Sunday, July 08, 2007

From tapas to lunch to dinner, Albondigas

Next time I'm going to travel with food blogger friends to a big city I will bring an empty suitcase! On our last morning in London I had to rush out after I tried to close my suitcase (yes I did the sitting and jumping on the lid thing) and buy another bag.... The suitcase was closed but that was about all you could say, I didn't even dare look at it for fear it would jump open! For safety reasons and balance I divided the contents (books and books and loaf pan(!)) between the two.

What can you expect? We joined Joanna at Joannas Food for a lunch at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill and had a blast. Instant rapport with each other, the customers and the super friendly staff, 'cause everyone that enters this shop is having at least one thing in common: love for cookbooks! Besides browsing and reading (oh and they know what we need, they even have a couch there!) and making our own not-so-secret stashes of books to buy, we had a -heavily photographed- wonderful lunch in the testkitchen's tiny restaurant. Of course all four of us bought the book that was test-cooked that day. (100 Great Tapas by Pippa Cuthbert). The next stop was the Spice Shop right across the road.... Another foodies paradise!

The first dinner I made once back home were the Spanish meatballs, or Albondigas. A simple yet elegant dish with clean pure flavours, easy to love by both adults and kids. Cooks for Books served this on Orzo, I cooked rigatoni and added blanched broccoli.

Recipe: (adapted from 100 great Tapas by Pippa Cuthbert)

250 gr. "half and half" ground beef (in Holland that's pork and beef)
250 gr. lean ground beef
1/2 ts chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
3 tbs fresh chopped parsley, divided
2 small onions, finely chopped
2-4 tbs flour

2 tbs olive oil
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 ts sweet paprika powder
700 gr tomato pulp/canned chopped tomatoes
2-3 very ripe tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
Mix both ground meats in a large bowl with chili flakes, garlic, parsley, half the chopped onion. Season generously with salt and pepper. Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and shape into small walnut sized balls. Sprinkle flour on a plate and roll the balls on the plate to lightly coat with flour.

Heat 1 tbs of the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs until brown all over, keep tossing and stirring. Once brown, transfer to a large ovenproof dish which holds the balls in a single layer. Heat remaining tbs oil in same pan and add onion, diced bell pepper and paprika powder, sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the passata and add tomatoes, bring to a boil and cook for a further 3 minutes. Season to taste. Pour sauce over the meatballs and cook, uncovered, in a preheated oven (190C/375F) for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking.

Serve as it is as tapas, on orzo like Books for Cooks did for lunch, couscous or Tarly will be nice as well. We had this for dinner with rigatoni and broccoli. Nice light red wine... Really good flavours and very child-friendly as well. A sure keeper!


  1. It was a perfectly wonderful foodie lunch and afternoon. Contributed to my more bread cookbook count!
    A fabulous looking adaptation of the meatballs!

  2. Glad the recipe was a good one, I haven't had a chance to cook from the book yet (!). On that memorable day, I didn't know what orzo was, and now I find I don't know what Tarly is, either ... can you enlighten me? Then I will know for sure that that day was well spent - do you remember we talked about how several of us had grandparents who taught us that you should try to learn one new thing every day. Such good advice.


  3. Joanna, you know I have been thinking about your grand dad's words several times since? Indeed good advice!
    Well, the Tarly is a tricky one, I've tried to find a translation or at least a link/picture on the Internet. All I could find was in Dutch... It's in fact a brand name from Honig. Best I can come up with: "a pre-cooked wheat kernel", served al dente it gives a nice bite, and a slightly nutty flavor. I added it anyway because the texture of the orzo reminded me of Tarly. Dutch readers will be able to find it I hope...

  4. This brought back memories for me! During the two years I lived in London I would visit that neighborhood at least once a month and spent most of my time on that street, browsing my two favorite book shops : Books for Cook and the Travel Bookstore across it.

    You guys are having such a blast! I am envious but enjoying every bit of your stories and pictures. :)

  5. Memories of a great trip! Your meatballs look so good! I wonder if the staff at Books for Cooks have recovered from our visit? Tonight we are cooking Pheasant Legs in Dijon Sauce from the Game Cookbook I got Mark while there. Glad both of your suitcases made it home safely!! We most certainly did have a ball!

  6. This looks really yummy! I'd love a big helping over some rice. :D

  7. I love albondigas! You really did all have a ball didn't you. Sorry no pun intended the albondigas. My grandmother also used to give that advice. To learn one new thing a day. It has stuck with me ever since.


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