Pork Meatballs with haricot beans in tomato sauce

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This dish has great flavors, great textures. I used gluten free oats to coat/bind the meatballs rather than bread crumbs or flour. I tend to use oats now for this purpose and for giving a bit of texture for example to dishes like these ricotta stuffed zucchini .

The sauce is with fresh tomatoes and red wine. Smoked paprika in the mince and herbs with a touch of chili in the sauce. I used dried haricot beans, simply soak overnight, rinse and mine took 35 minites to cook. The cookimg time depends on the bean and how long it has been packaged, so taste the beans after half an hour of cooking to check on their tenderness. Do not overcook them.

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You will need :

For the pork meatballs
500g fresh pork mince
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 1/2 cups oats
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 spoon parsley, finely chopped
Seasoning with salt and pepper
1 egg
Baking paper

Preheat oven to 200C

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Combine all ingredients together only using 1/2 cup oats.
Form small meatballs
Scatter the rest of the oats on a clean surface and roll the meatballs in them.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
Bake for half an hour in a hot oven.

For the sauce
1 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion
1 giant clove garlic or 4 small ones
A spoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon Dried Mixed Herbs
1/4 teaspoon chili powder ( leave out if you do not enjoy a hint of spicy :)
250 ml good red wine
Seasoning of salt and pepper

Parsley for garnish
200g haricot or navy beans
Bay leaf for cooking the beans. (See instructions at the top of this post to cook dried haricot beans. If you don’t have time use a
canned beans)

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Heat the oil on medium heat and add all the ingredients together without the wine
Cook through. Add the wine, cook for half an hour on low heat until the onion softens. Do not allow to dry and add some water if necessary. Turn off heat. Allow to cool. Blend until smooth. Return to heat. Add the haricot beans but leave some aside for garnish.

Add the meatballs. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the rest of the beans and parsley.
Serve. Left overs are great the next day as the meatballs soak in all the flavors from the sauce but the appearance is more mushy.

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Cottage Pie

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On the island we are starting to see the slow approach of fall. Summer lingers here for another month or so, but gone is the intense heat and heavy humidity.

Cottage Pie is one of my family’s favorite meals in the fall and winter months, comfort food that does not make you feel too guilty.

In old cookbooks it is shepherds pie which is made with lamb and I found out that the pie dish was also lined with mashed potatoes with the meat sandwiched in between two layers of mash.

I use very little butter as and no added oil.

You will need :

1 onion
1 carrot
1clove garlic finely chopped
500 grams good beef mince
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
Two bay leaves
2 cups stock
1/2 cup wine
2 tablespoons Bisto
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

5 large potatoes
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup skimmed milk, add more if necessary
Mature cheddar chesse, quantity as desired
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and chop the onion and carrot.

In a non stick pan cook the minced beef then add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic and carry on cooking until everything is soft but not browned.

Add the stock,bay leaves and wine and simmer on low to medium heat until the liquid reduces by about half.

Add the Worcestershire Sauce and dried herbs and stir.

Finally add the Bisto granules and the sauce will thicken.

Season with a very little salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove bay leaves. Scatter the choped parsley on top. Spoon into a non stick ovenproof dish and allow to cool before you top up with mashed potatoes.

Peel the potatoes, chop into quarters and place in a medium saucepan with cold water just covering the potatoes. Add a little salt to the water and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and place back on the heat for a few seconds to let any extra water evaporate. Mash the potatoes with the butter and add the skimmed milk. Season.

Preheat the oven to 190°Cor gas mark 5.

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Spoon or pipe the mashed potato over the mince. Sprinkle grated mature cheddar cheese on top if desired and bake for 20 minutes or until the potato is golden and the pie is heated through.

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Bulgar, Chickpea and Arugula Salad on Radio One

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During the Mid Morning Show every Wednesday we focus on fresh healthy cooking, herbs and the beneficial properties of ingredients. Listeners are invited to call in to discuss topics with us.

This week we spoke about the use of fruit in savory dishes and we had very good feedback from listeners.

Did you know that bulgar only contains 83 calories per 100g when cooked as opposed to 135 calories in rice, 131 in pasta, 112 in couscous and the big surprise was quinoa at 143.

And for this salad you need :

250g Bulgar Wheat (Medium)
A handful of arugula, chopped
2 peppered cheeselets (I used small local hand made cheeses [gbejna], for those who do not live on the island these are small hand made cheeselets from cow or goat milk weighing approximately 75g each)
2 tomatoes, chopped
a can of washed and drained chickpeas
4 dried apple rings (approximately 25g)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 red fresh chili pepper (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the bulgar in a large bowl for at least 4 hours. I like mine to soften as much as possible.
Drain the bulgar by passing it through a colander. Leave it to drain properly.
Place the bulgar in a serving dish. Add the arugula, tomatoes, chickpeas, peppered cheeses, dried apple pieces, basil and red chili pepper if you are using it.
Mix gently. Add salt and pepper, the grated lemon zest and mix. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and mix.
Serve or refrigerate.
This makes a great starter, main course or side.

It can also be refrigerated overnight and is delicious the next day.

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Simone and Renato will be with you tomorrow at 10am. I join them every Wednesday morning and look forward to hearing from you !

And this is Pumpkin month…

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Pumpkin month is here. So much choice and variety and at the end of this month we will see them adorned with lights, made into decorative carvings and used in all recipes imaginable, from soups to risottos and also desserts.

And we start our pumpkin bonanza of useful recipes here on the blog today using this very versatile ingredient. Here is a recipe for risotto that features in Smart Supermarket Magazine this month.

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And they are prepared …

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… to be delivered

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And transformed, my favorite one last year was Angryface !

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A delicious plate of risotto featured in Smart Supermarket magazine this month.

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If you are on the island do remember pumpkin feast in Manikata on Saturday 26th !

Home from Home, Casa Planeta

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From Sicily, see my trip this week to the vineyards of one of the greatest wine-making families at Casa Planeta on Mediterranean News everyday this week.
And here is the recipe of the day on today’s INews

Penne with Roasted pepper sauce and tonight the first thunderstorm…

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Simple, straightforward and delicious, here is how it is made:

Allow 75g to 110g of penne per portion depending on appetites

3 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
650 grams crushed, diced or whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2/3 cup grated pecorino cheese
A handful of Basil to decorate

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the salt then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve 2 ladles pasta water.
While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 200 C and roast the bell peppers until blackened. This will take about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool for 5 minutes. Discard the peel and seeds. Using a food processor, puree the bell peppers for 30 seconds.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed red pepper, then the pureed roasted bell peppers. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook on moderate heat stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and stir. Garnish with freshly grated pecorino and basil.

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And here are my favorite lilac butterflies from the House of Butterflies in Qrendi