Growing up in a food loving family and with parents who love entertaining, eating and cooking good food is something I am familiar with. No matter what the occasion, providing tasty well presented food was always important, and still is. Eating is so enjoyable, so why not make it special more often? It’s not hard to do – I just take basic recipes and add something extra nice. I have a herb garden outside when I need it and an array of spices in the pantry. And why not eat off the “good dinner set” more often? Don’t wait for Christmas, life’s too short!
To make everyday food more special, I tend to break my cooking into cuisines. That way I can work out what herbs and spices are associated with that cuisine and then I have my palette of flavours to work from. So the first recipe I would like to share with you is Chicken feta meatballs. My husband and I have dinner with his family every fortnight or so and we all take turns in cooking, so it was my turn last week. I try to think of ‘one pot’ meals as these travel a lot easier. I’m going through a meatball phase at the moment, so thought that would be a good choice! How do you make meatballs more exciting?
Chicken feta meatballs in a creamy mushroom & spinach sauce.
Makes 30 good sized meatballs (serves 6-7)
1kg chicken mince
1/2 large red onion (chopped finely)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Block of soft danish feta (cut into 1cm cubes)
1 cup plain flour (seasoned with salt)
2 tbls olive oil (for frying the balls)
1 punnet button mushrooms (chopped)
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
600mls thickened cream
2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls cream cheese
3 garlic cloves (crushed)
1/2 tsp ground oregano
pinch of sea salt & pepper
Place all meatball ingredients (except feta and oil) into a large bowl and mix well. Form into small meatballs and insert a cube of feta into each ball as you go. Smooth meat over so the feta in encased and roll in seasoned flour. The size of the meatballs is up to you. They need to be big enough to hold the feta, and for 4-5 of them to be in one adult serve (see picture). Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the meatballs a few at a time, so the temperature of the pan stays hot. Turn meatballs occasionally until all lightly brown. Do not overcook as they will continue cooking in the sauce later. Set aside. Now onto the sauce!
In the same frying pan, heat oil, add mushrooms and garlic. Fry for a minute or so, then add the cream, cream cheese, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Simmer until cream reduces a bit and sauce has thickened slightly. Add in baby spinach. Taste. If required, add more salt and/or oregano. Once spinach has wilted down, add in the cooked meatballs. The meatballs will thicken the sauce as well. If the sauce becomes too thick, just add a little milk and stir and this will thin it out nicely.
Serve the meatballs on a small pile of creamy mashed potato. An italian salad and garlic bread are a nice addition for the table. If mashed potato seems like too much hassle, you can buy frozen mashed potato. I know it sounds like it’s cheating, but it is seriously good stuff. It comes in a bag containing little cigar shapes of potato which can be microwaved. The texture is absolutely fantastic. I also like to add a dash of milk and some seasoning. It’s like restaurant quality mash and the Safeway brand one just has potato, butter, salt and oil in it, so no nasties! Enjoy!
All photos and video taken by Neil Creek