Meat Ball Sandwiches and Raspberry Shortcakes.

Once again this week I have been let off the cooking duties ( well almost), as the two youngest of the houseguests Sam 6 and Tess 11 decided that they would cook. Sam was desperate to cook meat ball sandwiches and Tess with her copy of “One Tray Bakes” wanted to make the Strawberry Shortcakes.

I had done my research regarding the meatballs and had saved in my electronic filing system the recipe for IKEA MEATBALLS! IKEA has been making meat balls for nearly 40 years and now have four different kinds. They added the vegetarian version along with the chicken version in 2015, and the salmon and cod version in 2018. In 2019 they started experimenting with a plant based protein version as well. But come what may we or rather Sam was going to make the meat version.

I rummaged in my freezer and came up with minced beef and Turkey breast. The IKEA meat version called for a combination of pork and beef but Turkey and Beef would have to suffice, after all it was Sunday afternoon and no grocery stores were open. This quantity makes between 35 and 40 meatballs. We actually made 38, which meant Sam having to use his 7 x table to work out how many we each could have! (5 each and three remaining ).

  • 500 grams minced beef
  • 500 grams minced pork/chicken or Turkey
  • 1large onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 minced cloves garlic
  • 2-3 eggs
  • A splodge of milk if too stiff.
  • 150 grams breadcrumbs, I used panko crumbs
  • Simply mix all together, it is absolutely better to stick your hands and and mix
  • Using a spoon or even an ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball
  • Roll in some flour and put on a baking tray, try not to let them touch as they will stick together.
  • At this point they may be placed in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  • Heat some oil in a frying pan and carefully fry them just until light brown on all sides
  • Place back onto the baking tray and bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes

IKEA meatballs are always served with a cream sauce and this can be made easily by

  • 40 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 300 mls beef stock
  • 200 mls crème fraiche or sour cream, or double cream
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • A good dollop of Dijon mustard
  • Melt the butter
  • Stir in cornflour
  • Pour in the stock and stir, if it goes lumpy, whisk
  • Add the cream, mustard and soya sauce,
  • bring to the boil
  • Taste, serve over the meatballs or as in our case on our meatballs, on French bread.

Meanwhile Miss Tess was eager to make her dessert. But first things first, we are at altitude, and so the recipe needs adapting, altering the oven temperature, the amount of sugar, the amount of baking powder and liquid. Once that was done, it was easy sailing . She was eager to ‘Do it her way’ but a few corrections to instructions were needed ( like pre heat the oven ). The end result was excellent and much appreciated. Due to the distinct lack of berries ( read absolutely NONE, no strawberries, raspberries,blackberries, red currants, black currants, not even white currants or gooseberries! NADA, ZILCH, NICHTS! ) raspberry jam and whipped cream had to suffice. I would like to say that these delights were much more in the way of American Biscuits than English scones or Shortcakes, but that does not distract from their yummiest! The recipe and instructions are adapted from the book.

  • 350 grms flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125 grms chilled unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 275 mls milk or buttermilk or sour milk
  • To serve
  • Cream and berries or jam

The absolute simplest way to make these is to put everything, except the milk into a food processor. Switch on and process and it will form breadcrumbs look-a- like. With the machine running pour in the milk and it will go thump thump and form a ball.

Scrap out onto a floured board, knead slightly to form a ball and roll out gently to about an inch thick. Cut into rounds about 2-3” , place on a greased baking tray ( or a non stick one) and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Best eaten the day they are made, but then again, why would there be any left!

Key Lime Pie with Speculoos

This week, it would seem that we have been more or less taking it in turns to create in the kitchen.

Himself was left home alone whilst #1 daughter, kids and I decamped down the mountain to the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy. It is in an amazing setting, with a huge lake and the whole is surrounded by mountains and hills. The downside is, as it is so beautiful, both in winter and summer is that it is a huge tourist attraction. Summer is particularly bad and more so this year because the French are also Staycationing ! ( Les Vacances en places). Consequently, there are the locals who wish to enjoy their wonderful town, lake, mountains and beaches, and the visitors who wish to do the same.

Parking proved to be a nightmare, all Complet! The French and Belgians are very apt to do as they please in these circumstances, and that is Double Park! Which of course adds to the chaos! And then the almost extinct priorité à droite. Which is really very interesting, as in the middle of the old town there are lots of minor crossroads, all of which have to give way to each other! The end result ? GRIDLOCK !

Abandoning our sortie into town, we headed to the beach where said daughter was interviewing and taking part in Freediving. Another first though a challenge with the French Electric charging point, in which we succeeded, before beach and diving ( not me you understand,); I was happy to ‘ Babysit’ on dry land.

Meanwhile, himself taught himself how to make crumble, which was much admired followed by Miss Tess making a Key Lime Pie and then a Pad Thai for dinner!

A true Key Lime Pie is made with what Americans call Key Limes, which are in fact more like Mexican limes, they are smaller and nowhere near as green as the limes that we find in Europe and are best used when the skin has turned a dull yellow. Beware they do contain many more pips. Another feature of the typical Key Lime Pie is the base, again traditionally made with Graham crackers crushed ( akin to Digestives) but can also be made with Speculoos, ginger nuts etc. Some recipes also say a pastry base, but this is a bit contentious to my mind. Key Lime pie is never green ( do not use green colouring) and is always made with condensed milk, as fresh milk was unavailable in the Florida Keys until about 1930. In 2006 , Key Lime Pie was made the official Pie of the State of Florida! And was winner

For a Nine inch pie/ Flan tin

Following on from Tess my 11 year old granddaughter I decided also to make a Key Lime pie. She made hers in an oblong 9×13” pan. But I opted for the more traditional pie or flan pan.

  • For the Base
  • 10 Oz of Speculoos, or any other biscuits such as digestives or ginger nuts, crushed
  • 75 grms unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar ( optional as the biscuits are already fairly sweet)
  • For the Filling
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 Oz / 3/4Cup of Lime juice, bottled is fine
  • 1 large can (400 grms) of sweetened condensed milk
  • Grated zest of 2 limes ( optional)

Heat the oven to 190 C.

Crush the biscuits and mix with the sugar and melted butter. Press into the pie dish including the sides. ( a pan with a loose bottom is good and an easy way to extract the pie from the pan when ready to serve.)

Bake the crust for about 12 minutes only and in the meantime prepare the filling, by beating together the Lime Juice, condensed milk and the egg yolks, along with the lime zest if using. Pour into the crumb case and bake on the middle shelf for about another 20-25 minutes. It should be set round the edges and have a slight wobble in the middle.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before refrigerating, and serve with whipped cream and lime zest or thin slices of lime.

I just saw a recipe for Key Lime pie that needed no cooking whatsoever! Firstly it used a shop bought base and secondly the condensed milk was then incorporated with Cool Whip. For the uninitiated, cool whip is an American product that to my mind is just awful, but Hey Ho, who am I to judge .

Kraft Cool Whip’s first ingredient is water, followed by hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and — finally — skim milk. From its name, you would think that the cream part of this “whipped topping” would appear higher on the list. Alas, Cool Whip is mostly just syrupy oil.

Hot Fudge Sauce, and Grocery shopping!

I now know why I have fallen in love with online grocery shopping! ( in London at least). Here we are in the French Alps, with the nearest grocery store 7 km away, down 7 hairpins and a detour through the next village. We never know if it is open all day or if it going to close for a three hour lunch break. The hours change on a regular basis. And on top of that is it not my favourite in the base case, ( ah! I said to the manager, Did you know you have Mice? Ah Madam, it is a grocery store, of course there are mice !)

Consequently, I choose to drive down a couple of mountains to a larger store that is guaranteed to be open over lunch, the bonus being that the average French person in the neighbourhood goes home for lunch, hence not so many people shopping.

But the effort, the schlepping of the groceries in general , the bottles of water, wine and beer. I had forgotten just how hard work it is. Drive, shop, pack, schlepp to car, drive, unload, schlepp once more into house. Unpack, sort, put away. Phew it is quiet exhausting! And as we are currently 7 that amounts to a lot of groceries!

This week, Himself decided that he and young Sam would make pasta, a lot of work for 7 people, but as the weather is not conducive to Barbecuing or eating outside, Pasta seems a good option.

Sam in Pasta making mode

Himself, has in the past made pasta though I have to admit I’m not a big fan of it, I would prefer to eat a salad, but when needs must. Many of the recipes call for a multitude of eggs but the one which I tend to use, uses just a couple of eggs to 200 grams of flour. In London I use pasta flour, but here the local supermarket did not have any, so plain flour had to suffice.

So Himself and young Sam made triple the quantity, which in fact was more than needed, so much so that we could recycle the next day. Day one consisted of pasta with a Bolognaise sauce or Pasta with a Garlic Mushroom cream sauce. Guess which one I chose!

For the recycle dinner we had Fish Tempura and the leftover pasta, sautéed with broccoli florets and chopped chillies and garlic.

Dessert was homemade vanilla Ice Cream and hot fudge sauce.

It is very easy to make the sauce, quantities are a bit Hit and Miss so very simply more or less equal quantities of Sugar ( brown or light brown if you have it, I did not, so used white, golden syrup and butter, heat gently until almost and blended into one. Add more or less the same amount of cream and simmer gently. It will all amalgamate. Serve hot or cold, but if cold, it might be too thick, but it can be diluted with milk or some more cream. Pour over your ice cream, shop bought or home made. YUMMY!

It is easy to say equal quantities when working in cups, but not so when using grams. I would recommend buying a set of measuring cups. Or use any standard teacup and use that for all of the ingredients listed.

  • 1 cup golden syrup, or light corn syrip
  • 1 cup of sugar preferably brown
  • 3/4 cup double cream
  • 4 Oz butter

Heat the syrup, sugar and butter, gently and stir from time to time. When all amalgamated, increase heat and boil. Careful, stir and do not let boil over. Reduce heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a little, stir in the cream. Use at once or keep in a plastic box and refrigerate until needed.