Tag: beef

Mediterranean Meatloaf with Zucchini and Bell Pepper

Mediterranean Meatloaf with Zucchini + Bell Pepper

Meatloaf was one of the few meals with meat that I really liked as a young child (apart from Wiener sausage). My mother used to make a big portion of it which we ate cold the following days. I still prefer it that way! When we were younger, my sister and I weren’t very experimental when it came to our food, that changed over the years and it effected my mother’s cooking. Now she fills her meatloaf with vegetables and herbs, a Mediterranean version but in those days she kept it simple to please our sensitive taste buds and picky taste.

I hadn’t made meatloaf for years, I had forgotten about it to be honest, but two summers ago my mother cooked it  for a garden party. My whole family (which is quite big) was there, it was a hot day in July and no one wanted to stay inside the house. We just went to the kitchen to fill our plates at the long table piled with lots of summery dishes and then went straight outside again to sit on the grass. It was a big picnic, a beautiful day with eating, drinking, laughing and playing music – and the cold meat was my happy rediscovery!

This meatloaf is very juicy, it’s cooked with zucchini, leek, bell pepper and lots of herbs. Thyme, oregano and rosemary give it a Mediterranean touch, either warm or cold, it’s best with a light salad and some baguette on the side.

Mediterranean Meatloaf with Zucchini + Bell Pepper

 Mediterranean Meatloaf with Zucchini and Bell Pepper

For 6-8 people you need

minced beef 1kg / 2 pounds
zucchini, roughly chopped, 140g / 5 ounces
red bell pepper, roughly chopped, 160g / 5.5 ounces
yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped, 160g / 5.5 ounces
leek, cut in half and thinly sliced, 100g / 3.5 ounces
milk 360ml / 12 ounces
breadcrumbs 45g / 1.5 ounces
organic eggs 2
thyme leaves from a small bunch
parsley, chopped, 4 tablespoons
rosemary, finely chopped, 3 tablespoons
oregano 1 1/2 tablespoons
salt 3 1/2 teaspoons
pepper

Set the oven to 170°C / 340°F (I used the Rotitherm setting but you could also use fan).

Mix the milk and breadcrumbs. In a large bowl mix the other ingredients, add the milk and combine well with your hands or a mixer. Put the mixture in a baking dish and form a loaf. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold, the meatloaf is great for summer parties and picnics!

Mediterranean Meatloaf with Zucchini + Bell Pepper

Daube de Boef Provençale, a most tender and aromatic Beef Stew

Daube Provençale

French food is on my mind! The creamy vichyssoise I wrote about yesterday put me in the mood for more treats from the French cuisine. I haven’t had a stew in along time so that’s first on my list. Meat braised for hours rewards your patience with the most tender and juicy meat. While it’s simmering slowly (for nearly 6 hours in the case of my stew) on low temperature it soaks up all the wonderful flavours, the red wine, herbs and spices. You just put it in the oven, forget about it and take out the finished meal. I like to use beef shank for stews, gelatinous with a bit of fat, it guarantees a succulent result, not dry at all and so tender that you could easily cut it with a fork.

This stew is called a daube because in Southern France, it’s traditionally made in a daubière, a clay pot with a round belly, a narrow neck and a lid with a well which is filled with water. The evaporating water causes the cooking liquids to condense inside the lid, simple physics but more importantly it makes a great stew! Unfortunately, I don’t have a daubière but I found out that a casserole dish with a tight lid works just as well.

The wine, herbs and spices have a big impact on the quality and taste of a daube just as much as the right kind of meat and cooking dish. As much as I love recipes that focus on single strong flavours, I accept that a stew follows its own rule, more is more! I prepared two different bouquets garni, one with parsley, bay leaf and orange peel and the other with rosemary, sage and thyme, combining all the aromas ripening under the sun of the Provençe. My open spice box inspired me to throw in a few cloves, allspice and cinnamon as well, they mixed in perfectly with the meat’s juices, the red wine, brandy, tomatoes, carrots and garlic.

I’ve praised the meat’s tenderness already and the sauce impressed me just as much. It was so concentrated that I just had to dip a piece of baguette into the dark red juices to taste the whole spectrum of aromatic flavours united in this stew. A sip of my glass of French red wine made the Provençe experience complete!

Daube Provençale

Daube de Boef Provençale

You need a big casserole dish with a tight lid. The daube has to cook in the oven for nearly 6 hours.

For 4-5 people you need

beef shanks, with the bone, 4 slices (around 1.8kg / 4 pounds)
(I didn’t cut the meat into pieces, I braised the slices with the bone to keep it juicy)
carrots, sliced, 800g / 28 ounces
medium sized onions, chopped, 4
garlic, chopped, 4
brandy 150ml
dark red wine 1000ml
broth 400ml
tinned tomatoes 800ml
cloves 8
allspice 14
cinnamon 1 stick
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper

For the bouquets garni

parsley, a small bunch
bay leaves 2
long strips of orange peel 8

Divide and bind with string in 2 bundles.

thyme, a small bunch
rosemary 2 sprigs
sage leaves 8

Divide and bind with string in 2 bundles.

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F top/ bottom heat.

In a large casserole dish, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the meat for a few seconds on both sides (in batches), season with salt and pepper and set aside. Add some more oil and fry the onions, garlic and carrots for a few minutes on medium heat. Deglaze with the brandy, add the meat and layer alternating with the vegetables, add the tomatoes, spices, broth and wine, the liquid should just cover everything. Season with salt and pepper and add the 4 bouquets garni.

Put the casserole dish in the oven. After 45 minutes, turn the temperature down to 140°C / 285°F and cook for 5 hours.

When the meat is done, remove the bouquets garni and cinnamon stick and season the daube with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with baguette or cooked potatoes.

Daube Provençale

 

Daube Provençale

 

Daube Provençale