There are 52 weekends in a year. Let's see where each of them takes me-- at home, in the kitchen, outdoors, next door, or overseas. (Maybe I could even post something in between.) Happy weekend!
Winter is fast approaching in many parts of the world. We here in Sydney are quite the opposite, with summer giving us glimpses of its warm and sunny (occasionally muggy) days at the tail end of spring.
Not long from now, we’re going to have sand between our toes and maybe a strawberry banana smoothie to keep us cool and refreshed. A quick dip in the still-freezing ocean is likely— while wishful-thinking about the tropical waters of the Philippines.
Last winter, when the beach took a back seat, we drove away from the coast, explored a little bit of the country, and spent an afternoon in the vineyards of Hunter Valley.
One thing I took home from this trip was the taste of sauteed greens in my mouth— the side dish we had for lunch. When we got home, we tried to recreate the recipe based on the flavors we could remember. It has made a regular appearance on our home menu ever since, and it whenever it does, it transports us back to our rustic little table overlooking the vineyard.
Here’s our version of Black Creek Farm’s sauteed greens:
250 grams of bacon (or as much as you like, really)
a handful of brussels sprouts
a handful of round beans
Bake the bacon in an oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. (You can also pan-fry, but I find baking to be the easier and healthier option.) While the bacon is in the oven, prepare the brussel sprouts. Here’s where I learned how. Also, prepare the green beans by cutting off the ends.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, and saute the garlic until a tad bit golden. Add the greens and saute until they’re tender but not mushy, and then add the bacon at the last minute. (Because the bacon is already salty, I don’t add any more salt.) Season with a dash of pepper.
I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen the day before Easter making meatballs, since we just stayed in Sydney over the Holy Week.
Meatballs are definitely on my top 3 list of most convenient dishes to serve (even though it does take a bit of time to make them). It takes about an hour or so to prepare the meat, shape them, and then bake/fry them until golden.
This, however, is time invested—not wasted, I assure you.
Mix half a kilo of lean pork mince with half a kilo of lean beef mince. (You can also use veal.) Add diced onions, half a cup of milk and half a cup of breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. (I usually stick with this simple recipe— thank you, Ma!, but feel free to add other herbs and spices that you might like.) Mix all the ingredients together. I start by using a spoon, and then use my hands.
It’s best to mold the mixture while the meat is still cold, and not completely thawed to room temperature. It’s not difficult to shape them at all. For that I give credit to my sculpting skills which I had developed in my early childhood while playing with Play-Doh. (See, there is a purpose for these toys!)
The cooking time also depends on the size of the meatballs, as they must be cooked thoroughly on the inside. (I like molding them into the size of ping-pong balls, and it takes about 25 mins to bake one batch of these in the oven).
I must also mention that I prefer baking over frying, as this is the healthier alternative, and I don’t believe it makes much of a difference on the taste or texture. Putting them in the oven is also more convenient for me, as I can use the time to do other things in the kitchen. (I multi-task a lot.) But of course, never leave the oven unattended.
After cooking, I wait until the meatballs have cooled down. I then store them in a freezer-safe container and stock them up in the freezer. When it’s time to serve, I simply thaw/defrost them for a few hours before reheating in the microwave. (Here’s a tip: I move the meatballs into the fridge the day before I plan to serve them. But if you have to take them from the freezer at the last minute, the defrost function of your microwave should come in handy.)
Meatballs are very versatile, as they can take the lead role in several different meals. So even though I make them in big batches, we don’t get tired of them too easily. (We also alternate them with other dishes.)
There’s a lot you can do with meatballs: Serve with your favorite gravy and mashed potaoes on the side. Or add to your spaghetti bolognese or pomodoro. My mom also makes a sauce to turn them into sweet and sour meatballs. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas. (Feel free to share them with me!)
Here’s one meatball dish that’s a favorite in our home: Spaghetti Meatballs!
Top left: Take a serving of spaghetti and top with meatballs.
Top right: Pour in your favorite tomato-based sauce (like bolognese or pomodoro).
Lower left: Sprinkle with parmesan. I like putting a generous amount.
Lower right: Best served when shared! :)