Posts filed under ‘meat’

Stuffed Tomatoes

This recipe is based on one that I got from my French instructor when we first moved to Belgium.  She told me it is something that Belgians eat quite often.  You won’t find it in a restaurant, but basically every home will make some variation on it for dinner at least once a month.  I have to admit, we haven’t eaten it as often, but we have adapted it to our own recipe.  Now I’d like to share a little taste of Belgium with you!

Stuffed Tomatoes
3 Tbs. olive oil
8 round medium tomatoes
1 Tbs. butter
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 lb. pork
1/4 lb. veal
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese, freshly grated

To Make:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a rimmed baking dish with 1 Tbs. of oil.  Hollow out the tomatoes using a paring knife or spoon, leaving enough of the flesh on the sides to form a sturdy “cup”.  Reserve scooped out flesh and set aside.  Set tomatoes upside-down on paper towels to drain.
In a large skillet, melt the butter in 1 Tbs. of oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).  Add the meat and cook over moderately high heat until no longer pink, breaking up the pieces as it cooks.  Add reserved tomatoes and cook until juices evaporate (about 5 minutes longer).  Transfer meat mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly.  Mix in parsley, eggs, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and the cheese.  Spoon into tomato cups and place in baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs and drizzle remaining olive oil on top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until heated through.

4 servings 


April 17, 2008 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

Lamb with Red Pepper Tapenade

The actual definition of Tapenade – a thick paste originally from Provence made with capers, olives, anchovies, lemon juice and herbs. The name comes from Tapeno, which means caper. It’s used as a condiment on grilled fish, meat or served with cruditées and toast. Today, the definition is not as straightforward. It can be used to describe any paste involving vegetables, lemon juice and herbs added to fish or meat or served as a spread. I’ve taken liberties with the looser definition in using the term with this dish. It seemed fitting, and anyway, who cares? When it tastes this good, you just can’t worry about the details!

Lamb with Red Pepper Tapenade
Adapted from “Marie Claire Recettes: saveur, Donna Hay”

6-8 lamb chops
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (I couldn’t find these in winter, so I left them out)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (or harissa, if you can find it)
2 pitas (for serving)
Tzatziki sauce (for serving)*

To Make:
Remove excess fat from the lamb chops. Mix the pepper, onion, cilantro, crushed red pepper and garlic together. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Stir to combine. Spread tapenade onto both sides of each lamb chop. Broil in oven for 3 – 4 minutes each side.
Serve with tzatziki and pitas.

2 Servings

*Tzatziki sauce can be bought or made. I usually make my own since it is so simple. It will keep for 3 -4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Tzatziki Sauce
1/2 cup yogurt (greek style, if available)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
2 T. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
salt, to taste

To Make:
Mix all ingredients together. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

February 7, 2008 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

Italian Turkey Roulades

I know what you are thinking, turkey doesn’t immediately jump to mind as an Italian specialty. Sometimes when creating a recipe, one needs to improvise with what one has on hand. We were supposed to go out with friends for dinner, but when they had to cancel, we had to come up with something quick and easy. The extra challenge came because, as you know, in Belgium there are no shops open near us on a Sunday evening. So, we had to work with what we had. Normally, it would be best to use chicken or veal for this recipe, but the turkey worked wonderfully and the recipe turned out so well, I had to share.

Italian Turkey Roulades
4 turkey cutlets, pounded thin (could use chicken or veal)
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pesto sauce
1 bunch arugula (also known as rocket)
4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 box cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
whole wheat pasta (if desired)

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lay each turkey cutlet in front of you lengthwise. Top with thin layer of pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese and arugula. Roll away from you keeping everything tightly inside the turkey. Wrap each roll with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Heat olive oil in oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey rolls to pan and brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Place skillet in oven and cook until turkey is cooked-through (about 15 minutes). Remove turkey rolls from skillet and set aside. Over medium heat, in same skillet, add white wine to deglaze pan scraping up all the browned bits. Stir in garlic, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes until heated through.
Place a serving of pasta on each plate, top with turkey roulades and pour over some of the sauce. Finish with fresh parmesan shavings. Serve.

2 Servings

February 5, 2008 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Mrouzia (Lamb Tagine with Raisins, Honey & Almonds)

North African cuisine is all around us in Belgium. There are so many types of dishes that I never knew of before moving here. It’s opened up the possibilites of a brand new way of thinking about slow-cooked food and stews. Tajines are my favorite and there are as many varieties as you can think of cooking under the peculiar dome-shaped lid. While we don’t have a tajine with us here (we do have one in Minneapolis – never used!), these dishes work equally well in a Dutch oven. This particular dish, Mrouzia, is traditionally made after the celebration of Aid el Kebir (“Feast of the Slaugther of the Lamb”). Apparently, it is a time when a family would have large amounts of meat on hand. It was created to preserve the lamb in the days before refrigeration was invented. It’s a sweet dish, with earthy notes and goes well with a serving of couscous on the side. If you’re like Matt and don’t like raisins, just pick around them when you eat it. They add a richness and sweetness to the sauce.

Lamb Tagine with Raisins, Honey & Almonds
1 tsp. ras-el-hanout*
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 pinch saffron threads
3 cups water
1 lb. boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed & cut into 1 in. cubes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 3 in. cinnamon stick
1 T. butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup whole blanched almonds
2 T. honey
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

To Make:
Whisk together ras-el-hanout, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron and 1 cup water in large dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in lamb, remaining 2 cups water, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and butter. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lamb is just tender (about 30 minutes).
Stir in raisins, almonds, honey and ground cinnamon and simmer, covered, until meat is very tender (about 15 minutes more).
Uncover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes longer).

2-4 Servings

*ras-el-hanout is a spice blend popular in middle-eastern cooking. You can find it at specialty stores or make your own. It keeps well in an air-tight container. It varies from recipe to recipe, but here is the one I used:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • I teaspoon turmeic

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all ingredients together and seal in an air-tight jar. Is also great just sprinkled on couscous or as a spice rub on your favorite meat.

February 1, 2008 at 7:41 am Leave a comment

Beef Tenderloin Encrusted with Mushrooms

This is a traditional French dish, filet de boeuf en croûte de champignons. It looks elegant and has a commanding table presence. People will think you spent all day in the kitchen making this special dish for them, but in fact, it’s quite easy. It takes about an hour from start to finish. It would make a great dinner party or holiday dish. I served it with baked sweet potato fries on the side to make it more of a casual affair. Who says you can’t make weeknight meals look special?

Beef Tenderloin Encrusted with Mushrooms
Adapted from Ripailles, Stéphan Reynaud

1.5 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed
1 small container of mushrooms (any variety or combination)
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 cup terragon leaves
1 cup curly parsley
2 shallots, peeled, minced
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
olive oil
salt and pepper

To Make:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides for 10 minutes, remove beef from pan and set aside on a grill so the juices can run out. Let rest 30 minutes.
Finely chop together mushrooms, terragon and parsley. Lightly oil same skillet as before and heat over medium-high heat. Sautée shallots and garlic until soft. Add mushroom mixture and cook until the mixture is slightly dry (about 5 minutes). Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roll out the sheet of puff pastry, short side facing you. Measure the amount to wrap the tenderloin in full, and trim edges. Set aside extra dough. Spread the mushroom mixture on the sheet of pastry in a layer about 1/2 in. thick. Place the tenderloin in the center and wrap, sealing the edges with egg white. Cut a small hole in the top of the pastry, so steam can escape. Place on baking sheet. Cut extra dough into strips and decorate beef with lattice stripes. Brush lightly with egg yolk. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden-brown.

4 Servings

January 30, 2008 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Bites

(Originally published by, by me, on June 5, 2007)
Bring a little Italy into your home at your next event with these prosciutto and mozzarella bites. The saltiness of the prosciutto is tempered by the sweet tomato and basil and it’s all held together with slightly melted mozzarella. Very simple to make and your guests are sure to love ’em!

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Bites
20 thin slices of prosciutto

8 oz block of mozzarella

2 plum tomatoes

20 fresh basil leaves

freshly ground pepper

To Make:

Cut tomatoes into 5 thin slices each (lengthwise) and then cut in half again. Slice mozzarella into 20 thin slices. On a work surface, lay out one slice of prosciutto and place one slice of tomato at end closest to you. top with mozzarella, basil leaf and another slice of tomato. Season with freshly ground pepper then roll into a small package. Do the same with the other slices of prosciutto. Place packets into a lightly oiled and pre-heated pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

20 bites

January 3, 2008 at 3:20 am Leave a comment


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