GBBO Bake Along: meatball toad-in-the-hole

toad-veg-gravyIf I was taking part in the actual Great British Bake Off, I would probably be disqualified for this contribution. Not following the rules at all, but meh… whatever. This week in bake off bake along, it’s batter week. My choices were supposed to be to make a batch of perfectly even Yorkshire puddings with a savoury filling, lace pancakes or churros. I don’t have any means of deep-fat frying, so initially I turned my attention to pancakes. Mine would have been filled with mince though instead of being lacy and intricate. Then I started thinking about Yorkshire puddings… from where my mind wandered to the fact that it’s been ages since we last had toad-in-the-hole. It’s basically a giant filled Yorkshire pudding, so it totally counts, right? We didn’t actually have any sausages, though… but we did have mince. Which lead me to the idea of experimenting with meatballs instead of sausages. And so meatball toad-in-the-hole was born.

I’ve had my toad-in-the-hole recipe for so long that I don’t even know who it belonged to originally, so apologies if I stole it from you! It’s pretty generic though so probably not really subject to copyright…

Ingredients

For the batter:
115g/4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
300ml/½ pint of milk

For the meatballs:
350g mince
1 clove garlic
Herbs (I used dried parsley and fresh rosemary)
Chilli flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper, to taste

You will also need some oil or fat for frying the meatballs and for the oven-proof dish. I used olive oil for the former and sunflower oil for the latter.

Start by making the batter.

  1. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Use a wooden spoon to gradually beat the eggs into the flour then beat in the milk a little at a time until the batter is the consistency of double cream.
  3. Strain and push the dough through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps then cover and leave to stand for around 30 minutes.

While the batter is standing, pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6, then make the meatballs.

mince

  1. Start by placing your mince, herbs, garlic and seasoning in a bowls, as shown above. I used mixed pork and beef mince (the standard here), but you can choose your favourite. Mash all the ingredients together really well – you want garlic and herbs to be in all the meatballs!
  2. Using your hands, form the meatballs into roughly evenly sized balls. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can in the process (yes, part of the liquid will be blood. Sorry!). As you can see below, I got 12 out of mine.
    meatballs1
  3. Fry the balls lightly in oil for a few minutes. You don’t need to fully cook them through at this point (they will be in the oven for a while), but brown the edges enough to stop them falling apart. Or you could make proper meatballs with egg and breadcrumbs to hold them together. Meanwhile, put some fat or oil into an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven to heat for 5 minutes.
    meatballs2
  4. Remove the dish from the oven, place the meatballs into the hot dish, pour in the batter and then immediately return the dish to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Whatever you do, do not open the oven before 35 minutes is up, otherwise your batter will deflate like a punctured bouncy castle, and there’s nothing sadder than that!
  5. Serve with vegetables of your choice (in our case aubergine fried in the leftover oil from the meatballs, but you may want to go with something healthier!) and, of course, gravy. For more people you could also add mashed or roast potatoes or more veg. This served 2 of us, but with added potatoes it will stretch to 4-6 people.

toad-hole

Jan asked me, since the meatballs were clearly not toad, what exactly is in the hole. Since they are round(ish), I thought maybe frog spawn.  What do you think… will frog spawn in the hole catch on?

See more batter week contributions here.

25 Food Questions Tag

I totally stole this tag from Kerri because I’m just too tiiiired to do another travel post right now. All that sorting of photos – ugh! Food, on the other hand, I can do. Here goes:

1. What’s your favourite breakfast?

A full English or Irish breakfast, obviously. Not that I would want to eat that every day, but as a special treat, mmmm! Failing that a bacon sarnie with proper English bacon.

Full Irish breakfast
Full Irish breakfast

2. How do you drink your coffee?

With all the milk. If I can’t have one that’s more milk than coffee I need to add all the sugar. I also like horribly sweet concoctions à la Starbucks except not actually Starbucks because I don’t go there.

3. What’s on your favourite sandwich?

Don’t you mean in? No open-topped sarnies over here please! Feta, avocado and rocket please! Or bacon with brown sauce.

4. Soup or Salad?

Well it clearly depends on the weather, doesn’t it? Soup if it’s cold, salad when it’s too hot to cook (or I’m too lazy).

soup

5. What’s your favourite cookbook?

I have one called Healthy Eats that’s pretty good, but realistically all my recipes come from the Internet soo… BBC Good Food?

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?

I think it has to be sweets. I would miss chocolate, but I would miss mashed potatoes more!

7. What’s your favourite Cuisine?

Probably Indian, but British-style Indian. I’d have to go to India to decide whether I like the real deal.

8. What’s your favourite food movie?

I totally have to steal Kerri’s answer here and say Ratatouille because the only other food film I can think of is Chocolat and I hated that! (Book is so much better!)

9. What’s your most guilty pleasure?

Umm… I don’t know? There’s nothing I feel guilty about eating (well, other than too much and that could be too much of almost anything. Except maybe lettuce leaves.)

10. What’s your greatest inspiration source?

I feel bad that I’m stealing all of Kerri’s answers, but my stomach is just so perfect a response! Failing that my inspiration comes from whatever random stuff we have lying around after I’ve failed to go shopping again.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?

Cooking and having to deal with the mess or letting someone else do all the work? I prefer the latter. Although I actually do enjoy cooking for friends (Christmas dinner for 9 anyone?) so what I’m really saying is I would rather not have to cook every single day after work (but life would rapidly get expensive if we always ate out instead. So unfair)

12. High end or low profile?

I don’t understand the question… high end is expensive, right? But what’s low profile? Like a place nobody else knows about? Those two things aren’t opposites, are they? I’m so confused!

13. What’s your favourite restaurant?

I don’t have one – I like to keep trying new ones.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:

One of two local supermarkets. One is closer, the other sells the teabags I like. Sometimes I go to Aldi but it’s on the other side of Basel so it rarely happens.

Denner
Not the supermarket I usually go to, but the only one I have a photo of.

15. The tastiest food I’ve ever eaten was:

EVER?! That’s a lot of food for you to expect me to just pick one thing from…

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?

I had to google the Heston guy… apparently he’s a TV chef? Neither, really but if I absolutely have to pick one then George Clooney just because I still love E.R.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?

A freezer. I didn’t have one for about 3 years and it was so annoying!

19. What is your favourite snack?

All the British crisps… Monster Munch, Wotsits, Skips, Hula Hoops. Sadly I almost never get to eat them.

20. What’s on your pizza?

It really depends what I’m in the mood for, but bacon, yellow peppers and feta is a good combo. Plus the normal pizza cheese of course.

21. What food do you really dislike?

Broccoli – it’s the devil. Also sweetcorn, green peppers, mushrooms and liver.

22. What’s your favourite food blog?

Don’t know… don’t read any.

23. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oyster omelette. Also the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. Maybe that should have been the answer to question 21?

24. What’s on your food bucket list?

Drink champagne in Champagne and port in Porto. Yes I’m aware those are drinks, but so is coffee. I also want to eat frog’s legs in France… there, I included a food!

25. I couldn’t live without:

Potatoes. I will also accept sweet potatoes as a substitute.

I tag everyone who feels like telling me about their eating habits. And now, appropriately, I’m off to find something to cook for dinner.

Recent doings #7

Ugh, I’m behind on my blog reading again! If I haven’t commented on your blog recently I’m so, so sorry! We had a weekend away, then visitors and more visitors. This weekend we get a brief break but I need to get the flat sorted for the next round of visitors – Jan’s mum and her partner are here on 16th/17th July.

Anyway, it’s time for another “What’s New With You” linkup… which means another month is over. Where are you going, 2016? I wish I could pause you for a while to catch my breath…
So, what did I get up to in June?

What's New With You
Reading. I already did a check-in post for the summer reading challenge, so I’m not going to repeat myself here😉 I will, however, say that I’ve now finished The Magus! Woo hoo.
Watching. The news a lot immediately after the EU referendum. I still can’t believe the result. Why you so stupid, Britain?
Travelling. To the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) with my mum and brother. Jan and I also went to Graubünden at the beginning of June, so I’ll have lots of travel photos to share with you once I’m done with New Zealand. Here’s a sneak preview:
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Rheinfall
Cooking. Horse steak so my mum and brother could try it. Although technically Jan cooked it on the barbecue. I just made the veg😉
Waiting for. Our new wardrobe. Actually, we ordered it in April so I’ve been waiting for it a while, but it was finally due for delivery in June. Then it finally turned up but the back wall was missing, so I’m still waiting! The missing part is supposed to be coming next Wednesday…
Buying. Clothes. I went to Germany and purchased a skirt for €6 and a dress for €9 – you wouldn’t get clothes that cheap in Switzerland!
Drinking. Cocktails. We found a cute little bar that does interesting cocktails, so when we met up with two people we’ve been kind of hanging around with in Basel (yeah, I maybe made some friends?) we took them there and then took my mum and brother there as well.
What have you been doing recently? Check out the linkup to see how everyone else spent June.

Recent doings #6

Uh, how is it time for the What’s New With You linkup again? How is it June? How will this year be half over in a matter of weeks? Could somebody please stop time for a while?

Anyway, like it or not, it is time for my monthly recap post. So here’s what I got up to in May.

What's New With You
Reading. I finished The Grapes of Wrath! Another one down for the BBC Big Read. It’s quite a fitting book for the current times, but so, so depressing. And that ending… what?! Goodreads said I also read 8 other books in May. I’m not going to list them all here though.
Watching. We haven’t got back to any series yet, but I did watch Wreck It Ralph on TV. It was actually really good and not at all what I was expecting.
Cooking. Lots of salad. You’re probably thinking “Silly, you don’t cook salad!”. Well, you do cook the kind I’ve been making! We’ve had bulgur wheat salad, a wild rice salad and a pasta salad. Yummy!
Buying. Apart from the obvious books, books and more books? I bought shoes (sandals) that I will hopefully be wearing for my friend’s wedding in August… provided the dress I bought for them to go with still fits me by then! (Let’s not talk about how much weight I’ve put on/the fact that I needed to wear decent clothes the other day (see listening to below) and precisely one of the things I tried on still fit!)
Cross stitching. Something for a friend. Jan helped me design it and I stitched it, but I can’t show you because I forgot to take a photo before I gave it to her.
Listening to. I can just about sneak this in here since it happened on 31st May😉 We went to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra because for part of the concert they were playing with Daniil Trifnov, apparently the best pianist around at the moment. Jan had heard of him, I hadn’t (because I’m uncultured). I discovered that I quite like Tchaikovsky.
What did you get up to in May? Why not join the linkup (you don’t have to use this format – you can literally write any kind of catchup post).

Photo an hour: 22 May 2016

This time I didn’t completely fail to realise photo an hour was happening! I have failed to get my post about it written until today, though. Baby steps…

Here’s how my Saturday went.

10 a.m.(ish). Instead of the usual tea cup, here’s the top of my tea tin. As always the day started with a cuppa.

11 a.m. We have a dishwasher so why do I still seem to spend half my life doing washing up?

12 noon. Finally off for a shower. Is there an exciting way to photograph a shower?

1 p.m. Deciding what to eat for lunch. I went with crackers and cream cheese, in case you care.

2 p.m. Washing down lunch with more tea. Herbal this time.

3 p.m. Folding some clean laundry while I wait for Jan to stop watching TV and get in the shower.

4 p.m. Fiiinally getting ready to leave. The shoes are on!

5 p.m. We decided to walk into town then got distracted by the botanic gardens.

Bonus! My final total number of photos wasn’t even and we can’t be having that, so here’s a lizard we spotted in the botanic gardens.

6 p.m. Street food festival! Having a wander round deciding what to eat first. We didn’t have any of that meat on sticks, but I was next to them at 6 p.m.

7 p.m. Eating sweet potato sticks. They were disappointed – I mostly tasted sesame seeds.

8 p.m. We had just set foot on the bridge when I heard the clock striking 8, so I took a picture of the Rhine. Not the best photo from a technical standpoint, but I kind of like it.

9 p.m. Back home. Jan put football on and I kind of half watched while surfing the Internet on my tablet.

10 p.m. In bed with The Grapes of Wrath. Depressing book!

And that was all. I was actually still awake at 11 p.m. but my camera was across the room and I was too lazy to fetch it.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as usual.

Foodie Penpals April 2016 reveal

Yes, it’s that time again! In April, I was paired with two people from England. I sent a parcel to Evette who blogs at Bizzimummy and received one from Jess. I pretty much told Jess to just surprise me as long as there were no peanuts, so she put together a box of her favourite treats. The first thing I saw when I opened the box (after taking out Jess’s note, of course), was this:

Chocolate

The little After Eight chocolates were eaten as soon as I’d taken the photo!
I was happy to see Jaffa Cakes because I love them and hadn’t had any in ages. I was nice and only ate two of them, saving the third for Jan.

Next came more chocolate:

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We ate the M&Ms while watching some TV on Saturday. The Milky Way I had all to myself😉

The next item took me right back to my student days!

DSCN8124

They became my oh-so-healthy lunch on Friday.

Next up was stuff to drink:

DSCN8127

The Wispa Gold hot chocolate was very yummy! I may have to buy more when I’m next in the UK.

Finally, at the bottom of the box were two packet mixes:

DSCN8129

I can’t even remember the last time I had Angel Delight!

Here’s everything all together:

DSCN8121

As for what I sent… Evette told me she likes chocolate, crisps and cake and prefers ready-to-eat foods over ingredients. Here’s what she got:

DSCN8041

Not the healthiest of parcels, but all very yummy.

If you’re in Europe, you can find out all about Foodie Penpals and sign up here. You can see more examples of parcels that people have received in the Facebook group.

I can’t wait to see what my May parcel brings!

Food and drink in Queenstown

Instead of doing multiple posts on all the places we ate at, I thought I would just do one post and lump them all in together. Apologies in advance for my inadequacy when it comes to photographing food!

On our first evening in Queenstown, after taking a trip to Paradise, we chose to go to a place we had spotted while looking for the hotel: Smiths Craft Beer House. We originally went for the beer, but ended up eating some of the most delicious pub food I’ve had in a while! I went for venison pie (mmm, Bambi! Sorry vegetarians!) while Jan chose the vegan burger, which consisted of a kumura (sweet potato) pattie with salad and pesto, served with hand cut fries and the most amazing aioli!

Obviously beer was consumed. I can’t remember the names of all the ones we sampled, but this one was definitely among them:

DSCN6408
Why bother giving your beer a fancy name?

It was actually quite nice, despite the lack of creativity in the name😉

On the second night, we went to The World Bar, because my sister’s boyfriend had recommended it. Their main claim to fame is that they serve cocktails in teapots. We initially decided to go for something slightly less strong though and chose some interesting sounding ciders from the menu. To eat, I went for “Chicken & Waffles” which, as the name suggests, consisted of southern fried chicken on waffles. It also came with bacon and maple syrup. The combination sounded intriguing, but the chicken was quite fatty and not that nice. Jan had some quinoa wrap thing, which was quite tasty (if incredibly trendy!). Definitely the better choice!

Obviously we had to partake in teapot cocktails, if only so I could take a picture to send to my sister’s boyfriend! Mine was called Bloom and tasted exactly like a strawberry Mini Milk, but with alcohol.

DSCN6807

The teapot came with shot glasses to drink it from, but trying to pour it into them was messy! Much easier to stick a straw in the teapot…

The cocktails are fun, but other that I wouldn’t say The World Bar is an absolute must when you’re in Queenstown. (Sorry A!).

On night three, we went to another beer place on the recommendation of our wine tour guide! We mentioned that we had been to Smith’s, so he suggested we try out Atlas Beer Cafe. According to him, they have the best steak and chips in Queenstown… I can’t comment on that though since Jan and I both chose beef sausage on kumara mash (are you sensing a theme here?). It was absolutely delicious – more than making up for the previous night’s disappointing chicken!

We both chose to drink beer by Altitude here since it’s a local brewing company. Unfortunately neither of the ones we tried was particularly to our taste. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

The next night we went to a fish restaurant where I took no pictures, but was asked for the first time in my life how I wanted my salmon cooked! (They recommended “medium rare”, I went for it and it was delicious!), so to the final night…

Our last night in Queenstown was Good Friday. According to New Zealand law, alcohol is not allowed to be sold on Good Friday… unless you’re having it with a meal! Many places were just closed entirely, some were open for dinner then planned to close afterwards, opening again at midnight (when it wouldn’t be a holiday any more…). Everywhere was absolutely packed! We managed to find some room at a table in  Pub on Wharf though (yes.. that’s its name. Who needs articles?). This time Jan had salmon (because it came with wasabi mash), while I chose pork belly stuffed with apricot, sage and onion and served with mash, veg and apple sauce. It was a good choice! The beer on tap was from Mac’s brewery, and it was all very tasty. Win!

Overall, I can recommend every single place we ate at… except maybe The World Bar. I’ll leave that one for the youngsters and party animals, I think😉