You know that you aren’t in London any more, when you are sitting in a pub garden and you hear someone say: “My horse loves Quavers.” Then you turn around, and there are two Shetland Ponies having an afternoon out at the boozer.
I’d totally forgotten I was wearing a cowboy hat until some geezer pointed at it and said: “it’s like a rodeo down here today…”
Mr R entered into the spirit of the afternoon by coming back from the bar like this:
For overseas readers, Quavers are an old fashioned salty snack here in the UK, very old skool cheesy numbers.
Well of course he does!
Oooooh, John Cassavetes’ recipe was a conundrum. Spotted in Johna Blinn’s most excellent Celebrity Cookbook:
I decided this would be a fairly easy thing to make on the first night of our holiday on Mersea Island.
I got the wherewithal delivered by Tesco, and I love the fact the delivery drivers don’t bat an eyelid that where we stay is not accessible by road. They have to trundle all our millions of cans of beer and hundreds of bottles of wine along a public footpath. God love ’em.
Recycling day at our holiday cottage after we’ve been there a week….
So I set about making John’s meatballs. I won’t go on about it, but the recipe in Johna’s book was wrong. I am shocked about this as she’s my all-time-food-writer HEROINE, but the fact is, her editors (I have to blame them) missed a bit of the recipe out, and also, seriously, there is not enough tomato sauce here for the large amount of meatballs the recipe generates.
So I will have to fiddle around with this recipe quite a bit if it is to go in the Columbo Cookbook.
Mr R bought a DVD of Gloria with him to the island which I have never seen. It’s no wonder I don’t have many recipes for John and his wife Gena Rowlands. They were too busy making masterpieces of cinema to do much cooking, obviously!
However, I’ve written about their recipe for Cherry Torte over at Eat Drink Films. That is one good torte!
The meatballs were also good. They were slightly minty, and very different to the Italian meatballs or the Ottolenghi style meatballs I am used to – because, I guess, NO GARLIC! We had our meatballs with spaghetti and a bit of cheese. Mmm.
I was really pleased to find a 1971 newspaper article online where John talks about this recipe, (crediting it to Gena and using the Greek name Youvarlakia)
and tells of his favourite restaurant. It’s in London and it still exists – Osteria San Lorenzo. I’m trying to persuade Mr R to come there with me. But it is in KNIGHTSBRIDGE, the swankiest part of London, so we are not sure we’ll be let in…
Rosemary’s Baby (with John Cassavetes) is on TV right now and I see your posting for John’s meatballs…Spooky in more than one way. 🙂
Your keftedes look nice. Is there cinnamon in the tomato sauce? If he was making them in a very traditional Greek way, the balls would be SLIGHTLY flattened and not perfectly round. Not sure why, if it has something to do with cooking through or not rolling around in the pan???
And Mr. R may be right about Osteria San Lorenzo after you showing the world that Quavers photo…lol
Yiouvarlakia are different from keftedes. Yiouvarlakia are more like dumplings and they are round as they are typically cooked in a soup broth whether it’s an avgolemono or light tomato broth type with mire poi’s type vegetables. Keftedes are larger and flattened somewhat due to being fried and may be served without sauce (but with lemon) or cooked in a tomato sauce.
Ha ha – you are going to be even more freaked out when you see what is coming up next…
Aha, I should have known that you would have had thoughts on the keftedes. No cinnamon in the sauce – very plain, just butter, onions, tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. There didn’t seem to be much sauce in relation to how many meatballs the recipe made. Only enough for half of them IMHO. Would this be traditional in Greece? More emphasis on the meat than the sauce?
I’ll SQUASH ‘EM next time! JX
Yes and no…the Giouvarlakia seem to be the same recipe as Keftedes (they are pan fried) just cooked in sauce (most often an egg and lemon sauce, but the tomato is traditional too), so I’m thinking you’re right in presuming that her editors made an error when transcribing the proportions…it should be almost soupy or stew like. That dish is all about the meat cooking in the liquid… According to Diane Kochilas (the guru of the history of Greek food), for the 40 or so meatballs you’ve shown pictured, you should’ve been using about 4 cups of tomatoes and enough water to cover them all. But Greeks do go VERY heavy on the meat servings (portion/person) in my opinion. And who’s to say that’s not just how his mom liked to make them…but somethings wrong. I think you’re safe in assuming there was a mistake somewhere that should be corrected so that it’s a workable recipe.
Brilliant! Thanks so much for that feedback Greg. I think that you are absolutely right! I think that the sauce quantity needs to be doubled, so that is what I will do with a note!