Monday, 18 September 2017


It has been quite a shaky weekend after the terror attack on Friday. I have always been quite blasé in the past and never expected anything like this to happen in the little bubble of London where we live. I was at my daughter's school attending a PTA meeting when we heard the news of an explosion just down the road. The school and police were amazing and we were in lockdown within minutes. I felt completely safe and looked after however as time has passed, reality has sunk in, and our family have realised what a scary world we live in. 

Anyway I have been trying to explain to my 9 year old Arabella that we can't let the baddies win and instead we need to make the most of each moment and practise an "attitude of gratitude". Therefore it was a weekend of indulgence......Diner Style Chilli on Friday night, afternoon tea at the Langham on Saturday and then these meatballs on the Sunday (plus lots of donuts, ice cream and sweets in between)! This recipe is from Fay Ripley's first book, it took about an hour and ten minutes to make and is baby friendly.

Ingredients for 4 people:

For the meatballs:
60g fresh breadcrumbs
500g lean minced beef
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated (plus more for serving)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 medium eggs, beaten
Plain or spelt flour for coating
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
Olive oil
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
250ml low salt vegetable stock
2 tbsp red split lentils

To serve:
400g pasta or mashed potato or fresh baguette

Put the breadcrumbs, mince, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, Parmesan and nutmeg in a big bowl. Beat the eggs and then mix them in. Using a spoon and your hands, form into balls (about two bites in size) - mine were far too big but I don't think it mattered. Roll in flour and put in the fridge until needed.

Meanwhile make the sauce. In a large pan, fry the onion, celery and carrot over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Next add the chopped tomatoes, puree, stock and lentils and gently simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 180 C (fan) / 200 C / gas mark 6.

Whilst the sauce is cooking, fry the meatballs in a splash of olive oil, turning until brown on all sides. Keep them moving by shaking the pan so they don't stick. In an ovenproof dish / pan, mix the tomato sauce with the meatballs and then pop into the oven for 25 minutes. Ideally you want to put a lid on the dish / pan but I didn't have one - I don't think it mattered but keep your eye on the food as you don't want it to burn. Don't forget to cook your side if you are having one - we did pasta and it took 10 minutes in salted boiling water.

Once the pasta and meatballs are ready, serve them with a sprinkling of cheese or even a topping of sour cream. Not surprisingly I went for the cheese!

These were really good - not your usual Italian meatballs as you can clearly taste the lemon and thyme which goes wonderfully together. We all really enjoyed them especially Olympia - she actually preferred the meatballs to the pasta which I was most pleased about as I often worry she does not eat enough red meat. I loved the fact the sauce is packed with vegetables too. Another successful recipe from Fay. We froze the leftovers for Olympia although I was thinking I might have them myself with some garlic bread - a perfect autumnal supper.