Most meatloaf recipes are pretty much the same and while perfectly good and satisfying, I always felt they lack imagination and are missing out on flavour. That said, there are typically two ingredients in conventional meatloaf recipes that I actually profoundly dislike. One is Ketchup and the other is Worcestershire Sauce. So here is a recipe that substitutes those two components with ingredients that I believe make for a better meat loaf. But there is more to it than just that, so…
Proscuitto Wrapped Meatloaf
Take your same old boring meatloaf to the next level with this recipe and you will never go back to you the one your Grandma has handed down to you.
- 1 kg Ground beef regular or lean but not extra lean
- 8-10 slices Proscuitto
- 250 ml Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Onion large
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives pitted and chopped
- 2 Eggs large
- 3 cloves Garlic peeled, germ removed, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp BBQ sauce *see notes
- ½ tin Tomato paste
- 3 sprigs Thyme fresh, leafs only, *see notes
- 1 sprig Rosemary fresh, leafs only, chopped, *see notes
- 1 tsp Basil dried
- 1 tsp Parsley dried
- 3 tsp Beef bullion powder or 2 cubes crumbled
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tin Tomato past about ¼ cup
- 1 tbsp Honey e.g. wildflour
- 3 tbsp Water warm
- 2 tsp Soy sauce
- 1 tsp Hot sauce optional
Add Panko to a large bowl
Chop onion into chunks and purée in a blender
Add onion purée to Panko and mix well
Add all dry ingredients and mix well
Add remaining ingredients and mix well using your hands
Form mixture into a loaf
On a clean surface or cutting board lay out proscuitto in two overlapping rows of 4 slices and place loaf at one end
Start rolling the loaf across the proscuitto. It shoud pick up the proscuitto but you may have to coax it along to adhere to the loaf
If necessary, use two more slices of proscuitto to cover the ends of the log
Transfer the loaf into the prepared loaf tin or baking dish
Brush ½ the glaze generously over the loaf
Bake the loaf for 45 minutes
Remove from oven and brush it with most of the remaing glaze
Bake the loaf for an additional 30 minutes
Remove from oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes
Turn out, brush remaining glaze over top and carve into slices about 20 to 25 mm thick
Serve with your favorite sides and gravy (Shown here wth Hasselback potato and green beans)
I use Bulls Eye Hickory BBQ sauce. It’s a staple in my house. Feel free to substitute with your favorite flavour, e.g. Chipotle, Guiness etc.
If fresh herbs are not available, substitute dry ones except for rosemary. Dried rosemary will not soften enough to integrate well into the finished loaf.
Truite Amandine or Trout Fillets with Almonds is a fairly regular dish in our house. It’s easy to make, light fare, looks and tastes great and lends itself as everyday dinner as well as for entertaining.I typically use whole almonds and slice them myself. I like having a bit of skin on the almonds for colour as opposed to using store bought ones that are just plain white.
Trout Fillets Amandine aka “Truite Amandine”
The recipe below is for 2-3 people, depending on the size of the fillet. Use 2 fillets if you are feeding more or if the fillets are small, use one per person.Make sure you serve a nice glass of white to go with that. I might suggest a Riesling of Cabinet quality.
- 1 large trout fillet 250 g (8 oz), skin on
- 1 shallot finely sliced into rings
- 6 almonds roasted and sliced or a small hand full if store bought sliced
- 1 sprig of fresh dill or 1/2 tsp of dried parsely or thyme make suitable substitutes, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat you stove to 180°C (350°F)
Thoroughly wash the fillet in cold water, then pat dry
Prepare a piece or pieces of aluminum foil large enough to hold the fillet and butter them so the fillet doesn't stick
Place the fillet on the foil skin down
Dowse fillet with lemon juice to your taste
Sprinkle dill over fillets
Spread shallots over fillet
Distribute almonds over fillet
Add some salt and pepper to your liking
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (adjust time to your oven and your liking)
Finish on broil for 2 minutes or until you get a nice looking colour 🙂
Serve immediately with sides of your choice, e.g. rice, asparagus or what ever green is in your fridge
This Curry Shrimp Risotto Gratin is based on a classic Spanish dish.
Curry Shrimp Risotto Gratin
The Curry Shrimp Risotto Gratin is one of those dishes that may well make it into your regular monthly repetoire.
It’s easy to make, tastes great and will impress your friends with the fancy version, i.e. I make two versions of it, a “plain” and a “fancy” one. The fancy one simply adds one large shrimp per person on top as a decorative kicker.
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 150 g (1 cup) Risotto rice Arborio but if you can get it – Vialone or Carnaroli preferred
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Curry
- 150 ml (¾) cup white wine
- 350 ml (1½ cups) chicken boullion
- 200 g large shrimp about 18 shrimp of size 31-40
- 6 extra jumbo shrimp – size 16-20 optional
- 1 small jar of Artichoke hearts about 6 pcs., diced
- 5 tbsp Parmesan grated
- 180 g 3/4 cup Sour cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra butter for gratin
In large pot heat butter and olive oil
Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes
Add rice and stir until evenly coated, then add curry and again stir to coat, about 2 minutes
Add wine to deglaze and cook until nearly absorbed
Add bouillon one ladle at a time and continue to cook with minimal stirring, always waiting until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 20 minutes
Stir in artichoke hearts, then add shrimp
Mix in 3 tbsp of the Parmesan, reserving rest
Carefully fold in sour cream, then transfer to a (round) gratin dish
Top with remaining Parmesan
Decorate with Extra Jumbo Shrimp if using
Distribute flakes of butter all over top and bake in pre-heated oven at 220°C for 10 minutes.
Finish under grill setting until you obtain a golden crust
Serve with a nice glass of white wine
Some notes to the recipe below: I typically cook some dried green beans as an additional side. These I soak for a few hours ahead, drain and add to the dutch oven a half hour before time is up, continuing to cook while the hock and potatoes are roasting.I also frequently add a couple of carrots to the dish by tossing the peeled carrots into the dutch oven about a half hour before time is up (i.e. along with the above beans, if using). The precooked carrots are added to the roasting dish along with the other ingredients.
Smoked Ham Hock with Roast Potatoes
Slowly cooked and roasted smoked ham hocks are another one of my favorite cool weather foods. This recipe takes on a Canadian flair with a maple glaze on the hock and potatoes.A very simple, inexpensive and highly satisfying main course.This recipe uses a ham hock of about 1.2 kg (2.6 lb)
- 1 smoked ham hock 2 if small
- 0.5 – 1 Kg (1 – 2lb) potatoes
- 3 garlic gloves
- 1 Onion chopped into 8 pieces
- 3 Cloves optional cut into quarters
- 5 ml (1 tsp) Fresh chopped ginger
- 2-3 bay leaves
- A few pepper corn
- 5 ml (1 tsp) thyme
- 5 ml (1 tsp) paprika
- 2.5 ml (1/2) tsp coriander
- 120 ml (1/2) cup butter, melted
- 60 ml (1/4) cup mayonaise
- 60 ml (1/4) cup dijon mustard
- 60 ml (1/4) cup maple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place ham hock, onion, pepper corns, clove of garlic, ginger (optional cloves) and bay leaves into a suitable Dutch Oven or Casserole
Add a few cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the Dutch Oven or Casserole and slowly simmer for 2-3 hours depending on the size.
Take out the pork hock and place it on the baking tray.
Prepare the glaze by combining mustard, mayonnaise and maple syrup.
Add peeled and cut potatoes to the baking tray with ham hock.
Add chopped garlic and season everything with paprika, thyme, coriander, salt and pepper.
Using the cooking brush cover everything with the glaze.
Preheat the oven to 215 C (420 F).
Melt ½ cups of melted butter and pour it over potatoes.
Roast pork and potatoes until browned for about 20 minutes.
Carve and serve
An all important piece of equipment for any recipes like this one is a Dutch Oven. The one I use and am extremely pleased with is the 5.6 liter (6 quart) “Lodge” seen below.
If you love polenta or grits and you’re looking for hearty cool weather dish, this recipe will serve you well.
Polenta Gratin or “Polenta alla nonna”
This polenta is actually a polenta, ham, tomato and cheese gratin. A very tasty dish for the cooler times of the year.This recipe uses a couple of ingredients you may not readily find but can easily find substitutes for.The first one of these is “Bramata Polenta” which can be replaced by any brand of coarse ground corn meal or “grits”.The other one is “Raclette” cheese. This can be substituted with (in order of my preference): Jarlsberg, Emmentaler (aka Swiss Cheese) or then Gruyere. If you’re really stuck, use “Mozz”.
- 250 g Bramata Polenta coarse yellow corn meal
- 10 g Butter
- 1/2 tsp 2 ml salt
- 1 L Water
- 150 g Raclette cheese
- 250 g Pancetta or cooked ham sliced
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1 Garlic clove
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1 can 400g Tomatoes, stewed, diced, preferably Pelati or Romano
- Salt pepper and nutmeg to taste
In a large pot, bring water, salt, and butter to a boil
Add the corn meal and cook on low heat until desired consistency is reached 9depending on the type of corn meal used, this may take from a few minutes to 1 hour)
Wile the polenta is cooking…
Preheat oven to 200 °C (395 °F)
Cut pancetta or ham, thin slices or small cubes
Chop onions and garlic, fine
In a sauce pan melt butter and saute onions and garlic
Add ham and cook briefly
Add tomatoes and cook 10-15 minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste (also add a pinch of dried basil, if desired)
Chop 100 g of the Raclette cheese into small cubes and gently stir into the polenta once it is fully cooked
With heat off, let sit for 5 minutes, then stir once more, adding a pinch of nutmeg if desired
Working very quickly now as polenta will solidify rapidly making it difficult to spread, add half the polenta to a buttered baking dish of sufficient size and evenly spread out
Add sauce and spread remaining polenta over top
Grate remaining Raclette cheese over top
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until you have a nice golden brown top
This recipe makes a great substitute for a meat loaf if you are vegetarian, vegan, on a KETO diet or just feel like something different.
Vegetarian Cheese and Nut Loaf
This vegetarian cheese and nut loaf (or pâté) is a great substitute for when a regular meat loaf is out of the question. It’s easy to make, tastes great and get’s you all kinds of healthy nutrients.
It has the veggies, fibre, Omega-3, protein and plenty of flavour.
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped
- 45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
- 250 ml (1 cup) cooked brown rice
- 125 ml (1/2) cup wheat germ
- 125 ml (1/2) cup chopped walnuts or cashews
- 125 ml (1/2) cup thinly sliced mushrooms preferably Cremini
- 125 ml (1/2) cup shredded carrots
- 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
- 1 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper
- 225 g (1/2 lb) Cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 eggs beaten
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil
In a large bowl, combine sautéd onion and garlic with rice, wheatgerm, nuts, mushrooms, carrots, salt, pepper and 1/2 of the grated cheese
Mix well, add eggs and mix again
Transfer to a well greased loaf pan
Bake in a pre-heated 175 °C (350 °F) oven for 50 minutes
Sprinkle with remaining cheese after 30 minutes
Optionally, broil for a few minutes to finish
Serve with a salad, gravy or mayo, and a glass of white wine. All optional of course.
Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that is hard to beat as a classy dinner such as Christmas, New Years, Anniversaries or other special occasions. It’s got the wow factor. It looks great, tastes great and is loved by all. It may be expensive because we are using one of the most expensive cuts of beef and it may not be the easiest to make but when the occasion calls for it, it’s all worth it. So let’s get to it. A few things to note. You may need to order the meat ahead from your butcher. If you can’t find ready made cooked walnuts, skip them or substitute with cashews or pine nuts. If anyone in the dinner party is allergic to nuts, skip them altogether or substitute with shallots. For the mushroom Duxelles, I use cremini. You also can use portobello mushrooms or then white button mushrooms if you prefer a more subtle taste.
Classy Beef Wellington
Classic Beef Wellington Recipe
- 450 g (1 lb) cremini mushrooms
- 100 g (3.5 oz) cooked chestnuts
- 2-4 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only
- 900 g (2 lb) piece beef tenderloin fillet, centre cut, trimmed
- Salt coarse, kosher, sea
- Pepper fresh, ground
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 8-12 slices of prosciutto
- 500 g (1 lb) puff pastry, all butter, ready made
- flour to dust
- 2 egg yolks lightly beaten with 1tbsp water (egg wash)
If tenderloin is tied, leave tied. If not, tie with butcher string in 4 places to hold its shape while searing.
Season with salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in large frying pan to high heat, add fillet and quickly sear on all sides including ends until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush with Dijon mustard all over, then set aside to rest.
To make the Duxelles, put the washed and trimmed mushrooms in a food processor. Add chestnuts, garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Pulse processor until you obtain a finely chopped mixture.
Heat up a large dry frying pan and add the mushrooms. Add the thyme leaves and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, driving off the moisture until most of it has evaporated. Spread out on a tray to cool off.
On a clean surface, roll out a good 50 cm (18 in.) of cling wrap. Place prosciutto on wrap, overlapping each piece in such a way as to form a rectangle that will completely wrap the fillet with the Duxelles and the prosciutto. As an example, a fillet of 8 cm in diameter and of 16 cm in length would need a rectangle of about 20 cm wide by 25 cm long. Don’t skimp here. Make good overlaps in both axis and give a couple of extra cm in both directions and ensure there are no gaps. 2 rows of 4 pieces is usually perfect for a fillet this size.
Season the prosciutto with fresh ground pepper, then spread the Duxelles evenly on top leaving a gap of about 2 – 2.5 cm along the edges.
Place the fillet in the middle of the rectangle.
Grab the cling wrap at the edge in front and slowly start to pull up and wrap it and the prosciutto layer over top of the fillet and keep rolling until you have a nice tight barrel shape making sure no cling wrap gets trapped between the fillet and the prosciutto. Grab the ends of the cling wrap and twist them really tight and secure. Place in refrigerator for 20 min. to let it set up.
Now roll out the pastry dough on a lightly flour dusted surface. Again, make a rectangle large enough to wrap the beef and keeping it about 5 mm thick. Brush lightly with egg wash, unwrap the fillet and place it in the middle of the rectangle. Use your judgement to trim off any extra dough but making sure you have enough. Wrap the pastry around the beef, overlapping the edge along the length of the fillet and pressing to seal. Pinch the dough at the ends to seal and trim as necessary.
Wrap the log tightly in cling wrap, again twisting the end to make a firm log and refrigerate for 10 min. (overnight if making ahead.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (180 convection). Remove the cling wrap from the filet and brush with egg wash. With the back of a small knife, score the pastry lightly in a decorative pattern if you wish (see the image above for an example) and place it on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, the bake for about 40 min. If the pastry is browning up to quickly, reduce the temperature 5 or 10°C. You should end up with the meat at medium rare. If you or your guests like the meat well done, cook longer.
When done, rest the Wellington for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Cut into thick slices (4 – 5 cm) and serve with your sides of choice.
Recipe loosely based on Gordon Ramsey’s found in this book:
Slowly braised lamb shanks, particularly as in this recipe, are among my favorite cool weather foods. This recipe has incredible depth of flavour. A key ingredient are the dried juniper berries.These may be hard to find but worth the effort. I used to collect juniper berries at the same time I was collecting blue berries on many a canoeing trip in the Kawartha’s of Ontario (Google it).I would occasionally also buy them at a Pharmacy in Switzerland where they are commonly sold for medicinal purposes or in one of the super markets as of course they are also used in many wild game recipes.
Lamb Shanks Braised In Red Wine And Juniper
Slowly braised lamb shanks that leverage the flavours of rosemary, juniper and red wine.
- 4 lamb shanks
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 bottle of red wine e.g Rhone, Grenache
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) juniper berries
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) black pepper corns
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 garlic bulb sliced in half radially
- 5 ml (1 tsp) salt
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) port ruby
Preheat the oven to 160 °C (325 °F)
Liberally season the shanks with salt and pepper
In a large, heavy bottom roasting or frying pan, heat oil on medium high and brown the shanks on all sides.
Put aside the shanks on a plate in a warming drawer
Transfer oil and juices from pan to a large dutch oven, adding more oil if needed
Add onions and cook until translucent
Add carrots and celery and cook for a couple more minutes
Add wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, pepper corns, rosemary, garlic and salt
Place the shanks into this braising mixture, cover and cook in the pre-heated oven for 3 hours
When cooked, gently remove shanks to a platter, tent with aluminum foil and keep warm in a warming drawer
Strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan
Bring to a boil and add the port
Reduce to 250 ml (1 cup)
Serve along side, pour over shanks or use as garlic mashed potato gravy
An important piece of equipment for any recipes like this one is a Dutch Oven. The one I use and am extremely pleased with is the 5.6 liter (6 quart) “Lodge” seen below.