Tag Archives: cheese sauce

Meatballs, Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes

I have difficulty finding food dishes that will suit this household. However, beef always works so I decided that meatballs cooked with our own cherry tomatoes and a mixture of commercial lasagne sauce and sun-dried tomato, garlic and basil sauce plus some sliced sun-dried tomatoes and some basil-infused oil sounded really tasty.
Side dish of steamed cauliflower and another of steamed baby Brussels sprouts smothered in a cheese sauce and browned under the grill tickled my taste buds.

12 (350g) minced beef meatballs
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped red and yellow capsicum
125 chestnut mushrooms medium sliced
4-6 sliced sun-dried tomatoes
5 tbsp commercial tomato lasagne/pasta sauce
3 tbsp tomato, garlic and basil sauce
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 pot Knorr paprika flavour pot
Several large dollops soured cream

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

I discovered these Knorr Flavour Pots a while ago and find them easy and very useful. A lot of other people must do as well because Knorr has increased the flavour range over the past months. Now Oxo has started its own range of flavours. Great! The more the merrier. I think what I find so good about them is that it doesn’t matter what I have decided to cook and what sort of sauce I am using, there will be a flavour pot to add a soupçon of flavour to the cooking. Anyway, I had some pots of paprika and added one to this tomato type dish. The caraway seeds are usually associated with a goulash but they worked well with this.  Meatball & tomato, mushroom mix

I used a mixture of basil-infused oil and groundnut oil to gently fry the meatballs. Then added all other ingredients except the cream, plus a knob of butter, seasoned and put the lid on. I came in here to write this up and the dish is cooking very gently for about an hour. When finished, I will need to thicken the sauce with some cornflower and add the soured cream.

Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts & Cheese sauce

The other part of this is the vegetables. I steamed enough cauliflower and Brussels sprouts to fill two smallish dishes; sprouts for me and cauliflower for Himself. The small pot of leek and cibouli, I micro waved for me. I like all manner of onion. Otherwise cook the onions first before adding the meatballs. Use however much onion you like.

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

Cheese sauce – what can I say. Home-made with flour, butter seasoning and milk with cheese added. Or packet or supermarket wet sauce pots. Doesn’t matter. Do whatever you like. But do use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and if you have a bit of blue cheese, add that in as well. Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables and brown under the grill. Some toasted sesame seeds would be a welcome addition, especially to the sprouts – or breadcrumbs.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

The reason there is no carbohydrate except the thickening is that we are dropping our carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 20g (more or less) a day and increasing our fat (butter and natural fats) intake. This reduces blood sugar levels and drops body weight. All good.


Meatballs, Leeks, Mushrooms & Sauce

In these days of the wonderful internet, I tend to google ingredients that I want to use and glance through the recipes that show up. So this time I googled meatballs, cheese sauce, mushrooms and spinach. I started to conjure up a picture of what I thought could be a good looking and tasty meal.

The basic ingredients

I came across a recipe that incorporated hard boiled eggs; another recipe used leeks as well and my picture started to fit nicely together.

Halved bokchoi - halve them again

I used to grow my herbs from scratch when I lived in the subtropics but I have found that supermarkets here in Scotland sell ‘living herbs in a pot’ at such cheap prices. So I don’t bother nurturing seeds and seedlings through the small growing window here, but buy them already grown. I have transplanted chives, flat and curly leaved parsley into the halved wooden tub near the kitchen door. Perfect. Just replace with the next living herb pot when necessary. There is rosemary, thyme and sage in both the front and back gardens where ever I decide to pop a plant in the ground. The basil is now inside in a pot because winter is upon us. The curry plant is also inside as is the Vietnamese mint and a couple of oreganos and a marjoram.

The potted herb garden-a study. hahaha

My study/library is a perfect place for these warmth loving plants. I have a few decorative cacti as well. The wooden floor is ideal in case water spills over and dross is easily cleaned. One day soon I will have a greenhouse and garden shed. My herb babies will always need coddling in the winter though! In the meantime, I snip whatever herbs I need for cooking.

Anyway, back to the meatballs. There were a number of plain beef mince balls and another lot of balls seasoned with sun-dried tomato and basil mixed in. So I browned all of them (ten in all) in sunflower oil and spooned them onto kitchen paper to drain.

browned meatballs half cooked

A thinly sliced leek and about 6 medium mushrooms less thinly sliced.

Leeks, mushrooms and eggs

Melt a mixture of butter and oil into a wide pan and fry the chopped garlic clove for a minute. Add the leek and sauté for 2mins. Add the mushrooms and cook a further 3mins. Now add the cheese sauce. I used a tub of Italian three cheese sauce that is available to buy. This is a good product to use to augment sauces. This time however, I used it by itself and poured it over the leek and mushroom mix and heated it up but not to boiling.

Otherwise make a plain béchamel sauce to about 350ml – a cup is 250ml. It is a good base sauce used for many other sauces. Add grated cheeses – I use a mix of Red Leicester and Mature Cheddar and grate the cheese blocks as necessary.  Freshly grate some Parmesan Cheese and add with smooth Cream Cheese, like Philadelphia. Take the sauce off the heat before adding the cream and Parmesan cheeses – otherwise it gets stringy. Do stir the added cheeses well into the sauce until incorporated. Don’t forget to season the leek and mushroom mixture with freshly ground black pepper but the cheese sauce with white pepper and some salt.

Ready to pop into the oven

Spoon the leek, mushroom and sauce mixture into an oiled ovenproof dish and arrange the quartered eggs and meatballs on top. Cover with foil or a lid if one fits and bake in a moderate oven 200ºC – middle oven – for 30mins. Remove from the oven and sprinkle a mix of grated cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Dab a little butter over this topping. Raise the oven temperature to 225ºC and place the dish on the top shelf. A further 7mins should see the cheese topping start to brown. Garnish with fresh chopped curly parsley and some basil leaves.

Finished dish before serving

Serve with steamed, quartered baby bokchoi arranged onto some steamed basmati rice on the plate next to the meatball mix. Actually you can use whatever vegetable and carbohydrate you prefer. I just love bokchoi and basmati.

10 meatballs – pork, lamb or beef, some enhanced with spices, sun-dried tomato or a red pesto would be good. Leave some plain.
4 hardboiled eggs shelled and quartered
1 clove garlic chopped finely
A leek thinly sliced
6 mushrooms medium sliced
1 x 350gr store-bought cheese sauce or equivalent cheesy béchamel sauce
Grated mature cheese and some breadcrumbs

Béchamel Sauce with Cheeses
300ml whole milk
25gr butter (I never use margarine. Butter is one of the joys of food)
20gr plain flour
White pepper and a pinch salt
1 cup grated Cheddar
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup Cream cheese

Melt the butter gently with the salt and pepper then add the flour stirring with a wooden spoon. Use a heavy base sauce pan for this so it doesn’t burn. Add the milk slowly stirring all the time to prevent lumps. Keeping the mixture smooth and cooking keep adding the milk until a good consistency is found. The sauce should be thick and creamy and drop slowly from the spoon. Add the Cheddar first and stir until melted in the sauce. Take off the heat and add the Cream cheese and lastly the Parmesan. Adjust seasoning to taste, remembering that you have seasoned the leeks and mushrooms in the oil.

To serve:
Baby bokchoi, quartered lengthways and steamed
Basmati rice steamed
Freshly grated parmesan
Chiffonade flat leaf parsley

Plated and ready to go