Thursday, December 9, 2010

A few days ago Natasha and I shared a special afternoon.  We both had the day off, so we went to the market to see what might inspire us.  Would it be fish or a roast, perhaps pasta?  Thinking back on the gorgeous meal I had at The Harbord Room, we knew what it would be: meatballs with miniature gnocchi in tomato and red wine sauce.

It was comforting and warm, hearty and filling.  Filled with pistachios and currants and served with a side of steamed rapini, it was a perfect meal for an icy cold night.

Veal and Pork Meatballs

This is one of those recipes you simply must toss together. There is no sure-fire way, rather, like chili or soup, requires a keen sense of flavour and a bit of bravery.  While I focused on dessert (a pear crisp with Mexican spiced oats) Natasha got her hands dirty, combining the meat, fresh pistachios, tiny black currants, salt, pepper, fresh oregano, parsley, garlic salt, fennel, breadcrumbs and eggs.  Once she was satisfied, she even rolled a small ball and fried it up, to test it, before adjusting her mixture with the delicate hand of a surgeon. 

Once perfect, she seared the formed meatballs (about the size of a billiard ball) in a large stock pot doused in olive oil, then set them aside.  She sautéed a medium-sized onion and several cloves of garlic in the same pot, before reducing a half-cup of red wine in the mix.  Then we added my Grandma's preserved tomatoes, allowed the flavours to meld and added the meat back in to cook-through.  On low heat they simmered away for nearly an hour.  

Once they were finished, she removed them again and kicked-up the heat on the sauce, adding more red wine and allowing it to thicken further.  We then boiled some adorably tiny gnocchi for just a moment.  Right before serving, a bit of fresh-chopped basil was added to the sauce then it was my job to plate and photograph it (the part Jeff hates, urging me to just. sit. down. already.)  On this grey day, the beautiful colours struck me, and I couldn't stop clicking away.

It really was an impeccable meal.  I will certainly try this one again, perhaps coming close to Natasha's example.  

A NOTE ON THE WINE We started with a Chardonnay, but moved onto Flying Kiwi South Island Pinot Noir, a bright and fruity, fairly typical pinot noir.  It was the featured wine at the liquor store, so certainly worth a shot.  And I like the label.  ($15.95, LCBO)


  1. holy crap! that looks delicious! i would LOVE the dessert recipe! do you make your own gnocchi?

  2. Once again, I am stunned at the beauty of your photographs of food. On so many blog, the photography of food makes the subject matter look unappealing at best, and like a mess of slop at worst. Yours, on the other hand, is sublime, and set one's mouth coursing and one's stomach a growling with a "want this now!" reaction. Nice job!

  3. Beth - I'll share it soon!

    Reggie! Thank you so much. Your compliments always mean so much.

  4. I haven't been around in a bit, so I caught up this morning and as always spent way more time than I had just soaking it all in. Such great images, and food, and fun. I really think the photos you took for the Tommy giveaway are so spot on. I see big things on the horizon for you. Thanks for this blog.

  5. Liking the Kiwi label, me too :-)
    Ditto Reggie and The Panic Room on the photography.

  6. Kia Ora! Loving the Kiwi wine. The miniature Gnocci looks delicious... I have to track some down.

  7. Hey I am really liking your blog. How can we get ssome of these recipes ?

  8. Thanks, Michael!
    Most posts include the basics, but, truth be told, I rarely use recipes!