Sweet Corn

The 4th of July is quickly approaching; I’m already dreaming of my favorite sautéed corn. I know it will have to be on the menu. Local corn is now popping up at the farmers market near my home. This sauté tastes so sweet, with fresh corn, zucchini, red peppers, shallots, fresh thyme, and fresh basil. It’s delightful! I’ve made this many times, even in the winter with frozen corn, it still tastes amazing. I served the corn sauté at my Christmas dinner a few years ago; my sister-in-law said “anyone that can make corn taste that good can cook.” I was pretty happy to serve something everyone truly enjoyed. So, year round fresh or frozen, this corn sauté is always welcome on my family table.

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4 Ears fresh corn on the cob, remove corn from cob, frozen corn may be used

2 Medium shallots, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 small zucchini, diced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

4 Sprigs of fresh thyme, remove from stems

5 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the tablespoon of butter and add the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook 3 minutes, add the red pepper, and fresh thyme leaves cook 4 minutes, add the zucchini, salt and pepper cook until tender 4-5 minutes. Add the corn removed from the cob cook 4-5 minutes more. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

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Meatloaf with brown gravy

Meatloaf with brown gravy.
Meatloaf with brown gravy

Most families have their own favorite meatloaf recipe. I have been working on a meatloaf recipe for a while now. I’ve wanted a change from the one I’d always used. I want a moist flavorful bite and it would have to have gravy instead of the ketchup and brown sugar mixture I used to put on top. I took out the milk and bread crumbs so I needed to replace the liquid and the binder. I decided to try oatmeal as the binder, beef stock, and some tomato sauce as the liquid. In olive oil I saute chopped shallots, and fresh minced garlic. Then I add fresh thyme leaves to release their flavor. I also add freshly chopped flat leaf parsley in the mixing stage. With a small amount of the juices from the cooked meatloaf I make delicious brown gravy. This meatloaf is pure comfort food. I serve it with mash potatoes, and fresh green beans. The perfect dinner for hungry guests.

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Meat Loaf with brown gravy

2/3 lb. ground pork

2/3 lb. ground veal

1 lb. ground beef

2-4 large shallots, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

3-4 thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup tomato sauce

½ cup beef stock

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Gravy:

1 tablespoon fat from baked meatloaf

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Chop the shallot, mince the garlic, and remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Run your knife through the thyme. Add the shallot to the skillet cook 3 minutes. Then add the thyme and garlic cook 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to burn the garlic. Set aside. In a large bowl gently break apart your meat. Add the shallot mixture, eggs, tomato sauce, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, oats, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley. Gently mix just to incorporate the ingredients. In a 9×13” Pyrex glass dish.  Turn the meat mixture out into the center and shape the meat in a loaf. Bake 50 minutes or till your meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. Remove the meat loaf from the baking dish to a plate and cover it with foil. Scrape the fat and bits in the baking dish; remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Place the baking dish over a burner on medium low. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the fat whisk in the flour this will make a roux. Cook till smooth and bubbly about 2 minutes. Raise heat to medium high whisk in the flour scraping up all the bites from the bottom of the pan bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium low and let simmer, stir with whisk cook about 5 minutes more. Strain the gravy and sever over or on the side of the meatloaf.

If you are a fan of mushrooms, sauté 1 1/2 cups of Baby Bella mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Cook about 8 minutes stirring once. add to the gravy and serve over the meatloaf.

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Special Cottage Pie

sp9 In 1998 our family moved from Washington State to England. We lived there for about eighteen months. Shortly after we arrived a lovely British family we had met invited our family for dinner. It was the first home cooked meal we’d had since arriving. The menu was shepherd’s pie made with lamb, and bread and butter pudding for dessert. The meal was delicious and their hospitality was a blessing to us. I found as we traveled about England, Scotland, and Ireland they all had this on the menu but they called it Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie and made it with a beef or lamb mixture and topped with potatoes that were toasted under a broiler. I have always made  mine with beef. I like to top mine with cheddar cheese and then put in back in the oven to get all melted. The ingredients are simple but very delicious. A comforting meal on a cold winter day.  I call it special cottage pie and this is my version.

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Special cottage pie

For the filling

2lb. ground beef

3 large shallots, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoons tomato paste

4 small carrots sliced (boiled)

2 1/4 cups beef stock

For the topping

10 small Yukon gold potatoes

½ up ¾ cup whole milk  

1/2  – 1 stick butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh chives (optional)

Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Prepare filling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Brown the ground meat and reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat. Set Add the meat aside add reserved fat back  to the pan over medium heat add the shallot, garlic, and bay leaf cook for 1 minute. Add the meat back to the pan add the allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of flour, carrots, and the tomato paste. Stir mixture together and cook 2 minutes. Add the beef stock slowly while stir to get a nice juicy consistency. You don’t want it to be to soupy looking. Cook about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Fill a pie plate with the mixture or individual oven ware.

For the topping

Boil the potatoes, drain, mash potatoes using electric mixer. Add butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and milk. Whip till light and fluffy add the chives at last mixing. When mixing mash potatoes always mix the potatoes till they look smooth before adding milk this will reduce any lumps. Unless in fact you like lumps then mix less before adding milk. Top the meat mixture with the potatoes, I use a pastry bag to do this but you can just heap them on top. Bake 15-20 minutes till top browns add cheese at the last few minutes.

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