So why would I call this meatball dish Moroccan then? When I cook with lamb and spices like cumin and cinnamon I think of Middle Eastern or North African cooking so there you have it, the simple explanation is that it just makes me think of Morocco or Moroccan cooking. Though I’ve never been to Morocco and neither have I eaten in a specifically Moroccan restaurant so I have absorbed this probably mostly from cooking programmes. There definitely was a Jamie Oliver one where he was in Morocco and oh let me tell you the spice markets are amAAAAAAAzing there. And how would I know – because I saw it on the telly of course.
The secret is the cinnamon I think. It’s something that Westerners traditionally associate with sweet dishes, particularly with apple dishes likes pies and crumbles. It sets these meatballs on a more exotic path than the Italian one’s that we’re more used to.
This recipe is from my first cookbook ‘Gimme the Recipe’ – I haven’t cooked it in ages and it will be gracing my table this week. Perfect warming Autumnal fare. I hope you get a chance to try it sometime too.
You will need 1 large red onion
3cm thumb-width piece of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 red chilli
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
800g minced lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
Handful of fresh coriander to garnish Method: Peel and roughly chop the red onion, ginger and garlic, and blitz together with the deseeded chopped chilli, cumin and cinnamon in a mini chopper or food processor to create a spicy paste.
Use a fork or your hands to mix the lamb with half of the spicy paste in a bowl and then shape them into meatballs the size of golf-balls.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and brown the meatballs.
Push the meatballs to the sides of the pan and cook the rest of the spicy paste in the centre of the pan for 1 minute
Add the plum tomatoes to the centre of the pan and roughly chop them with a knife. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine with the tomatoes, paste and meatballs.
Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 25–30 minutes. (Test the centre of a meatball to check that it is cooked through.)
Serve with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander and Moroccan couscous or rice.
With three of my kids studying away from home this year I’m cooking with them in mind lately at home too. This means that what I’m sharing on my Instagram feed may give them some ideas that are simple, tasty and easy should they take the figary to chop an onion. Chilli Con Carne is one of those versatile dishes that can serve a party or a gaggle of students. Usually served on rice I really find a baked potato to be a more satisfying vessel on which to prop the chilli. And by the way if you don’t eat the skins of your baked potato you are really missing out on something special – load with some sour cream, some melting butter or better again melting cheese – delicious. This recipe is one of the mainstays from my first book ‘Gimme the Recipe.’
Ingredients – serves 6
You will need: 1 tbsp olive oil
500g round steak mince
2 medium onions
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp oregano
500ml beef stock
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can kidney beans
Fresh parsley or chives to garnish
Baked potatoes or boiled rice to serve. Method: Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan or saucepan and brown the mince over a medium/high heat until the juices run clear.
While the mince is browning, finely chop the onions, dice the pepper into small pieces and crush the garlic.
Push the browned mince to the side of the pan, add the chopped onion and red pepper to the centre, and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Push the onion and pepper towards the sides, add the garlic, chilli powder, paprika and cumin, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree, sugar, oregano, beef stock and canned tomatoes and mix well.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Strain, rinse and add the kidney beans and return to the boil.
Reduce heat again and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Great served with a baked potato and a dollop of sour cream with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley or chives.
Chicken Casserole, but this is no ordinary chicken casserole. You might call it ‘Chicken Thighs Braised in Cider with Sweet Potatoes’ because that’s what it’s actually named by the chef Neven Maguire!
I ran with my friend Deirdre this morning and we were blown to bits by the wind and came home absolutely saturated from the rain. I am well and truly demented with this weather. – forgive me, I’m Irish and it’s an obsession. It’s mid April but it may as well be mid November and thus this type of comforting food is called for. My kids and their cousin Kate all devoured this dish and have demanded that I make this again. Neven is a chef and owner of a renowned restaurant however his recipes are always accessible. Granted I did not have redcurrant jelly (I could have easily bought some) but chose to use cranberry sauce instead as a half jar of it langours in the fridge waiting to be used up.
The recipe is one that Neven Maguire has contributed to ‘The Mixing Bowl – Second Helpings’ cookbook produced by ‘Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services.’ More than just a cookbook, each recipe gives a lovely snapshot or anecdote relating to the people who contributed recipes. All these people are connected in one way or another by the services of ‘Our Lady’s Hospice’ and it is a beautifully varied collection.
From Seafood Chowder, Buckwheat Galettes, Chinese Sweet Pork Chops to Kebabs Robana Bhorat, Fig Pudding and Granny’s Oat Cakes you can tell that this is not fixed into any one style or trend of cooking. I’ve just flicked onto a page with a recipe called ’21st Century Bread and Butter Pudding’, replacing the bread with hot cross buns, panettone or brioche, this is a clever recipe to have on standby after Christmas or Easter when those baked goods are about to go past their best.
Perhaps if we get to bask in a few of the rays that have been promised by the Met Eireann weather service over the weekend I might have a go at the Parsley Lemonade Liquor for when I’m parched with the thirst but for now I’ll be turning the heat up and looking forward to ‘second helpings’ of Neven’s ‘Chicken Thighs Braised in Cider with Sweet Potatoes‘ (click the link for the recipe) or if you can please think about buying the book. It would make a wonderful gift for someone and in a tremendously good cause. (again please click this link for details – The Mixing Bowl – Second Helpings Cookbook).
‘Til next time, Sheila.
Quinoa with Beetroot & Feta.
Triple Quinoa is a mixture of white, red and black seeds that fluff up when cooked. This salad can be served hot or cold and would be perfect with some chicken or lamb for a substantial meal. I cook the quinoa with some halved garlic cloves for flavour and never one to throw things away these get added to the salad too as a lurking surprise for the lucky recipient. Quinoa with Beetroot & Feta. You will need:
500ml chicken stock
2 fat cloves garlic
1 lemon (juice of)
Block of feta
Cooked beetroot (i usually buy this vacuum packed) Method:
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a sieve and then place in a saucepan with 500ml chicken stock and two fat garlic cloves peeled and cut in half. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 mins. Keep an eye on the liquid level and top up as needed.
Once cooked drain off excess liquid and set aside.
Dry fry the pinenuts until golden brown.
Cube or crumble the feta and cut beetroot into bitesize cubes.
Place the quinoa into a serving bowl and stir through the juice of a lemon then roughly chopped rocket leaves followed by the cubed beetroot and feta. Scatter the toasted pinenuts on top and serve.
’til next time, Sheila.
Simple to make. Just add time! As below in the picture you can see how a dollop of red onion relish can lift a simple crostini. Great in any sandwich or even as a pizza topping and perfect on a cheese board, a jar of this would make a very welcome gift for the foodie in your life.
Caramelised Red Onion Relish You can store caramelised red onion relish in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks to use whatever way you fancy. Makes 2 medium jars (2 x 350ml Kilner) You will need: 6 medium red onions
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar (or any dark brown sugar) Method: Peel, halve and thinly slice the red onions. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low to medium heat and gently soften the sliced onions for 35 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and muscovado sugar. Stir well and cook for 3–4 minutes, then set aside to cool before spooning into sterilised jars.
‘Til next time, Sheila.