Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meatloaf redux

Meatloaf, again.

I have never met a man who didn't like meatloaf (the dish). Why is that?

 I realize that the first answer that may come to mind is “Because it’s meat…in a loaf.” I know many men who don't like steak, or a nice roast. But they'll salivate over meatloaf everytime. “Because it’s comfort food? Most moms make it at some point.” True, meatloaf is in the pantheon of All-American comfort classics, but there's loads of different types of comfort food. And what one family considers comforting and boring, can be exotic to another family (like enchiladas or congee). Not every man likes spaghetti or mashed potatoes, or other classic Americana vittles.  Nor do all consider mofongo or musakka to be comfort food (I do). Though I'll cook meatloaf  (per request), my tongue finds meatloaf vile. It doesn't matter what meat it's made of, the recipe used, glaze or no glaze, method cooked, nor who made it. That doesn't mean I won't eat meatloaf (my parents taught me to be grateful for the food that's given to you.)

 So, I'm curious why everyman I've ever known in my life likes meatloaf. I've been told that "There's really nothing not to like about meatloaf." It's nothing special, not even usually made of good ingredients or with any particular care. The thought struck me, and I figured I'd put it out there. So I posted the question to the Facebook community. We all seem slightly dumbfounded (mostly by my dislike of meatloaf). And while most of my responders also have a soft, comfy bed of mashed potatoes in their heart for meatloaf to rest upon, I’m still a Grinch. Why do men (and women) love meatloaf?

I find that meatloaf is best the second day, after the June Cleaver worthy dinner. It’s used up slathered with sauces and thrown on bread for sandwiches by most, but I find it sings when taken away from it’s American roots.  Chopped up and tossed into chili, crushed  and sauced and used as taco filling, mixed with finely chopped veggies to fill Chinese dumplings, cubed into tomato sauce for a rip-off Bolognese, spiced and baked into empanadas, diced into Italian Wedding soup. I can redress a meatloaf any number of ways, yet my heathen still adores it dripping with barbeque sauce, with or without a slice of bread (or a plate).

What is it about meatloaf?

I put it to you, my dearest heathen-y reader. What's your favorite meatloaf (or meatloaf redux)? Can you convert me?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sittin' on My Duff

It's the third night of Hannukah, and I'm sitting around doing nothing but eating rugalach and chocolate (yeah, I'm still on Weight Watchers, snort) . My heathen is making sauce to go on our latkes for tonight, and wrote the following post:

"Heathen honey’s sauce:

Heathen’s cooking philosophy: Fat +sweet = yum

Start with two apples cored and sliced thin
Place over low heat and dump in wine (riesling in this case) 
While heating dump in ¼-1/2 cup crushed pecans, then 1/3-1/2 cup sultana raisins.  I generally try to put a little more raisins than nuts when I made it without cooking it down, and it seemed to work here.
Pour in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.  I may have used a little more. 
Include the honey.  The greater your sweet tooth the greater the honey.  I used three to four tablespoons (or 1/3 cup to ½ cup my eyeballing measurements sucks) on this batch because it emptied the jar.  I would have normally wanted to use more, was too lazy to open a new jar.  It turned out my laziness paid off.
Stir and taste the mixture.  At this point add more honey cinnamon, wine or raisins. DO not add more nuts for crunch yet.  The apples should still be pretty crisp. 
Increase the heat and cook until the apples start to lose some of the crispness.  You should be mostly there.  If it tastes good, stop messing with it.  If you need to add more nuts for the texture you want, then do so.  I figured it was time to check when the bottom of the pot looked like a sauce rather than white wine mixed with honey.  I am a real technical non-cook.
Here is the key to the whole recipe – Keep your wife out of the kitchen.  She will be unhappy to see your careless use of honey, wine, and raisins.  She will be much happier not knowing what you put into it.  If she sees the above recipe, that is fine so long as she does not see how much you actually use to adjust the taste, and I always taste it and add more that I don't write down.  It tastes better when those who care about calories do not know how many are in it!"

Tomorrow I may give ya my method for latkes.......maybe.......

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Not yo’ Momma’s

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a lazy cook. I cut corners whenever possible. I’ve no issue with frozen puff pastry, canned chicken broth, rotisserie chickens, or good jarred spaghetti sauce. When I cook dinner, I’m counting on the dish to feed my little family at least twice, if not more. For example, I bought a rotisserie chicken at my local grocery (which is the best local grocery a girl could ever ask for). At the checkout, I mentioned to the cashier that I make one chicken feed my little family at least 4 times. She looked at me in disbelief, which made me explain further. The first night I have a rotisserie, my family enjoys the roasted chicken breasts, either plain or with some sort of sauce lingering in the fridge (my favorite is a hot peach chutney I found at Earth Fare) or Jezebel sauce. The next meal is the thighs (or sometimes whole legs, if we’re reeeeaally hungry), third meal (and sometimes fourth) is the stripped chicken carcass (wings, back, butt) mixed into a salad, soup, burrito, or tacos. The last meal or two or three, is made from the stock (my stock is a lot like Tyler Florence’s).

I make meatloaf that feeds us for almost a week. Meatloaf the first night, meatloaf sandwiches the next, meatloaf tacos the third, meatloaf chili the last. This basic recipe is based on my Dad’s meatloaf—the meatloaf I grew up on (and the one I can make in my sleep). Bear with me on measurements, this is a very season-to-taste type dish.
In a big bowl, dump:
1 pound ground turkey (I grew up on ground chuck, but this is just as good and less fatty)
1 medium to large onion, diced
1-2 chopped celery stalks
1-2 grated carrots


5-7 crushed matzo crackers (my Dad always used a sleeve of saltine crackers)
1-2 TBS mustard (I usually use Dijon, but yellow is fine. I’ve even used Chinese spicy mustard)
2-3 TBS ketchup (any type, even natural or homemade)
1 tsp House Seasoning (mine’s based off of this, but with a 1:1:1 ratio)
1tsp dried thyme
1-2 large eggs

Optional, any or all of the following:

½ tsp ground dried sage, tarragon, and/or rosemary
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Finely diced sundried tomatoes
1 diced bell pepper (any type)
Oats instead of matzo
Rice instead of matzo
Ritz (or other butter crackers) instead of matzo
Frozen spinach (thawed and drained)

Lightly blend everything with your clean hands (it’s squishy, and a good stress reliever; it’s also a good task for kids) Dump the mess onto a greased or sprayed cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) and shape. I’ve shaped this many ways, form the traditional baton with a ketchup trough karate chopped in the middle, to a good fake out of a stomach (fun for Halloween).

Of course you need to cover it with a ketchup glaze first 

Bake 375 for 40-50 minutes. Meatloaf should be completely cooked through, with no crunch to the veg, but not dried out. Serve as is, or as one of the above suggestions.

Naughty bonus feature

Bonus recipe:
My Slutty Chili
In a skillet, brown

1lb. ground turkey (or ground beef, if you want a fattier mouth feel)
¼- 1/3 crumbled leftover meatloaf
1 medium or large onion, diced
2 bell peppers (any color) diced
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, castrated (seeds and all membranes removed)

Drain. Season with house seasoning to taste (I use about 1 tsp). Dump into a deep pot (I use a dutch oven, or a stock pot if I double this recipe). Add:

1 12 ounce bottle of beer (doesn’t really matter what type, but I prefer a dark Mexican beer like Modelo Negro)
3-4 TBS of my Mexican spice mix (recipe here)—or—
to taste:
Chili powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Paprika (smoked is best)
Oregano (especially if it’s Mexican)
Salsa (about 1/3-1/2 jar)
And Dona Maria original mole sauce (can’t get it at the grocery? Find it here)

Stir, and then dump in:

1       15 ounce can black, kidney, or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1       15 ounce can chili style tomatoes and its juice
1       15 ounce can corn
      15 ounce can tomato sauce

Heat thorough. Serve with any of the following (even better the next day):

Cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack cheese
Jalapenos (fresh or pickled)
Chopped Onion
Sour cream
Plain Yogurt
Chopped Avocado
Cooked spaghetti or elbow noodles
Chopped cilantro

Feta, Queso Blanco, or Chihuahua cheese
Saltine crackers
Oyster crackers

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Greatest Hits

It's been a long and busy summer in my heathen house, though you'd never know it if you read my blog. My heathen and I have been working on our adoption classes and homestudy since May. Our lives have been obsessed with the hurry up and wait game; paperwork and proof that we're decent enough humans to raise a child. Don't think we haven't had beautiful food in the meantime! I've even taken pictures---I've just not gotten around to writing or posting anything. Now that our homestudy has been approved, our base classes are completed, and our nursery is in the works of being decorated (I'm painting a mural! YAY!), I figure it's high time to get off my (seemingly lazy) rump and put up a few teasers....So my dearest readers, I will post a few pictures of some of my creations. Please feel feel to comment or email me as to which you'd like a full post about. My head is reeling from the possibilities.

Baked Gingery Asian wings
Baked turkey dim sum
Homemade Gravlax
My matzo brei

Homemade turkey breakfast sausage
21 clove salute wings

Sorta Bouillabase   
Forbidden  Greek lamb chops

Kentucky Jam cake with Caramel frosting
Healthy homemade pimento cheese sandwich
Pane di Pasta Dura

Baked Gefilte croquettes

Red Velvet cake with Neufchatel cheese frosting
Homestudy chicken
Cheater Paella

Pane di Latte e Zuccaro dragon

Challah horseshoe

Boar's bread