Category Archives: BEEF RECIPES

GROUND BEEF PATTIES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR SAUCE

OK, so here goes yet another ground beef pattie recipe. But as most of you already know, I love ground beef. Which incidentally, is a good thing since we still have about 20 pounds of beautiful ground beef in our freezer from the quarter of a beef we purchased a few months ago.

So the other evening, after having already spent what I consider to be way too many hours in the kitchen, the subject of “what’s for dinner” entered into our conversation. (In all fairness, it was dinner time. And normally at this time of evening I would be sipping one of Mr. Cs perfect martinis, while simultaneously chopping greens and stirring a sauce.) But that wasn’t happening. Instead I was finishing the stew I would be serving guests in a couple of days. So then, what to do about dinner?

I had some fresh green beans in the refrigerator longing to be used. I had a couple extra Yukon gold potatoes I didn’t need for the stew. So into the oven they went. So that just left the entrée.

The previous evening we had eaten at the restaurant at our local golf course. I had ordered the steak and it had come with a delicious balsamic reduction sauce. So I thought, why not try reproducing that sauce and serve it over ground beef patties. So that’s what I did!

Mr. C. retrieved a package of our precious ground beef from the freezer and I nuked it until it was defrosted. Then I added a couple of ingredients, fried the patties, and threw the sauce together. It was wonderful! And oh so easy. And hardly any effort. (That’s the part I liked the most!)

So if you ever need an entrée you can throw together in just a few minutes, give this ground beef recipe and sauce a try. (And yes, I did think of entitling this recipe Hamburger Steak with a Balsamic Reduction Glaze. But the patties were just so simple to prepare, that I thought a haughty designation would be just too presumptuous.)

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper (lots)

Mix the ground beef, steak seasoning, and granulated garlic together. Pour olive oil into a small frying pan. Form the ground beef mixture into 3-4 patties. Cook until medium rare or to your liking. Remove from pan. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add the butter, balsamic vinegar, and pepper to the pan. Cook over low heat until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Plate the ground beef patties and drizzle with the sauce.  

 

 

  

ARGENTINE PICADILLO EMPANADAS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

Before I begin this post, I want to share a definition with you. It is the basis for this entire post. The definition of shortening is any fat that is a solid at room temperature and used to make crumbly pastry and other food products.

Mr. C. and I visited Argentina in 2006 and enjoyed the most delicious empanadas. I knew with the first bite that when I returned home I would be trying my hand at empanada making. I got the gist of this recipe from one of the cookbooks I brought back with me. Well, I made the empanadas, but the pastry part was simply not as good as I remembered! Now, in the cookbook, both the pastry and the filling called for rendered pork fat, preferably from around the kidney. Being both uneducated on the unforeseen qualities of lard, and following my preconceived belief that lard was terribly bad for us (no actual knowledge to back up that idea you realize,) I spurned the use of lard in favor of butter.

So last week I decided to make empanadas for a concert gathering, and I went back to my old recipe and read what I had written about lard in my 2nd cookbook. I made the empanadas practically as written, (a few changes here and there) but again the pastry “feel” was just not perfect! Don’t get me wrong. The empanadas were good, but there was still something not-quite-right with the pastry part. So before I started writing this post, I decided to do a little research on the subject of lard.

I felt very foolish as I began learning about the merits of lard versus other forms of shortening – butter, margarine, or vegetable oils such as soybean and cottonseed oil, which have been hydrogenated to create a solid (think Crisco here). Hydrogenation creates trans-fatty acids which turn polyunsaturated fats into saturated fats.

So, where previously I thought of lard as the black hat wearing villain, I now learned that some lards (leaf lard, for example) are not only OK, they are actually good for us!

But as you know, sometimes a little knowledge can be bad. In this case, the ”bad” part is that “good” lard is expensive and not readily available. (The lard you most often find in grocery stores is hydrogenated. You do not want hydrogenated lard.)

For a good article on why you don’t want to use hydrogenated lard (or any other hydrogenated oil for that matter) visit the Natural News website and search for the article entitled “Why Hydrogenated Oils Should be Avoided at All Costs”. Truly worth a read. But back to this recipe.

So as I said, I made the empanadas and they were very well received. But with my new-found knowledge, I plan to start making all my pastry dough and pie crusts with leaf lard. I’m even going to start frying our morning eggs in lard. That is, when my shipment arrives. (And yes, I did have to order the lard on-line.)  I will keep you posted (literally) on how my new affair with lard works out.

In the meantime, if you need a killer hors d’oeuvre to serve during the holidays, this recipe is perfect for a large crowd. Yes it takes some time to prepare, but you can do a lot of the prep work ahead of time. And as far as the Chimichurri Sauce goes, it’s amazing! Perfect with empanadas and killer on a beautifully grilled, medium rare steak. I tell you, Argentinians know how to eat. Some of the best food I ever ate was in Buenos Aires. Just sayin’!

For more information about leaf lard, read the attached article at the bottom of this post. Actually very interesting reading, especially for people like myself who previously thought Crisco was the be all and end all of flaky pastry! (It’s a generational thing!)

  • 6 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ c. cold leaf lard* or 1½ c. unsalted butter (3 sticks) cut into small pieces
  • 3 eggs, divided (2 for the dough, 1 egg – white and yolk separated and both lightly whisked
  • ¾ c. milk, plus more as needed 

Mix the flour and salt in a large food processor. Add the lard and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add 2 of the eggs and pulse until blended. Then add the ¾ cup milk. Pulse until a clumpy dough forms adding additional milk only as needed to obtain a soft, smooth, and elastic dough. (My food processor is not big enough for this much dough. But because it is such a simple recipe, I cut the ingredients in half and make two batches.)   

Split the dough into 2 large balls, flatten slightly into the shape of disks, cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. After an hour, the dough can be used immediately or remain refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).

Roll out dough into very thin sheets and cut out rounds, 3½ – 4-inch circumference for appetizers and 5 – 6- inch rounds for main dish empanadas. (Scraps can be clumped together, rolled out, and used for more empanadas.

Assembling and baking the empanadas:

To assemble the empanadas, place a spoonful of filling (see recipe below) on the middle of each empanada disc. (I use a small ice cream scoop to measure the amount of filling for each empanada.) The amount of filling varies depending on the size of the empanada. Hint: It’s much easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed.

To seal the empanadas, brush half of the outside edge with a small amount of the beaten egg white, fold the other half over, and then use a fork to seal the edges. Simply press the tongs of the fork fairly lightly around the edge. When sealed, place about ½-inch apart on parchment paper lined baking pans small enough to fit in your refrigerator. After all the empanadas are formed, place pan(s) in refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking. (The time spent in cold storage helps the edges seal better and helps prevent the filling from leaking out.) Just before popping in the oven, lightly brush with the beaten egg yolk. 

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 20-24 minutes. The empanadas are done when they are a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or allow to cool and store in an airtight container. Serve warm with Chimichurri Sauce (see recipe below).

Note: If you have a convection oven, use it for the last 10 minutes of baking time.

BEEF PICADILLO EMPANADAS 

  • ½ c. unsalted butter or lard
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (I think Mexican oregano is the best)
  • 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 bunch green onions, very finely chopped
  • ½ c. golden raisins, coarsely chopped
  • ½ c. pimento stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the ground beef and onion; stir fry until the meat is no longer red and the onion is tender. (Break the meat apart as it cooks.) Add the garlic and parsley; cook for one minute. Stir in the flour and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Let cool before stirring in the green onions, raisins, and green olives. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • 2 T. drained capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano (Mexican is best)
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil

Place capers and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Whirl until finely chopped. Add the parsley and cilantro and pulse 4-6 times to rough chop the leaves. (Don’t over process.) Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and olive oil.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.  

Refrigerate until ready to use (preferably the same day).  

*From The Spruce: “Leaf lard is the highest grade of various types of lard. All lard is rendered pork fat; the term is usually used to refer to rendered pork fat suitable for cooking. Leaf lard specifically comes from the visceral, or soft, fat from around the kidneys and loin of the pig. As such, it has a very soft, super spreadable consistency at room temperature.

Like all types of lard, leaf lard has a high smoking point, making it an excellent choice for frying, pan-searing, and even grilling. Also, while leaf lard doesn’t have the porky flavor of caul fat, it does have a gentle back-note of subtle, gentle meatiness that hydrogenated lard lacks. So leaf lard is a good choice when you want that high smoking point, but you don’t want the final product to taste like pork. Two example that pop to mind: frying homemade doughnuts and making homemade French fries.

Due to its natural moisture content and mild flavor, leaf lard is particularly prized by bakers for use in producing flavorful and flaky pie crusts. Yes, pie crusts.

True lard-ophiles may even choose to spread leaf lard on bread. Add a sprinkle of salt and you’ll see why it’s common practice in some regions of the world.”

 

According to Danelle Wolford, former nurse, and I quote, “the three main reasons to cook with lard are:

LARD IS AS HEALTHY AS OLIVE OIL!

When compared with olive oil, lard is a close second in the monounsaturated fat department! Olive oil has about 77% monounsaturated fat, with lard at 48% monounsaturated fat. Butter ranks third with 30% monounsaturated fat and coconut oil is last at 6%. The main fat in lard (oleic acid) is a fatty acid associated with decreased risk of depression. A 2005 study from Thailand also reported that oleic acid has high anti-cancer benefits and can decrease your risk of breast cancer. Those same monounsaturated fats, are responsible for lowering LDL levels while leaving HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels alone. Shocking, right?

Lard also contains high amounts of Vitamin D, a necessary fat-soluble vitamin. It is estimated that 1 tablespoon of lard contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D! As a society, we are extremely deficient in Vitamin D. As a powerful immunity booster, the intake of Vitamin D can prevent those frequent colds and flu in your home each year. Our family caught a cold ONE time this year. ONCE. We eat A LOT of Vitamin D in our household because we believe that instead of buying a Vitamin D supplement (a processed, synthetic version of the vitamin), we try to eat the real stuff.

If you think you can get Vitamin D from plants, you are right. You can get some, but nothing comes close to lard! Mushrooms are the ONLY plant source of Vitamin D, with about 21 IU per mushroom. Personally I’d rather cook with a tablespoon of lard rather than eat 50 mushrooms every day. But that’s just me.

If you think you can get Vitamin D from the sun, you are right, again. But, the problem is, humans aren’t too efficient at assimilating Vitamin D from the sun. At the recommended 20-30 minutes of sun exposure per day you will only receive 100-200 IU. Pigs, on the other hand, are super-heroes at absorbing Vitamin D. This is why so much is stored in the fat under their skin.

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D will also aid in the removal of harmful toxic metals such as cadmium, aluminum, strontium. But one of the most important tasks of Vitamin D is hormone production and regulation. When you remember that many processes in the body are performed by hormones, you can see why it’s so important to include lard into your diet. Problems with your adrenals that can be manifested as fibromyalgia, problems with your thyroid that can be manifested as hypothyroidism, and problems with your sex hormones that can be manifested as infertility are all related to your deficiency in fat-soluble Vitamin D. The natural food sources that God has placed on earth contain these.

LARD MAKES EVERY RECIPE BETTER!

We use lard to make crispy fried chicken, make deliciously flaky pies, and cooking a simple food like eggs or hash browns. Lard isn’t smelly. It’s divine! Food was meant to be enjoyed! And trust me, lard makes EVERYTHING taste a little better.

LARD IS NATURAL and SUSTAINABLE

If you were to raise a pig in your backyard and butcher it when it’s about 250 pounds, you’d most likely get about 15-20 lbs. of lard. It would take about 6-9 months to raise a pig to market weight, so if your family ate about 1 pig a year, you can guess that eating 15-20 lbs. of lard per year would be a natural and sustainable amount. For our family of four, we eat about a pound of lard a month so about 12 pounds a year.”

 

 

 

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.