Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Braised Meat Rolls with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Meatloaf_with_Mushroom_Sauce (1 of 1)It’s been a while since I made a meatloaf (long overdue in my book). I ended up making a variation that I call “meat rolls,” which are smaller, breaded and braised on top of the stove. The amount of mushrooms the recipe calls for may seem huge, but necessary. Don’t worry, they cook down, and the resulting sauce is fantastic!. Another thing, the nutmeg in the meat mixture adds a ton of “depth of flavor” in European meat dishes, so I’m always trying to figure out how to incorporate into mine. This is a great Sunday afternoon or evening dish — hope you’ll try it!

2 slices of bread (crusts removed), torn into pieces
3/4 cup milk
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 lb cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely diced
3 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 (rounded) tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup pain, dry bread crumbs
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cups white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Soak bread in milk in a small bowl, then squeeze out all of the milk. Set aside.

Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and cook 5 minutes, or until light brown. Add the mushrooms, 2 tsp of the salt, 1/2 tsp of the black pepper. Cook 20 minutes, turning and stirring the mushrooms until they are soft and have released their water. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the soaked bread, meat, parsley, eggs, cheese, nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Use your hands to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well. Add some bread crumbs if mixture seems too loose.

Divide meat mixture in half. Roll each half into a cylinder that is about 4 inches in diameter. Place bread crumbs in a shallow pan. Gently coat each meat roll (abundantly) in bread crumbs.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and the 3 Tbsp butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the foam from the butter has subsided, gently add the breaded meat rolls. Brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add wine to the pan and cook about 2 minutes, until the wine is reduced considerably. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, turning the rolls from time to time. Add mushroom mixture and cook, covered, another 15 minutes. Uncover, stir in the cream and cook an additional 12 minutes. Remove meat rolls and slice into 1-inch pieces. To serve, place a few slices of meat on each plate, spoon the mushroom sauce over each serving and garnish with parsley. Service with a starch and green vegetable.

Serves 6.

 

 

 

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Pork Medallions with a Creamy Thyme-Mustard Sauce

Pork_Medallions_with_Mustard_Sauce (1 of 1)Pork tenderloin is my favorite cut of meat from the pig — it’s lean, tender and easy to work with. I often substitute if in recipes that call for pork loin (and even pork shoulder, which to me is so slimy, it’s kind of gross and hard to deal with). Tonight I used pork tenderloin to make this “medallion” recipe, where the meat is the star, but the delicious sauce gets 5 stars! This dish goes perfectly well with mashed potatoes and green beans — give it a try next time you’re in the mood for pork and let me know what you think!

1 1-lb pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces;  each piece then pounded to a 1/4-inch thickness
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
8 oz sliced white mushrooms
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
4 green onions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts, separated)
2/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 heaping Tbsp Dijon mustard

Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once foam from butter subsides, stir in mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper in a large, shallow dish.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat in pan used for the mushrooms. Dredge each piece of the pork in the flour mixture and place into the pan in a single layer (I used a very large pan and was able to accommodate all pork at once — you can do a couple of batches, if necessary). Cook pork until heated through, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove pork from pan — cover with foil and keep warm in an oven.

Add white parts of the green onions to the pan. Sauté 1 minute. Stir in white wine and bring to a boil. Deglaze pan as wine boils for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp thyme and the sour cream. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Let sauce simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in Dijon mustard, then remove from heat. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Spoon sauce over pork and garnish with the green parts of the green onions. Serve.

Serves 4

Cumin-Scented Rice with Peas

Rice_with_Peas (1 of 1)This flavorful rice dish can be eaten on its own with some naan or chapati as a light meal, or it can be served as part of an Indian meal. What make this great for me (aside of course, from the cumin!}, is the ghee (clarified butter). I’ve made clarified butter by cooking out the milk solids, and have used that in Indian cooking, but it is never the same as store-bought ghee. Ghee is what makes this rice dish Indian (to me, at least). For a few years now, I’ve made sure that I have it on-hand in the pantry — it seems to keep for quite a while!. Anyway, please give this dish a try, and let me know what you think. I made it this past weekend with lamb korma, another delicious recipe for which I’ll be blogging about soon!

15 oz long-grain rice
6 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well in cold water, changing the water until it is no longer cloudy.

Place rice and 4 cups cold water in a medium bowl and let stand 30 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, heat ghee in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir for a few seconds. Add onions and sauté 8 minutes, or until onions begin to brown. Stir in peas, rice and salt. Stir-fry for about 4 minutes. Stir in 2 cups cold water, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork. Cover, and let stand for at least 5 minutes. Serve as a component of an Indian meal.

Serves 6

American Black Bean Chili with IPA Beer

Black_Bean_Chili (1 of 1)Chili is a popular go-to comfort food in this household, especially when the snow is as deep as f#$^%$! and the temperature is constantly below f*^%k!. I have many recipes for chili, and this is a combination of the things I like the best about each. Additionally, I’ve added IPA (India Pale Ale Beer) and allspice, which I think help to create a fantastic depth of flavor for this version. I hope you’ll try it next time you are wanting comfort food!
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, very finely grated or minced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 – 5 dried Thai (or similar hot) chilies, cut with scissors into 1/8 pieces, seeds and all
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 28-oz whole peeled tomatoes, squeezed to a pulp in a bowl by hand
3 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12-oz bottle beer (preferably IPA)
Sour cream for garnish
Grated white cheddar for garnish
Diced fresh tomato for garnish
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Tabasco sauce (optional) for garnish

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, beef and bell pepper. Cook for 8 minutes.

Stir in the next 8 ingredients (chili powder through ground black pepper) and cook 1 minute.

Stir in the beans, squeezed tomatoes and beer. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour. Remove lid and simmer an additional 30 minutes, or until chili has thickened. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning (I added an additional 2 1/2 tsp salt, which seemed good). Ladle into serving bowls, garnishing each with a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese, diced tomato, parsley and a few drops of Tabasco sauce. I like to serve with fresh, crusty bread.

Serves 6.

Pan-Cooked Chicken in a Fragrant Cumin-Carrot Sauce

Chicken_with_Carrots_and_Cumin2 (1 of 1)Last night, we felt like making something that you might see on a menu in a Parisian bistro, so I made this delicious (and apparently classic bistro) chicken dish. To me, it is a cross between Indian and Moroccan flavors, but I’m guessing the influence is mainly Moroccan for historical reasons. Anyway, all of that is good (love the ginger and lemon in it!). Paired this with a nice pinot gris, simple green beans and nice crusty fresh bread — it’s a wonderful little meal, and I hope you’ll try it tonight!

6 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp peeled and finely grated ginger
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Fill a medium sauce pan 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 2/3 of the carrots, and bring back to a boil. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp of the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and reduce heat to low. Sauté gently for 4 minutes. Add ginger and sauté another 1 minute. Add the remaining carrots and stir for 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, chicken stock, cumin seeds, 1 tsp of the salt and 1/4 of the pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 6 minutes. Pour contents into a food processor and process until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Pour the carrot sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl (discarding any solids) and return to sauté pan. Stir in the reserved boiled carrots and the parsley, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover and keep warm while you prepare the chicken.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Rub remaining 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper all over chicken breasts. Add chicken to pan and cook on one side for 8 minutes. Turn breasts over and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle. Transfer chicken to the carrot sauce and turn over a few times to coat. Place each chicken breast in a bowl and ladle the sauce over each. Garnish with additional chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with fresh bread.

Serves 4.

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder with Thyme

Sweet_Potato_and_Corn_Chowder1 (1 of 1)This extremely tasty chowder warms the soul on a chilly autumn night. I enjoy any type of chowder (fish, clam, corn, you name it!), but I find this version particularly interesting because of its use of sweet potatoes, sherry and thyme, and the crème fraîche adds a delicious finishing touch. Long list of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s really easy to prepare — I hope you’ll try this chowder one night!

4 oz bacon, diced
2 Tbsp butter
2 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and finely chopped (white part only)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 – 3 medium red potatoes (tot. 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb frozen corn kernels
6 Tbsp dry white wine
3 Tbsp dry sherry
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus some additional for garnish
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 oz crème fraîche

Heat bacon in a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 1 tsp of the bacon fat.

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, shallots, celery and reserved tsp of bacon fat. Sauté about 8 minutes, until leeks and shallots are translucent (and not burnt). Add the bay leaf, garlic, red potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook 8 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the wine and sherry. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer for about an hour, until the potatoes are soft, but not falling apart. Remove from heat. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Pour into serving bowls, and garnish with chopped parsley and black pepper. I like to serve this dish with cornbread sticks.

Serves 6.

Chickpea and Pasta Soup with Sage and Rosemary

Chickpea_and_Pasta_Soup1 (1 of 1)Here’s another hearty and deliciously satisfying soup for fall. We’ve had a few nights of frost, but I still have some healthy sage and rosemary in the garden, as well as the other ingredients on hand in the pantry. I decided to make this comforting soup, and I have to say, it was wonderful. The fresh herbs and dash of nutmeg make it — I hope you’ll give this one a try!
4 oz very small pasta (I used ditalini)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks, trimmed, sliced once lengthwise (white part only), then thinly sliced crosswise
1 large clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
6 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg (little less that 1/8 tsp)
1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package instructions, minus two minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add leeks and garlic, and cook 10 minutes. Stir constantly so nothing burns. Add 1 cup of the stock and deglaze pan for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the stock, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, nutmeg, pasta and chickpeas. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired (I added another 1/2 tsp salt). Serve with healthy amounts of parmesan cheese and crusty country bread. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.