Do you know that I have never eaten a ball in my life…? Ahem I mean a meatball… you and your dirty minds! Well I haven’t, probably because I am vegetarian and I have never found a vegetarian meatball, but today all that is going to change, as I am thrilled to be sharing a delicious Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese ball recipe from the king of balls himself Jez Felwick. Otherwise known as The Bowler, delivering gourmet meatballs, fish balls and veg balls from his beloved Lawn Ranger, his grass-fed van, Jez has recently celebrated the launch of his first book, The Bowlers Meatball Cookbook, which has a fascinating range of seasoned ball recipes and has been making appearances at weddings and events throughout the UK.
I was over the moon at being able to interview him and highly recommend you take a look at his book, try the recipe and book him for any weddings or events you have coming up – Go on I dare you, play with some balls!!
How would you describe The Bowler to those that might not have heard of you? Tell us about your balls and the Lawn Ranger!!
We are one of the UK’s original street food trucks. We saw The Lawn Ranger online and thought the ridiculousness of a grass covered ice cream van was a winner. It puts a smile on people’s faces. In terms of food, it’s best to get known for doing one thing and doing it the best. Meatballs needed a bit of love; pies and sausages had been ‘made over’ so it was time for the balls. They often bring back childhood memories, are loved by kids and adults all over the world and are comforting, fun and healthy…ish.
How did you choose to start The Bowler and then write a book?
We saw some of the food trucks in the US and thought that the UK could do with upping its street food game.
The book came about because everyone I was meeting from chefs to home cooks to celebrities had a meatball recipe. The original idea was charity ball book but it didn’t quite go that way!
What is your most favourite recipe from the book? What balls are requested the most at parties and weddings?
The beef and chorizo balls tend to be a regular winner from the book…and at weddings it’s Great Balls of Fire and Balafel all the way.
As a vegetarian I was thrilled to discover so many amazing recipes for ‘veggie balls’. Where do you find the inspiration to conjure up so many flavour combinations?
I like to think that we are in the business of ‘ball food’ so veggies and pescatarians can come along for the ride. A lot of the inspiration came from looking into classic food combinations and balling them up. Sweet potato and goats cheese is a classic in ravioli for example, now it’s been balled.
We think that it is great that you cater for weddings as well as other larger events. How would our couples go about choosing their wedding balls?
Well usually it’s a case of some red meat, a veggie and one other. Chicken is often popular, especially in a spicy Thai curry sauce as it’s a bit different.
We do take the weather into consideration. So in the heat of summer we could go with a Moroccan vibe and bulgar wheat and salads. It’s handy to have the book so people can see the scope and choose.
Sweet Potato & Goats Cheese Balls
You Will Need: 600g Sweet Potatoes// 200g Spinach, Washed// 1 Free Range Egg// 20g Butter// 1 Garlic Clove, Crushed// 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice// 1 Tablespoon Double Cream// 100g Fresh Breadcrumbs// 50g Soft Goats Cheese// 1 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Rosemary// 1 Teaspoon Salt// 40g Parmesan Cheese, finely grated, or a good Vegetarian Parmesan-style Cheese// 40g Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs// Freshly Ground Black Pepper//
1. Preheat the oven to 230C (425F), Gas Mark 7 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes, or until their flesh is soft and can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, allow to cool to the touch then peel.
3. Put the washed, still wet spinach into a large pan and add a splash of water. Cook over a high heat, turning the spinach over regularly, until it has wilted and softened. Squeeze it between two plates to get rid of any excess liquid, the chop it finely.
4. Mash the sweet potato in a large bowl with the egg, garlic, lemon juice and cream. Add the spinach, fresh breadcrumbs, goats cheese, rosemary, salt and a generous twist of pepper and mix thoroughly, using your hands. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, to chill and set a little. Depending on the water content of the potatoes this can be quite a wet mixture, so add more breadcrumbs if you feel it wont hold its shape.
5. Mix the parmesan and panko bread crumbs together and put on a plate. Take the vegetable mixture out of the fridge and form it into 14-15 balls each about 5cm in diameter. Roll the balls in the parmesan/ panko mixture and place them on the prepared baking tray.
6. Bake the balls for 15-20 minutes, turning the tray around halfway through, until the balls begin to brown on top. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t get burnt underneath.
Great served with baby leaf salad, toasted nuts and some crispy pancetta (for the meat lovers!).
Click here to get The Bowler’s Meatball Cookbook packed with scrummy recipes just like this one – it’s the perfect Xmas present for all those ball lovers in your life!!!