When is the right time to cook a particular dish or indeed buy “fresh” ingredients?
I have waited nigh on five months to make today’s recipe, ever since my son gave me a fantastic book on Israeli cooking for Christmas. I waited because I wanted the freshest ingredients possible, with as many as possible coming from my allotment. The end result, deliciously spicy meatballs made using garlic, onions, fresh mint, parsley and coriander from the allotment served with fresh broad beans that are also homegrown.
I know that for many an allotment is out of the question, due to space and/or the time constraints. If you really enjoy cooking though I would wholeheartedly recommend a small herb garden. Fresh herbs can really liven up a dish and they are easy to grow in any small available space or even in some pots on the windowsill.
Most people of course have to buy their fresh produce in the shops. I always recommend buying what is in season locally. One tip is to look at the packaging for the country of origin and buy those products that have travelled least. You will get fresher, local products that haven’t travelled half way around the world!
There are also applications out there that provide information on what to purchase when. Having tried a few I can say that there are some good ones, and some that leave much to be desired! Unfortunately, making a profit is often more important than dedicating time and effort into making something right. Some of these programmes look good, but the content is deficient or inaccurate. For those of you who live in Spain as I do, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Greenpeace sustainable fish list. It also provides a link to add the list to your mobile device:
So getting back t today’s dish and Israel. With the new book and the recipes I have from the time I worked in Israel I have quite a few dishes I would like to share with you all. The food I had there was excellent and very, very varied, so there is much to choose from. For now though you are going to have to make do with these meatballs!
I don’t know if it is an age thing….. but I am finding that I enjoy using spices more and more. I find I am making more dishes from the Middle East, North Africa and India. It is also easy to get the spices here, locally. Many temporary workers, in particular from Morocco, who came to pick fruit or grapes, have found a permanent home in the villages in the valleys around here.
These meatballs are full of spices, which gives them lots of Middle Eastern flavour, but they are not spicy-hot. They should therefore be suitable for almost anyone.
Israeli Meatballs with Broad Beans
½ Large onion
80g Fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp Fresh Parsley
1 tsp Fresh Dill
1 tsp Fresh Coriander
1 tsp Fresh Mint
½ tsp Salt
2 Large garlic cloves
2 tsp Ground Cumin
¼ tsp Ground Coriander
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Ground Pimentón
4 Green cardamom pods
¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
200g Minced beef
100g Minced lamb
1 Large onion
3 Sprigs fresh thyme
2 Garlic cloves
200g Broad beans
500ml Chicken stock
This dish can be made in just one pan. If possible choose a frying pan with a lid.
To make the meatballs:
Chop the onion as finely as possible. Place in a mixing bowl together with the breadcrumbs.
Chop the herbs and add into the bowl.
With a garlic press, crush the garlic cloves into the mixing bowl.
All the spices need to be ground. If you are using any whole spices, grind them before adding. The cardamom pods should be opened and the seeds ground down.
Grind in as much black pepper as you prefer.
Add the meat into the bowl.
Mix together the ingredients with a large spoon until they are well combined.
Beat the egg then add into the bowl. Continue stirring the mixture, first with a spoon then by hand to ensure the egg is well mixed in.
Make ping-pong sized balls from the meat mixture and brown quickly in a little oil. Reserve.
Use the same pan for the next stage of the recipe, and the same oil if it has not become burnt cooking the meatballs.
To cook the broad beans:
Medium chop the onion and fry together with the thyme.
Slice the garlic and add into the onion.
When the onions are soft, add in the broad beans together with enough stock to just cover the beans. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
The time taken to parboil the beans depends upon their size. Do not overcook now, as they will continue to cook in the next stage. If you are using frozen broad beans they may not need any cooking at all, as the blanching process parboils them.
Add the meatballs into the beans and cook for a further 10 minutes covered, then continue uncovered until the stock has reduced considerably.
The only trick to this recipe is ensuring the broad beans are not overcooked. If you prefer use an extra pan, cooking the broad beans separately ensures they are cooked perfectly. Just pop back in with the meatballs once the sauce has formed and just before serving.
These meatballs can be spiced up. I used smoked Spanish pimentón but this can be substituted by a spicy pimentón or indeed any other hot spice of your choosing.
The broad beans used can be fresh or frozen.
This week’s suggestion is not actually Israeli, but it is a recipe I picked up when I was working in Tel Aviv. It really does clear the tubes after a big meal……:
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge