Beetroot & Beef Hamburger with Quick Garic-Lemon Aïoli

Last weekend, I went to Chef du Jour’s Final Challenge at Fenn’s Quay where Sarah O’Riordan’s menu had Beef & Beetroot Slider as the amuse bouche. I love beetroot so this was a match made in heaven. A couple weeks later, I try to make it in my kitchen. It worked out well!

The most important thing to remember when making these is to use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the burgers because they will be pink from the beetroot so sight is not a good indicator of cookedness.


Beetroot & Beef Hamburger with Quick Garic-Lemon Aïoli

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound of low-fat ground beef
1/2 pound of roast beetroot, shredded (no vinegar)
Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

1.  In a container with a lid, stir together the Aïoli ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for up to four days. It is ready to use straight from the container (use a clean spoon).

2. In a grill pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Wash hands before handling the meat. In a bowl, mix the ground beef with the shredded roast beetroot, salt and pepper. Form into burgers patties, about ¾ inch thick. Wash hands after handling the meat. Transfer the burgers using a spatula to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Check each burger with a meat thermometer after 10-15 minutes, turning the patties as needed. When each hamburger’s internal temperature reaches 160F/71C, it is done. Clean the thermometer between uses with hot, soapy water.

3. Once cooked to 160F, place the burgers on ciabatta buns and top with homemade Aïoli as well as a dollop of shredded roast beetroot. Or you can skip the buns and serve it on a drizzle of the Aïoli mayonnaise.


Classic Beef Stew for a Rainy Day

Anyone who has been out in blustery weather can understand that upon opening my eyes on Saturday morning with the wind and rain slapping my window, I was determined to make a large pot of beef stew. I donned my layers, including my bright yellow raincoat, and ventured to the English Market against the wind, with raindrops spitting like the spray of ocean waves. The Market was bustling with Saturday morning shoppers, but it only took a short time to fetch all my ingredients then I was back home in my apron preparing the stew.

Homemade Beef Stew

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Homemade Lasagna

Yesterday, I was craving lasagna. It was a Garfield moment and all I wanted was that big cartoon baking dish filled with some of the best Italian comfort food ever. Now, I had not made lasagna in a long time so I looked up the ingredients and went to the store, fueled by my craving. Finally, after a couple hours the lasagna emerged and it was worth every bit of effort – especially since this recipe produces eight servings so you’re all set for a family dinner AND leftovers! Mmm, Garfield likes leftover lasagna, right?

Homemade Lasagna

2 kilos ground beef/steak
1 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
24-30 ounces of chopped tomatoes
500g ricotta cheese
1 egg
500g shredded or sliced mozzarella
300g grated parmesan
olive oil
a bunch of fresh basil, chopped (it was actually fresh this summer then frozen in a Ziplock)
Lasagna pasta
1. Sautee onion in a little olive oil then add beef and brown beef in pan. When almost fully cooked, stir in garlic, chopped tomatoes, and half the chopped basil. Let simmer. Meanwhile, cook the lasagna pasta sheets. You can approximate the number needed based on the size of your dish and expected number of layers.
2. In a small bowl, blend the remaining half the chopped basil, one egg, and all the ricotta cheese.
3. Spoon a portion of the meat sauce into the bottom of your lasagna dish (I use a round silicone baking dish, but you want anything that is fairly deep and large enough – rectangular is easier). Then place one layer of pasta sheets on followed by a layer of the ricotta mixer then a layer of the shredded cheeses (first mozzarella then parmesan). Repeat: Meat, Pasta, Ricotta, Cheeses. End on the Cheese layer and cover with foil to bake.
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 300F then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes before serving.


Weekend Bytes | Mexican Cuisine

This weekend, I am going to a Mexican pot luck fiesta here in Ireland and was asked to bring a beef main course and a green salad. As I go through recipes online, I can’t pass by them without sharing some of these links with you – even those that are not related to beef or green salads. Of course, I also have a couple CPQ posts about Mexican and Spanish dishes which I will link to here:

South of the Border Cuisine for Cinco de Mayo from CPQ

Quick Guacamole & Gazpacho from CPQ

Here are some of the bytes that are making the decision so deliciously inspiring:


Mexican-style Marinated Beef (Carne Asada) from Cook AZ

Shredded Beef Brisket with Tomato Chile Mole Poblano from Pine Ridge Vineyards

Beef Mole from Blog Well Done

Taco Cups from Try It Tuesday

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos from Plain Chicken

Chipotle Beef Roast from Chelsie’s Mexican Food blog

Taco Cups from Try It Tuesday

Mexican Braised Beef from LoveToKnow


Mexican Rice from Plain Chicken

Mexican Vinaigrette from Chicago Sun-Times


chicken tacos + salsa fresca from smitten kitchen

Pozolé Rojo inspired by The School of Essential Ingredients from girlichef

Tequila-Lime Chicken from Plain Chicken

Mole Coloradito from De La Tierra cooking school Mexican food blog


Fish Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce from Mexican Food Lovers


Classic Flan from Kathy of Las Vegas Food Adventures

Crock Pot Flan Recipe from

Southern Barbecue-style Sauce with Slow-cooked Brisket

Following my first and latest Weekend Bytes post (Southern Barbecue-style Beef, Aug. 6, 2010) , I went to the English Market in search of beef brisket. I read up on beef cuts thanks to’s All About Beef page to make sure I should ask for a ‘brisket cut’. My usual butcher did not have any unsalted (ie, not corned beef brisket) and we didn’t see any displayed at a couple of the other butchers we passed then we stared into the display at Bresnan’s just long enough to be asked ‘Are you ok?’ and we asked if they had unsalted beef brisket. Sure enough they just had gotten some in and were cutting it so we bought a nice serving for €11.

I ended up taking the advice of two recipe bloggers (Diana Rattray and Hog Wild BBQ) to create my brisket recipe. The outcome is a tender beef that shreds itself. The sauce is amazing and doesn’t overpower the flavor of the beef itself. I served it in a crusty French bread with the reserved sauce alongside sweet corn and little gem salad with ranch dressing. All that was missing was authentic ‘sweet tea’ and a pecan or sweet potato pie for dessert. This recipe serves four people.

If you want the sauce only (like for chicken or roast beef sandwiches), simply omit the beef brisket from the ingredients and skip all recipe steps but #4.

American Barbecue-style Beef Brisket

3.5 pounds beef brisket (Bresnan’s in the English Market has it unsalted for €6/kilo)

2 ½ cups ketchup (St. Bernard brand is almost 500g for under a quid)

½ cup regular Coca-Cola soda (it’s ok if it’s flat, but don’t use diet)

1 cup water

3 ½ tablespoons worcestershire sauce

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (Kelkin from Dunnes, €1.75)

½ teaspoon crude black molasses

1 teaspoon Spicy Season-All (Schwartz brand ‘Perfect Shake’ from Dunnes for about €2-something)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 ½ teaspoon yellow mustard

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1. Mix all ingredients except the beef into a large bowl or slow cooker crock. Once blended completely, set aside 1 1/2 cups of sauce and refrigerate for now (step 4. details finalizing the sauce).

2. Add the beef to the remaining sauce, coating it completely. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours then remove when ready to cook.

3. Place slow cooker crock into machine and remain covered. Let rest for 30 minutes before turning on to low heat. Let cook for 12-24 hours. I cooked mine for 28 hours, but taste tested at hour-20 and it was divine!

4. Take the reserved sauce from the fridge and warm it over low heat in a saucepan. It will thicken and darken slightly. It can be served hot or you can let it cool and put it in a covered container until time to serve.

5. To serve: Remove from heat and slice or shred (it is likely to do this on its own) and let rest for five minutes before placing on toasted rolls or straight for a nice meal. Excellent served with cole slaw, potato salad, green salad with lime-ranch dressing, hush puppies, or corn on-the-cob.


30-hour Slow Cooked Brisket

Weekend Bytes | Southern Barbecue-style Beef

Whenever possible, I will now be writing a Friday evening post focused on a food I want to cook that weekend. As mentioned before, I’ve been busy with the Pink Auction as well as real life, but I realized that in spite of that I spend a little bit of time each week looking at other yummy blogs for recipes to cook on the weekend and why not do a post of those links to share my enthusiasm for other food bloggers and their recipes? And who knows, this may evolve to include a Monday post with results from how my attempt worked out.

I will begin Weekend Bytes with a few links to what I plan to make on Sunday…Southern Barbecue-style Beef.

Texas Barbecued Beef by Diana Rattray from

Grandma Petrie’s Pulled Beef Recipe posted by her grandson, Jim Goldschmidt

Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Beef from McCormick Seasoning

Chuck Roast — Pulled Beef Barbecue from Hogwild BBQ

Braised BBQ Beef Sandwich Recipe from Simply Recipes

How to BBQ Beef Brisket from Go, Pop, Go!

Slow Simmered Spicy Barbeque Sauce Recipe from Cooking for Engineers

Kentucky Barbecue Sauces and Marinades from Hobby Farms

Home-Sweet-Home Cooking

There is nothing like a chilly winter evening to make us long for good home cooking. Perhaps we are just trained to crave traditional family dishes when the nights are longer and the holidays are approaching. This column features some of my family’s favorite recipes to make up a delicious family meal. Though these dishes are ideal for a Sunday family dinner, they are equally well-suited for a holiday dinner or party. Since each is fairly simple to prepare, you won’t mind making them often (due to popular demand, of course).

An ideal vegetarian appetizer or snack item is Hot Artichoke & Cheese Dip. It has become a family favorite. My mother has learned to make two when bringing it to a holiday or dinner party, one for the group and the other for the host to eat later. It is a good way to introduce someone to artichokes since the flavors bring out the sweetness and the intimidating artichoke shape is not present. Because the dish does not have meat or nuts, it can be enjoyed by many. Also, having an appetizer or snack handy while the meal is being prepared keeps everyone from getting in the way in the kitchen.

Nothing epitomizes home cooking like Mom’s Meat Loaf. Years ago, my mother started making this to encourage us to eat more vegetables. For as long as I can remember, the leftovers are even better! Change the included vegetables to suit your tastes and it becomes your special recipe!

The first time my dad ever cooked a full holiday meal was Thanksgiving several years ago. Evidently, Julia Child’s PBS program (and the Food Network) inspired him to make some fantastical dishes, including duck with an orange sauce. To this day, I remember how there were no leftovers that year. One of the sweetest side dishes he made was Bill’s Sweet Potato Bake. It fills in the empty spots in your belly and warms you up. Keep the marshmallows away for it be stay vegetarian. Omit the nuts if someone in your family is allergic.

You won’t remember why you ever used cherry pie filling after you try my Very Cherry Pie. The ingredients work to bring out the natural flavors in the cherries and the result is a light and delicious dessert. It has the lightness of a tart, but the hearty texture of a good old American pie.

Hot Artichoke & Cheese Dip

17 ounces canned artichoke hearts, drained

6 ounces canned green chili peppers

3/4 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (if using Pepper Jack, omit the green chilis)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl or food processor, blend the artichoke hearts and chili peppers. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and continue mixing.

3. Once the ingredients are blended completely, spoon half the artichoke mixture into an oven-safe, non-metal pie dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheese over the mixture. Spoon the remaining artichoke mixture over that. Add the remaining cheese evenly over the top of the dip.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

5. Serve with tortilla chips, Triscuits®, or pita chips.

Mom’s Meat Loaf

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup shredded carrots

1 package dried vegetable soup mix

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1 small can tomato paste

1 to 2 cups of plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, put the meat, shredded carrots, soup mix, and sliced mushrooms. Mix the ingredients together using your hands. One at a time, add the eggs, parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes, mixing well after each addition. Combine with all but 2 tablespoons of the undiluted tomato soup.

3. Add the bread crumbs little-by-little as you blend them in with the meat mixture. No more crumbs are needed when the mixture is moist (but not wet) and holds together easily. If you are preparing this ahead of time, you can refrigerate the meat in an air-tight container for up to 24-hours before cooking.

4. Separate the meat mixture in half.  Shape each half into a loaf.  These can be baked in loaf pans that have been lightly greased with a non-stick cooking spray or butter, but I prefer baking on a broiler pan or well-and-tree platter, so excess fat can drain away. It is important to wash your hands after handling raw meat.

5. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes. During this time, stir the softened butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. At the 35-minute point, spread the mixture evenly over each loaf to help keep the top moist. Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaves has reaches 140 degrees.

6. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow resting for a few minutes as they continue to cook and then cool slightly. Serve in slices alongside rice or mashed potatoes and a salad. The leftovers make delicious sandwiches.

Bill’s Sweet Potato Bake

6 to 8 fresh sweet potatoes

2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

1/2 cup salted butter

1 pound fresh pecans

2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Puncture each potato with a fork several times before placing all on a baking sheet or directly on the oven rack. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Let the potatoes rest and cool slightly before peeling them. Change the oven temperature to 300 degrees to preheat for the final baking.

3. One-by-one, place the peeled sweet potatoes in a food processor. Mix using the pulse feature until all the potatoes have been added. Stop mixing while the potatoes are still chunky.

4. Pour the maple syrup into the food processor and add the unsalted butter. Mix until smooth then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla sugar. Mix using the pulse feature for another minute before transferring the potato blend to a shallow baking dish. Using a spatula, smooth the top of the mixture. Set aside while preparing the top layer.

5. Warm a skillet over low heat to melt the salted butter. Stir in the pecans and sauté (while stirring regularly) until the nuts are coated with the butter. This should take about 5 minutes. Once the pecans are butter coated, transfer them to a plate layered with paper towels to allow the excess butter to drain off.

6. Arrange the pecans on top of potato mixture. This can be done simply or in a decorative pattern. It will taste delicious either way. Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar.

7. Bake the dish for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated thoroughly.

Very Cherry Pie

2 refrigerated pre-made pie crusts (in the biscuit or cookie dough section of your grocery market)

2 1/2 cups fresh tart cherries (washed, pitted, and patted dry) or 2 cans pitted tart pie cherries (drained in a colander)

1 1/2 cups fresh Bing cherries (washed, pitted, and patted dry) or 1 can pitted Bing cherries (drained in a colander)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Let the pie crust pastry circles warm to room temperature, then place one in a 9-inch round glass or ceramic pie dish. Prepare the bottom crust according to the instructions on the package, which should require it to be baked for 10 minutes, the cooled for 10 minutes before adding the pie filling. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

3. Mix the granulated sugar, lime juice, and flour in a bowl. This can be done with a hand mixer for quicker results, or with a fork. Once the ingredients are well blended, add the cherries and toss them with the sugar mixture. Be gentle as to not crush the cherries. Let the filling rest for 10 minutes, while the crust cools.

4. Pour the cherry filling into the slightly cooled pie crust. Dot the filling with butter. Add the second pie crust pastry circle to the top so its edges meet up with the edges of the bottom crust. Pinch the edges to seal the pie filling inside. Flute the rim in whatever decorative way you prefer (my pie is pictured here). Cut small slits in the top crust or do so with a decorative touch. Then sprinkle the top of the pie with the vanilla sugar.

5. Bake for 1 hour. Check often during the final 15 minutes to make sure you remove it just when the top starts to take on a pale brown shade and the crust edges are tan. Through the slits or openings, you should be able to see the cherry filling bubble slightly.

6. Let the pie cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream. The pie is equally good after being refrigerated and reheated briefly in the microwave. Since there are no preservatives being added to the ingredients, it is best to consume the pie within 3 or 4 days of baking, if kept covered and refrigerated. Somehow, I doubt that will be a challenge.

Hot Artichoke & Cheese Dip