Month: October 2011 (page 2 of 6)

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The Great Penguin Sweater Fiasco

The Great Penguin Sweater Fiasco. Yep, history seems to have repeated itself. The little NZ penguins don’t actually need sweaters and they aren’t being used. So don’t knit them! Do something else productive instead!

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #34: Meatball Sandwich

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #34: Meatball Sandwich
This was our 34th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We’ll be going on hiatus for a few weeks due to our annual Halloween party as well as a small trip I’m taking to Victoria. Also, this time of year is just insanely busy… which is why I’m only just now getting around to posting this meal, which we actually made last weekend. Whoops. Anyway, for this one we chose “Meatball Sandwich, Pickled Cabbage, Chopped Salad, and Banana Ice Cream.” We chose it because we took a punt the week before and bought bananas, reckoning they’d ripen up in time to use. They did! I was on chef’s duty for this one and – though I thought I was speeding along – I clocked in at a disappointing 40:46. It was tasty though.

Meatball Sandwich meal

Substitutions: I actually made a double-batch of the meatballs (simply because I accidentally thawed too much hamburger). Other than that, we followed the recipe pretty much exactly!

Quick verdict: Nothing too challenging or objectionable here! Just a nice simple meal, and probably one that would appeal to kids as well. The sandwich was hearty, but I thought the meatballs were a little bland. The red cabbage really perked up the sandwich though, especially with the chilli and mint. (The recipe makes more than double the slaw actually need. We were eating it all week.) The chopped salad was very good, with the avocado and feta giving it an almost creamy texture. The “ice cream” was a bit of a gimmick, and I’m not sure the coconut added much. We both rated it an 8 out of 10. A pretty good meal, but nothing that really stood out as amazing. You could feed this one to just about anybody though!

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 160C. The food processor was fitted with the slicing disc. We had sliced and pre-frozen the bananas as directed. We had two frying pans for the meatballs (since I cooked so many), and a roasting pan for finishing them in the oven.

First up are the ingredients for the meatball sandwich: basil, minced beef, wholegrain mustard, lemon, egg, pancetta, ciabatta, and Jarlsberg cheese.

Sandwich ingredients

For the red cabbage: red cabbage, red onion, mint, red chilli, and lemon.

Red cabbage ingredients

For the chopped salad: cucumber, tomatoes, avocadoes, basil, salad leaves, English mustard, red wine vinegar, and feta cheese.

Chopped salad

For the ice cream: pre-sliced and frozen bananas, yoghurt, honey, desiccated coconut, and crunchy biscotti.

Ice cream ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! All of the pans are for the meatballs.

Pots and pans

The food processor, fitted with the slicing disc. (You also use the blade later on the ice cream.)

Food processor

And I’m off! I began by roughly chopping the basil for the meatballs.

Chopping basil

I added the basil to the minced beef and added lemon zest.

Zesting lemon

Then I separated an egg yolk…

Egg yolk

…before adding it to the mix.

The mix

To finish the meat mixture, I added salt, pepper, wholegrain mustard, and olive oil.

Seasoning the meat

Once I scrunched all the meat up with my hands to thoroughly mix it, I divided the bowl into even segments so my meatballs would be roughly the same size. They all went into the hot frying pans to cook!


Now for the slaw. I started by breaking down the red cabbage.

Chopping red cabbage

I ran the cabbage through the food processor to slice it, then dumped it in a bowl.

Sliced cabbage

I finely chopped up a chilli…

Chopping chilli

…before adding it to the bowl along with sliced red onion and mint.

Adding onion and mint

My meatballs were brown at this point, so I combined them all into the roasting pan. Then I draped the pancetta slices over the top and put the whole thing into the oven to keep cooking. I also chucked the ciabatta on the bottom shelf to warm.

Meatballs into the oven

I finished the slaw by dressing it with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.

Dressing the slaw

After a thorough scrunch, it was done!

Red cabbage slaw

Next I moved on to the chopped salad. Jamie assembles all of this on a wooden board, but I couldn’t be bothered. I chopped each component up and chucked it in a bowl. First, the cucumber.

Chopping cucumber

Next tomatoes.


I then added the avocado flesh and some chopped basil.

Avocado and basil

To make the dressing, I combined English mustard and salt…

Mustard and salt

…with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Oil and vinegar

I added the salad leaves to the bowl, then poured the whisked dressing over the top.

Dressing the salad

To finish it, I gave it a toss and then crumbled feta on top.

Crumbling feta

Now for the ice cream! I cleaned the food processor and chucked in the frozen bananas, yoghurt, and honey.

Making ice cream

Then I whizzed it all up!

Whizzed ice cream

I put the coconut into a bowl and tried to roll each spoonful of ice cream in it to cover. It didn’t work that well; my ice cream wasn’t very stiff. (I think the bananas may have thawed too much.) Eventually I just spooned the ice cream into the serving bowls and sprinkled coconut on top.

Rolling ice cream in coconut

Time to assemble the sandwich! I took out the warm ciabatta and carefully cut it in half.

Slicing the ciabatta

I drizzled each slice with extra virgin olive oil and then laid slices of Jarlsberg cheese on top.


Then I added a good handful of slaw to each one.

Topping with slaw

Here’s how the meatballs and pancetta looked as they came out of the oven.

Meatballs and pancetta

I added the meat to the sandwiches…


…and here they are finished!

Finished sandwiches

Here’s the completed meal of meatball sandwich with chopped salad (and beer).

Completed meal

And here’s the finished dessert (after it had firmed up a bit more in the freezer) with some biscotti on the side.

Banana ice cream

Tasting notes: I think to an American, a “meatball sandwich” is an entirely different beast. I was expecting something in a sauce, frankly. The Snook explains that this is more what he thinks an Australian or British person might expect. It was a good sandwich though, and I think the red cabbage slaw is the key. It really adds some nice texture, colour, and zinginess to what is otherwise pretty much just a burger. The chopped salad was a nice accompaniment, giving the meal a summertime picnic feel. As for the ice cream, I wish he’d give up these attempts to fake it with whizzed up fruit! I get that fruit and yoghurt is “healthier,” but it never seems to come out firm enough within the time allotted. The Snook thinks it might have been more exciting if I’d had time to refreeze the little balls before rolling them in the coconut, and I tend to agree. Still, overall we liked all the components of this meal just fine. It might be a good one to try with kids, as it’s mostly familiar but introduces some interesting elements. Overall an 8 out of 10 for us.

Stay tuned in a few weeks for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!


Happy Frocktober!
I only heard about Frocktober right at the start of October. It’s basically a campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. I figured, what the hell! I’ll see how many days I can wear skirts or dresses this month. So I sent in a donation to the campaign and started gettin’ mah legs out. Folks, I have worn a skirt FIFTEEN days so far this month! And I’ve only been wearing each item once, so that’s how many skirts and dresses I have in my closet. (There are only a couple left.) WHO KNEW? Those of you on Facebook and Twitter have been seeing the photos each day, but I’ll be doing a roundup at the end of the week of all the outfits. This is definitely something I think I’ll be officially doing next year, along with some proper fundraising. In the meantime, go donate!

MeFi Quilting Bee

Do I really need another project? I appear to have signed up for the MetaFilter Quilting Bee.

RunningBlog: Week 42

Week 42
Work’s been stressful the past couple of weeks. I’ve got some new responsibilities, and I’ve been trying to get a big project off the ground. This has meant some late nights and working lunches. It’s made fitting in my workouts more difficult – but boy, have I needed them. On Sunday, the Snook and I did our longest speed workout yet: TEN 400m intervals at race pace with 250m walking recovery. I was dreading it, but we pretty much kicked its ass! Monday I walked to work. Tuesday I went for a 4:1 run/walk at lunchtime and then walked home in the evening. Wednesday I had my first Spudds class in weeks, and it was pretty tough! And Friday I went for a run at lunch with Kunaal and Raj, and I SWEAR TO GOD WE RAN RIGHT PAST RUSSELL CROWE. (But nobody else believes me.) Good week! Sunny weather runs make life worth living.

Oct. 16: 6.81km
Oct. 17: 2.65km (walking)
Oct. 18: 5.17km
Oct. 18: 2.59km (walking)
Oct. 21: 4.66km
Total this week: 16.64km (10.4mi)
Total in 2011: 912.35km (570.2mi)

To meet my original goal of running 1100km in 2011, I should be at 888.5km. Still on track there! But I think the 1200km goal is well and truly gone at this point.

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