Last week was full of birthday dinners, heart monitors and anxious thoughts that if I keep thinking about them too much I'll go crazy far sooner than a 25 year old should. So instead of worrying, I'm back to blogging.
Last Sunday I had one of my best friends over for dinner and I was super excited. I hadn't had anyone over for dinner in such a long time, it gave me an excuse to cook something that took a little bit longer and needed a little bit more labour of love put into it. And it was a Sunday night so shouldn't every Sunday dinner be a little special?
I picked out a Jamie Oliver book I hadn't blogged about yet. I'd made a few recipes maybe 2 years ago from it but then it was put back on the shelf and has gathered dust ever since. And thats not to say that it isn't a great book because let me tell you this. I LOVE YOUNG JAMIE OLIVER. He's so cheeky and happy and full of energy, there is almost a bounce in his step in his first TV show 'The Naked Chef' as he teaches people to cook for the first time in our lounge rooms and kitchens. But seriously, who doesn't have a soft spot for young Jamie and the now Dad Jamie who is still just as cheeky!?
You all know I'm a Jamie Oliver junkie and I wouldn't be a true junkie if I didn't have his very first book 'The Naked Chef'. In his first books its all about honest food and cooking for people you love, weather its a for a few people or a date night. I chose Meatballs because I wanted a safe, affordable recipe that I couldn't stuff up.
These were so delicious. Best yet! I did read the recipe wrong again and not all the way through first but that step was optional anyway so it was all good.
Also it does help that they were baked so I could do a quick spruce around the apartment before my dinner date came round and then all I had to do was cook some tagliatelle pasta when she was here. Easy Peasy dinner idea, and it can also feed more than three... We had leftovers for the next day and two lunches frozen for later in the week, so its great for a small crowd.
Give this recipe a go, you wont regret it! I promise!
The Naked Chef's Meatballs.
(recipe adapted slightly)
For the Meatballs:
1kg beef mince
2 slices of bread whizzed into bread crumbs
2 level tbsp dried oregano
1/4 level tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 egg yolk
1 level tsp salt
a good 2 pinches of freshly cracked pepper
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and give it a good mix with a fork or get into it with clean hands.
- Shape into balls (what ever size you feel like - I did big meatballs because they had time to cook in the oven but you can do any size you like - just remember the bigger they are, the longer they take to cook!) I made these tennis ball sized.
- Place on a plate and store in the fridge while you get on with the tomato sauce (see below).
Basic Tomato Pasta Sauce:
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
3 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small handful of fresh basil
salt and pepper
- Gently fry the garlic with the olive oil but don't let it colour. Add the chilli, oregano and tomatoes. Stir everything together. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 - 45 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper and taste.
Putting it all together:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of fresh basil
120g mozzarella cheese, in chunks
60g finely grated parmesan
400g pasta of your choice (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 200 C or 400 F
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom casserole pan on a medium heat (make sure it can also go in the oven) and add your meatballs. Fry them until they are brown all over but be gentle so you don't break them up.
- Turn the heat down and add all of the basic tomato pasta sauce. Cover and place in a preheated oven.
(Remember the bigger your balls the longer they'll need to cook. I baked mine for about 20 minutes, covered.)
- If serving with pasta, cook pasta according to packet instructions now so everything is ready together.
- Scatter the mozzarella, parmesan and basil over the top and bake for another 15 min or until the cheese is oozy and golden. Serve.