Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beef, Potato and Spinach Meatloaf

A particularly tasty loaf which can be eaten as a hot meal, it teams well with potatoes and salad or vegetables, although the greens are included in the mixture for the loaf. Any leftover meatloaf makes an ideal filling for school or work lunchboxes or sandwiches. Served cold, it is a great picnic dish. In a log tin the loaf will have a little more fat content than if you make this in a free-form shape, as the fat will come away onto the tray as it cooks. Recipe serves 4.


1 slice white or brown bread, broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces (250 g) potato, peeled
1 small onion
8 ounce (250 g) packet frozen spinach
12 ounces (375 g) lean ground beef (mince)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons ketchup (tomato sauce)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot mustard


1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the bread and water into a large bowl and stir. Grate the potato over the top and grate the onion.
2. Cook the spinach in a saucepan for a couple of minutes or until soft and separated and add to the bowl. Leave to cool completely.
3. Mix in the beef with seasonings and herbs and stir everything together very well.
4. For a free-form loaf grease the base of a shallow casserole or oven tray. Put the beef into the center and form it into an oblong loaf. You can also place the meatloaf into a greased log or bread tin with a 1 pound (500 g) capacity if you prefer a rectangular shape.
5. Bake for 25 minutes for a free-form loaf or for 30 minutes in a cake tin.
6. After cooking, mix all the topping ingredients and brush them over the loaf with a pastry brush. Return meatloaf to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then brush again and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

Apricot and Hazelnut Stuffing

This is an unusual stuffing made with fruit and nuts. Allow the stuffing to cool before inserting it into the bird. Stuffs 3-4 pound (1.4-1.8 kg) chicken.


3 ounces (90 g) dried apricots
2 ounces (60 g) onion
1 celery stick
1 1/2 ounces (45 g) butter
1 ounce (30 g) shelled hazelnuts
2 ounces (60 g) white bread
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the apricots in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to just cover. Leave to stand while preparing the other ingredients.
2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash and chop the celery.
3. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently fry the onion and celery until soft, but not brown.
4. Meanwhile roughly chop the hazelnuts. Drain and chop the apricots, reserving the liquid.
5. Make the breadcrumbs by grating on a coarse grater. With the pan off the heat add the crumbs to the pan. Add hazelnuts, apricots and lemon zest, with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix thoroughly. The apricots should provide enough moisture to bind the stuffing loosely. If the mixture seems too dry to bind, add a little of the water in which the apricots were soaked.

Beef Patties with a Fresh Vegetable Relish

An old trick to extend ground (minced) meat is to begin with a small amount of a light pancake batter and mix the raw meat into this base. It forms a light but meaty patty which won't crumble as you turn it in the pan and it cuts neatly on the plate. A modern touch is given with a topping of diced raw vegetable relish, similar in its nature to the Mexican-style salsas. Recipe serves 4.


1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 small onion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/3 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces (375 g) finely ground (minced) lean beef
1 tablespoon tomato or mango chutney
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small zucchini finely diced
Dash of chili sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon oil
Extra oil, to cook the patties


1. Put the flour, egg and milk into a bowl. Grate the onion coarsely over the top and add the thyme, salt, pepper, beef and chutney.
2. Mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Divide into 8 rounds and using damp hands flatten out to about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick.
3. Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes or they can be kept in the fridge for up to 12 hours if covered with some plastic wrap.
4. To make the relish, mix onion, tomato, garlic, zucchini, chili sauce, lemon juice, sugar and oil together and leave aside for the flavors to mellow. Brush the base of a frying pan with extra oil.
5. Add the beef patties and cook on both sides until brown. Turn the heat down and cook gently until lightly cooked through to the center.
6. Remove and top each one with some fresh relish and serve with a salad for added goodness.

Tip: The relish can be kept for up to 12 hours and if too much liquid forms around it drain in a sieve then add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid and stir to moisten it again.