Tag: meatballs


Picture this – a little girl, straight off the plane from Hong Kong, dragged all the way to Montparnasse so her father can have a couscous royal. Yes, that was my earliest jet-lagged memory of coucous. One of France’s favourite dishes (and my father’s), the ‘couscous’ is certainly worth its fame. Having inherited the sunshine and warmth from North Africa, the couscous was originally a sacred dish prepared with the best maternal knowledge. Today it is a strong symbol of tradition and union. For me, the ‘couscous’ is a dream of a meal evoking Paris in the 60’s – Godard, Belmondo and black turtlenecks. There’s something very loving about this meal – it must be a combination of the golden semolina melting in the vegetable and meat stew, oozing comfort and joy. For that is what this dish is all about.

My kids always make a special request for couscous – I can’t imagine a healthier meal for them, filled with vegetables and wholesome semolina. As there is a lot of preparation required, I would advise you to cook this dish well in advance. You can improvise and have this meal vegetarian, or only with chicken. As you wish.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the couscous stew:
1 kg neck of lamb (collier d’agneau)
4 carrots
3 turnips
3 courgettes/ zucchini
1 large onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes
2 tbsp ‘ras el hanout’ ground spice
2 tbsp tomato concentrate paste
1 tsp chili powder
450 grs chickpeas (I use canned)
Salt and pepper
Harissa (to serve for those who like it extra-spicy)

For the meatballs:
600 grs minced beef
2 cloves minced garlic
A large handful of parsley
1 egg

Various meat:
5 chicken thighs
1 lemon (sliced)
12 merguez sausages

100 ml olive oil
750 grs semolina (I use instant)
Boiling water
Large handful of dried golden sultana raisins (optional)

Slice onion and garlic. Cut/chop all the tomatoes, carrots, turnips and zucchini to mouthsized cubes. In a large deep skillet, pour 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown the lamb. Add onion and tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Add the ras-el hanout, salt, pepper and chilli powder, add enough water to cover the meat, and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the carrots and turnips and continue boiling for 30 minutes. Add zuchinni and chick peas and continue to boil on a low heat for 1 hour.

Prepare meatballs – mix one egg, minced garlic and chopped parsley with the minced meat. Mix well (I use latex gloves and mix with my hands) and shape little golf sized balls. Fry in batches in a large frying pan until browned and cooked, approx 8 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, fry the chicken thighs with the sliced lemon until browned and cooked. Set aside. Fry the merguez until cooked and set aside. Cover chicken, meatballs and merguez sausages with aluminium foil and reserve for later.

When you are getting ready to serve, warm chicken and meatballs for 10 minutes in the ‘couscous’ stew.

Place semolina in a large bowl and stir in the olive oil. Pour enough boiling water until all absorbed. With a fork, scrape and fluff up the semolina gently. Place heat-proof bowl/pot in a 120°C oven until you are ready to serve. You can also place the merguez in the oven to keep them warm.

Place merguez, chicken thighs and meatballs on a large serving plate. Pour couscous stew in a large serving bowl. Serve semolina on a deep-set plate (with raisins on top), with a large ladle of couscous stew, topped with the meat of your choice. For those who enjoy an extra spicy flavour, add half a tsp of Harissa in a ladle of soup/stew and mix well.

Moroccan orange salad

I would highly recommend to serve this ‘Moroccan orange salad’ as a refreshing dessert.


3 oranges, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp orange blossom water
2 tbsp caster sugar
A dash of cinnamon
A few mint leaves, finely sliced and extra for decoration

Slice the oranges and place on a serving dish. Mix orange blossom water and sugar and pour over the oranges. Sprinkle a dash of ground cinnamon and mint. Place in the refrigerator so you can serve it chilled.

Sophia Loren’s meatballs

I came across this recipe a long time ago in an article I read about Sophia Loren. It was about her sons favourite dish, Livia’s meatballs. Livia was Sophia Loren’s long-time cook full of gastronomic treats. I love this recipe and always think of the iconic Sophia Loren and her sons when I make it. These meatballs are so delicious, especially the sauce that goes with it. I serve it with mashed potatoes. Needless to say my kids, especially my boy Hudson, love this dish.

My son Hudson and I on vacation in Marche, Italy.

Ingredients: (for 4 servings)

500 grs minced beef or veal
4 pieces of stale white bread
300 ml milk
240 ml double cream
100 ml white wine
30 ml chicken broth
Flour for meatballs
Olive oil
A handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, pour milk and add the bread. Set aside and let the milk get absorbed in the bread. Squeeze the excess milk and save the bread. Combine saved bread and ground meat in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and shape meatballs 4-5 cm in diameter. Dredge each meatball in flour.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil (about 2cm of oil) on a medium heat and fry the meatballs on both sides by batch if necessary. Drain on a plate with paper towel.

Pour the excess oil from the skillet and scrape off any residue. Pour in the wine, and cook again on a stronger heat until it reduces by a quarter. Add the chicken broth and cream, lower the heat, and cook for 1 minute. Return the meatballs to the pan making sure all the meatballs are covered in the sauce. You can re-heat again on a low heat for 1 minute – do not let the sauce boil.

Sprinkle with parsley, serve with mashed potatoes and lots of sauce.

Frank Sinatra meatballs

450 g ground beef
300 g ground veal (or pork)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
100 g freshly grated Romano cheese
6 g chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
salt and ground black pepper to taste
90 g stale Italian bread, crumbled
100 ml lukewarm water
olive oil

(makes approx 18-20 meatballs depending on size)

I have tried so many meatball recipes, and this one is a real winner. The meatballs are perfect in texture and taste. Frank Sinatra’s meatballs is Dolly Sinatra’s (Frank’s mother) recipe – she was a great cook and he loved his mama’s cooking! Whenever I make this my whole family is ecstatic – we always have a smashing meal.

Combine the minced beef and veal in a large bowl. Add the crushed garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add the water. The mixture should be moist but firm enough to make meatballs. Shape into meatballs.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry 5-6 meatballs at a time until browned and cooked. Place on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.

Serve with spaghetti and Dolly’s marinara sauce. I like to add a few spoons of marinara sauce and sprinkle some pecorino or parmesan cheese on the meatballs – it makes them extra succulent.

Here’s a recipe I love, mainly because it’s Dolly Sinatra’s (Frank Sinatra’s mother) recipe for a perfect marinara sauce. I have done this some one million times – it’s delicious.

Dolly’s marinara sauce
(Serves 4)

80 ml olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 can tomatoes (chopped or crushed with a crusher)
1 tbps tomato concentrated purée
1 tsp oregano
Handful chopped basil
Half a glass of red wine
salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until tender. Add the garlic for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs and purée. Simmer for 30 minutes.  In the original recipe there is no wine, but I like the extra taste it gives to the sauce. Instead of putting a lid I cover the saucepan with a sheet of parchment paper – I find this trick makes the sauce perfect in texture.