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    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Feeding a Crowd and Catering for Special Needs

    Lunch time at work again and a good opportunity to try out a “Party with the Hearty Boys” recipe. Italian Meatball and Pasta Soup.
    Also we had people coming for dinner that evening.

    Now we have people with special needs,…a dairy allergy,…nightshade family intolerance…a non meat eater and one staff member who won’t eat anything that has eyes.
    In the evening one of our guests is a celiac.

    So time to put the thinking cap

    Now the Meatball Soup is an excellent dish for a crowd but when I made it for lunch I thought it was too bland...I have changed the recipe to boost the flavour (sorry Party Boys).
    I added onion, carrot and celery plus chili, and bumped up the seasonings in the meatballs
    By the way the tomatoes you buy are really important. The second time I made this dish I used Trident Italian Roma tomatoes what a difference. Beautiful flavour.
    I have added some extras to the meatballs. The sweetness of the raisins and the crunchiness of the pinenuts make a real difference And they were delicious.
    For Gluten free leave out the breadcrumbs and the pasta. Otherwise it will be fine.

    Here is the adapted recipe

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 large garlic cloves, minced

    1 x carrot finely chopped
    1 stick celery finely chopped1 onion finely chopped
    1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon chili flakes
    6 x 400 gms cans Roma tomatoes in juice

    2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    2 teaspoons dried oregano

    1800 gms ground beef
    4 eggs
    4 large garlic cloves, minced

    3 tablespoon chopped parsley
    1 x teaspoon oregano

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 cup Romano cheese, grated

    Freshly ground black pepper
    And the extras are
    1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot water about 5 minutes
    2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
    6 leaves sage
    1 sprig rosemary
    1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs

    Meatball method
    Put the ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, raisins salt, and pepper and mix by hand until well combined.
    Put pine nuts, and fresh herbs into a small food processor and whiz them up just a little you need the texture
    Form the mixture into 1 inch balls - a small ice cream scoop works well for this.
    Place the meatballs close together on a baking sheet as you make them.
    Yield: 60 meatballs

    To finish
    280 gms frozen peas, thawed
    300 gms penne pasta, cooked al dente

    Grated Romano, for garnish

    Italian bread, for serving

    Pour the olive oil into a large heavy bottomed pot with the garlic
    Place over a medium flame and let the garlic brown. Be careful not to let it burn.
    Add onion, carrot and celery
    Season salt & freshly ground black pepper and chili flakes
    continue to sauté till soft
    Meanwhile liquefy tomatoes in a blender
    Add tomatoes to veges along with parsley, chili and oregano.
    Bring to a rolling simmer and drop the meatballs in 1 at a time
    Simmer for 1 hour.

    Add cooked pasta and thawed peas.

    You can make this earlier in the day and reheat gently just before serving.

    Reheat gently and serve.
    Have some Ciabatta bread and grated Parmesan cheese
    Check out Presto Pasta Night Ruth from Once Upon A Feast has been hosting this for 22 weeks. Each week there are lots of delicious pasta recipes. Great fun,
    Click here and you will find all the Presto Pasta Night recipes. If you can't find something fabulous there I will eat my hat!!!

    To accompany the Pasta I made some little salad rolls "a la San Choi Bau"

    San Choi Bau is a wonderful mix of chicken pork, aromatics and noodles from our favourite Vietnamese restaurant Saigon
    Very crunchy and delicious. I thought it was an easy way to supply a salad to eat by hand.

    First I made a crisp salad of
    1 x finely sliced red pepper
    1 x courgette grated
    2 stalks celery finely sliced
    5 radishes finely sliced

    1 red onion finely sliced and quickly pickled red onions

    (see blog posted Friday April 27th)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Good slug extra virgin olive oil
    1 iceberg lettuce - leaves separated

    Toss all ingredients except lettuce together
    Lay out the lettuce leaves

    Roll up in a little parcel
    These are to be eaten by hand
    Now to cover the “vego’s” and the “tomato intolerant”
    I made Red Lentil Soup
    (see Blog posted April 22nd)

    I served James Martin’s Carrot Cake…looked great when he made it on TV but I wasn’t overly happy with it. I will try it again and then if any good will post it. It will make another entry for Barbara’s Livestrong Taste of Yellow. Very pretty colour as you can see
    Now for the dinner.
    How about Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie excellent for coeliacs but not good for dieters.
    It’s exceptionally good though you must try it. A superb “all in one” dish
    Prepare all the components ready for assembly

    200 gms of white fish per person cut into 3-4 cms pieces and place in gratin dish.
    2-3 shelled prawns per person (optional)

    1 egg per person
    Spinach fresh or frozen (thawed)
    1 medium potato per person

    Olive oil
    1 onion chopped

    1 carrot grated
    White wine

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    600 mls cream

    50 gms grated cheese

    Juice 1/2 lemon
    Hard boil and quarter eggs,
    Blanch bunch spinach fresh (or defrost from frozen),
    Cook and mash 1 med potato per person
    Mix in good slurp of olive oil don’t make this a smooth mix we want it to be crispy…

    Sauté 1 onion chopped & 1 grated carrot till tender but not brown,
    Season with salt and pepper
    Slosh in some white wine and reduce it down, then pour in cream and
    Let it simmer till it has reduced to make quite a thick sauce.
    Add 50 gms grated cheese,
    Taste for salt and adjust if necessary and some freshly ground black pepper
    Plus the juice of ½ lemon, it may need a little more taste and see.

    Now to build the dish. Place the eggs over the fish and sprinkle the spinach evenly

    around then cover with the sauce and then splotch the potatoes around…it doesn’t need to be even…just dollops all over the fish mixture.

    Into a very hot 230° oven 20-25 minutes.
    The potatoes will crisp up on the top and the cream sauce will bubble all round.

    Of course you can prepare this earlier in the day as well and then pop into oven when ready. If you have been storing it in the fridge allow some extra time for cooking.

    Let it cool down a little before serving, as with most food it tastes better then.

    Try these little Chocolate Ricotta Puddings
    Once again gluten free
    Topped with whipped cream and Orange segments marinated in a little orange liqueur
    680gms ricotta drained
    3 eggs separated
    Zest 1 x orange
    ¼ cup caster sugar
    ½ teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    Pinch of salt
    180 gms bitter sweet chocolate

    ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
    1 cup sugar

    Into blender add ricotta, egg yolks
    Zest of orange, sugar, flavouring and cinnamon

    Blend all together till smooth
    Pour into bowl
    Melt bitter sweet chocolate in a bowl over simmering water
    Add to mix

    Beat ¼ teaspoon cream tartar into egg whites then slowly sugar
    Beat till shiny

    Fold into chocolate mix
    Pour into buttered ramekins

    Place into bain marie 160C - 25 minutes

    Cool in fridge
    Serve with whipped cream and orange segments marinated for a little time in an orange liqueur.
    Another dessert I made last week for our film crew
    It was very popular...I saw it in the weekend paper
    It is a Donna Hay recipe and definitely worth trying

    Most fruits go well with Chocolate but my favourites are either Raspberries or as with the ricotta puddings - Oranges
    Doesn't the Brownie look great.

    200 gms semi sweet dark chocolate chopped
    250 gms butter
    200 gms brown sugar
    4 eggs
    1 1/3 cups plain flour
    ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    1/3 cup good cocoa powder sifted
    Pinch salt
    1 ½ cups raspberries fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)

    Preheat oven 180C fan bake
    Line a 23 cm square tin with baking paper, over lapping, you need to make a little basket to lift out the brownies
    I find it easy to spray the tin first it has something to adhere to.
    Place the chocolate and butter into small saucepan and gently melt them.

    In a bowl put sugar and eggs and whisk to combine (don’t overdo it)
    Add chocolate mixture
    Sift in the dry ingredients and carefully mix in.
    Pour into tin
    Top with raspberries
    and bake for
    45 minutes until set.
    Check after 35 minutes with a skewer or toothpick
    Don’t over cook they need to be fudgy
    By the way don't make this for your celiac friends, it's full of gluten!!!

    Makes 16.


    Arfi Binsted said...

    Gilly, that's awesome food for a crowd!! I'd love to be one of them!

    So Simple said...

    Thanks arfi they did enjoy.

    Asha said...

    Gilly,Light Rye bread looks awesome.I love the soup too.I am commenting here bcos I can't see the comment section in that post.I will try later when you fix it.
    Thanks for the shout out Gilly:))

    Dezel said...

    Hello Friend,

    Everything looks splendid! Special needs Dezel is not, I can go for it all, and would. Superb job!

    Happy Sipping!

    So Simple said...

    Thanks Dezel I'm sure you would find some lovely wines to sip with all this food.

    Ruth Daniels said...

    Great looking spread. Thanks for sharing the meatball soup with Presto Pasta Nights.

    Anonymous said...

    You really did cook up a feast mustbhave taken ages, lucky colleagues.