Meatballs with caramelised onions & mushrooms

Don’t you just hate those days when you have x, y, z ingredients and you can’t seem to picture a whole dish..?!
I had mushrooms – had to use them soon, I had onions and I had lettuce… {Mince in the freezer.}
There were also a few other bits and bobs in the fridge, but nothing that made sense. I decided on meatballs and everything else was still a blank.

For the meatballs you’ll need:
500g venison mince {or beef}
Salt & pepper
Cumin, about a teaspoon
Cayenne pepper, a sprinkle
1 egg
Bacon fat {for frying}
Mix all together and shape into small bite-sized balls. Fry in bacon fat.

I prepared my never-fail caramelised onions to go with the meatballs, because they go with just about anything, plus the venison goes very well with something slightly sweet.

You will need:
1 onion, sliced
Butter
Balsamic vinegar
Honey
Sauté the onion in butter until soft, then add a tbs of honey and balsamic vinegar and let it caramelise.

You can have the meatballs just like this, topped with some caramelised onions on a bed of baby lettuce – perfect – or you can add a moreish mushroom sauce.

You will need:
Brown mushrooms
Cream
Butter
Salt

The best way to prepare this entire dish is as follows:
Start by making the onions.
In that same pan, fry the meatballs.
Again, in the same pan, make the mushroom sauce. That way you get the additional flavour from the bacon fat and meatballs infused in the mushroom sauce. That is the key!

So, to make the mushroom sauce, add some butter to the pan and sauté the mushrooms until soft. Season with salt and add about half a cup of cream. Let it reduce a bit and voila.
Finish it all off with a handful of wild rocket and a drizzle of olive oil.
You have the comfort of the meatballs, with a bit of sweetness from the onions, an earthy mushroom sauce {just enough, not to drench the dish in a creamy sauce} and fresh, sweet, crisp greens. A perfectly balanced meal!

I must say, this would also work really well as an appetizer for a dinner party – it’s certainly elegant enough and very tasty, plus you could make everything in advance and just assemble it on little side plates to serve. I would just make it a smaller portion, perhaps 2 meatballs per person.

Enjoy! X

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My twist on the classic Caprese Salad

As you know, I love simple flavours, using less ingredients and letting them shine.
Well, the caprese salad is such a great example of simple flavours that shine: from Capri, it usually consists of sliced fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and sweet basil, drizzled with olive oil & salt.
Now, as you also know, I love aubergine. No, I LOOOVE aubergine!
Long ago, like, a couple of years, I made these yummy aubergine stacks with grilled polenta, tomato and basil. I guess that’s where my Caprese was born, because I’ve made versions of it ever since.
Right, let me get to the point…

You will need:
Aubergine, sliced
Mozzarella or a soft white Gouda, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced {I used rosa tomatoes, but any will do}
Sweet basil
Pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt

Rub the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill until golden. Let it cool and place on a serving plate.
Top with sliced cheese, tomato and basil.
Dry roast pine nuts and scatter over the salad. Drizzle with olive oil and salt.

This salad is great as a starter, as it’s meant to be enjoyed traditionally, or as a side dish to a roast chicken. In fact, I’d say it’s brilliant with chicken!

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The result – a nutty and earthy salad with the freshness of basil & tomatoes.
I could easily and happily eat the entire plate!
Enjoy! X

Roast Veg Terrine

My latest obsession – terrines – and here’s another one, a roast vegetable terrine.

I love that they’re quite easy to make and that they can be made in advance. I made this one on Wednesday morning for Wednesday evening {it takes about 8hrs to set} but then we never had it then… We joined a running club {I know – shock, horror! I call myself ‘The Reluctant Runner’ but I actually do enjoy it, just need to run more often, hence the joining of the club} and had a run on Wednesday evening which ended up in drinks afterwards, etc.

Right, so the terrine was eventually enjoyed tonight, along with grilled fish {snoek} and rocket leaves from our very own veg garden.

For the terrine:

6 assorted bell peppers, roasted {place in oven under the grill for about 40minutes, rotating as they char. Once charred all around, place in a large bowl and cover with clingwrap until cooled. Peel off the charred skin and remove the stalk and seeds.}

1 head of garlic, roasted {drizzle garlic with olive oil and bake at 200C for 40minutes}

6 zucchinis, thinly sliced and grilled until just tender

basil leaves

1/2 a cup of fresh tomato juice

1/2 a cup of chardonnay

salt & pepper to season

1 tbs + 1 tsp gelatine powder

Line a loaf tin with clingwrap and ensure that there is some extra hanging over the sides of the tin and set aside.

Bring the tomato juice to the boil, season with salt & pepper. In a heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the Chardonnay and then melt this over the steam from the tomato juice. Once the gelatine and wine has melted, add to the tomato juice and remove from heat. Do not let this boil any further. Squeeze the roasted garlic from their cloves and blitz into the tomato mixture.  Let it cool before starting to assemble the terrine.

Start by dipping the basil leaves into the tomato & gelatine mixture and laying them in the bottom of the pan. Next, dip half of the roasted peppers into the juice and gently place them on top of the basil leaves. Dip the roasted and sliced zucchini in the mixture and layer all of it onto the peppers. Place another layer of basil leaves on top of that and finally, do a last layer of peppers. Pour the remaining gelatine mixture over all the layers, wrap the clingwrap tightly and place a weight on top. Refrigerate for at least 8 hrs.

Serve on a bed of rocket leaves as part of a main meal, or on a crostini as a snack.

Enjoy! X

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Aubergine Bites

Just a quick post with another delicious aubergine recipe.

These little yummies are perfect as a light lunch / dinner or as an appetizer {and so quick and easy to prepare! You can also throw these onto a platter with a few other bits for cocktail hour or a lazy afternoon} enjoy with a fruity white wine:

Grilled aubergine slices {brush with olive oil}

Grilled Russian sausage slices

Butter lettuce leaves

Dipping sauce:

Plain yoghurt

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

Cayenne pepper

Cumin

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Assemble bites by placing a piece of grilled aubergine into a lettuce leave, top with sausage slices and tie with string.

Serve with dipping sauce – enjoy! X

Aubergine bites