A Family Meal

Delicious Family Meal.
March is the month I learnt how to cook Italian meatballs. It was a long time ago in nineteen seventy-four. I remember vividly the first lesson to learn Italian cooking at Nonna Bocchino’s kitchen. I was so keen, happy, grateful, and I am always.  The dish lives with us, it is one of our favourite food. Braised meatball in tomato sauce is the best family meal that everyone should have.

The Recipe is my recipe, and I love to share with you.  It is based what I cooked last week.

Braised Meatballs

500g mince meat
55 g ham off the bone, chopped finely
85 grated of cheeses (Parmesan and Cheddar)
55g bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 onions, 3 clove garlic, chopped finely
1teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, mix to get her to combine
Take an about 125 of the mixture, shape into a ball /longish ball
Do the rest with the meat mixture you make eight meatballs.
Pan fry them until golden brown
Add braised tomato with vegetables, cook bring to simmer.
Keep on cooking, braise the meatballs for two hours!

Cooking and Preparation of the Meatballs
The meatballs ingredients.  The meat mixture to shape into meatballs.


Pan fried meatballs until golden brown.
Braised meatballs in tomato sauce for one hour and a half.

The Meatballs Mixture
mince meat, chopped ham off the bones, chopped onions, garlic, oregano, shredded cheeses-cheddar,
and Parmesan, dry breadcrumbs, lightly beaten egg, ground white pepper and salt

Take about 125g of the meat mixture and shape it into a longish ball. You could make about eight meatballs of the mixture

Pan fry until golden, turn it over the meatballs to get the even colour even cooking.

Add in tomato herbs and vegetable sauce which has been braised for
an hour and continue cooking over low heat for one hour or two.

Meatballs is served with a salad

To serve the meatballs with a fresh salad following a pasta dish.
Use the sauce to mix with a pasta and dress the pasta with Parmesan cheese to start the meal. Followed by the beautiful braised meatball garnished with a salad.

I do this sequence anytime when we have Italian Meal.

Pictures from my cooking in the past.
Spirali pasta served with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

The salad is any mixed leafy vegetables, dressed with vinegar, salt and olive oil.

Radicchio salad dressed with balsamic vinegar I love the best, but often this vegetable is hard to get and not easy to plant in my experience.
I have a variety of mix green and edible flowers for our table at any time as we love the fresh vegetable salad.

The time when my vegetable garden was doing very well we had lovely harvests.
Where are they now, this is my question about my asparagus, OK the plants are living, and I let them be, they show their leaves only but the new shoots never appear.  We harvested about five asparagus spears this year.
It is a problem that I have to fix.

As for my meatballs cooking, the dish is a winner even though my grandchildren are not so keen just yet, but in time they will love it.

Have the recipe a go, you may like it especially the dish freezes very well.


Until Next Post




The Priest . . . . . . . . .

Fresh Aubergine with Herbs
Aubergine or Eggplant is the summer vegetable which is excellent for cooking vegetarian dishes, it has beautiful colour from creamy white, soft green to purple.  There are legendary tales in regard to this beautiful vegetable, such as Aubergine Imam Baaldi, Pope’s Aubergine.  Story to tell.
Now is early autumn, but I saw a lot of them in the market at a cheap price, I think it is time to buy and preserve them, I made a spicy dish Brinjal Bhartha or Baingan Bhartha which will be a treat for me If I long for Indian food. Aubergine is a very precious vegetable to cook when you do it right. There are techniques in regard to the preparation and cooking the aubergines.
Brinjal Bhartha

A lot can be done with aubergines, it seems every country has their own way of cooking. Using herbs, and spices are the key to my cooking with aubergine.
In my kitchen, cooking eggplant (aubergine).  It is eggplant to me.
For a quick meal and serve on the day is simply diced and fried or sliced and poached. Diced eggplant, fried in oil with chilli and other spices is excellent to served with steamed rice or serve it as topping for toasted bread. Sliced eggplants poached in coconut milk with hot spices and cook until soft, is delicious to serve with rice too. And more, I would crumb the slices eggplants and fry them to accompany meat dishes and garnished with potatoes. And of course you could add in the ratatouille, what would you do if you don’t have the eggplants for cooking the dish, it does not taste the same.

Baked stuffed eggplants with Fetta cheese and herbs works very well and served it with fresh salad, and bread. The preparation of the stuffed eggplant was so simple and quick, simply cut along the centre, but don’t cut it through. Stuff it with full cream Fetta cheese and dried oregano, salt and thyme,
Brush or drizzle with oil before baking, and bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes or until soft.
Serve hot or warm with a fresh green salad for the garnish.

Another beautiful dish using aubergine is the poor man caviar. It is a smooth pureed of baked aubergine flavoured with herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. Serve as a dip or you could use it as a spread.

Serving Imam Baaldi my way

Now I like to try the Turkish cookery. Aubergine is very common vegetable over there, and the dish Aubergine Imam Baaldi is one of the Turkish contributions to the world.
I used a large eggplant, but you could use smallish eggplants.

The Recipe
A Large and fresh aubergine, slit it along the entire length without peeling
Scoop out some of the pulp, set aside.
The filling:
1/4 cup of oil
Aubergine pulps, tomatoes, onions, and currents
Sautee this mixed vegetable and currents in oil until soft
Fill the aubergines with the filling.
Put them onto earthware dish or a pot and pour in some oil to cover them completely. Add thyme and bay leaf. Bake in a medium low heat oven until the aubergines are soft about two hours. Leaf to cool.
This dish should be served very cold. Prepare it the day before it is required, to allow the aubergines to be well saturated in oil.

Imam Baaldi in Turkish means ‘ the priest has fainted’
The legend goes that when aubergines prepared in this way were offered to a certain imam (priest), he was so moved by the fragrant odour of the dish that he fainted from sheer gastronomical joy.
(Based on New Larousse Gastronomique)

Cooking the Imam Baaldi in my Kitchen.

Serving Imaam Baaldi garnished with fresh herbs.

Have fun to try cooking  Imam Baaldi (the priest has fainted), well I loved it.

If you think eggplant or aubergine is a second-rate vegetable, you may have to think twice. It makes a celebrated dish on your dinner party such as the Pope’s Aubergines.

More tales about this aubergines.

Pope’s Aubergines is a Provencal aubergine flan which legend tells was created especially for one of the popes of Avignon. It is glorious in flavour, clerical in looks with its sombre base crowned with a golden crust of cheese, the whole surrounded by a scarlet tomato sauce. (Simple French Cuisine by Jenny Baker).

The origin of the name: The name supposedly derives from a tale of a Turkish imam, who swooned with pleasure at the flavour when presented with this dish by his wife, although other more humorous accounts suggest that he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish. [5]
Another folktale related that an imam married the daughter of an olive oil merchant. Her dowry consisted of twelve jars of the finest olive oil, with which she prepared each evening an eggplant dish with tomatoes and onions. On the thirteenth day, there was no eggplant dish at the table. When informed that there was no more olive oil, the imam fainted.[6] (Wikipedia)

The day I served my cooking the stuffed eggplant, my family did not faint, they were in silent instead, as they were enjoying the delicious dish. It’s very pleasing.

Thanks to Aubergine-Eggplant, I had so much fun to cook and enjoyed the dish, also it is good to know the legendary tales of Aubergine Iman Baaldi. Ridiculously funny, so humorous!


Until Next Post


Preserved Olives

Preserved olives in brine work very well for me, as you know there are methods of preserving olives, but it is a little too salty. To get rid of the salty taste is by soaking the olives in the water and change the water every hour and do as many to achieve it.  I did try this method, and it helped but the olives are salty still.  Anyway,  I decided to dress and keep in small jars, I think of my children and friends I am sure they love it and they can use it for cooking or for pizza topping.

The Process of Dressing The olives, Home Baked Pizza and Bread.

Soak the olive in water, and change to a fresh water hourly.  I did it 7 times.
Olive oil, dry oregano, rosemary and dry chilli flake you need for the dressing.
Clean jars with tight lids or hermetic glasses would be the best.
Label all the jars and keep in a cooler and dark place in the pantry.

I must buy the label, but now they are sitting in the pantry at a dark place.

I baked pizza with this preserves and also I baked olive bread which was very good.
The Pizza

Pitted Olives for Olive Bread

The Olive Bread
Preparing the dough.

The olive bread ready for baking and the freshly baked bread.

The freshly baked olive bread was crusty and the smell was so inviting.
Let it cool, and cut to slice.

Beautiful Olive Bread with a crusty outside and soft and chewy crumb.
Absolutely a treat.
The fresh herbs in the kitchen, basil, thyme, rosemary and the fresh dressed olives were made me think of Provence.  Indeed we loved the food when we were there. We loved and enjoyed the homemade preserved olives, home baked pizza and the bread.

A very good time in the kitchen for the season, Autumn is cool and beautiful.  The home preserved olives were good and deliciously dressed.

There will be more posts soon, enjoy the Season.


Until Next Post


A Cool Place and A Cool Room

It is good to see the potted plants are growing well at the cool area especially the potted hydrangea. A story to tell about this plant, when I planted, it was a pink cap hydrangea and this year it flowers so beautifully. Now the pink flowers are faded and changed to a dusky greenish pink. as the last season is almost over.  However, the new growths are in flowers right now, and they are blue colour instead of pink.  I don’t know what is going on.  One plant has two colours, the first flowering was pink, and now is blue, it is odd but I like it.

On a hot day, is nice and enjoyable to spend time outside at the shady area, it is a cool place where potted plants grow such as hydrangea, monstera deliciousa and ferns.

In fact, my espalier apple tree which is growing in a pot is happy enough sitting at the cool place.  It is protected by the wind but it gets the morning sun.  The proof is that the espalier apple is bearing fruits and they are getting bigger every day and eventually they will turn to red.  I look at it daily and indeed pleases me.

A time that escaping from the hot heat is a must, and happy to be inside.  It is good to create an ambience which suggests that it is a cool place simply put fern-maiden hair fern and greens plants there.  You would be relaxed and enjoy the coolness of the room.
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Today is the first Autumn Day, and it is very pleasant not too hot outside and cool inside the house.  Even though by the late afternoon we sat in the living room with the cooler on.  Well, we need it, the ferns and greens there for us and they will grow well too.
We will still have hot days to come, but the cool place outside rescues us, we are alright outside.  Inside!?  From the cool place outside to a cool room is what we want, and it is ours.

Summer is over, and now the new season is here.  In Autumn often hot spell arrives and we know where to escape.   Keep cool everyone, and enjoy Autumn, the new season.


Until Next Time