Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Meatloaf... How Shall I Count the Ways?


Where would you go for good meatloaf? Well, you might go out but you just might want to go home...






~ Tutti a Tavola!

*To find any of these meatloaf ideas, just go to the Brainy Gourmet Blog. Click the left margin box, type in meatloaf and see what pops up to help you get cooking.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Brainy Sticky Thai Meatball Stir Fry...


Thai meatballs... why not. Its brainy good!

For this dish, you will need: ground veal (or turkey), onion, carrots, asparagus, and green pepper along with wild rice, honey, soy sauce and a thick sweet and sour sauce if you have.

To begin, make your meatball the brainy way using: dried bread crumbs, heavy cream, soy sauce, garlic powder, a tiny pinch of salt and dried herbs. Mix and form into meatballs. Set aside while you saute chopped onion and green pepper to be sauteed in olive oil.

Once browned, toss in baby asparagus spears (or zucchini) and julienne baby carrots. Stir fry along with the onion and green pepper adding a bit more olive oil with a dash of soy sauce and a splash of beef stock.

After about 2-3 min. remove from skillet (set aside) and in that same skillet flash fry the meatballs in a drizzle of olive oil. When browned on all sides, reintroduce the veggies. Add 2 tbs of honey, a 1/2 cup of sweet and sour sauce. Let this bubble into a near sticky consistency.


Boil the wild rice in beef stock until tender. Make sure that the rice has absorbed all the stock. Ladle onto a low lipped serving plate and top with the meatballs and vegetables.



~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Monte Cristo... a Brainy French Sandwich!


If you haven't heard of the Monte Cristo 'croque-monsieur', then you are being introduced. In the world of sandwiches, its one of the best out of sheer simplicity and taste.

The traditional Monte Cristo is a ham or turkey sandwich that is battered and fried. For a light crispy batter, add 12 ounces of beer, 1 cup club soda water and 1 tbs baking powder to 1 cup cornstarch and 2 cups flour. Of course, you can use your own batter recipe.

Make your sandwich the way you would any ham and cheese (plenty of meat and cheese). Do not put fresh tomato or greens on or into the sandwich at this point as you will be frying in hot oil. Unless, you are using a counter top sandwich grill/press (batter-less style). 

And, its recommended that any extra toppings: greens or tomatoes be added on the side. This way, they will be more appealing... crisp and fresh.

In a large skillet, heat a light variety cooking oil (1inch deep). Batter up your sandwiches, and fry, turning them over to get both sides. Once crispy and brown on both sides, transfer the sandwiches to a warm oven and keep going til you have as many as you need.

These simple sandwiches can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner with soup. To jazz them up, just  drizzle either a savory or sweet oil/dressing (i.e.Raspberry Chipotle) over the top and around the plate edges; then, toss on a sprig of fresh greenery or berries and powdered sugar breakfast style  ~ Exceptionnelle!



~ Tutti a Tavola!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Brainy Oven Baked Italian Chicken Parmesan...

If only there were time for slow cooking and slow eating...

Though hurried by the rush of everyday life, remember that it takes no time at all to make a savory home-cooked dish like this; even if you don't have a brick 'stone' oven; your oven will work just fine.

For this dish all you need are: a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts, mayonnaise (homemade if possible), Parmesan cheese and dried herbs. To begin: turn on the oven and pre-heat to 425.

Next, drizzle olive oil into an oblong glass baking dish and lay in your chicken breasts. With a spatula, generously spread mayo over the top of the chicken breast. Sprinkle each breast with a pinch of salt, garlic powder and grated Parmesan; top with fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and of course oregano. Bake on 425 for the first 10 and then at 375 for the next 25-30 min or until the tops are crusty brown and chicken is cooked through.


In the meantime, before the chicken is done, prepare your sides: angel hair pasta, and a green salad.


~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Brainy West African Peanut Stew...


African delight ~ exotic food served at home never tasted so good...

Being a Brainy Gourmet means thinking on your feet ~ fast and frugal. You as a home chef should know what you like and don't like; sweet/savory, herbs and spices. You should know which of the five senses works best for you when you cook . For me its smell. Seriously, when I cook, I take a deep breath and I know what I have to do to make it good.

For this dish, you can use either chicken or pork (white meat) in stew size chunks. To begin, start a sauce pan with 2 cups of water to boil 1 cup of wild rice. Then saute one onion in olive oil. When browned on the edges, add 3 tbs of butter.

Next add the pork and let sizzle slowly until the meat turns from pink to white. Pour in 2/3 - 1/2 cup of peanut butter depending on your love for peanut butter (the oily self stir brand). Obviously, if you or a loved one are allergic to peanuts, then find a comparable nut substitute.

Lastly, add dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano along with 2-3 tbs of red pesto, 3-4 tbs of soy sauce and 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  As it thickens, you may add water but slowly for the preferred consistency. You can also prepare a side of green beans, adding color.


When the rice is tender, drain and ladle onto a serving plate. Pour over the pork and sauce, lay on the green beans and serve.


~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Brainy Gourmet Chicken Cassoulet...

Oh Mon chéri Cassoulet au poulet = Chicken Cassoulet!

French cuisine is often simple and hearty; it is never pretentious. It may sound and look elegant but that's only because its cooked with passion. For this dish you will need: as many bone in skin on chicken thighs as per dinner guest and half a (white/garlic) sausage per guest.

Also, you will need: one medium can of organic black beans (or white navy/pinto), one medium can of diced tomatoes with herbs and garlic, half a large purple onion, one glove garlic, beef or chicken stock, cooking sherry, bread crumbs and grated parmesan.

To begin, preheat the oven to 425f and slice or diced the onion. Then, in a deep glass baking dish drizzled with olive oil, lay in the onion. To that add 1tbs of lard, bacon fat or use butter. On top of that, lay in the chicken thighs, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and 1/4 cup of stock, about the same of cooking sherry and dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano + thyme.

Place in the oven until it begins to bubble. *Its a good idea if you have broil option to use it for searing the top of the chicken. Once the skin 'top' is crispy, reduce the heat to 400f. Add the can of diced tomatoes and black beans and the (pre-cooked white/garlic) sausage.

Let this cook for 40 min. uncovered in the oven. At last, top with bread crumbs,dried herbs and parmesan. Pop back into the oven using the broil option to crisp the top. This version is called a Toulouse style.


As for a side, prepare a side of rice or potatoes....



 ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Chili Con Carne on a hot 'winter' evening...


Chili... some like it hot, hot and hotter

A good pot of chili, is a no beaner at the Brainy Gourmet's. When it comes to beans in your chili either you love em or you don't.  This recipe is made ~ chili con carne. Con carne means with meat and in brainy terms that means no beans. Especially because, its so easy to make *read on.

But, I understand also that when it comes to chili recipes, whether yours/mine, there is always somebody's and or everybody's favorite version. For this version you will need: chopped red pepper and onion sauteed in olive oil in a large pot. After the pepper and onion have cooked down, add the ground beef 'chuck' crumbled in. Stir on high heat.

Next, reduce the heat and add 1 full brimming cup of beef stock and one small can of tomato paste. As for spices, use as much chili powder and red chili pepper flakes as anybody in my/your house can stand. Also, add a dash of salt and Italian dried herbs (including mint); and if you  dare, add a dash of garlic powder and cinnamon.

Once you get that all mixed up in the pot, let it simmer.  If it is thicker than you like, add more beef stock or red wine or a little of both. Let it simmer for at least 45 min to an hour.


*Break out the grated cheese, hot sauce and crackers...

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

High Mountain Karczma... Let it be Pierogi!





*Boil (in salted water) or pan fry (with butter and paprika) as many pierogi as per guest. You can also fry bacon and or sausage to accompany the pierogi. And, don't forget the sour cream on the table!


During the Winter Months... Let it be Stew!


Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Masala
Greek Garden Stew
Good ole Beef Stew
Malaysian Pork Stew

*Check the side margin 'blog archive' or go to Brainy Archives on the Brainy Webpage for ingredients and cooking instructions. And...Let it be stew!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Simple plate presentation makes dinner at home special...

Showing your family you care not only about what goes into their mouths but what comes out is important. One way to share your love and genuine concern for their well being is by presenting a nutritious dinner to them, one you prepared. Even a dinner that is frugal can be full of flavor and vitamins...presented with flare will make them smile and happy faces are the beginnings of well being and social happiness.







~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Roasted Lamb with Rosemary and Fingerling Potatoes...

Many cultures enjoy roast lamb on their menu. This one would be found on the menu of a French Bistro...Viola!

Yes, there are a number of delicious ways to roast lamb but I always prefer to be brainy about it and make the easy way. Rub the lamb with the following and roast in the oven on 400 (preheated on 425) in a deep glass baking dish drizzled with olive oil... cook until the meat thermometer says - done! *I like to turn the temp down on the last 20 min to 375.


You will need:
1 leg of Lamb, about 2-4 pounds
Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup of beef stock to use as basting liquid

This meat dish is really very simple to prepare and cook. I think oven cooking is a no brainer. Once you get everything in, you can pretty much do something else in meantime. As for a side, fingerling potatoes 'skin on' were popped in the oven using a copper mesh oven basket. Make sure that each potato is pricked to avoid exploding. As the lamb nears its finish, add fresh green peas to the meat... all around the sides.



~ Tutti a Tavola!