On Top of Spaghetti…

… all covered in cheese.  I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.

If you were ever a child (and I think that most of us were) then you’ve probably heard at least the first verse of the popular folk song “On Top of Spaghetti”.  When my nephews came to stay for a week over the summer holidays, my eldest nephew constantly sang it for about two days until I introduced them both to Ging Gang Goolie.  They’re seven and five so that went down well.

With that brain worm firmly stuck in my head I announced to the boys that we were going to make spaghetti meatballs.  The deal when they come to my house is that I’ll cook their favourite meals, but they have to help.  Granny does the washing up.

I had a packet of Heck’s chicken Italia sausages in the fridge that needed eating, so instead of going to the butcher’s for some pork sausage meat, I slid the sausages out of their cases and used those as the basis of the meatballs.  Because they’re made from chicken it gives the meatballs a lighter and more delicate texture than pork, and allows the Italian flavours to shine through.

For a sauce we made my famous Italian “splodge”, which is basically made from whatever vegetables are in the fridge, a tin of tomatoes and Italian herbs and spices.  I’ve been making it for so many years that I no longer even have to think about what I’m doing, it’s just second nature to me.

The boys really enjoyed making the meatballs, although they were both a little uncertain about getting their hands into the mixture and rolling it into balls.  Once I’d got them started though, it was difficult to persuade them to stop!

Mum told me when we were about halfway through cooking the meal that the boys don’t like meatballs.  You can imagine my response!  They delighted in proving her wrong and both of them went back for seconds.

All in all, it was a quick and fun recipe that got us all involved in the kitchen.  Plus it tasted great too!


On Top of Spaghetti Meatballs
Feeds: 4    Takes: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
340g Heck chicken Italia sausages meat1
35g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
Dash of Lea & Perrins
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 red pepper, finely sliced
200g dried spaghetti
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Remove the sausages from their casing and place in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl and mash the sausage innards and crumbs together with a fork.  Using your hands, scoop up pieces of the meat mixture and form into evenly sized balls.

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. When the oil has heated, add the meatballs to the pan.  Fry the meatballs for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they’ve browned on all sides.

Remove the meatballs from the frying pan and set aside. Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, and diced celery to the frying pan and sauté until the onion turns translucent.

Tip the onion, garlic, and oil into a medium saucepan and add the tomato puree. Place the saucepan over a medium heat.  Mix the puree in with a wooden spoon, then add the chopped tomatoes to the pan.  Stir well.

Add a dash of Lea & Perrins, and the paprika, basil and oregano.  If you happen to drop the entire container of basil into the sauce, don’t panic.  Sam did the exact same thing and it still tasted amazing.

Stir the new ingredients into the tomato sauce and simmer for five minutes.  Add the meatballs and red pepper to the saucepan, stir them in and allow to continue simmering, stirring occasionally.

Cook your spaghetti according to the packet instructions and then drain. Serve with the meatballs, smothered in cheese.

Roast Goa’uld

AKA oak-smoked pork loin.

I recently spent a weekend with some old friends in Somerset who have all the kit needed to hot and cold smoke food.  As an added bonus, they’re also accomplished wood-turners so they have large bags filled with shavings and tagged with delicious labels like maple, apple, and oak.  Fortunately it didn’t take much begging to persuade them to set everything up so we could play.

Blog Cold-smoker

After four hours of careful tending, the first batch of maple smoked goodies were ready.  That night we feasted on cheese, bread, pate and smoked mushrooms cooked in butter (the mushrooms were slightly disappointing).  The following day, we loaded up the smoker with oak shavings and more food, including a pork loin.

When the second batch was done, we decided to marinade the pork loin before cooking it.  After rooting around in their kitchen cupboards, I assembled a batch of ingredients and went to work.  Once the marinade was ready, we realised that the pork had a distinct resemblance to a Goa’uld… complete with mouth, eye, fins, and tail.  Blog - Goa'uld uncooked

That Goa’uld spent the rest of the day and night in the fridge, being shaken every time one of us passed through the kitchen.  Meanwhile we learnt that camembert take to smoke well and brie prefers maple smoke over oak.  I thought that the oak worked better on cheddar, but my friends preferred maple.  Red Leicester on the other hand was delicious with either smoke, as was the bacon.  The maple smoked sausages were brilliant and my friends let me take the oak smoked ones home, where they made a truly spectacular toad-in-the-hole.

The next day we roasted the pork loin for 40 minutes at 180C, spooning the marinade over it halfway through, rested it, and then carved it up.  Now I’m not the biggest fan of barbeque, but this was probably the best barbeque I’ve ever tasted.  Particularly since it was roasted not barbequed!  Sweet and succulent, salty and smoky, the flavours mingled and lingered on the palate.  Definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.


Goa’uld Marinade
1 oak-smoked pork loin
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Combine ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from fridge and allow meat 20 minutes to come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.  Pour excess marinade into a bowl or jug and roast pork for 40 minutes, spooning over some of the reserved marinade halfway through.  Remove and rest for 5-10 minutes.  Carve and serve.