Saturday, November 15, 2008

Make Meat Loaf, Then Make Sliders

We had meat loaf earlier this week. This is the recipe I posted a couple months ago.
To tell you the truth, I don't follow a recipe for meat loaf (for much of anything for that matter).

This time, I made it with 2 pounds of ground beef, about 1/2 cup each of brunoise onions, carrots and celery, 2 eggs, and about 2 cups of bread crumbs. I also added some random dried herbs (stuff that probably doesn't have much "umph" left in them, so I used quite a bit), and seasoned with salt and pepper. I usually toss my cubes of bread in olive oil, salt and pepper, and dry them in the oven before putting them in a food processor for bread crumbs. My mushy pregnancy brain told me, this time, to cut up my bread, set it out overnight on a tray to dry, and then put in a food processor. The bread wasn't even that dry yet, so I don't know what I was thinking. I ended up tossing the "crumbs" in a bowl with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt & pepper, and letting it all dry in the oven on a tray at 200 degrees F, for about an hour or so.

I think in the end, the extra-virgin olive oil in the bread crumbs added a nice, subtle aroma to the meatloaf. It was a very tasty loaf!

Two days later, I turned our meat loaf into open-faced sliders. YUM! I went to the store to look for some dinner rolls and they had a new product: Schwartz Brothers Bakery makes a sourdough dinner roll that was perfect!

First, I sliced the rolls open, like a burger bun, and drizzled some CARM extra-virgin olive oil on the slices. Next, I topped each side with half a piece of thinly sliced meat loaf. On top of the meat loaf, I put three very thinly sliced apples on top, and then some crumbled gorgonzola cheese. I put these open-faced sandwiches into the oven to broil until the cheese was melted and slightly browned. After I pulled them out of the oven, I topped them with a mushroom gravy, made from sauteed mushrooms, marsala wine, chicken stock and butter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brussels Sprouts & Farro

Thank you, Alice Waters, for tonight's brussels sprouts inspiration. Let me just make a plug for her book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, because it really is a must have in your culinary library. I refer to it often when I need ideas on how to cook a vegetable. I also recommend her Fruit book, for the same reason. And, I like that some of her recipes are written like the way I like to cook - more with a method, and less with measurements. That's how all her brussels sprouts recipes were written.

My original thought on dinner was to make this recipe:
"Brussels Sprouts Pasta - Cut the stem out of each sprout and separate it into leaves. Thinly slice the tiny hearts if you can't tease apart all the leaves. Slice red onion very thinly and chop some garlic. Start cooking pasta (a sturdy dry type, such as farfalle or penne; orrechiette is good because it has the same size and shape as the brussels sprouts leaves).
-Heat a saute pan, add a little olive oil, toss in the sprout leaves, salt and pepper them, and saute for about a minute over high heat. Then add the sliced onions and a pinch of hot pepper flakes, and continue to saute until the sprouts are tender and a little browned, 2-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the garlic, and toss. If the garlic appears to be browning, add a splash of water to the pan. Squeeze a little lemon onto the sprouts, and when the pasta is done, add it, drained, to the saute pan and toss everything together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve drizzled with good extra-virgin olive oil. If you want, toss the pasta with some toasted bread crumbs, but if the sprouts are very sweet and tasty, don't bother."

Since we had noodles for dinner last night, I decided to cook farro instead. And, I went with a combination of three recipes, plus a little more. To save myself from having to type all of them, I'll just go put down what I did.

Browned Butter Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Delicata Squash -
Heat a pan on medium high until pretty hot. Add about one tablespoon of butter to the pan. Allow to sizzle until the butter starts to brown (taking care not to let it burn). Add the sprout leaves (follow Alice's method of separating leaves above), and toss to coat with butter. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add chopped garlic & toss quickly. Add a little balsamic vinegar & toss. Add a little chicken stock (enough to make a little saucy).

If you can do this at the same time, in a separate pan (I'm not sure this was really necessary, but I had the pan & the space to do it), saute thinly sliced delicata squash with a little olive oil on medium heat. Add thinly sliced red onions & cook until squash & onions start to become tender. Season with salt & pepper, and add to the brussels sprouts. Finish the dish with another tablespoon of butter, and adjust the seasoning. Serve over farro.

For the farro, I cooked it just like I would cook risotto. Here's a basic method to cooking risotto (only I start with sweating finely diced onions before adding the grains):

Monday, November 10, 2008


Another noodle night at the Hunt household.

I sat down during Vincent's marathon nap & made a list of dinner ideas, based on the list of food we have on-hand that I put together the day before. It's amazing how much less groceries you need when you know just what is in your house.

I think my list looks good. I had in mind to make a pasta with Brussels sprouts, something I found in the Alice Waters Vegetables book. But, then realized that there were more things that needed to be used up for the other noodle dish.

We had Asian noodles. The package says "Product of Taiwan." But, they look like soba (somen?) noodles. They're about 6" long, and as thin as angel hair. I started with some canola & semsame oil & fresh tofu in the pan, giving them just a hint of color. Then added matchstick carrots, chopped garlic, and sliced red onions. I cooked those for a minute and added some sauteed mushrooms (from last night), chopped baby bok choy and sliced scallions. I added about 1/4 cup of soy sauce & transferred my cooked noodles (water drained) to the pan. Toss all those together & finish with a drizzle of sesame oil.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mushroom Gruyere Tart, Frisee Salad, Coppa Wrapped Dates

I felt like dinner tonight was pretty solid. I had done an inventory of what we had on hand in the house & asked David what he thought we should have for dinner. We have a lot of stuff, but nothing too obvious, so he said, "Mac 'n' cheese." WHAT?! That wasn't even on my list of stuff. Well, I did tell him my idea of the mushroom tart, so the mac n cheese was supposed to "go with" that & be for Vincent. In the end, I made the mushroom tart, the mac n cheese, and a little something extra...

Mushroom gruyere tart - store bought puff pastry dough, grated gruyere cheese, sauteed mushrooms. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 16 minutes. Frisee salad - David got to have his with a poached egg, which is what you see here. The frisee was tossed with bacon lardons, shallots, salt, pepper, and sherry vinaigrette. Coppa wrapped dates - stuffed with plain, lowfat cream cheese, these Medjool dates were wrapped with thinly sliced coppa, then baked in a 400 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil on top, just because the meat became a little dry, but I'm not sure it made much of a difference in flavor or dryness.

Mac n cheese - from a box, but Annie's organic brand. I added frozen edamamme, corn, and a few pieces of the bacon. Vincent took a bath while I was making dinner, and when he back came out, the first thing he said was, "bacon." Apparently, my child knows what bacon smells like. I couldn't not give him any bacon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Welcome Back!

Our 30 day dinner challenge has come to an end. I am back to posting on this site.

We took a day off of cooking at home yesterday and headed to the mall for dinner. Actually, I still did some cooking - made a batch of potstickers. Vincent didn't have much time to run around yesterday, so the mall was the alternative to running around outside in the sloppy rain. It was just convenient to eat there as well.
For dinner tonight, we had baked potato bar and sauteed escarole on the side. It was yummy & fun, but the best part of it was the unsolicited help given by my husband. Now, that was sexy! I was on my way home from an outing with Vincent & I called to ask him to turn on the oven & get the potatoes back in there, if they had cooled. He told me he's got the bacon & chili going, and the potatoes are still hot. I'm in love all over again.
His potato:

Her potato:

Junior's potato (sweet & de-composed):

Sauteed escarole:
Sweat sliced garlic & red onions in oil until slightly tender. Deglaze the pan with white wine & add the chopped escarole. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt & pepper, and allow to wilt down. Add toasted pinenuts and dried cranberries. When the greens have fully wilted down and are cooked, you are done!