Sunday 30 August 2009

Postcards from the edge: Part I

Lamb meatballs with minted yoghurt

If you are one of the rather lovely and incredibly discerning people who have followed my blog from the beginning, you may remember back in April when Lady de B and I took on the terrifying (did I say terrifying, obviously I meant exciting) task of catering for our friend Paula’s wedding . Well, the happy day has almost dawned. It’s next Saturday.

The last few weeks have been a blur of bunting and ribbon, table linen and vintage plates, cocktail try outs and canapé platters. And now the cooking is starting in earnest. This week, I’m going to be typing and prepping at breakneck speed, to share with you some of the dishes we’re hoping will launch Paula and Jack deliciously into married life.

If you are the praying sort, I’d be very grateful if you could throw up a few good wishes for a couple of more hours in a day and sunshine on September 5…

Lamb meatballs with minted yoghurt


I first made these tasty meatballs for my best friend Victoria’s thirtieth birthday and I’ve made them a million times since. They’re simple and delicious, full of the Middle Eastern flavours I love. I found them in the October 1995 issue of Gourmet and I’ve tinkered with them just a little bit. In the original, they’re rolled in black and white sesame seeds which makes for gorgeous presentation, but one of Paula’s guests is allergic to sesame so I’ve left them out. In the past, in a hurry, I’ve simply mixed the sesame seeds in with the meat rather than rolling them and they were great, too. So sesame, sans sesame, I hope you’ll get rolling and try these out yourself.

Makes about 50.

The Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1kg minced lamb
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tsp salt
½ tsp allspice
A good pinch of cinnamon
2 cups of breadcrumbs, about 140g
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbsps currants
Freshly ground black pepper

For the yoghurt dip:
About 300ml whole milk Greek yoghurt
A good handful of fresh mint
A generous pinch or two of salt

Warm the olive oil in a small frying pan over a low heat and fry the onions, with a good pinch of salt, until very soft and slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly before mixing in the mint, salt, allspice and cinnamon – it’ll smell heavenly at this point. Add the lamb, breadcrumbs, currants and eggs and combine gently but thoroughly. It’s best to do this with your hands as you’re less likely to over-mix. Overmixing makes the meatballs a bit heavy, which is not what you want at all. At this point, break off a small piece of the mixture and fry it in a little oil until golden and cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and some black pepper if necessary.

Mixing Mixing…

Testing Testing…

Rolling Rolling

Ready Ready.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll them gently into balls. You can do this up to a day ahead, cover and chill them in the fridge, or you freeze them at this point as I’m doing.

You need to get the yoghurt dip going a few hours before you want to serve the meatballs. Line a sieve with muslin or kitchen paper and set it over a bowl. Tip the yoghurt into the lined sieve and let it drip, drip, drip away in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Just before serving, discard the liquid in the bowl and stir the mint and salt into the creamy yoghurt.

Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 8. Place the meatballs on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes (15 minutes from frozen), rattling the tin half way through, until lightly browned and just cooked through. Serve warm with the yoghurt dipping sauce.


  1. It will be thrilling to watch your progress to the great day. I'll light a candle for you in DC.

  2. Good luck for the big day - although with food this good, I'm sure you won't need any luck!

  3. I have all appendages crossed for September....I'm sure it will be wonderful, no matter what though. Love these meatballs, especially with that dipping sauce!

  4. Secretly, my favorite part of a wedding is the food. How fun to make these fabulous foods and watch the guests enjoy it all. Would love to be a guest at this wedding. Good luck!

  5. I am so glad you put the recipe on here Debora, my mouth was watering like mad when you told me about them!

    Definitely going to make these this week.

  6. Mum - Thank you so much. Can you make it two?
    Fran - Oh, I'm sure we will, but you're very kind!
    Catherine - I love the dipping sauce too. It's delish with grilled chicken or shrimp.
    TEM - It is indeed a lovely thing to see people eating away happily. It makes all of the hard work worth it.
    Anna - Thanks so much for visiting. It was lovely to see you and your brood last week. PS I think I (or Barney, at least) owe/s you a T shirt!
    Lady P - Well, I've made 250 of them so there's plenty to go around!

  7. Hello, well, me and my partner Roy were at the wedding and can happily report the following...first of all my fingers are a bit sticky from Paula and Jack's delicious wedding chutney that I've just sneaked a bit more of as a late breakfast treat with some cheddar cheese on rosemary and raisin bread. It's so good it made me look up your blog :)

    The whole wedding was wonderful from start to finish, Paula's to be praised for her excellent taste as much as you are for your foodie delights. Particular highlights for me have got to include the red pepper dip (scrummy!) the spinach and cheese filo parcels (divine!), the aubergine salad (my favourite vegetable just got a relaunch there), the lovely lovely lemon mousse (so moreish), well, in fact the whole darn thing. We were blessed with sunshine, the bride looked stunning and the wedding couple hopefully had a very happy day.

    Seeing as I'm not planning to get married anytime soon and can't therefore commission you I'm hoping you'll put up the recipes for those! We only have one and a half jars of wedding chutney left so either that or mail order might be a good idea!

    Thanks for a remarkably good time had by all.

  8. Anne - How LOVELY of you to leave such a wondeful comment. I can't tell you how thrilled we are that you enjoyed everything - it was wondeful for us to see people coming back for seconds (and thirds). I promise to share lots of the recipes in the next couple of weeks, so do visit again. I'll definitely share the chutney recipe, as our stocks are running low and we need to make more. And we don't just do weddings - dinners, parties, picnics, brunches, afternoon tea, we're up for all gastronomic challenges!


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