Friday, 17 August 2007

Involtini di Pasta e Polpette

Otherwise know as Spaghetti and meatballs wrapped in aubergine.

Saw this recipe on Taste at lunchtime a couple of days ago. You can find the original recipe here. By Gino D'Acampo

I didn't have the right cheese so we mixed cheddar and parmisan which worked quite well, I didn't use mozzarella either as we didn't have any. The meatballs were very easy to make and having no breadcrumbs in them didn't need any tweaking either. The cheese in them was very well received and the pasta, sauce and meatballs made a meal on their own and indeed one of our lot opted for that not being fond of aubergine. The aubergine wraps were very nice and the suggested serving of three each was plenty, in fact not being very hungry last night I had two left for my lunch today, hence the picture in a storage container. While there are several stages to making this it really isn't difficult and I think the meatballs may well become a regular feature here.

The exact amounts of ingredients in the meatballs was probably not quite right as i used the amount of mince I had which wasn't 250g and then roughly adjusted everything else.

250g beef mince
100g fresh grated Pecorino Sardo cheese (used cheddar and parmisan)
1 white onion (finely chopped – gently fried in olive oil until soft)
2 eggs
3 tbls flat leaf parsley (chopped)
2 tbls Italian extra virgin olive oil
200g 00 flour (used Dove farm gluten free plain flour)
5 tbls Italian olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
300g spaghetti
500g Italian tinned chopped tomato
100g fresh grated Pecorino Sardo cheese (again used a mix of cheese)
2 whole aubergines
5 tbls olive oil
1 clove garlic (chopped)
2 mozzarella balls (didn't have any of this)
Fresh basil (and forgot this)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix together the beef mince, eggs, cheese, olive oil and cooked onions. Sprinkle the parsley, season with salt and pepper and mix well using your hands.

2. Rub some olive oil into your hands and very gently roll a small amount of the meat mixture creating lots of little meatballs the size of a chocolate malteser. Gently coat them in the flour and fry in pre-heated olive until sealed (approx. 5 minutes). When cooked – drain on some kitchen roll and allow to cool.

3. Slice the aubergines (length ways) approx. 1/2 cm thick. Place in a large sieve adding salt and then drain allowing the excess water to flow out for about half an hour. Take each slice and make sure they are dry by placing them in some kitchen roll or towel. Grill them on each side for approx. 5 minutes and allow to cool. (He used a griddle pan in the program as did I and it didn't take as long as 5mins each)

4. Gently fry the garlic in the olive oil – once golden add the chopped tomato and salt to taste and allow to simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Take off the heat, add the basil, the meatballs and a couple of pinches of pepper and leave so the sauce becomes tepid.

5. In the meantime cook the spaghetti in hot salted boiling water until very al dente and then drain and mix into the tomato sauce allowing the spaghetti to absorb the flavours.

6. Put a slice of prepared aubergine on a baking tray and place a handful of the pasta in the middle. Add a slice of mozzarella and roll the aubergine keeping it in place with a toothpick. Repeat the process until your baking tray is full. Sprinkle lots of the Pecorino Sardo on top and bake for approx. 10 minutes at 200C.

7. Take out of the oven once cheese has melted – drizzle a good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Veggy Box contents

We get an organic veg box from a wonderful shop called Wild and Free in Rugby. This is actually in the next town over and there is an organic shop in Coventry who does boxes but I know the owner of Wild and Free and he delivers in the evening where as the Coventry shop delivers in the day and when we started we were all out at work that day.

Anyway thought you might like to see last weeks box. We only get vegs currently because we found we didn't eat the fruit. We have started to eat more again so maybe we will go back to some of each at some point. I would like to point out the pepper in the front.. yes the PURPLE thing in the front is a pepper.. I didn't know they came in purple till we got that one.

We also get milk delivered by a milkman, yes they do still exist and his round finally has enough takers we can get all the milk organic though it costs more. We have been getting organic full fat since the start but he was waiting on enough takers for skimmed as he has to order it is set amounts. We sometimes get broken biscuit boxes of him too and may start ordering a few more bits like fruit juice and yogert though I want to sort a box to go outside so it isn't obvious from the road, no need to tempt people to help themselves after all.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


Small one finishes nursery on Friday and has his forth birthday party on the Saturday. It is traditional for them to take sweets in for the remaining kids on the last day but I want to do something for the staff as well so plan to do chocolate brownies, which will be gluten free as they come out as good if not better than gluten ones.

I also have THE birthday cake to make. Sponge not fruit cake as he isn't keen on fruit cake which means I have less time to play with as I can't start days in advance. He wants pooh, piglet and tigger on it otherwise he hasn't specified so I could probably get away with the three figures on the top of a normal cake and it would be easier as he also said he wanted strawberries on it. However that seems rather boring to me so I am currently planning to do Pooh's house (which is a door in the roots of a tree stump on a mound) with the three of them standing or sitting on a log outside. Basic idea is round cake with a chuck of the side cut out and piled on top. shaped a bit so it looks like a tree stump on a mound then cover in icing, mould tree roots, door etc in more icing and cover the rest in spiky soft icing to look like grass. Make figures from fondant and log either from fondant or choc mini rolls. It may have strawberries round the base if he insists.

I used to do a lot of decorated cakes but that was 15-20 years ago so I'm a bit rusty. Keep fingers crossed it works. I'm fairly sure the figures will be fine so fall back is a new cake with strawberries. cream frosting and the figures on top.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

New buys

Matalan - home of cheap but vaguely reasonable clothes and scoring surprisingly high on ethical issues.

They also do homeware.

Today we went to find me a new swimming costume and as well as finding one that fits we picked up a pink enamelled colander for a fiver and several Kilner jars, which are hard to get hold of and often expensive, at 2 pounds for a smallish one and 3 pounds for a large one we got several. We also got various other bits and pieces.

The colander doesn't match the units exactly, that would be amazing as they are un-usual colours but it does tone well which i hope you can see in the picture here. It is hard to get both unit colours together as this is the only area of the kitchen where they met. The pinky/purple is a more dusky, purpley colour than the colander but in the same range and the bluer colour has come out quite well in this picture.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Kitchen Cleaning

We spent a good half a day cleaning the kitchen today. One of those top of cupboards to floor type cleaning sessions. Which was very satisfying and also got rid of the bits and pieces that were threatening to stop me having any work surface left.

I even remembered to put the extractor fan filters in the dishwasher though we need to get bulbs for the lights built into that as they both blew recently. I think that is because they are on the same circuit as the socket the kettle was plugged into and that kept tripping the circuit breaker. We now have a new kettle too.

Re-organised a couple of drawers and moved all the biscuit cutters to a tin which now lives on top of a cupboard. We have a LOT of cutters though I seem to have lost most of my normal circular ones. Plenty of letters, numbers, dinosaurs, christmas shapes and ginger bread men though. Can you tell there is a small person in the house?

More worrying we seem to have lost most of our kitchen knives. We are guessing they got taken to a camping event recently and have either gone home with someone else or are packed in a box somewhere.

I think I want to rationalise the baking tins. I have some loose bottom tins which were my gran's and I really think it's time to get replacements however much sentimental attachment I have to them.

Plus a nice stand in the sink type colander. Time to see if Lakelands are still doing enamel ones in colours that will go with the kitchen.