Don’t let your meatloaf!

The fourth annual “Don’t Let your Meatloaf” party happened in my neighborhood this past weekend.  It was the first time my husband and I had been invited to the event and I was terribly excited about going.  A party geared towards cooking something?  Right up my alley.

IMG_4469

The rule was no garlic.  Not sure the hows and whys of where this rule came about but I followed it.  I was not going to be disqualified because of a rule like that…I was in it to win it!  I had a meatloaf recipe that was pretty good, but this had to be the best.  After all, I was going to write about the party and brag how much everyone loved my meatloaf.  I practiced, I added and I tweaked.  This was going to be amazing!

IMG_4484

The time of the party arrived and I thought my meatloaf looked beautiful.  I was very proud.  First mistake of the evening…I didn’t try it.  We arrived at the home of Judy and Steve and pictures were taken.  The rules were explained to us on how to vote.  Wow…this was really serious!  Second mistake of the evening….I thought it was really serious.  It was time to taste and vote but judging the meatloaves was proving to be a challenge because each award needed to be voted on individually and there were a lot of meatloaves!  Vote first for best looking meatloaf and then go back through the line and flag all the bites taken and taste test.  Third mistake of the evening….I thought I could win.

IMG_4476

As instructed, we had to pick a first place winner, second place and third place, one for best looking and one for worst, all separate categories.  Little did I know then how important this could be.  We ate, we drank, we tallied, we drank, we turned our votes in and we drank some more.  The waiting began for the results. (It’s very important to note at this time that everyone drank.)

The bell rang and the winners were announced.  The first award given was for the worst tasting meatloaf.  I wasn’t even paying attention…after all there was no way I was going to be in this category.  I wasn’t paying attention…..until they called my name!  WHAT?!?!?!?!  They called my name…. the one who writes and cooks and shares my recipes received the worst tasting meatloaf?! Holy smokes…what just happened?!  I think I might have died a little at that moment.  All  I could do was smile and accept my award with grace and as much dignity as I possibly could in such a boisterous crowd. (remember, I mentioned earlier everyone drank…I want to believe that may have influenced the voting!)

I do want to mention that they showed me the final results on the voting and I was actually one vote shy of tieing for first.  I also placed in the second, and third category.  That did help with the ego factor a bit, but I was still labeled the worst!  But then I got to thinking,   everyone messes up now and then, everyone makes something that someone doesn’t like….even professional chefs don’t always get it right. Right?  Empowered with that knowledge,  I realized that I could go on with life, despite a flawed entry,  and my husband and I continued to have an extremely fun evening with a great group of people.  I had the will and determination to make another meatloaf, and another 364 days to practice at it!

So just wait until next year’s “Don’t Let Your Meatloaf” party…. I’ll be ready for the big comeback.  Just you wait!

THE WINNING MEATLOAF RECIPE by Lynn Fortunato Hodges!

Lynn's winning recipe!
Lynn’s winning recipe!

2 lbs ground chuck mixed with two cans of Rotel (drained).  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cover 1/2 of a large flour tortilla with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes.  Slice meatloaf and place 4 slices on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with a mixture of shredded Mexican cheese and frozen corn.  Top each slice of meatloaf with another spoonful of mashed potatoes.  Fold over the other half of the tortilla and place in a heated frypan with olive oil.  Brown each side of the quesadilla.  Serve with salsa and jalapeno as garnish.

Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges
Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges

 

 

 

Gorgonzola stuffed tomatoes

Valentine’s Day.  Most people are going out to dinner, sending flowers or eating pounds of chocolate.  In my earlier life, I may have wanted all that but I have to say as I’ve gotten older it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Sorry Hallmark….but I think you should show the people in your life that you love them every day of the year and not just one.  With that said, I still wanted to do something nice for my husband so I decided to make a dinner that I thought he would enjoy.  Throw in a little candlelight, a nice bottle of wine and voilà!

I decided on seasoned beef tenderloin, roasted pepper salsa and stuffed gorgonzola tomatoes.  I am not a beef lover, but my husband certainly is and we both felt the tenderloin turned out quite nice.  The salsa, with it’s tangy bite  was a nice compliment to the savory tenderness of the meat.  What surprised me however, was that the tomato turned out to be the star of the evening.  It was so easy to do and yet such an elegant addition to the meal.

I was telling my friends what I had done a day or two later and I was amazed that everyone seemed interested in my sharing of this recipe.   It was one I found in a magazine,  inspired by Giada. I think this is really great if you’re having a dinner party, if it’s just a couple of people or even if you’re eating alone.  It’s very easy and very good.  I highly recommend this.

So, make this for someone you love, including yourself…. and it can be any day of the year.

Gorgonzola stuffed tomatoes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium firm ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons plain dried panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons finely crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Using a teaspoon, remove seeds from tomatoes, place cut side down on paper towels to drain, about 5 minutes.

  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of the oil, and the garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

  4. Add the tomatoes and gently toss until well coated. Marinate 10 minutes.

  5. Combine breadcrumbs and gorgonzola. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill tomatoes with the breadcrumb mixture, drizzle with remaining oil.

  6. Roast tomatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until crumb topping is golden brown and tomatoes are slightly softened. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Julie and Julia….a movie about a blogger who takes on the infamous Julia Child’s cookbook.  I liked it so much,  I think I must have watched it three times the first day I bought the DVD. I enjoyed the French cooking class scenes, Meryl Streep’s character and the cooking project Julie challenged herself with…… but the Boeuf Bourguignon scene really seemed to catch my attention.  I’m not sure why because I’m really not a big red meat-eater.  I’m your chicken and fish kind of girl. But don’t you think they just made it look so incredibly tasty?  How is it that I would not want to make it?  So,  like a true fan,  I went out and bought the book, put it on my shelf and resolved that I would make the bourguignon very soon.  That was three years ago. ( Fast forward to now.)  Book sitting on my shelf covered in dust, a very cold day and a desire to make something memorable…. the recipe was calling my name.  It was now time to make the classic Julia Child beef stew…..her Boeuf Bourguignon!  My husband, Peter, and I went out and bought everything we needed.  His mouth was already watering, and although challenged by this I wasn’t crazy over what it was going to taste like.  (see earlier comments about me and red meat).  I followed the recipe exactly, drying the meat with the paper towels, browning the mushrooms, adding the red wine and oh my…..   I will have to say….. the aroma, the flavor and the tenderness of the beef changed my mind.  This was a definite “yum” moment and a memorable one at that.  I will definitely make this again and I would recommend you try it.  You and your guests won’t regret it.  And Julia, let me just say… Bon Appetit!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Course Entree
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings 6

Recipe Notes

Ingredients:
• 6 ounces chunk of bacon
• 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
• 3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1 sliced carrot
• 1 sliced onion
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups of a full bodied young red wine
• 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 cloves mashed garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• A crumbled bay leaf
• The blanched bacon rind
• 18=24 small white onions, brown braised in stock
• 1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter
• Parsley sprigs
Directions:
1. Remove the rind from the bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in a 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat util fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
4. Dry the beef in paper towels (it will not brown if it is damp). Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
6. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust) Remove casserole ad turn oven down to 325 degrees.
7. Stir i the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
8. While the beef is cookig, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
9. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
10. Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off addiitional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
11. Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve with roasted or boiled potatoes, noodles or rice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Crepe Cake with Caramel and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

There are two critically important things I learned this weekend in making caramel.  The first is that the process can go very fast so if you aren’t paying attention, you can ruin it in a nano-second.  Burnt sugar does not make for a good tasting caramel.  The second thing I learned (and this could be the most  important) is that the sugar is incredibly hot and because of that you should never (and I mean never!) work in your bare feet, drop a bit of the hot caramelized sugar and then step directly on it.  Lesson learned..(OUCH!!)..and next time I make it I will be wearing steel toed boots….. because that’s how I roll.

However, given that fact, the dream of french crepes, caramel and a wickedly delicious mascarpone whipped cream dancing in my head was to the point I had the need to spend my weekend in the kitchen making this cake.  My inspiration came from looking at other blogs, and I saw this posting from Poires au Chocolat.  Her pictures looked amazing and I wanted to try the recipe out but all the ingredients were listed in kilograms and milliliters. Really? I barely passed math so the thought of converting everything over to cups and teaspoons was a complete nightmare to me.  But I thought,  how difficult can this be?  I know how to make whipped cream, I’m passably good with crepes and other than crippling myself for life (and a hint of burnt sugar flavor) I was able to conquer the caramel.  It was well worth the effort and time to make. This is a cake I will keep in my recipe files.  I hope that when you make this and you take your first bite, you will do exactly what I did….close your eyes, take a deep breath and utter “YUM!”.

Below is my adaption of emily@poiresauchocolat.net’s crepe cake.  Bon Appetit!

Crepe Cake with Caramel and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Recipe Notes

Ingredients:
• FRENCH CREPES
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon white sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 3 eggs
• 2 cups milk
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted

• HOMEMADE SALTED CARAMEL
• (thank you to the Brown Eyed Baker)
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
• 1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon fleur de sel

• MARSCAPONE WHIPPED CREAM
• Ingredients:
• 4 ounces Mascarpone at room temperature
• 1 1/2 pint heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3/4 powdered sugar, sifted
• Whip mascarpone cheese and heavy cream together until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until both are incorporated.
Directions:
1. Sift together flour, sugar and salt and set aside. In a large bowl beat eggs and milk together with an electric mixer. Beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in melted butter. Let rest for 15-30 minutes.
2. Heat a crepe pan or a small griddle pan over medium high heat. You will know it’s hot enough when a drop of water bounces on the pan. Take a buttered paper towel and wipe across the pan. Pour approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan, tipping and rotating pan to cover as thinly as possible. When the crepe becomes lightly browned turn over and brown other side. Place on cooling rack before stacking.
3. Add the sugar in an even layer in the bottom of a heavy saucepan, with the capacity of at least 2 quarts. Heat over medium high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. The sugar will begin to clump, but that’s okay. As it continues to cook, it will melt back down. Stop whisking once the sugar has melted and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
4. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. This is the point where it can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds so keep a close eye on it. If you are using an instant read thermometer, cook the sugar until it has reached 350 degrees F.
5. Once it has reached 350 degrees F, add the butter all at once. Be careful because it will bubble up! Whisk until all the butter has melted into the caramel.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the heavy cream into the caramel. Again be careful because it will bubble up again. Whisk until all the cream is incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk until combined.
7. Set the sauce aside for 10-15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar. You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Warm before using.
8. Whip mascarpone cheese and heavy cream together until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until both are incorporated.
9. To assemble cake:
10. Place one crepe on a plate and spread a thin layer (or more if you like) of caramel and then spread a layer of the whipped cream. Repeat until you have used all the ingredients, or until you have about 12 layers, leaving the best crepe for the top. Spread the top crepe again with the caramel.
11. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Right before serving, place raspberries on the top and dust with powdered sugar

Pin It on Pinterest