Category Archives: Groundbeef Dishes

Zucchini w/Ground Beef & Bechamel

Zucchini w:ground beef & bechamel-finished product-2
Zucchini w/ground beef & bechamel-finished product

Another huge competitor in the comfort food category! (what’s up with me? I’ve been making lots of these lately!!)

It is an all-time favourite with all our friends, and a special favourite of my nieces Maggie & Mona.

This dish can be made with the ground beef/pine nuts mixture, or without; totally vegetarian. It is equally delicious in both versions. The secret is in the quantity of cheese, and in the texture of the bechamel.

I use two kinds of cheeses: finely grated Parmesan as well as coarsely grated Emmental (or Gruyere).

I make my bechamel on the loose side, not too thick, as I like to serve it with Basmati rice, and want the bechamel to behave more like a sauce, rather than a set “pudding” like.

Ingredients:

1 large onion chopped

½ kg ground beef

8-10 medium size zucchini

½ cup pine nuts (roasted)

1 cup Parmesan

1 cup emmental

for the bechamel:

8 tablespoons flour

olive oil

4 cups full milk

2 cups water

1 soup cube

Method:

saute onion in a bit of olive oil

add the ground beef, brown, cover and simmer till tender

mix in the roasted pine nuts

set mixture aside

P.S. I almost always forget to mention salt & pepper in my recipes, but I can assure you that I season my food well! I always use coarse sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper. And I do my seasoning as I go along, layering the flavours as I proceed. Not in the end as some people prefer. I believe that the seasoning should be part of the gradual construction of the dish, and not come at its very end, almost as an added “after thought”!!!

back to our dish…….

chop the zucchini into fairly uniform rounds

saute in a bit of olive oil using two spatulas to mix (as if you’re stir frying). Keep an eye on it, and keep the mixing going until the bright green of the zucchini is somewhat “dulled”. Difficult to explain any better, just compare pictures 2 and 3.

add the ground beef mixture to the zucchini in the pot, add a tiny bit of water to cook further, until the zucchini is done to your liking. It is important that most of the liquid be gone before you pour the contents of the pot into your Pyrex dish, otherwise the excess water will affect the consistency of the sauce in the finished dish

set aside to cool

when cool, sprinkle 1/4 a cup of the grated Parmesan

Now for the Bechamel:

I find that the secret of a successful bechamel is to add enough fat (by fat I mean olive oil) in the start, so that the flour/fat mixture be “loose” in the pan, not lumped together like a ball. If you start with this consistency, you almost always end up with a successful bechamel, smooth and with no lumps whatsoever Ofcourse you can use butter instead of olive oil if you prefer, just keep to the loose flour/fat mixture principal. If for some crazy reason you end up with lumps in your bechamel, don’t panic, you can always use a hand mixer to smooth out the lumps.

Heat your fat in the pot

add the flour

mix with whisk until mixture bubbles

add the milk and keep whisking

add the water and keep whisking

let thicken on medium heat

when you achieve the desired consistency, add ¼ cup of grated Parmesan, and ½ cup of emmental

mix well to incorporate

pour the bechamel on the zucchini mixture, making sure to cover all. Your bechamel is not thick at all, so it will penetrate through the entire content of the dish seeping through to the bottom

sprinkle the remaining Parmesan (¼ cup), and the remaining emmental (½ cup)

bake in a pre-heated 200centigrade oven, for as long as it takes for the mixture to bubble throughout, and for the top to be a nice golden brown.

Let cool for at least a ½ hour before serving to acquire a bit of a body, otherwise if you cut through while still too hot the whole dish will just run into each other and look like mush. It will still be delicious but mush nevertheless.

Serve with Basmati on the side.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shepherd’s Pie:

Shepherd's Pie-finished product
Shepherd’s Pie-finished product

Last night we went to a huge house-warming party. Over fifty people were there! Was also present ofcourse, an overabundance of food and drink. Drink being the key word here!

This morning is so far, obviously behaving like a typical “morning after”…

Yes the fresh crispy Lagana bread was a huge plus for breakfast, but overall, head and tummy, are slightly leaning towards the “delicate” side, and in desperate need of gentle food. Preferably one that also qualifies as comfort food.

Sheppard’s Pie springs to mind and the thought settles well in my tummy. Sheppard’s pie it is then… And maybe a light green salad on the side. Yum yum …

Some people say that the original Shepherd’s Pie requires ground lamb. If you’re going to use ground beef then it is called Cottage Pie. Well!! I’ve always made it with ground beef! And since the Shepherd’s Pie police are not around today, I will continue using ground beef, and will continue calling it Shepherd’s Pie….

My kitchen, my rules!

Ingredients:

6 large potatoes (or 8 medium ones)

1 large onion chopped

½ kg ground beef

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup frozen peas

1 tbsp flour

1 cup grated Parmesan

 

Method:

peel & cut up the potatoes, cover with water, and boil until tender. Drain & let cool

saute onion in a bit of olive oil

add the ground beef, brown, cover and simmer till tender

saute the carrots & peas in another pan, add the flour, stir, then add a bit of water to slightly thicken the mixture

combine contents of both frying pans, adjust seasoning, and transfer to your baking dish. Set aside to cool.

mash your potatoes really well, season with salt & pepper, and combine ½ cup Parmesan into the mixture

spread the potatoes on top of the beef mixture, making sure to not leave any uncovered holes

make markings with the edge of a fork

sprinkle the other half of the Parmesan

bake in a pre-heated 200 Centigrade oven until bubbly & golden brown

Serve with a light green salad on the side.

Enjoy!