Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Brainy Delicious Blackbean Meatloaf...

The last time I made this Tex Mex 'family' cuisine, black bean meatloaf, I served it with french fries and a savory gravy. Today, I made a creamy thick black bean gravy to top off mashed potatoes.

For this dish you will need: ground beef and or ground lamb (mix them if you like), one med.can of black beans, bread crumbs, dried herbs, Worcestershire (in the mix) and hot sauce(on the table) and potatoes as a side dish.

To begin, heat the oven to 350f. While it warms up to temp, mix 1 lb of ground beef with half the can of black beans (drained). Add to that 1/2 cup of dried bread crumbs, 2 -3 tbs of Worcestershire sauce, dried herbs to taste, a dash of garlic powder and sea salt. Mix and form into a football sized meatloaf. Place in a glass baking drizzled with olive oil and set in pre-heated (350f) oven with convection on.

If you like, add to the meatloaf baking dish small red potatoes and young carrots or sauteed spinach; be creative. Today, I am serving with a little of both. So, while the meatloaf bakes, wash, peel and boil as many red potatoes as you would like mashed.

Check the meatloaf from time to time, gently drip over the top of the meatloaf Worcestershire sauce and pour in 1/4/ cup of warmed beef stock to the glass dish with the meatloaf to start the gravy process. Pop back in the oven. When the loaf is crisp on top and the carrots and potatoes tender, if you included them, its time to serve. Mash the potatoes with milk and butter and prepare the table.

Don't forget the gravy... use the remaining half can of black beans, brown in a sauce pan with drippings from the meatloaf adding a 1/4 cup beef stock mixed with either 2tbs of flour or corn starch to make the gravy.  Once it is creamy and bubbling, pour the either over the top of the meatloaf or into a gravy boat and set it out on the table.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Brainy Superb Beef Bourguignon...

Beef bourguignon or known as "Beef Burgundy", is a beef stew braised in red wine, often red Burgundy, along with beef stock, generally flavored with carrots, onions, garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms. Its a traditional countryside but elegant French dish.

The simplest recipe... if you need one is an old Julia Child recipe. She referred to it as the best beef dish ever concocted by man. And, it just so happens to be the one I cook with memorized years ago and simple enough that anyone who loves to cook could come up with it.

3/4 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 cup sliced mushrooms 

You can cook the beef and mushrooms in a skillet on the stove while you roast in a glass dish in the oven some garden fresh carrots, asparagus and tiny new potatoes.  

Sear the beef cubes in olive oil, add the salt and pepper and dried herbs of your liking... I recommend rosemary, mint, oregano and thyme. Add to that, 1/3 cup of beef stock and 1/4 cup of red wine. You may wish to add a little more of either stock or wine depending on your preferences.  

Personally, I like to cook the mushrooms off side in another skillet in butter and cream with a dash of red wine and dried herbs; same as above. Lastly, adding them to the beef just before serving.  

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*As for desert... a crepe Suzette is the perfect end to a delicious meal. If you want to be Brainy frugal about it you can use leftover pancakes fried in butter with splash of brandy. Serve on a plate with heavy cream and homemade raspberry jam or halved ripe red plums or cherries. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Brainy Multicultural Dinners to make at Home...

Go to the Brainy Gourmet Blog and type in the search box any of these dishes to find your international favorite...

Butter Chicken, Murgh Makhani...

Irish Stew with Bread and gravy...

Spicy African Red Chicken...

Beef Stroganoff or Chicken Cacciatore...

Dovi Chicken...
or a Tangier Stew...
and Asian pork...

~ Tutti a Tavola

* You can also type in key words used in Brainy Dish Titles and be surprised or find exactly what you are looking for!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Brainy Tomato Soup with Polish Sausage or Bratwurst...

There is nothing like good ole homemade tomato soup with Polish or Bratwurst sausage...

Being frugal is the main aspect of being a Brainy Gourmet. Having said that, you can expect that a good ole soup of any kind starts with soup stock...using either chicken, turkey, beef or pork and or vegetables.

If you have made your choice of stock, pour about 4 cups into a pot and then add one tube or small can of tomato paste. Its as simple as that. Again...just stir in one small can of tomato paste, toss in some fresh dried herbs, cover, simmer on med heat for 25 min.

As it bubbles away, prepare rice or any small pasta that you prefer... adding separately to bowls and not the soup. This way, tonight's tomato soup can become tomorrow's Minestrone.

Oh, the sausage... baste in the oven until fully cooked; then, dice or cube and toss into each bowl. Delicious! * Note, if you like creamy style... add a dollop of sour cream and top with fresh green arugula.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Brainy Good Greek Fish with Eggplant Chips...

Greek Fish is an easy and delicate dish made in one pot, served with eggplant chips...

For this dish: use either fresh or frozen 'thawed' fish (cod or mahi mahi is recommended). In a deep pot on the stove melt in butter (3 tbs) and olive oil (3 tbs) then add 1/2 cup of chopped onion, a tsp of crushed garlic if you like and 1 cup more or less of grated/scalloped carrot.

Lay in the fish over the onion and carrot to sizzle for 3-4 min. on high heat. Next, pour over the top 1/3 cup of chicken or fish stock and sprinkle in fresh herbs: rosemary and Greek oregano. Reduce heat and let the simmer for 12-15 min. or until the fish is white and firm.

The eggplant chips should be made before the fish as they take longer to prepare. Thinly slice a large ripe 'washed' eggplant, bread lightly by brushing with low fat milk and pat each side gently with dried bread crumbs to flash fry in a shallow skillet of grape-seed oil.

Then move the fried eggplant slices to a cookie sheet with a rack to be baked in the oven on 350f. Once they are crisp with curling edges, serve with the poached fish/onion/carrot/herbs; include a dipping sauce of sour cream or yogurt and herbs to dip the eggplant chips.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Brainy Veal Marsala ~ Dinner with a View...

a 'top deck' Euro-bistro favorite...

Even if you don't have veal, you can make a brainy 'veal' Marsala using beef. To be exact - eye of round steak or you could also use flank steak. To begin, make sure you cut the steak of your choice thin and pound flat with a meat hammer.

After you have pounded the meat, marinate the 'veal' or steak for at least 30-40 minutes in a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of sweet Marsala wine with a brush of garlic infused olive oil adding also a few dashes of sea salt.

This dish requires some lovely brown Bavarian mushrooms and linguine pasta - best is infused with mushroom. So, while the meat marinates in the Marsala, wash and slice whatever mushrooms you bought and then saute in butter along with a few garlic cloves.

Once the mushrooms have browned, push them aside in the skillet and lay in the 'cutlets' of marinated beef. Flash fry on high heat, reduce the heat and bring the mushrooms back in and add 1/4 cup of Marsala wine and 1/4 cup of beef stock...bringing this skillet mixture to a bubbling richness.

Finally, add fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint, and oregano and 1/4 cup of heavy cream (optional), let simmer on very low heat until the pasta is tender.

 *Drain your pasta and pour out the Marsala, top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and dried or fresh green parsley...

~ Tutti a Tavola

Monday, April 27, 2020

Brainy Frugal Fettuccine Alfredo... the Roman way!

Who doesn't like Fettuccine Alfredo? Its so rich and creamy and absolutely delicious! Some of you may think it takes a long time to make it but that is not true. It takes only 20-25 minutes... if you make it the Roman way as I was instructed.

For this dish, you will need: heavy cream, sour cream/buttermilk, butter, onion, fettuccine noodles or even linguine; and the frugal secret ingredient chunk white tuna in vegetable oil. Yes, tuna and yes this dish was cooked for me in Rome.

To begin, chop onion and saute in butter and a drizzle of olive oil until browned on edges. Then add two cans of chunk white tuna in oil - do not drain. Stir and add 1/4 cup of sour cream or buttermilk and 1/2 cup of heavy cream more or less. Continue to stir adding fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano and even some dill but not necessary.

Boil your pasta until tender, drain and ladle onto a serving platter. Pour the creamy rich sauce over the top and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Its that simple.

~ Tutti a Tavola!