Sunday, December 13, 2009

Italian-style Meatloaf (made with Angus beef)

Some recipes you create, some you find, and some just happen. This recipe is one of the latter. It started when I found ground Angus beef on sale at the butcher shop in my local grocery store. I bought a couple pounds and decided to make a meatloaf. I had originally asked the butcher for some breakfast sausage (a pound), but he misunderstood me and reached for the Italian sausage. Rather than stop him, I thought that the combination might work.


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of Angus ground beef
  • 1 pound of Italian sausage
  • 2 tubes (half a box) of saltine crackers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • fresh pepper to taste


Preparation

Pulse the onion and green pepper in a food processor until they're moderately chopped. You don't want big chunks in your meatloaf, but you don't want them so finely chopped that they're invisible. Empty the food processor into a large bowl.


Crush the tubes of crackers with your hands, just enough so that they will fit in the food processor. Pulse the crackers in the food processor until they are smaller than half inch chunks. Mix the crackers with the onion and pepper along with two eggs and 1/2 cup milk.


The resulting mixture should be about the consistency of your hamburger. Too dry and meatloaf fall apart, too wet and the meatloaf will be squishy. Add the oregano, garlic, and parsley. I used a garlic press for the garlic, but you could also pulse it in the food processor with the onions and peppers. Break up the Angus and sausage and begin mixing with your hands. I find it easiest to use a folding motion, moving my hand under the bottom of the mass and folding it over on itself. I find 15-20 times is sufficient to mix the ingredients.


Divide the mixture in half, creating 2 roughly equal loaves. Bake in pyrex pan large enough to let the grease drain away from the loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. If you like, 10 minutes before they are done drizzle the tops with ketchup. Remove from pan as soon as they are done so they don't sit in the grease. Each loaf serves four, so freeze one if you like and have it later for an easy-cooking night!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresh Frozen Green Beans

I haven't put up a new recipe lately, and that's my bad. But tonight I thought I'd share something I worked on. We found some fresh green beans at the grocery this week, and in order to keep them I thought I'd freeze them. Like most vegetables, green beans need to be blanched before they're frozen. Blanching is simply the process of "half-cooking" raw vegetables before you freeze or can them.

In order to blanche veggies, you need a big stock pot full of boiling water, about 1 gallon for each pound of green beans (this will work with wax beans also). You should wash the beans first and trim them, remove any strings and cut them into the size you want, usually between 2 and 4 inches. I like mine a little shorter, about 1 1/2 inches.

Once the water's boiling and the beans are ready, just dump them in and let them cook for 3 minutes. You should prepare a bowl with icy water, too. When the 3 minutes are up, scoop out the beans and dump them into the ice water bath. This is called "shocking" the beans. Leave them in the bath for 3 minutes also.

After the beans are drained, lay them out on some kitchen towels or paper towels to help soak up most of the excess water. Then put the beans in a container (I use a freezer bag), pack them closely without mashing them, leave some small amount of head space (breathing room) and put them in the freezer! They'll be good for 8 to 10 months this way.

To cook, take some beans out, put them in a pan with a little salted water and cook for 5-6 minutes. Here's a video I found over at YouTube that is only 2 minutes long that illustrates the process:





Blanching vegetables when they are in season (and less expensive) is a good way to eat fresher food at a lower cost than buying prepared vegetables. Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Simple Baked Whitefish (Cod, Pollack, Whiting)

I'm a fan of fish, fixed just about any way. I like fried fish with tarter sauce, grilled salmon fillets, orange roughy, tilapia, etc. But this week I found a sale at my supermarket of simple pollack fillets and decided to go for a light, baked fish.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb whitefish fillets (one fillet/ person)
  • lemon pepper
  • parsley
  • 1 tbl butter or margarine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • pepper

(Preheat oven to 325°) Begin with spraying a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Lay thawed fillets in the baking dish after checking for stray pin bones. Either melt the butter and drizzle on or take small bits of cold butter and arrange on top to get good coverage when it melts. Lightly salt and pepper the fillets, then sprinkle some lemon pepper lightly over fish, then use some chopped parsley (fresh is nice) across them. Finish with a squeeze of the lemon down the length of both fillets.

Bake uncovered in oven for 20-25 minutes. Fish is done when it the thickest part of the fillet will flake easily with a fork. Be careful removing fish from pan to plate, it will be fragile. But oh so light and flakey!

Serve with lemon wedge. Serves 2

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kevin's Oven-BBQ Ribs

I love ribs and being unable to smoke them during the winter doesn't stop me from making them in the oven.  I rub them down with a rub that is based on one by Emeril Lagasse, but mine is a little milder - his were HOT.  These were a particular favorite of Pete's.

Here's the rub:

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • 1 Tbl paprika
  • 2Tbl Emeril's Essence
  • 3 Tbl brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne

I usually rub the ribs down the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight.  If you have a lime, squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the ribs for some tanginess and to help break down the connective tissue.  Otherwise, I use a little wine vinegar, just a few splashes.

I cover them with foil and bake them at 300° for 2 1/2 hours, or until they begin to fall off the bone.  Then I take the foil off and brush with barbecue sauce, turn on the broiler and leave the ribs under the broiler until they begin to brown (usually 5 -10 minutes).