CREMINI MUSHROOM MEATLOAF

As Anne Burrell often puts it: brown food tastes good. I fully agree, but it is a nightmare for food bloggers. Why? Taking a good picture is quite tricky. Granted, photography is not one of my fortes, but I am aware that even those who know their way around a camera need to work a little harder when faced with beef stews, chocolate brownies, and – case in point – meatloaf.  This one maybe even trickier as the beef is mixed with cremini mushrooms. Double decker brown for you!  Still, no matter the quality of the photos, I had to share this recipe because it is totally worth it. The mushrooms not only provide extra moisture to the meat loaf, but they add that enticing umami-ness.  The recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine which is one of my favorite sources for weeknight recipes. Never too rich, always packing great flavor.

Cremini Meat Loaf

CREMINI MUSHROOM MEAT LOAF
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 pound cremini mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces ground sirloin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/4 cup ketchup, divided
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Heat oven to 375°.
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Place the mushrooms in a food processor; process until minced. Do it in two batches if necessary.
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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add minced shallot; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook 7 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown. Add sherry; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in thyme. Cool slightly.
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Combine mushroom mixture, almond flour, and next 4 ingredients (through egg), mixing until well combined. Shape mixture into a free-form loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; brush with half of ketchup. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Remove from oven; brush with remaining ketchup, if desired. Cut into 8 slices.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served

One of the changes I made in the recipe from Cooking Light was using almond flour instead of Panko. If you prefer a more traditional take, go for breadcrumbs, same amount.  I served the meatloaf with mashed cauliflower and spinach, a recipe that I blogged about not too long ago. This was a simple, but delicious meal. You can prepare the mushroom mixture in advance, even a couple of days earlier to speed up dinner preparation. One of the best things of this meal: leftovers. My lunch next day was a couple of slices of meat loaf with a hard-boiled egg, and an avocado. The type of lunch that doesn’t make me sluggish during the afternoon. Love it!

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PAN-CHARRED VEGGIES FROM COOKING LIGHT

Cooking Light magazine, in their April 2014 issue published a nice article about pan-charring veggies for a boost in flavor. More than simply offering a recipe, they shared a general method to deal with veggies like asparagus and green beans. Veggies that can take the heat, so to speak. All you need to do is choose three basic components: the fat to coat the veggies after the initial charring, the acidic ingredient to brighten things up and the herbs added right before serving.  No matter which veggies you are dealing with, they will be ready in no time.  I know I sound like a broken record, but when I get home from work and it’s my turn to cook, the last thing I want is a side-dish that takes 45 minutes to prepare.  Give me something fast and flavorful, and I am game!

So here is my take number one on this method: charred asparagus flavored with lemon juice and fresh dill at the end… Before you accuse me of the capital culinary sin of non-seasonal cooking, let me say that this dish was made last May, not too long after I got the magazine. As usual, it takes me a while to go from table to blog. But, since last week I used this method to cook delicious green beans, I am taking the opportunity to talk about both dishes. Clearly, it’s all about the char…

AsparagusDill

PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
(adapted from Cooking Light, April 2014)

Cooking spray
8 ounces asparagus, cut in pieces
1 + 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
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Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add asparagus pieces to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until asparagus is very lightly charred. Cook asparagus 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

Remove pan from heat. Let asparagus rest 1 minute. Add walnut oil; toss to coat asparagus pieces. Add lemon juice; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle asparagus with dill and salt; toss. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

And here is my take number two: the exact same method, using olive oil to coat green beans, a touch of apple cider vinegar as the acidic component, and fresh tarragon added at the end. Tarragon straight from the garden of our friend Cindy, who recently visited us with her husband. Remember, I am the lucky woman with the super generous friends…

GreenBeansTarragon2
Now, as I mentioned, this is all about the char… Look at these dark spots, aren’t they making you crave some green beans?

GreenBeansTarragon

Back in 2010 I  wrote a blog post about “Blasted Broccoli“, stove-top version. We loved that recipe so much that I went through a long phase of cooking it weekly. I can see that this method could be adapted for broccoli too. Or sugar snap peas.  Avocado oil, coconut oil, use your imagination (and your pantry) and play with this method.  You won’t be disappointed…

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FENNEL SOUP WITH ALMONDS AND MINT

I am sure that each blogger has a favorite approach to getting their posts prepared. The Bewitching Kitchen has been around for almost 5 years, and I more or less settled on a pace of two posts per week, which suits me  well. It is not too stressful, and allows me to work on new articles exclusively during the weekend.  For the most part, I  have a backup of 8 or more posts lined up, so the recipes you see on my blog were probably at our table several weeks earlier… but sometimes I make something so tasty that I feel like blogging about it right after finishing the meal.  It was the case for this soup, simple ingredients, quick to prepare, but it feels like something worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant.  Creamy, luscious, without a single drop of heavy cream in it.  I had noticed the recipe on Cooking Light, and even jotted down the ingredients on my shopping list.  But the weather turned a little warmer, and soup left my mind. What changed all that? Steve’s post at Oui, Chef…  His description of this fennel entity left me craving for a bowl, no matter the temperature outside. End of story.

FennelSoup
FENNEL SOUP WITH ALMONDS AND MINT
(slightly modified from Oui, Chef)

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups sliced fennel bulb (I used two large bulbs)
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (I added 1 tsp)
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons small fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 ounce grated Parmigiano cheese

Heat a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat.  Add fennel, onion, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally.

Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, and beans.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Place half of mixture in a blender.  remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in the lid.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  Repeat procedure with the balance of the mixture.

Combine almonds, mint, zest and cheese.  Divide soup among 4 bowls; top with almond mixture and if desired drizzle a little olive oil before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  You know one of my greatest pet peeves?  Soups that are finished off with a load of heavy cream.  A couple of years ago, while watching a show by Pioneer’s Woman,  I literally screamed at the TV when she shared a recipe for the “best ever” cauliflower soup.  I swear that her version was 5% cauliflower, 15% butter, 20% cheese, 20% milk, 40% heavy cream. Heck, you can omit the cauliflower, add powdered rocks instead and people will be licking their spoons!  And now that I elegantly stepped out of my soap box, I can tell you that this soup takes the exact opposite approach.  Using white beans to improve the texture is a trick I shall not forget. The fresh mint they had at the store was not looking very good,  so I used some dried mint instead (added it together with the beans) and topped the soup with minced fennel fronds. Fresh dill would be great there too.

At Oui, Chef you can see a gorgeous photo for the soup, with mint leaves floating on top, quite artistic. Pay Steve a visit and say hello…  He is an impressive guy: father of five (!!!!), with a cool one-line bio…

I’m a blogger on a mission to encourage parents to teach their kids how to cook and eat well”.

But don’t take that statement lightly, he spent two years in France, got “Le Grande Diplome” at Cordon Bleu, and also studied at The Ritz Escoffier,  Lenotre, and Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin. Beyond impressive.  If that was not enough, he is also a fan of Tony Horton’s P90X. See? P90Xers are slowly taking over, one food blog and one pull-up at a time…   😉

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