Monday, March 14, 2011

Tortilla de Patatas - another meatless meal!

I remember when Kristina Joyce made this in college after spending a year in Spain. She waxed poetic about going out with the Spaniards at 11 pm, partying all night, eating tortilla patata and drinking red wine...
I looked up this recipe on and made it the other day, and it was really good. Don't be scared off by the 1/2 pint of olive oil - you end up draining most of it off. And I think it might add the extra deliciousness that I miss in most frittatas. This would be great as a breakfast/brunch item too!

  • 1/2 pint of olive oil
  • 5 medium (40 oz each) baking potatoes, peeled, sliced and lightly sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt

    Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch skillet and add the potato slices carefully, because the salt will make the oil splatter. Try to keep the potato slices separated so they will not stick together. Cook, turning occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain into a colander, leaving about 3 tablespoons of oil in the skillet.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes, and stir to coat with the egg. Add the egg-coated potatoes to the very hot oil in the skillet, spreading them evenly to completely cover the base of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, shaking the pan frequently, until mixture is half set.

    Use a plate to cover the skillet and invert the omelette away from the hand holding the plate (so as not to burn your hand with any escaping oil). Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and slide the omelette back into the skillet on its uncooked side. Cook until completely set. Allow the omelette to cool, and then cut it into wedges. Season it with salt and sprinkle with lemon juice to taste (optional).

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meatless Friday: Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

I got some flak for posting all the ground beef recipes on Ash Wednesday, so I thought I'd share what we're having tonight. This is my favorite pasta dish. The sun-dried tomatoes give the sauce a smoky flavor (similar to bacon), so you won't even miss the meat. Fridays are particularly challenging around here as my spouse eats neither cheese, nor fish. "That's messed up!" I know. But I'd still love to see other meatless entree ideas, so please share.

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion , chopped fine
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes , rinsed, patted dry, and minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound ziti or penne
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Ground black pepper

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and cream. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, and return to pot. Add sauce and basil to pot and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Shepherd's Pie

This will be good on St. Patrick's Day, with the Irish Soda Bread recipe I posted below. I make this with 2 lbs. of ground beef and it feeds my family of six. Note the complete lack of Cream of Mushroom Soup. How far we've come.

Skillet Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4

Be sure to purchase shredded hash brown potatoes (sometimes labeled “country style”) rather than the cubed variety. Ground lamb can be substituted for the beef.

8 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (see note)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
1 onion , chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups frozen peas and carrots mix , thawed

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Wrap tightly with plastic and microwave until potatoes are tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. While potatoes are cooking, cook beef and onion in large heatproof skillet over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain beef mixture in colander.

3. Return drained beef mixture to pan. Stir in thyme and flour and cook until incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and Worcestershire and cook until sauce is thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in pea and carrot medley and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Scatter cooked potatoes over beef mixture and brush with remaining butter. Broil until potatoes are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Sloppy Joes

Actually, this is something I like to have my children make. It's very simple, and I have a high schooler and a couple middle schoolers who are more than capable of making this. I'd like to thank French's mustard for the recipe. It doesn't look like much, but my kids said they were the best Sloppy Joes EVER!

Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 tbsp. oil

2 cups chopped onion

3 lbs. lean ground beef

2 cups barbecue sauce or ketchup

1 cup yellow mustard

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 pkgs. (15 oz. each) hamburger buns

HEAT oil in large pot. Saute onion 3 min. until tender.

ADD beef to pot. Cook until browned, stirring to separate meat. Drain well.

STIR in barbecue sauce, mustard and Worcestershire. Simmer about 5 min. until flavors are blended. Spoon on buns.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Burgers

We had this last night for Fat Tuesday. Loaded with cheese and bacon, they are very decadent. You have to cook these pretty thoroughly or the incorporated cheese causes them to fall apart.

All-American Burgers (serves 4)
1.5 lbs. 85% lean ground beef
1 cup shredded cheddar
8 strips cooked bacon chopped fine (Roll your eyes, Sara, as I wax poetic about the virtues of pre-cooked bacon one more time!)
4 t. yellow mustard
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Wash your hands, take off your rings and mix beef with cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.

Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, (or not, if some of your people are not adults) and lightly pack into 1 inch thick patties.

Tip from Uncle Jim: Put a depression in the center of each patty, this will give you a more uniformed shaped burger in the end, because they tend to swell in the middle.

Then, hand plate of patties to your spouse for grilling. He should be able to take it from here.
If he's not home yet, grill burgers over very hot fire WITHOUT PRESSING DOWN ON THEM, until well seared on both sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.

Serve with buns and other burger accessories.

Things I Like to Make with Ground Beef: Meatloaf

I bought a lot of ground beef recently, and reflected on how far I've come since my first years of marriage: Sloppy Noodle Casserole, Chuckwagon, and Shepherds' Pie with (I'm ashamed to say it) Cream of Mushroom Soup. There are some pretty amazing things to be done with ground beef, including my annual Valentines' Day Heart Shaped Meatloaf, All American Burgers, Easy yet Awesome Sloppy Joes, and Skillet Shepherds' Pie.

First, my meatloaf recipe comes from a cookbook by friend of Pioneer Woman, Pam Anderson, titled The Best Recipe. She recommends a meatloaf mix of 50% ground chuck, 25% ground veal, and 25% ground pork. I'm too lazy and cheap to do that. I use a very gourmet mix of 80% lean ground beef and 93% lean ground beef. It probably doesn't matter how lean the beef is for this, because the fat drains out of a free form loaf anyway.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
Serves 6-8

Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze

¼ cup ketchup or chili sauce
2 T light or dark brown sugar
2 t cider or white vinegar

Meat Loaf

2 t vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1 t dried thyme
1 t salt
½ t ground black pepper
2 t Dijon mustard
2 t Worcestershire sauce
¼ t hot red pepper sauce
½ c milk, buttermilk, or low-fat plain yogurt
2 lbs. ground beef ( or ground pork, ground turkey, or any combination of)
2/3 c crushed saltines (about 16), or quick oatmeal or 1 1/3 c fresh bread crumbs
1/3 c minced fresh parsley leaves
6 oz bacon (8-9 slices)

1. Glaze: Mix all ingredients in a pyrex measuring cup and set aside.

2. Meat Loaf: Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 5 min. Set aside.

3. Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, pepper sauce and milk or yogurt. Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with crackers (or oatmeal or bread crumbs), parsley and cooked onions and garlic; mix with fork until evenly blended.

4. To bake free form: Cover a wire rack with foil; prick foil in several places with a fork. Place rack on a shallow roasting pan lined with foil for easy clean up. Set formed loaf on rack. Brush loaf with all of glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise over loaf, overlapping them slightly and tucking them under loaf to prevent curling. (This is where you can get super romantic and shape your meatloaf like a heart for Valentines' Day.)

5. Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160F, about 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Really GOOD Irish Soda Bread

I'm not that Irish, so I never even heard of Irish soda bread until college. What I experienced then was dry, dusty, and conducive to cotton mouth. In fact, this is what "traditional Irish soda bread" is supposed to be. Let's face it, Ireland: not known for fabulous cuisine. Then I met Aunt Deb, another Kraut married into this Mick family, and she gave me the World's Best But Least Irish Soda Bread Recipe. All of Aunt Deb's recipes are World's Best, such as her Cranberry Salsa, her Margarita, but I'm getting off track. What makes her soda bread so amazing is TWO, count them, that's TWO WHOLE CUPS of Sugar and ONE ENTIRE QUART of Buttermilk. I think that if you add 2 cups of Sugar and 1 qt. of buttermilk to any baked good, it would be better. This recipe yields 3 9x5 loaves of the most cake like raisin studded deliciousness. Tastes great toasted, and buttered. Yes, butter that goodness!

Aunt Deb's Irish Soda Bread

8 c. flour
2c. sugar
3 T. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
1 15 oz. box raisins
3 eggs
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 quart buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all of the dry ingredients. Add the raisins. Stir in everything else.
Pour into 3 greased 9x5 loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes.