Posts made in September 2012

Balsamic Glazed Meat Loaf with Roasted Potatoes & Purple Broccoli

I’m not one prone to abusing balsamic vinegar. The main reason is that I am quite aware of the differences that exist in the market and I choose to
use my favorite balsamic sparingly and strategically. If you are a fan of this blog, you are familiar the vinegar to which I refer…namely Chef Massimo Bottura’s Manodori.
For those of you who read my blog, you are the recipients of this vinegar at wholesale cost…another good reason for being a fan.
Although some may say mixing this vinegar with ketchup is a sin, the end result is not.
7 simple ingredients plus salt and pepper will net you a fabulous dish, especially when paired with roasted potatoes (I like to use sweet and Yukon gold for this recipe) or mashed potatoes. Although I prefer green, almost any veggie you like will compliment this meat loaf. I was hoping to maintain the purple color of the broccoli, however it was lost in the steam process. Either way, a social success.

Meat Loaf Ingredients:

2 lbs. chopped beef (80-20) preferably from a butcher
Heavy 1/2 cup of ketchup
3 Tbsp GOOD balsamic vinegar OR 2 Tbsp Manodori + 1 Tbsp. water)
1 cup unseasoned or seasoned (your choice) bread crumbs (try to use crumbs from the local bakery)
2 eggs (beaten)
1 medium onion (chopped coarse)
1 Tbsp. ***Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for sauteing onion & garlic clove)
1 large clove garlic (pressed & sauteed with the onion)
3/4 cup fresh Italian style flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Fresh Mill pepper (app.10 turns fine grind)

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
*Saute onions in frying pan with *EVOO until transparent
*Use a baking pan lined with foil and rub a little oil on the center part of the foil where the loaf will sit or use a non stick baking pan
*Blend with a fork the balsamic vinegar, ketchup & water
*Add to the beef…half of the balsamic and ketchup blend, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, sauteed onions & garlic clove, bread crumbs. Mix with hands until all liquid is absorbed into the beef and place loaf shape in the center of  the pan
  *Coat evenly  the top and sides of the loaf with the rest of the balsamic ketchup mix
 *Bake for 50-60 minutes
*Let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing to serve

Roasted Potatoes
1.5 lbs potatoes sliced 1/4″ thick maximum
1/2 ounce sweet unsalted butter (melted)
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp.Kosher Salt
Fresh Mill Pepper
*Toss potatoes in butter, paprika, salt and pepper being careful to cost all side of potatoes
*Bake at 375 degrees in same oven as meat loaf for 20-25 minutes, flipping the potatoes once in the cooking process
*Make sure you place potatoes in the oven for the last 20-25 minutes of the cooking time for the meatloaf
so they finish at the same time

Mashed Potatoes
See 10.23.13 entry for mashed potatoes

1 large head of Purple Broccoli (florets only) or Veggie of your choice
*Steam until cooked through (al dente is fine also)
*Place steamed veggie in baking dish topped with a sprinkle of  salt and strategically placed bits of sweet butter. This will add a nice texture, light brown color and roasted flavor to the veggies
*Bake for the last 15 minutes of the cooking time for the meat loaf and prepare to finish at the same time as the meat loaf & potatoes

***Extra virgin olive oil

Serves 6

Mangia Baby!

As usual, please feel free to comment or make suggestions

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BetsaPasta Crispy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan (Parmigiana di melanzane) is one of my favorite Italian style dishes. It’s also a dish that requires a certain technique to prepare with a crispy texture. Very simply put, the preparation does not include layering with sauce or too much mozzarella cheese.
Once you have tried this preparation, you may find it hard to go back to the traditional “made in the USA” method of layering with sauce at every level.

One tidbit:

When feasible, try to use buffalo mozzarella which is much more tender and far more flavorful than cow’s milk mozzarella. For this recipe, however, I did use fresh cows milk mozzarella.

I also used the Italian-American version which is breaded before frying.
The traditional Italian version is not breaded.  As a result, it’s not only lighter,  faster and easier to fry (in olive oil of course), but you can really taste the rich eggplant flavor since it’s not masked by the bread crumbs or sometimes  too much cheese. If you are a fan of eggplant, then you may prefer to try the original Italian recipe.

Are you ready?

Ingredients: Serves 6 with a side pasta
– Flavored Panko Bread Crumbs
-1 LARGE Fresh Eggplant (ends removed)…Sliced rounds 1/4″-3/8 thick…yield about 12-15 pieces
-1 cup Flour (I like unbromated/unbleached and healthier King Arthur flour)
-2 beaten eggs w. 1 Tbsp half & half…add some salt and pepper to this egg mixture
**EVOO (healthier) or Vegetable Oil for frying. If a second frying process is required, remove oil from first fried batch and use new oil
-Fresh Mill Pepper
-Kosher Salt
-Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
-About 1/2 lb. Whole Milk Mozzarella sliced thin
-Your Favorite Tomato or Marinara Sauce

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*Slice eggplant in rounds

*Dip in flour (shake off excess flour), then eggs, then bread crumbs and place all of these prepared slices in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet in order to be able to place in hot oil at the same time. This process should take app 6-7 minutes
*Heat oil on medium high
*In the hot oil, place all rounds in fryer at the same time and cook until golden brown on both sides. It’s ok to turn more than once if you have to
*Remove from frying pan and place on paper towels to let excess oil drain off
Salt & Pepper at this time
*Repeat process for more rounds of eggplant if necessary with new oil (I place the used oil in a DRY used can of tomatoes to toss away after it has cooled)
*In a baking tray, place the rounds on the bottom in a single layer…top with a thin slice of mozzarella and a nice dose of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano…and repeat once more so there are two layers
*Place just one or two (to suite your taste) Tbsp of your favorite marinara or tomato sauce on top of stack and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and turning golden…then broil for about 3 more minutes until just starting to turn brown
*Remove from oven. If you so choose, you can then add more sauce sparingly on top or place sauce on a plate and sit the stack on top of the sauce.
Serve with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
**EVOO=Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The use of salt and pepper is to suit your taste, thus there is no instruction for it’s use.

Mangia Baby!

As usual, please feel free to comment with ideas or suggestions…or to share your own recipe…

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