Spaghetti and meatballs in a tomato sauce with basil

Comfort food for a bitterly cold day…  For the this dish, I pulled recipes from 2 different books. The meatballs are a modified version of Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas‘ take. The tomato sauce is the famous tomatada by David Leite  I use ever so often.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a tomato sauce with basil

Ingredients for the meatballs

  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 500g ground beef and pork
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried persil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper freshly ground
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Flour as needed

Ingredients for the tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 springs fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic gloves minced
  • 1 kg very ripped tomatoes, seeded and chopped* (or a couple of canned tomato, preferably san marzano, chopped, juices reserved).
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of double concentrated tomato paste, to taste
  • 1 small fresh medium red hot chilli pepper, such as Serrano, stemmed, seeded and chopped (it optional. Sometimes, I just add a few drops of piri piri sauce).
  • Freshly grounded salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Fresh basil
Ingredients for the spaghetti 
  • Spaghetti
  • Boiling water
  • Salt
  • A little bit of olive oil

Method

Heat the stove the 190 oC (=375 oF).

Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Add the sliced onions, a pinch of salt and pepper then sauté gently until soft and tender. When it is done add the minced garlic and let it fry for a 1 minute more.  Set aside to cool.

In a bowl combine the meat with the herbs, the eggs and the caramelised onion. Once the mix has aggregated, roll the  meatballs with your hands. Roll them in flour so all the surface is coated.

Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Gently brown the meatballs, about 5min, adding more olive oil if needed. Reserve the frying pan.

Place the meatballs in a baking tray coated with olive oil and put it in the stove for about 30min or until they feel solid.

In the meanwhile, start the tomato sauce. Use the frying where you browned the meatball. Add more oil if necessary, and heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions, parsley and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15min. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more.

Turn the heat to medium low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste and chilli pepper, if using. Bring to a simmer, cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30min.

Once the tomato sauce is done and the meatballs are out of the stove, you will need to combine both. Just drop gently the meatball in the frying pan, making sure the surfaces are coated. Let it simmer gently for about 20min.

In the meanwhile, boil spaghetti.  Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. If cooking dry spaghetti, use a mimimum of 500ml of water for each 100g. of dry spaghetti. Once the water is boiling, you will need to add the spaghetti. Reduce the heat so that the water is on a slow boil. Let it cook as said in the package. When ready, drain and add some olive oil to avoid sticking.

On a plate, put the spaghetti and on top the meatballs and the tomato sauce. Add a basil leaf for decoration and extra flavor.


Pork loin with roasted peppers and garlic & parsley olive oil

Of course I had to get Ferran Adrià‘s The Family Meal. How could I not, specially if Ferran Adrià promises dishes any cook can do, at an affordable price of  €5  per person?  And, this is the first dish I did. While I am very proud I could pull an Adrià dish all by myself, I also have to say it was not horribly complicated. It could even be a weekday meal…. The dish itself s great – the sweetness of the red pepper combines to perfection with the pork. The parsley and garlic olive oil is fresh and has a delicate flavour. All in all,  a delicious no-too-much-fuss.

Pork loin with roasted peppers and garlic & parsley olive oil 

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 2 large red peppers
  • 100mL olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 6 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 3 springs fresh parsley
  • 18 thin cut pork loin steaks

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Rinse the peppers, and then place in a roasting tin while still slightly wet.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for 45min

Fill a small saucepan with water then add the garlic. Bring the pan to boil.

Lift the garlic out of the water and into a bowl of iced water to quickly cool. Repeat this twice, starting with cold water  in the saucepan each time

After 45min, the peppers will be blackened and soft. Leave until cool enough to handle. Keep any juices that have collected in the pan.

Peel the skin from the peppers and remove the seeds. Do this over a bowl to catch any juices.

Cut the pepper flesh into thin strips. Put the peppers and the reserved juices into a pan and simmer over a low heat for 5min.

Pick the leaves from the parsley leaves from its stems.

Put the drained, blached garlic, parsley leaves and remaining oil into a tall jug or beaker. Process with a hand held blender until finely chopped.

Place a large frying pan over a high heat and add a little olive oil. Fry the pork for 1 1/2 min until golden on both sides and juicy in the middle.

Season the pork with salt and pepper, and serve with the peppers. Finish with a tablespoon of garlic and parsley oil.


Baked stuffed zucchini

Another recipe with minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these ingredients in the fridge. A few google searches after, I found this baked stuffed zucchini  on All Recipes. A few tweaks after, dinner was served.

Baked stuffed zucchini 

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp dried mint (fresh mint would have been better, but I had none left)
  • 450g g minced meet (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g tomato sauce (I used tomatada, but  passata or a lightly diluted tomato sauce could also work well)
  • 1 spring chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas 5). Cut each zucchini  in half lengthways and scoop out the pulpy centre with a teaspoon, leaving an outside shell, 1cm thick. Reserve the pulp, and chop lightly.

Place the zucchini in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender – they should pierce easily with a fork.

Mix the eggs with the chopped plum tomatoes, mint,  and pepper to season. Set aside.

Fry the minced meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato sauce,  reserved zucchini pulp and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture and mix together.

5. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.


Pan-fried pork with chestnuts

To keep up with the Autumn spirit, an old Portuguese classic. The sort of dish that reminds of home, rich, tasty  hearty. Just what you need for a cold grey day.

The recipe is by Chefe Silva, from his book Recipes for My Friends. The paprika is a replacement of colarau, a condiment used in Portuguese cuisine made with the different types of Capsicum. They are more or less the same, but colorau tends to have a stronger saltier taste and give a radioactive red color to the food.

Pan-fried pork with chestnuts

Ingredients

  • 700g pork (preferably loin or sirloin)
  • 1,5 dL white wine
  • Salt, pepper and paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 smashed gloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 750g frozen chestnuts

Method

Cut the meat into small pieces weighing app. 15g and season them with white wine, salt, pepper, paprika and the garlic. Let it marinate for about 1 hour. Then drain the meat, squeezing it very well. Save the marinade. Heat up the lard in heavy bottom frying pan, add the meat and let it fry at strong heat, stirring well. When brown add the chestnuts and let it fry for another 3 to 5 min. Then add the marinade you saved, and let reduce for about 2 min. Serve the dish with oranges or with apple jam.


Stuffed tomatoes

This dish started with a culinary crisis. What to to cook for dinner when all you have in the fridge is minced meat, loads of good looking tomatoes and you are not allowed carbohydrates? Easy solution: stuffed tomatoes. Technically, stuffed tomatoes have rice or bread crumbs on their filling. But, I was not going that detail to get in the middle of a respectable meal.

Stuffed tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg of tomato (it depends a lot on the size of the tomatoes).
  • 500g  of minced meat (for best results, I use a mix of pork and beef)
  • 3 small yellow  onions finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic grounded
  • Olive oil
  • Chinese five-spice powder to taste (or, if you want a more mediterranean taste a mix of rosemary, tarragon, thyme, oregano and basil).
  • Hot paprika
  • Sultanas to taste.
  • Quark to taste
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Method

Slice off the top of the tomatoes and hollow out with a spoon, leaving a thick shell (about 2cm).

In a large frying pan, put about 2 table spoons of olive oil and let it heat until is sizzling. Put the onions and the garlic and mix well.  Season with  freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Put the heat to medium and let the onions caramelize.

When the onions are golden and soft, add the minced meat and mix well. Add the Chinese five-spice powder and the paprika to test. Let the minced meat brow. If you want, you can add sultanas.

Once the meat is brown, add quark until you obtain a consistent paste.

Fill the tomatoes with this mix and  put them on a oven proof dish, previously greased with olive oil (a thin layer will do). Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15min at 200 oC.


Roasted pork loin with orange and apple jam

2010-12-25_19-1
Around 1975, long before celebrity chef storm over the global media outlets, the Portuguese Chef Silva had a very popular TV show called Tele Culinária [Tele Culinary]. Every week, all the country stopped in front of the tele to watch Chef Silva doing his creations, normally with loads of cream, double cream and different types of fat. It was such a popular TV show that it soon became a weekly magazine, with a special section for the televised recipe (apparently, first number went out on October 4th, 1976). My Mother never forgot to buy it and consistently gave a go to some of the recipes. Some of them became part of the family tradition – like the pumpkin cakes she always does on Christmas.

The roasted pork loin with orange was taken from Recipes for My Friends, a recently edited book. On the forefront, Chef Silva explains that these are the things he cooks whenever he entertains as “life tastes sweeter when friends and family join you at the table”. By the look of it, you can almost feel Chef Silva dictating from memory or looking for scribbled papers tucked away into the kitchen drawer.

Chef Silva recommends to serve the roasted pork with orange quarters. But, I thought that would be too many citruses in the same plate, and decided to go for apple jam instead. This is my Mother’s recipe, passed along in a moment of despair during a trip to the supermarket. “Why spend all that money in a sugary artificial paste, when it takes less than 20 minutes to to it home…. go and fetch some apples! You kids cannot value money and properly made food”. She was, as most of times, right.

Roasted pork loin with orange

Ingredients

  • 800g of pork loin (I used shoulder, following the butcher’s recommendation)
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 50g lard (impossible to find here, I used olive oil instead)
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • cloves

Method

Poor the wine over the meat and season it with salt and pepper. Place on the tray greased with the lard and roast it on a oven set for 160oC for about 35min. Turn the meat occasionally.

In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce: heat up the sugar in a small pan and stir it with a wooden spoon until it browns (brown, not burnt, I may add. It is really important to stir it at all times). Add 2dl of orange juice, 2 cloves and thin orange peels cut into diamond like shapes (slowly, otherwise the sugar will crystallize; if it does, just keep stirring until it dissolves). When serving, stick the diamonds to the meat using cloves.

Serve the orange sauce apart.

Apple jam

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg apples (bitter apples give best results)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method

Peel and cut the apples in quarters. Put in a sauce pan with about 100ml of water, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Let it simmer for 10 min or until the apples start to feel apart. Remove the Cinnamon and blend it with a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.  ith a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.