Baked Meatballs (easy to make)

Baked Meatballs

Baked Meatballs & Onion Rings

I haven’t made meatballs in the past; for some reason I thought they would be really tricky to make. I found these to be super easy and have now made them both in passata and oven baked. The two cooking styles create different textures – if you cook in oven they will be drier and denser (good to dip in an accompanying sauce) whereas meatballs cooked in passata they will have a softer, moister mouthfeel. Both ways are great!

This recipe will make a big batch of meatballs so feel free to halve it if desired (or to cook half in oven and half in passata to enjoy both styles!)

Tip: Baked meatballs are really just little round sausages (a great way to market them to toddlers) so they are easy to play around with flavours. Why not try Lamb & Cumin, Chicken & Cranberry, or Pork & Apple instead of the traditional Beef & Onion!

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 150g breadcrumbs / gluten-free breadcrumbs / cooked quinoa
  • 3/4c milk / almond or rice milk
  • 600g beef mince (ground beef)
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • Optional: 1/2c parmesan cheese (powder or finely grated)
  • 1T ground chia seeds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parsley (dried or finely chopped fresh)
  • Chives (dried or finely chopped fresh)
  • Garlic (dried granules or crushed fresh garlic)

Allergies: gluten free*, dairy free*, egg free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C.
  2. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until the liquid has been absorbed.
    • If you’re using cooked quinoa instead: put the quinoa in the mixing bowl for the next step and add the milk after the other ingredients are roughly combined (you may not need to add all the milk).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients (including the soaked breadcrumbs). Mix until combined. The mixture will be a little sticky but should be thick and not overly wet.
  4. Lightly oil your hands and roll meatballs; I like to do lots of small ones (approx. 2T of meat mix). Sit the rolled meatballs on a sheet of baking paper (on an oven tray).
  5. Bake for 18-25 minutes (or until no longer pink in the middle).
  6. Serve as a snack with a dipping sauce, or serve with pasta sauce and spaghetti, gluten-free pasta, or rice noodles.

Tender and delicious Italian American meatballs in tomato passata

Gluten Free Italian American Meatballs in Pasta Sauce

Gluten Free Italian American Meatballs in Pasta Sauce

I haven’t made meatballs in the past; for some reason I thought they would be really tricky to make. I found these to be super easy and have now made them both in passata and oven baked. The two cooking styles create different textures – if you cook in passata they will have a softer, moister mouthfeel whereas oven baked meatballs will be drier and denser (good to dip in an accompanying sauce). Both ways are great!

This recipe will make a big batch of meatballs so feel free to halve it if desired (or to cook half in passata and half in the oven to enjoy both styles!)

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 150g breadcrumbs / gluten-free breadcrumbs / cooked quinoa
  • 3/4c milk / almond or rice milk
  • 600g beef mince (ground beef)
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • Optional: 1/2c parmesan cheese (powder or finely grated)
  • 1T ground chia seeds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parsley (dried or finely chopped fresh)
  • Chives (dried or finely chopped fresh)
  • Garlic (dried granules or crushed fresh garlic)

Tomato Passata

  • 2x 700g jar tomato passata
  • Fresh basil (finely chopped)
  • Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper

Allergies: gluten free*, dairy free*, egg free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until the liquid has been absorbed.
    • If you’re using cooked quinoa instead: put the quinoa in the mixing bowl for the next step and add the milk after the other ingredients are roughly combined (you may not need to add all the milk).
    • You can do Steps 2 & 3 while the breadcrumbs are soaking. The pasta sauce will then simmer while you carry on making the meatballs.
  2. In a large pot (or electric wok), mix the tomato passata, basil, sugar, salt, pepper to your taste.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil over a medium heat and then reduce to simmer.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients (including the soaked breadcrumbs). Mix until combined. The mixture will be a little sticky but should be thick and not overly wet.
  5. Lightly oil your hands and roll meatballs; I like to do lots of small ones (approx. 2T of meat mix). You can sit the rolled meatballs on a sheet of baking paper or a lightly oiled plate until you’re ready to cook them.
  6. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce.
  7. Give a gentle stir after 5 minutes. Cover and simmer for another 35 minutes.
  8. Remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve with spaghetti, gluten-free pasta, or rice noodles.

 

Why should I be worried about natural colour annatto?

Annatto Seeds

Annatto Seeds

I was surprised recently to discover that a popular brand of frozen fries uses food colouring – natural colour annatto. There’s something wonderfully reassuring about ‘natural’ when it’s marketing products despite how ambiguous it is; nature is full of things, from lions to mushrooms, that will kill us with ease.

What is annatto?

Pungent red seeds from the annatto tree are used to provide a golden colour and tangy flavour in many processed foods; it can also be used as a colouring agent in cosmetics. This colouring is often referred to as natural colour (annatto), annatto extract, or colour E160b.

They are also used in Mexican, Latin, and Carribbean cooking as a culinary spice, to make achiote oil, and to make adobe paste.

What are its benefits?

The seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in Caribbean and Latin American cultures. It’s believed that they can have a number of benefits including helping digestion, eye health, bone health, and aging.

Why should I be concerned?

Annatto as a colouring agent can have just as much of an adverse effect on children as artificial food colours. As a parent you might keep a watchful eye to see if artificial red colouring will make your child hyperactive but most of us won’t be aware that a natural colour, that can be found in everything from butter spreads to fries, can cause just as strong an adverse reaction (across the spectrum from neurotypical to autistic). It can also be tricky to become aware of the link between food and behaviour because there can be a time delay, of a few hours to next day, before a normally bright, bubbly, sociable child becomes a  screaming, angry, yelling, defiant and hysterical one. It’s particularly useful to be aware of if you have an atopic family where food sensitivities, allergies, and eczema are a issue.

Families with children sensitive to annatto have reported side effects such as:

  • Irritability
  • Grumpiness
  • Headaches
  • Headbanging
  • Hyperactivity
  • Oppositional behaviour
  • Extreme mood swings (that are out of character)
  • Irritable bowel symptoms
  • Hives / Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Severe allergic reactions

 

Where can I find more information?

I started looking into annatto while reading Sue Dengate’s Fed Up; the most useful online source that I found was a Fact Sheet from the Food Intolerance Network which includes references to scientific studies and personal experiences from a number of affected families.

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

Crispy Asian Pork Belly

One of the treats I miss giving up is the crispy salted pork belly at the hole-in-the-wall cookery inside the Chinese supermarket. Like all Asian takeaways, it’s not safe since the soy allergy was diagnosed. Instead. I made my own and it is both delicious and free of all major allergens.

Ingredients

Liquid marinade

  • 3/4c Chinese cooking rice wine
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2T coconut amino acids
  • 1T lemon juice (or 1 lime)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 1 sliced red chilli
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml water

Everything else

  • 1-2 brown onions (cut into wedges)
  • Pork Belly
  • Neutral Oil (i.e. Rice Bran Oil)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water (added at intervals during cooking)

Allergies: gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220’C.
  2. In a big roasting pan, mix up the liquid marinade.
  3. Cut the onion(s) into wedges and place in a line in the pan. There needs to be enough onion to cut as a support for the pork belly. It will help to moisten the meat and also act as a structural support to keep the crackling raised up out of the jus.
  4. Prepare the pork belly. You will need a very sharp knife in order to score it; I like doing a diamond pattern. This is important not only for helping it to cook but also for cutting it up later in order to serve! Dry the pork belly, apply a little oil over the top, then rub in salt. Crack some pepper over the top as well (if desired).
  5. Place the pork belly onto the foundation of onions (with the fat on top).
  6. Cook at 220’c for 30-40 minutes or until the rind has crackled.
  7. Add 1/2c water to the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Reduce oven heat to 160’C and cook for another hour.
  8. Add 1/2c water to the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking at 160’C for approximately another 60 minutes or until the pork is very tender.
  9. Reserve some of the juices to drizzle over the pork when serving. Consider serving with Asian greens and steamed rice. (I chopped up bitter leafy Asian greens and lightly braised them in the marinade before serving as a side dish with the onion, chilli, garlic etc.).