through the rice using the back of a wooden spoon, to ensure the chunks don’t break up and get lost in the rice.

I think this dish is a real winner, its simple to cook with a simply fantastic flavour.

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Serves two people

preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 35-40 minutes

Ingredients and method

150-170g Blue swimming crab chunks (from tin)  – drain before adding to rice

2 large red chillies – remove stalk/seeds, finely dice

1 yellow bell pepper – finely diced

4 cloves garlic – peel, crush, finely chop

2 sticks celery – finely diced

2 red onions – finely diced

150g Paella rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

75ml dry white wine

6 round tomatoes – remove skin and seeds, then dice

500ml chicken stock

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

1.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika

Pinch saffron

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

150-200ml water

2 tsp brown sugar

Generous handful coriander leaf – roughly chop, half for dish, half for garnish

Lime wedges – for garnish

Sea salt and black pepper – for grinding

 

Method: Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep flat frying pan then add then chopped chilli, garlic, celery, red onion and yellow bell pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.

Add the rice then add the spice mixture – 1 tsp cumin, coriander, chilli and 1.5tsp smoked paprika. Stir well until the rice, spices and fried mixture is combined and each grain of rice is coated. Fry and gently stir for 1-2 minutes until all liquid in the pan is absorbed by the rice then pour in the white wine and stir gently until it is cooked off.

Once the wine is cooked off add the diced tomato flesh, 500ml chicken stock and a generous pinch of saffron. Next add 1 tsp dried oregano, basil and parsley, 2 tsp brown sugar, 150ml water , half the chopped coriander and sprinkle of salt (not too much as there is salt in the stock) and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Gently stir, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the liquid is nearly cooked off and the rice is plump and tender. If the rice is not ready simply add an extra 50ml water, stir through and give it an extra 5-10 minutes.

Once the liquid is nearly cooked off add the crab chunks along with a little more chopped coriander, place across the surface of the rice as it simmers away allowing the steam to warm the crab through. Once the liquid has been fully cooked off use the back of a wooden spoon and very gently fold the crab through the dish. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaf and lime wedges.

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Pan Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

Pan roasted chillies, tomatoes, peppers and garlic along with the spices give this soup a very special deep flavour.

 The tomatoes, red peppers, orange pepper, red chilli and garlic are roasted in a dry pan until slightly charred to bring out the deep flavours. This is then added to a soup base of celery, carrot, white onion, red onion and bay leaf which has been softened in a little oil. Spices, herbs, seasoning and chicken stock are then added. After a simmer the bay leaf is removed then the soup is blended until smooth.

This may look like a simple soup but it has a depth of flavour that lifts it up to a new level.

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Makes 4 large portions

Preparation time 15-20 minutes, cooking time 40 minutes

Ingredients

Pan roasted vegetables:

1 orange bell pepper – seeds and stalks removed, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper – seeds and stalk removed, roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic – leave in skin

5 round tomatoes

2 red chillies

Method: Heat a deep wide frying pan and add the vegetables. Dry fry for around 8-10 minutes, tossing the pan occasionally, until the garlic is softened and char marks appear on the chillies, tomatoes and peppers. Remove the garlic and chillies on to a chopping board to cool, then remove the garlic skins (should peel easily) and the chilli stalk, return to pan to add to the soup base.

For soup base

2 sticks celery – sliced

1 white onion – diced

1 red onion – diced

4 medium sized carrots – peel, sliced

2 bay leaf

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

Handful fresh coriander (leaf and stalk)

10 basil leafs

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 and half dessert spoons brown sugar

1.5L chicken stock

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp sea salt – plus extra to taste

Black peppercorns – for grinding

Method: Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to a deep soup pan and heat to medium hot. Add the celery, carrot, onions and bay leaf and fry for 6-7 minutes until softened. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander and stir through the softened vegetables. Now add the pan roasted vegetables into the soup and stir through. Add the chicken stock then add the herbs (coriander, parsley and basil), bring pan to the boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce to a simmer. Add one and a half dessert spoons of brown sugar then add a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Cover the pan, reduce heat to a gentle simmer for 25-30 minutes. Before serving use a stick blender to blend until smooth. After blending taste the soup and add more seasoning if required.

 

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Mexican Soup

A wonderful rich, smokey and spicy soup inspired by the soups I have tasted travelling in Mexico. The flavour from the gaujilo chillies and chipolte paste make this soup something very special.

The soup is made from a flavour base of bay leaf, guajilo chillies, garlic and onion which is fried in a little olive oil. Carrots, celery, peppers, red chilli, tomato paste, pasatta and fresh coriander is then added. A spice mix of chipolte paste, cumin seeds, ground coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, a little sugar and seasoning is added before some stock. The soup is then simmered for 45 minutes before being blended.

 

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Makes 4 portions

Preparation time 20 minutes, cooking time 1 hour

Ingredients

2 tbsp Olive oil

2 Bay leafs

2 dried gaujilo chilles – soak in water for 40 minutes, discard water

4 gloves garlic – crush and peel

2 white onions – peel, dice

4 carrots – peel and cut into fine discs

2 sticks celery – slice thinly

1 orange bell pepper – diced

1 Yellow bell pepper – diced

1 red chilli – thinly slice

2 tsp tomato paste

500-600g Pasatta

1 handful fresh coriander – use leaf and stalks

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chipolte paste

2 tsp sugar

1.5L vegetable or chicken stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

You require a deep soup pan and a stick blender for this recipe

Cooking instructions

  1. Start by heating 2 tbsp Olive oil in a deep pan over a medium heat. Add the bay leaf, gaujilo chillies, garlic and onions and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, peppers, red chilli and coriander leaf and fry for a further 3-4 minutes until mixture softens.
  3. Add the passatta and tomato paste stir through the mixture. Next add the cumin, ground coriander, oregano, chipolte paste and the smoked paprika. Stir frequently and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add 1.5L of stock and 2 tsp of sugar and stir well. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for approx 45 minutes.
  5. After 45 minutes turn off heat and uncover the soup. Remove the bay leafs then use a stick blender to blitz soup until smooth. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste – because soup is well spiced you may not need very much at all.
  6. Serve and enjoy.