Fresh, fast and frugal!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Brainy Stew or Poor Man's Goulash...

Ahh, stew ~ it can be whatever you want it to be...even poor man's goulash!

Goulash is not just Hungarian though originating from medieval Hungary. Goulash is a popular meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe, a 'poor/peasant man's stew'. And, why is that? Because, its hearty and frugal.

Stew, goulash or the French version, Ratatouille, is in most cultures - meat and veggies stewed in a gravy or heavy sauce. Some like it more liquid or fluid or juicy and others may like it more thick as in full of rich gravy.

Now Ratatouille, what's that? Well, its a French stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The word ratatouille comes out of the verb touiller, meaning "to stir up". From the late 18th century, in French, it merely indicated a rough or coarse stew as in chunky and stirred up.

The modern ratatouille has these basic ingredients: tomatoes sautéed garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, marjoram, fennel and basil, or bay leaf and thyme, or a mix of green herbs.

Serve over pasta, rice and or potatoes!

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!