Date Night Special

Robert Billington's "Every man's Dream" Spicy Meatballs and "The Holier The Better" Homemade Focaccia

Impress your guests or special someone with Robert’s “Every Man’s Dream” Spicy Meatballs and his “The Holier The Better” Homemade Focaccia. Serve it up with some chilled Lambrusco for the ultimate gourmet comfort food dish.

And as the man said it himself, “This is one for those cold spring nights when you can almost see the summer days to come.” Ah, yes.

Spicy Meatballs

500g mince beef (not lean)
5 crackers (I use Jacobs)
4 garlic cloves
½ handful parsley
½ handful coriander
4 dried chillis
1 zested lemon
salt and pepper

2 good quality tins of chopped tomatos
300ml Stock
2 dried chillis
plenty of salt and pepper

– Firstly put the sauce on as you want this to reduce before adding the balls – simply add all the ingredients and bring to a slow simmer
– In a bowl bash the crackers until they resemble bread crumbs
– Add the mince beef to the bowl
– Finely chop the rest of the ingredients and add
– Mix together well with your hands and form into small balls
– In a hot pan fry the balls briefly in olive oil until lightly browned and set aside
– When the sauce has reduced by around a third add the balls and simmer for 15-20 minutes
– To serve add more fresh herbs and a dollop of sour cream

“The Holier The Better” Homemade Focaccia

14g Dried Yeast (2 sachets)
500g Strong White Flour
Olive Oil
Maldon Salt

– Put 100g of the flour into a bowl with 100 ml water and the yeast
– Mix together to form a batter and leave for 20 minutes (this is called a sponge)
– Add the rest of the flour along with the olive oil and 10g salt diluted in water
– Keep adding water and mixing the dough until it resembles a cake mixture, at this point if you’re brave you can keep adding water, as long as it still holds you’ll end up with a lovely hole filled crunchy bread.
– Tip your mixture out onto the surface and kneed by continually scraping the mixture off the table and kneeding.
– After 10 minutes of kneedin the mixture will be smoother and glossy
– Scrape the mixture off the table and into an oil covered square bowl
– Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for an hour (ish)
– Transfer onto an oil covered baking sheet and push your finger tips into the mixture all over (This creates the holey surface and knocks the mixture back)
– Leave for a final 30 minutes to prove and put your oven on to heat up to 220 degrees
– Drizzle with more olive oil and salt before putting in the oven
– Bake for around 30 minutes or until golden and risen