Category Archives: BEEF RECIPES

MARHAPÖRKÖLT (HUNGARIAN BEEF STEW)

Hungarian food entrances me because I have always loved the key ingredients in this delightful cuisine – sour cream, paprika, potatoes, pasta, onions, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, cabbage (including sauerkraut), and a wide array of sausages. I mean truly, what’s not to like?

So when I recently decided to prepare a beef stew, I decided to forgo my usual recipes in favor of something new. And almost any time I think “something new”, my thoughts automatically drift towards the Carpathian Basin.

I found plenty of recipes during my internet search. But I quickly realized, like American beef stew, there are as many recipes for this Hungarian standard, as there are cooks. And not just Hungarian cooks. I found recipes from cooks from almost every ethnicity, as well as recipes from magazines as disparate as Saveur and Women’s Day.

So I glommed together what I thought would work, and got out my largest LeCreuset Dutch oven. Following what I thought to be the key ingredients in most of the highest rated recipes, I came up with this mix. I had a few trepidations about using a whole green pepper, but in the final analysis, it’s the green pepper that sets the stage so beautifully for the paprika and caraway to work their magic. These three ingredients were obviously meant to be together. They set the flavor base for this incredible dish. The funny thing is, unless you have truly amazing taste buds, (of which I am not blessed), it is difficult to ascertain where the green pepper flavor leaves off and the paprika and caraway take the forefront. And really, isn’t that the essence of good cooking? Achieving a blend where no one ingredient hogs the stage. (Kind of like a good band. Every player in sync with every other player to form a blend rather than a cacophony of individual sounds.)   

So please give this recipe a try. It is the essence of comfort food, even before you place it on the table. The smell alone is worth the effort. All you have to do is read the first two ingredients to know of what I speak. 

  • 4 slices thick cut lean bacon, diced
  • 1 lg. onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (don’t even think of leaving the green pepper out)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. cubed lean beef (I use round steak because it’s inexpensive and very lean)
  • 3 T. sweet (mild) Hungarian paprika (yes, 3 tablespoons), or more to taste
  • scant ½ tsp. caraway seeds, coarsely crushed (don’t leave the caraway seeds out either!)
  • 1 lg. bay leaf
  • 8 oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably Italian)
  • about 2 c. beef broth
  • ½ lb. thick egg noodles
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley, garnish
  • sour cream, garnish, opt.

In a large covered Dutch oven or soup pan, fry the bacon until it is crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the onion and sauté for about 8 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, green pepper, salt, and pepper. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and the bell pepper is tender-crisp.

Add the beef to the pan. Cook for 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the meat is brown. Add the cooked bacon, paprika, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and diced tomatoes to the pan. Pour enough beef broth into the pan to almost cover the meat. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Let the mixture simmer slowly for about 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth as needed to keep the stew from getting dry. (If too much liquid, remove the lid the last 30 minutes or so of cooking time, thus allowing the excess liquid to evaporate.)

The stew is done when the meat is fork tender and the sauce is thick. Adjust seasoning.

Just before serving, cook the noodles to al dente and drain.

To serve, cover the bottom of a soup bowl with noodles, and ladle on the stew. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and offer sour cream at the table.

Can substitute mashed potatoes or steamed rice for the noodles.

Pairs very well with Hawaiian Won Bok and Carrot Slaw. (on blog)

 

    

HAMBURGER DIP SANDWICHES WITH ONION AND DRY SHERRY AU JUS

Well once again I have managed to use one of the many 1 pound packages of ground beef that currently takes up about a half shelf in our not-so-tiny freezer. Hurray for me! Don’t get me wrong, I love ground beef. But it does tax my old brain trying to think up new and inventive ways to serve it.

But, lucky for me, one of the best ways I know to dress up simple ground beef, is to use it in a dipping sandwich.

Almost everyone I know loves a good French dip sandwich, as long as the au jus and meat are really flavorful. (I hate some of the weak tasting excuses for an au jus served in many restaurants. But I’ll save that pontification for a rainy afternoon when it isn’t so pleasant outside.) But before I leave the subject, I would also appreciate if the sliced beef had some good flavor. Yes, I know – I’m picky, picky, picky!

Well one thing you can be sure of, although this sandwich is not made with thinly sliced prime rib, it is extremely flavorful. The ground beef is seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning (my favorite) and the au jus is absolutely divine. Also easy to prepare. And might I add – reasonably inexpensive. Always a nice thing.

So next time you have a pound of ground beef staring at you when you open your freezer door, take it out and make it into one of these sandwiches. You’ll thank me. They are just really, really yummy.

  • 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 T. dry sherry
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ c. hearty beef broth (I use beef base and water)
  • 1 chewy baguette, cut into individual portion sized pieces, then halved and toasted just before serving

In a small bowl, gently combine the ground beef and Montreal seasoning. (You never want to work ground beef too hard or too long or you lose the wonderful tender quality of the beef.) Shape the meat into long and narrow patties. (Basically you want the meat patties to be just a tad bit larger than the size of your baguette pieces.)

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. Fry the patties until they are done to your liking. Remove patties from pan and tent with aluminum foil. Set aside. (And no, they won’t be piping hot when your sauce is ready, but that’s why God gave us microwave ovens. Just don’t nuke them for too long. You want to slightly warm the meat, not over-cook it. No hockey pucks, please!)

Add the onion to the pan. Sauté the onion until slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the dry sherry and then the flour, whisking the entire time. Slowly whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and beef broth. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, place patties inside prepared baguette pieces and place on dinner plate. Pour the dipping sauce into small individual bowls and set beside the sandwich. Add a nice salad or roasted potatoes or vegetables, and dinner’s served!

 

 

BACON CHEESEBURGER PATTIES

OK, I like a good old fashioned bacon cheeseburger as well as the next guy. Maybe even more than the next guy. Add a slice or two of avocado and you have the recipe for my favorite burger.

Now either I’m getting sloppier or restaurant burgers are getting bigger and therefore more unwieldy. Whichever, I seem to always make a horrible mess when I eat a hamburger. Even if I try really, really hard, I usually manage to get hamburger detritus all over the front of me, the table, and whomever I am dining with! (Not a pretty sight!)

So the other day when I wanted to serve a ground beef pattie for dinner, I went on line and found the bones of this recipe on the allrecipes.com site. Of course I had to make a couple of changes, like adding an egg. The organic, open range, loved and pampered cow from whence our ground beef had cometh, was so lean, that if I didn’t know better, I’d swear the cow had been anorexic when butchered. But not to fret. This cow had been loved and well taken care of throughout its short but happy life. (Thank God no vegetarians will be reading this recipe. My reputation as a fairly decent person would dissolve in the time it takes to pop the lid on a container of hummus!) But fellow carnivores, back to this burger.

When I saw this recipe, or the bones for this recipe, I knew that I would love the outcome. And oh my, the burger patties were even better than anticipated. Next time I make them, I am going to serve them on really nice toasted buns (maybe brioche buns), with slices of avocado, red onion, tomato, and lettuce. And dressed with Thousand Island dressing. Yum. I figure if I’m lucky, with the bacon and cheese contained in the burger itself, I have about a 50/50 chance of making less of a mess. Wish me luck.

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. dehydrated onion
  • 1 T. prepared horseradish
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices cooked lean bacon, chopped  
  • ½ c. shredded sharp cheddar, pepper Jack, or blue cheese

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion, horseradish, and egg.   When well combined, stir in the bacon and cheese. Shape into 3-4 patties. Preheat your grill. When ready to cook the burgers, lightly oil the grill grate. Place patties on the grill, and cook for 4 minutes per side, or until done to liking. Or fry in a pan. That works too!

 

ASIAN FLAVORED GROUND BEEF PATTIES WITH WILTED GREENS

Ever on a quest for ground beef recipes, I decided an Asian spin on ground beef would be nice for our dinner last evening. I had some left-over fried rice and an English cucumber lying recumbent in my refrigerator, so why not make an Asian influenced night of it? So on to the wonderful world of internet I proceeded to do some research on the subject.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “You get lots of your recipes from other people, don’t you Mrs. Carr?” And to a certain extent, that is absolutely true. But in my defense, I usually have the main idea of what I am after already in my head. But being the lazy resourceful cook that I am, I often start with someone else’s recipe, or a combination of several people’s recipes. Then of course, I mess with it or them until I have a recipe that appears adequate to the task of pleasing my discerning palate. And, of course, I always try to reconstruct the recipe(s) to reduce the fat and salt content, as well as changing the cooking instructions in ways that allow the recipe to be more accessible to cooks who may still have limited culinary experience. (Lofty goals, right??) Then I present the recipe to you.

So, that’s exactly what I did yesterday when I changed a recipe from the Eating Well magazine site. The recipe provided me with the “bones” of this dish. But through judicious application of my experience with food, I added a few ingredients that I felt would make the dish even healthier. I added garlic, an egg (binder), and Tamari. I substituted kale and other dark greens for watercress*, and cooking spray for canola oil.

And again, I know what you’re thinking. “So Patti, if you change everyone else’s recipes, why shouldn’t I change yours?” My answer – you should, you should! All I am offering is an idea for a healthy and delicious dish to serve to your family and friends. A dish that is good for you, fairly inexpensive, easy and fast to prepare, and above all free of all the unnecessary, unpronounceable ingredients found in processed food. In other words – homemade! And even if your dish ends up nothing like mine, who the heck cares!?!? You will have served a dish to your family that is not only fun to eat, but a little different and therefore more fun for you to prepare. (The reason I never wanted to work in a restaurant kitchen is because I would have had to prepare the same dish night after night after night ad nauseam!! I get bored too easy for that. And I know a lot of really outstanding home cooks who feel the same way! They love to cook, but bring on the adventure of new and exciting food challenges. Thank you.)

So treat your family some evening to a fun and delicious Asian inspired meal. These ground beef patties are perfect served with brown or fried rice and Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad). Sunomono recipe on site.

*Analysis of the vitamin content difference between kale, spinach, and watercress as found on the www.healthyeatingsfgate.com site. “Kale has the highest vitamin content of these three greens, with a cup serving providing 684 percent of the daily value, or DV, for vitamin K, 206 percent of vitamin A and 133 percent for vitamin C. Spinach contains the most folate, with 15 percent of the DV, compared to 5 percent for kale and 1 percent in watercress. While watercress has the least vitamins overall, a cup serving still provides 106 percent of DV for vitamin K, 22 percent for vitamin A and 24 percent for vitamin C. Your body needs Vitamin K for blood clotting, vitamin A for immune function and vision, vitamin C for healing wounds and forming collagen and folate for creating new cells and, in pregnant women, preventing neural tube birth defects.”

  • 6-8 c. chopped and massaged curly kale
  • 6-8 c. thinly sliced greens*
  • 2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce   
  • ½ c. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 T. hoisin sauce, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced   
  • 8-9 finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ c. plain dry breadcrumbs or Panko
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • cooking spray

Combine the kale and greens in a bowl. Set aside. Whisk together the Tamari, rice wine, 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce, and ½ of the minced garlic in another bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the bell pepper, scallions, breadcrumbs, egg, remaining 3 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce, ginger, and remaining ½ of the minced garlic.  Gently mix in the ground beef. Form the mixture into 4 patties. (The less you mess with the ground beef, the more tender the finished product.)

Lightly coat a large non-stick fry pan with cooking spray. Heat the pan and fry the patties until done to your liking. (Flip only once as the patties have a tendency to fall apart.) When done, remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil.

Add kale and greens of choice to the pan; stir-fry for about 4 minutes or until wilted. Divide the cooked greens among 4 plates. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the Tamari mixture. Whisk until smooth, bubbling, and slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Top the greens with the ground beef patties and drizzle with the pan sauce.

*use any greens, i.e. napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach, chard, watercress, etc.

 

 

 

 

MEATLOAF WITH STROGANOFF SAUCE

I think I mentioned in one of my recent posts that we had purchased some grass fed beef. (Lovely, BTW.) Because I don’t particularly enjoy cooking or eating cuts of meat that are terribly fatty, like chuck steak or chuck roast for example, I asked the butcher to grind most of these types of cuts into – you guessed it – ground beef. So when you look in my freezer you will find lots of 1 lb. packages of this amazing ingredient. So featuring ground beef for dinner has become quite frequent in the Carr household. And since I almost always like to gussy things up a bit, I thought a nice meatloaf topped with a sumptuous gravy would be perfect to serve on a cold winter night. (Plus I knew there would be leftover meatloaf.  And we absolutely adore meatloaf sandwiches when made with multi grain wheat bread, a tiny smear of mayonnaise, a good dollop of ketchup, a modicum of mustard, a very thin slice of onion, some lettuce, a tomato slice or two, and sliced dill pickle. If feeling extravagant, a thin slice of sharp cheddar cheese is always welcome too.) But back to this recipe. (But do try my idea of a perfect sandwich if you ever find yourself with leftover meatloaf in the refrigerator.)

As I was considering how I could change the meatloaf up a bit, I thought about stroganoff. We both love stroganoff. And ground beef is not much more than steak that has been previously tenderized. So why wouldn’t a stroganoff sauce be perfect? And indeed, why not? So I prepared one of my usual meatloaf recipes, and while it and a potato were happily baking away in the oven, I went to work on the sauce.

Now I’ve been making stroganoff for well over 40 years. So creating the sauce recipe was easy. What was difficult was realizing that I should have been serving this combination for well over 40 years too! Where was my head when I was trying to come up with wonderful, economical, reasonably quick dinners for my children after a full day of work? And then realizing how much money I could have saved by making a meatloaf rather than purchasing a pricey cut of beef for the stroganoff. Plus with meatloaf, I could have hidden veggies and a scoop of my ever present secret ingredient – wheat germ! Like I said, where was my head?

Well in my defense, I was a little busy during those years. Plus, if a recipe didn’t appear in one of my cookbooks, I certainly didn’t have the time for inventive cooking. But I do now. So my hope is that this recipe will help you if you are facing time or budget restraints but still desire the wonderful taste of a delectable stroganoff.

And please do me a favor. If you have beef recipes that you cherish, but don’t have the time or financial resources to prepare them per your recipe, let me know. I will see if I can figure out how they can be prepared using ground beef. Please – I need your help. I’m drowning in the stuff and I’m running out of ideas. Thank you.

Meatloaf:

  • 2 T. chopped dehydrated onion
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning (comes in bulk in the dried herbs and spices section)
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. dried savory
  • ½ c. dry bread crumbs (I use the Italian bread crumbs – also comes in bulk at many grocery stores)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 lb. bulk sausage
  • 1 lb. not so lean ground beef
  • paprika

In a large mixing bowl combine the onion, parsley, garlic, Montreal Seasoning, salt, pepper, savory, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk. Stir in the sausage and then the ground beef. (I use a table knife for this purpose.) Form into 2 rectangular loaves. Place on a rimmed baking pan and bake for 1 hour in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Slice and serve topped with Stroganoff Gravy and lightly sprinkled with paprika.

Stroganoff Sauce:

  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • pinch kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. beef base
  • 1 c. sour cream

Heat the olive oil. Add the onion and mushrooms; cook until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms slices are starting to brown. Whisk in the thyme, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and beef base. Bring just to a boil. Add the sour cream and once again, bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and serve over slices of the meatloaf.

 

OLD FASHIONED SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Every once in a while, all I want for dinner is a big old plate of spaghetti and meatballs. And when the urge hits me, I fix this recipe.

I have been making this sauce and these meatballs for decades. This was one of my standby recipes when my children were young, because they all loved it, spaghetti was fairly economical to make, nutritious, and I enjoyed preparing it. (And yes, even after work!) So not only is this spaghetti delicious, it brings back wonderful memories.

It was also one of the recipes I fixed when after a long weekend morning of cleaning the house, doing 43 (or so it seemed) loads of laundry, and working in the yard, I would get a wild hair about 2:00 pm to have company for dinner! (Dear God, what was I thinking?) So I would pick up the phone and call our dear friends and invite them over. Then off to the store, back home, start some bread, make this dish, cut up greens for a salad, throw some brownies together, put the box of wine in the refrigerator along with some Miller beer, and Bob’s your uncle! Where I ever got the energy for those kind of days I will never know! My only excuse is that I was young and didn’t know any better.

Now that I’m a wee bit older and definitely a whole lot smarter, I have to plan company dinners down to a gnat’s eyelash. I go so far as to prepare comprehensive excel spreadsheets, complete with time tables that reflect any and all tasks that can be done ahead of time. (Many would call it being anal-retentive; I call it being prepared!) Some would even go so far as to blame it on my age! And they would be right! I simply can’t work as fast or as long as I did in my thirties. Regardless – I can still do it, and that’s what matters.

So if you too love spaghetti and it’s a nostalgic part of your past, call, text, email, twitter, or whatever!?!? your friends and invite them over for dinner. And no, you don’t have to go so far as to serve them box wine, although I’ve been told they are making some really good box wines these days. (There are just some food and drink items from our past that should stay relegated to the very back recesses of our brains. For example: I have my memory of boxed white wine safely filed away between Annie Green Springs and Ripple in the back part of my brain. And I can’t even remember where I stashed my memory of Singapore Slings, but I sincerely hope that wherever it is, it stays hidden for the rest of my life!)

Oh, BTW, it’s OK if you don’t have wonderful memories of spaghetti and meatballs. It’s never too late to begin making your own nostalgic memories. Have fun!

Meatballs:

  • ½ c. finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. ground savory
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. dried rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. milk
  • ¾ c. oats
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. seasoned pork sausage

Combine the onion, granulated garlic, parsley, savory, thyme, salt, paprika, rosemary, pepper, nutmeg, eggs, and milk together in a medium bowl. Add the oats, ground beef, and ground pork and stir just until combined. Using an ice cream scoop, form balls and place on a lightly greased rimmed baking pan.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the balls are baked through. Remove from oven and set aside.

Sauce:

  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can chopped or diced tomatoes (Italian tomatoes preferably)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (I use Mexican oregano)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 T. butter, optional
  • ½ lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • grated Parmesan, garnish

In a large covered sauce pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Take the lid off part way if the sauce is too thin or allow to gently burble away until the sauce reaches your desired thickness.) Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, add the basil, and adjust seasoning. If the sauce tastes acidic, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavor.

Just before serving, add the meatballs and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the al dente spaghetti, and serve immediately. Pass Parmesan.

 

BEEF STROGANOFF

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I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking. That’s the only way I have found to be successful at anything I have ever attempted. Well positive thinking and a Betty Crocker cookbook given to me when I was 20 years old! You see, Betty taught me to cook. And one of my early culinary successes was Beef Stroganoff. And through becoming confident in the kitchen, I became confident in other areas as well. Or at least confidence enough to try other endeavors that interested me. And believe me, through the years I have taken on many projects and adventures that had I been told as a teenager I would be doing, would have caused me to laugh out loud or bury my head under a pillow!

Now don’t get your hopes up too much. This is not the recipe that was in my 1961 First Edition Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book. This is my version that has been manipulated, adjusted, and massaged for over 50 years. But even with all the revisions I have made, this is still one of the easiest and quickest dishes to prepare. Also one of the most delicious. So, absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal. Serve with a green salad or a nice steamed green veggie, and dinners ready.

And as far as using your cooking skills to translate into the power of positive thinking, it really only makes sense. Good food on the table makes your family and friends happy. Which means they will always want to be at your table which only makes you feel better about yourself and want to continue feeling that way. So I say, cheers to good food and to those who provide it! Of course you still have to use your head while reeling from the afterglow of a meal well prepared. You still can’t fly or jump off roofs or any of the other skills attributed to super heroes. You are still human, even if you are a marvelous cook! But if you drift off to sleep dreaming of your face on the cover of Time magazine, that’s OK. It means you have the confidence to believe that anything is possible. And confidence in confidence alone is a great thing. Just ask Julie Andrews!  

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, cut in half then thinly sliced
  • ½-¾ lb. button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ lb. high quality lean beef, cut in very, very thin strips against the grain, then into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ c. brandy
  • 1 c. beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley or 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1½ c. uncooked thick egg noodles, cooked al dente

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(I buy my thick noodles at Costco. They are every bit as good as homemade – and a lot less work!)

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy skillet. Fry the onion and mushrooms over medium heat until the mushrooms are dry and browned. While they are cooking add salt and pepper. Remove to a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Add cut steak to the same skillet and quickly fry over high heat for 30 seconds to a minute. (The meat should still be semi-rare.) Remove from pan and add to the bowl with the cooked onion and mushrooms; set aside. Remove pan from heat and add the brandy, beef stock, and bay leaf to the pan. Return pan to stove and reduce the liquid by half. (If there are brown bits on the bottom of the pan, be sure to scrape them up into the liquid.) Stir in the mustard and add the cooked onion, mushrooms and meat, sour cream, parsley, and cooked noodles. Adjust seasoning and discard the bay leaf. Cook just until hot, then serve immediately. 

And remember: if any part of this dish has to wait, make your sauce wait for your noodles, not the other way around.   

CREOLE MEATLOAF WITH MASHED BUTTERMILK POTATOES AND TRINITY GRAVY

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I love Creole food and I love meatloaf. So I decided that a recipe for Creole meatloaf would be next on my list of “how in the heck am I going to use up more of the ground beef in my freezer?!?!”

Having decided on the flavor theme, I went about looking for Creole recipes I could adapt. And one of the first recipes to pop up on my search was a recipe from Rachael Ray. But I couldn’t stop with just looking at one recipe, so I brought up a few more and the recipe below is the result of combining several recipes and my own ideas on the subject.

Now, unless you have done a lot of Creole cooking, you might be wondering about “trinity” gravy. If you are like me, my “trinity” in cooking is a combination of onion, carrot, and celery. I start almost every stew, soup, or red sauce with this combination of base ingredients. In French cooking it’s called mirepoix, and consists of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. But the Creole and Cajun cuisine considers onion, celery, and green pepper to be the holy trinity of flavor. 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery, and 1 part green bell pepper. Cajun/Creole dishes such as étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya almost always start with this base. And since I love all three of these dishes, I decided maybe a trinity gravy was right up my alley too.

I am happy to report that both the meatloaf and the gravy are a wonderful combination of flavors, very simple to prepare, and economical to build. In fact, I would classify this dish as perfect for company. It does take time to prepare, but all can be made ahead of time, and then reheated just before serving. And although the ingredients aren’t expensive, the presentation looks like a million dollars.

Now I’ve heard, that half the enjoyment one gets from food is in the presentation. Frankly, I think that’s a load of rutabaga skins! I’ve tasted many a dish that looked terrific, but the flavor – less than satisfactory. But this delicious dish is not just beautiful on the outside. Remember – “external attractiveness has no relation to goodness or essential quality.” I know this maxim first stated by Sir Thomas Overbury in his poem “A Wife”, was meant to imply that beauty (in a wife) should not be just skin deep. But, as far as I’m concerned, his reflection speaks equally to culinary presentations! And if this dish doesn’t yell “good wife” I don’t know what dish does!! (And yes, I can make any quote or maxim have something to do with food. It’s a DNA abnormality handed down through my father’s side of the family!)  

For a small family or a senior couple like Mr. C and me, this wonderful meatloaf and gravy is a three meal delight. First night – eat until you can’t walk. Second night, eat until you remember how bad you felt after dinner the night before! Third day, argue over who’s going to get the last couple of slices of meatloaf for lunch! Enjoy, and no fighting kids!     

Meatloaf:

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for smearing on meat loaves before baking
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T. Creole Seasoning, divided (to make your own, see two very good recipes below)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. grainy Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4th of the onion to the skillet, and cook to soften, 5-6 minutes.  Add half of the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool.  To the cooled onion mixture add the paprika, thyme, 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, ½ teaspoon of the salt, black pepper, mustard, bread crumbs, egg, and milk.  Mix to combine. Add the ground beef and the ground pork, stirring gently just until well combined. (I use my hands for this part.) Form into 2 loaves, each about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide.

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Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Smear the entire surface lightly with olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

To serve: Slice the meat loaves. Arrange the slices over Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and pour the Trinity Gravy over both.  Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.

Trinity Gravy:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • small bay leaf
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. beef stock (I use beef base and water)
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce or more to taste (I use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • mashed sweet or russet potatoes (see recipe below)
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced on the bias, for garnish

Meanwhile, in the same skillet you used for the meatloaf mixture, melt the butter and add the remaining onion. Cook for about 7 minutes, then add the celery, bell pepper, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and white pepper.  Cook the mixture long enough to soften, about 30 minutes. (I usually cover the pan after about 10 minutes and let the veggies gently steam/fry.) The veggies should be kinda brown and kinda mushy. That’s what you want. None of this crisp tender for this recipe!

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Add the remaining garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the tomato paste and bay leaf; stir for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour and remaining Creole seasoning over the mixture and stir for another minute.  Whisk in the stock, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; cook to thicken over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep the gravy warm. Stir periodically.

If you are not going to be serving in the next little while, remove from heat and re-warm when ready. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ to 1 c. buttermilk

Cover the potatoes with water in a medium pot and bring to a boil, then season with salt, reduce heat, and cook for 12-15 minutes until tender.  When the potatoes are done, drain and return to the hot pot and mash with black pepper and buttermilk to desired consistency. Add salt if necessary.

EMERIL’S ESSENCE CREOLE SEASONING

  • 2½ T. paprika
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. cayenne
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried thyme

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

CREOLE SEASONING MIX (my recipe) 

  • 1½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½-1½ tsp. cayenne (depends on how much heat you like or can tolerate)
  • ½ tsp. gumbo file

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

 

GROUND BEEF AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM BURGERS

As I’m sure you already know if you have read any of my previous posts, I am the number one fan of ground beef. I actually much prefer it to steak, and as a breakfast meat, in my mind there is no comparison. And now, after having purchased a quarter of a Highland cow and had a good portion of it ground, I am even more convinced that ground beast is indeed a food from the Gods. (And yes I meant to write “beast”, because that was a common mispronunciation when my kids were young, and I still often lapse into “kiddie language world”.)

Anyway, I decided I wanted to serve a tasty barbequed burger to my friends who would be helping us celebrate our new trailer on our shakedown cruise. When I am trailer camping, I still like to serve great food, but I really don’t want to spend my entire day in the kitchen. (Our trailer kitchen is very nice, but never-the-less, one of the reasons I go camping is to get away from my usual routine, and treat myself to some quality outside time!) So I planned the menu around quick and easy recipes like this one.

This recipe is based on a recipe I found on the Food Network Kitchen site. Their recipe called for ground turkey, but I thought using ground beef (since I had 24 pounds in my freezer) would be perfect too. So I changed a couple of ingredients, and the following recipe is the result.

And I am telling you, all the ingredients work perfectly together to make just a delicious, succulent burger. And using grilled English muffins instead of regular hamburger buns is genius. English muffins toast beautifully on the grill and are not as filling as those puffy things you usually associate with a hamburger. I will never again buy a package of squishy buns. My heart now belongs to English muffins, or homemade rolls of course!

So do yourself a favor and mix up a batch of this ground beef mixture, form it into patties, and throw the burgers on the grill. Your family won’t even suspect that they are eating vegetables when they bite into one of these burgers. But they will notice that the burgers taste just wonderful. But do it soon. Fall is fast upon us. And even though you can still BBQ in the winter, burgers always taste better when you eat them al fresco! Plus it saves cleanup under your kitchen table. After all, any burger worth its gooey additives is going to be messy. So when you eat outside, the juices running off your elbows aren’t a problem. Plus your hose is probably nearby. (So much easier than throwing your kids in the shower after they have eaten!) Happy end of summer.

(Sorry about no picture, but we were all hungry and the burgers disappeared before I could get my camera out of its case.)

  • 1 lg. portobello mushroom cap, stem and gills removed, finely chopped
  • 1 small finely chopped shallot
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on the grill
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Monterey Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • thin slices manchego or sharp cheddar cheese
  • English muffins, split
  • mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • sliced avocado

Mix the mushroom, shallot, parsley, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, Montreal Steak Seasoning, seasoned salt, and pepper together. Add the ground beef and mix together with your hands until just combined. Divide the mixture into 4-5 balls, then lightly press into 1-inch-thick patties. Place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Brush the grate with olive oil. Grill the patties, undisturbed, until marked on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Give the patties a quarter turn and cook until marked again, 2-3 more minutes. Flip the patties, top with cheese, and grill until cooked to your liking. Remove from grill to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to stay warm.

Toast the English muffins on the grill, then spread one half with mayonnaise, the other half with mustard. Add a hamburger patty, a couple slices of avocado and take a bite. Heaven I’m telling you, heaven! Or if you like a more traditional burger, add any of your favorite condiments. It’s all good!

 

CHEESEBURGER SALAD WITH BACON AND AVOCADO

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If you have been following my blog, you already know that I am not a gourmet. I am however, a gourmand.* (Not always proud of that classification, but if the shoe fits, etc. etc.) And as a true and faithful gourmand, some of the food I am passionate about is as common as a cheeseburger. But as I get a little older, some of the foods I used to eat with nary a concern for calories or nutritional content, have turned against me in the form of digestive problems and additional weight. (Simply not fair!)

So, in trying to still be able to wholeheartedly enjoy my favorite foods, I have been working on recipes that mimic certain foods, but are healthy, less caloric, and easy to prepare. And since a good bacon, avocado, and cheese hamburger is still one of the foods that make life worth living for both of us, I decided to try putting all the ingredients associated with our favorite burger into salad form. And by golly, both Mr. C and I felt totally satisfied after eating one of these salads last evening. We absolutely did not miss the bun, or the mayonnaise sauce in the least. The salad had way more veggies than a real burger, but regardless, the flavor of a good burger came through in every bite. And of course, this new recipe fulfilled my desire to provide you all with more recipes containing ground beef.

So give this recipe a try. It’s a very nice change of pace from a taco salad, while still being a snap to prepare.

*Gourmand – a lover of good food who often eats too much.

  • 4 slices thick lean bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. very lean ground beef
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced, divided
  • ¼ c. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. Montreal Seasoning
  • 1 lg. heart romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1-2 lg. dill pickles, diced
  • 1 Hass avocado, cubed
  • ½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Fry bacon until crisp in a large skillet. Remove cooked bacon to paper towels to drain. Set aside. Pour off as much bacon grease as possible from pan. Brown the ground beef in the same skillet over medium heat. Add half of the sliced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the ketchup, mustard, and Montreal Seasoning; stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

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To assemble: Place lettuce on 2 large dinner plates. Add some of the meat mixture (I usually have extra meat when I make this salad). Then top with tomato, pickle, remaining red onion, avocado, cheese, and the cooked bacon. Serve immediately. No additional dressing required.

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