My Foodie Adventures

Making up healthy recipes as I go along...

Date: 23rd January 2016

Hey Everyone, Look at my Bean Balls!

Balls is an inherently funny word. But for some reason, prefixing it with the word “meat” gives it a real sense of honour. No one laughs at “meatballs”. They nod their heads in approval and stroke their chins as they assess the gravitas of how you delivered that word into their earholes.

“Beanballs”, however, sounds like a weird insult a 5-year-old would shout at you. And you couldn’t get mad because you know damn well they have no idea what it actually means.

Anyway, I made beanballs.

Don’t worry people, I’m not going vegan. I’m not a vegetarian and if you dare to tell me you’re a “flexitarian” I will be forced to stunt you emotionally with some extremely cutting words. It’s not a thing. You’re either someone who eats food or you’re an idiot who’s trying to fit in with vegetarians without actually committing to a damn thing. So pack it in.

The reason for the change in meatball M.O. was due to the fact that my younger sister has decided to take up vegetarianism. I disagreed with her entire worldview at this point. Later on, I realised that I may have overreacted. It doesn’t affect my life in the slightest what she eats, as long as she’s happy. Unless she comes home again and I’m forced to eat vegetarian lasagna, which is just wrong.

I felt it would be prudent to test out a few vegetarian recipes for her, in case I end up entertaining a veggie or if she comes for tea. I didn’t want to go diving headfirst into this strange meatless world, so I opted for a recipe that would ease me in gently. A way to dip my toe in, but not get wet.

Suffice it to say, it bloody worked! These balls are amazing. I’m really proud of my balls. When I cooked them, I took them into work and unveiled my balls with a flourish as though shouting “look at my wondrous balls!”. Some may say that it’s slightly overzealous, but to those ignorant few I say, balls to you.

They had a really meaty texture and I love beans anyway, it really was win-win. It wasn’t enough to convert me, but definitely something I will be making again later on.

Ingredients:

Red Kidney Beans (You can buy tins of these, but I have loads of dry ones so I’ll include the prep for those)

Red Onion (unless stated otherwise, I blitzed this)

Garlic (same)

Parsnips

Celery

Rosemary

Oregano

Breadcrumbs (I don’t normally but these in meatballs, but the bloody things just wouldn’t stay together without it. I recommend going to Lidl, getting some of their incredible bread and blending it)

Salt

Pepper

Double Concentrate Tomato Paste

Olive Oil (or any cooking oil. I’m not fussed)

For the sauce:

Tinned Tomatoes

Fresh Basil

Garlic

Lemon zest

Salt

Pepper

Method:

  1. To prep the Kidney beans, you need to put them in water overnight, unless you’re using tinned ones. I covered mine with water the night before (discard any that float to the top because they’re gross) and then strained and re-covered them in the morning to soak while I was at work
  2. When it comes to cook them, put them in your pan, cover with fresh water and a bit of salt. Bring it to the boil for about 10 minutes, turn the heat down as low as you can, cover and check back after 40mins to an hour. They’ll take some time, just check them every now and then
  3. Once they’re done, strain them and leave them in the strainer to make sure any excess water has gone
  4. Blend the parsnips, onion, garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper
  5. Fry all of these off. It should take about 10-15minutes. You just want to soften them up a little
  6. Once they’re soft, spoon in about 2 teaspoons of the tomato sauce and give it a good stir, making sure everything is covered
  7. Cook this on low for about another 10 minutes, stir constantly
  8. Take it off the heat and let it cool down sufficiently enough that you can pick it up out of the pan without screaming in agony (NB This will become relevant in a moment)
  9. Make your breadcrumbs and pour them into a big bowl
  10. Roughly mash your beans, don’t make a paste out of them. You still want some half beans and stuff like that, but give it a good wallop
  11. Pour the beans into the bread crumbs
  12. Pour the vegetables in
  13. Stick your hands in there. You know how I feel about balls. Roll up your sleeves and really get tactile. There’s no point shying away, they’re just balls
  14. Once the mixture is… mixed? Combined, I’ll go with thoroughly combined. Once the mixture is combined thoroughly, start to shape it into balls.
  15. Don’t worry about the size of your balls. Even if you notice that one is slightly larger than the other, that’s just fine. They’re your balls, be proud
  16. Once all of your balls have been shaped, heat up a little bit of oil and fry them off. This seals the outside edge and, hopefully, stops your balls dropping to pieces
  17. While that’s cooking, blend all the ingredients for the sauce
  18. When your balls are sealed, put them in a baking dish, pour on your sauce and cook on a medium heat until the sauce is piping hot. This isn’t like meatballs, you’re not going to get salmonella from a bean, but keep one as a test ball so you can tell when they’re hot in the middle

I served mine on courgetti because, occasionally, I’m pretentious. But you can just serve it on regular spaghetti if you would so prefer.

Tuck in, enjoy and don’t ever be too ashamed to show your balls to new houseguests, your friends at work, Hell! Even strangers should know about your magnificent balls.

Just don’t show your family. That’s just wrong…

 

What the Pho? My Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe

Before I begin today’s episode of “throwing stuff in a pan” I would like to clear something up.

It’s pronounced “fuh” not like “faux”. I didn’t make that happen, it’s just how it’s pronounced.

Obviously, I understand that when you tell people you’ve made a “fuh”, they look at you as though you are just making up euphemistic swear words or you were just about to finish an actual word but, for some reason, you stopped yourself.

So when you tell them, stare them dead in the eyes and really enunciate the “fuh” so they understand, or back away slowly. Because that just means that you won the conversation.

Anywhoo… A Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup which is normally made with beef, but I found a massive pack of chicken drumsticks in my freezer and thought “what the hell”. Technically, this is a Pho Ga (due to the chicken). If you use beef, it’s a Pho Bo. Just a little education for you there. You’re welcome.

This recipe is really, really easy. The ingredients are easy to find and prep takes about 15 minutes. There’s no preamble, it’s just a case of chop, crush, slice, pour, cook.

I’m assuming you have a slow cooker for this one. If not, why the hell not? Do you know what you can do with a slow cooker? No? Oh, sorry. I’ll throw in a few more recipes using one, because they’re incredibly useful.

Back to what exactly a Pho is.

As I said up there, it’s a Vietnamese dish which comprises of a flavoursome stock, big ole’ hunks of meat, loads of fresh vegetables and a great load of herbs and spices. You put them all together, cook it for ages and then spoon it over rice noodles.

It’s a really clean tasting dish and I’m pretty sure it would be incredible for a hangover. It’s got enough body to it to fill you up and the broth, with its soy sauce, ginger and whatnot; it would also be a great way to balance those pesky electrolytes (I think you want to be doing this)¬†while settling your stomach. I have no practical experience to back this claim up as I made the dish on a Tuesday and I’m obviously not going to get hammered in the middle of the week to provide a little verisimilitude to a food blog. Just trust me.

Ingredients:

Chicken legs, or beef (depending on Ga or Bo. Just make sure you’ve got the bones because they’re your passport to flavour country)

Spring onions (just the white bit, chopped into chunks about half a centimetre long)

Half a red onion (threw this in the blender because even with a simple dish, I will find a shortcut)

Celery (Usually, you would put in bean sprouts but I didn’t have any beansprouts. I did have a load of celery, so voila!)

Garlic (crushed and lightly chopped)

Fresh coriander, stalks and leaves (as much as you want, really. I love the stuff so I just went to town on this dish)

Fresh mint, just the leaves (same as above)

Red Bird’s Eye chilli (yeah, this is the same as above too. If this is going to be your hangover cure, take it easy on the chilli. Don’t add insult to injury)

Star anise (you can find this everywhere, just ask)

Cloves (2-3, you’re making a Pho, not trying to smell like Christmas)

Stick of cinnamon

Fresh ginger (sliced, but not into tiny pieces. You want the flavour to get into the broth, but you also want a sense of danger with every mouthful. Is this bit a massive piece of ginger? Who knows! Chew on it and find out!)

Fish sauce (put a few splashes in to begin with, don’t go insane. As my mother says “when adding ingredients, start with a little bit and then taste it. Remember, you can always add more seasoning, but you can’t take it out”. She’s so wise. I should call her more. If you’re reading this mother, hello. I am well)

Soy sauce (again, don’t go crazy, throwing it around like you’re trying to put out a fire in a really aromatic way. This is meant to be a light broth, not taste like sea water)

Lime zest (grate a lime, it’s easy)

Lime juice (the lime you just zested, cut in half, squeeze)

Black pepper

Thai basil (if you haven’t got any, go to any Oriental supermarket and ask. If you’re in or around Scunthorpe, go to Tradewinds. They have all the stuff you need and the lady behind the counter is incredibly helpful)

To serve:

Rice noodles

More mint leaves(optional)

More lime juice (optional)

Hot sauce(optional, if you’re a pansy)

 

Method:

  1. Chop the onions and garlic, throw it in the slow cooker
  2. Crack the bones a little, if you’re using chicken. If using beef bones, good luck with that. Just throw them in
  3. Chop the celery and throw it in
  4. The latter half of all these instructions are going to be “and throw it in” so just assume that from here on out
  5. Chop and bruise the coriander and mint and Thai basil
  6. Roughly chop the chilli
  7. Grate the lime zest into the lot of it
  8. Squeeze the lime in
  9. Chuck in the star anise, cinnamon and cloves
  10. Give it a big old stir
  11. Pour over some water. Not loads, just so it’s all covered
  12. Splash over your fish sauce and soy sauce
  13. Give it another stir
  14. Put it on a low heat for at least 6 hours, but you can’t really overcook this. Especially in a slow cooker
  15. After about 6 hours, give it a taste. Add whatever is necessary and give it another hour or so
  16. When it’s cooked, serve it over noodles* and garnish with a little extra if needs be

*If you’re taking this into work or heating it up later, don’t cook the noodles beforehand, they’ll just go mushy and awful. When you’re putting it into your lunch box, just put uncooked noodles in and spoon it on top. When you microwave it, the noodles will cook

Good luck with it all, but I honestly can’t see how you can go wrong…