Tomato-Glazed Mini Meatloaves

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I love meatloaf.  I mean, I really love meatloaf (and leftover meatloaf sammies?  Don’t event get me started!) Tony, on the other hand, not such a fan.  When I first broached the subject a couple of decades ago, his response was something like, “No way. Meatloaf?  Gross.  Why would anyone want to eat a loaf of meat?”  Okay.  I’ll admit, when you phrase it like that, it’s not so appealing.  My argument was, “but you like burgers…it’s basically the same thing, only bigger.”  Well, it was an argument I wasn’t going to win.

So I order meatloaf when we go out.  And often usually pretty much always, when Tony goes out of town, I either make myself a little mini meatloaf (from that old tried-and-true Betty Crocker cookbook) or I order “to go” the Frieda’s Meatloaf from our local favorite Trails restaurant.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t tried to convert him. I think in the 29 years that we’ve been married (plus the four we were dating before that), maybe three times I’ve convinced him to try a “loaf of meat”.  First time was pretty early on.  It was my favorite from aforementioned Betty Crocker cookbook.  No go.

So I took a few years off and then last year, there was a recipe in Bon Appétit for banh mi-inspired meatloaf sandwiches, with a hoisin glaze.  He actually liked that.  (It was a pretty complicated recipe and involved cooking bacon first and adding it to the meat mixture and, of course, we didn’t have it in “loaf” style, just sliced on sandwiches, topped with a really yummy slaw, but we’re getting closer!)

Then when I bought the Smitten Kitchen cookbook a few months ago, there was a recipe for Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves.  She writes that she is a “sucker for a good meatball…however, it had always been my belief that I had no such adoration for meatloaf” and then someone pointed out that meatloaf is like one giant meatball.  HA!  She says she came up with a great recipe, but that still couldn’t “get past the loglike meatloaf shape”, so makes these little “meatloaves masquerading as big meatballs.”  So I figure I’ll try them.  Tell Tony they’re just big meatballs.  HA!  And guess what?  It worked.  He liked them!

Now I’m happy that there are two “loaf of meat” recipes I can make.  This one is much easier and cooks a lot quicker (the cooking time is about a third of what it takes to do a full-sized loaf).  Annnnddd…you can have meatloaf sliders for lunch the next day!

Tony was away at a guys’ golf trip this past weekend…guess what I made?

Tomato-Glazed Mini Meatloaves

(adapted just slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 12 mini meatloaves – serves 6

INGREDIENTS

Glaze:

Glaze:

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons honey (I would actually double this next time – I like a sweeter glaze)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

Meatloaves:

2 slices sandwich bread (should be about 1 cup of crumbs.  Note – I actually “cheated” and used a cup of store bought panko crumbs)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 medium stalk celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

Olive oil, for cooking

2 pounds ground beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 large eggs

Optional – 8 ounces mushrooms, doubled or quartered, to toss in the baking dish and bake alongside the mini loaves

DIRECTIONS

Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Tear the bread into chunks and then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs (or use one cup store bought crumbs). Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the vegetables to processor and finely chop (or do it by hand).

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil; add the finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the large bowl with breadcrumbs, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir together with a fork. With wet hands, form the mixture into twelve 3 inch meatballs.

Space the meatballs so that they are not touching, in a baking dish.  Brush each with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze. (If you’re adding mushrooms, here’s where you’d do it…just quarter or halve and scatter around the meatballs.) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve on a bed of your favorite mashed potatoes.

(Leftover) Steak Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese and Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette

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We don’t eat a lot of steak, but every once in a while either Tony or I have a craving.  (Tony more often than me.)  And there’s a very good meat market (not that kind of meat market, an actual meat market, with real butchers behind the counter) near us and it is so worth it when you do get the hankering for a steak to splurge and buy from the guys at Iowa Meat Farms.  So the other day we’re having our usual “what do you feel like for dinner” conversation (actually more like texting back and forth while I’m at work) and Tony suggests “how about steak sliders…I could grill one of those Tri-Tips from Iowa Meat Farms.  On a good crusty roll, with horseradish mayo and some of your pickled red onions?”  Sold.  Sometimes the boy does come up with some good ideas.

Which leads me to the Leftover Steak Salad.  We did have some steak left over (weird, right?) and I really wanted to use it in some sort of salad.  I thought about doing a Cobb Salad, but we had just had Cobb Salad (which, btw, will be a post soon), so I searched my favorite weblog (yes, Smitten Kitchen) and there it was.  Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese with a “steak house vinaigrette” made with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire and red wine vinegar.  Oh yeah.

Really simple (especially if you already have the leftover steak) and really delicious.  And, yes, it’s even worth going to the trouble to grill a steak just to make this salad!

Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat if necessary, halved crosswise, at room temperature (or whatever leftover steak you have)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound baby arugula
Vinaigrette (below)
3 tablespoons minced chives, 2 thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Pat steak dry and season on both sides 1/2 teaspoon salt and many grinds of black pepper.

In a cast-iron skillet: Heat skillet on medium-high to high and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. You may need to cook your steak halves separately, depending on the size of your pan.

On a grill: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal or high heat for gas. Oil grill rack, then grill steak, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Thinly slice steak on the diagonal, across the grain. Arrange over arugula, then toss halved cherry tomatoes and blue cheese over platter. Add vinaigrette to taste, then sprinkle with chives, scallions or red onion. Serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to taste.

Chilaquiles

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A couple of Saturdays ago we had dinner at our friends Chip and Dale’s (yes, you read that right).  Chip had cooked a couple of pork butts on his beloved Kamodo grill (and not a “Big Green Egg” kamado…Chip’s is the authentic kind, made in Mexico) and then shredded the meat for carnitas tacos.  Everything was muy delicioso, as it always is at Chip and Dale’s (stop snickering…those are their names) and, as usual, there was a ton of food and a ton of food left over, so Dale sent us home with our own little stash of shredded pork.

Come Monday, I’m driving home from work and thinking about how much I’m looking forward to making our own carnitas tacos for dinner.  Alas, I open the fridge to discover that someone (who shall remain nameless, but he’s the only other person who lives at this house) had been snacking on the leftover pulled pork.  Slight change of plans.  What shall we make?  And, at this point, I don’t feel like going to the grocery store, so what shall we make using what we have on hand?  Tortilla chips, eggs, cheese, salsa verde, a little sour cream…Chilaquiles!

Chilaquiles (pronounced chee-la-KEE-les) is a traditional Mexican dish, usually eaten for breakfast or brunch, that consists of fried tortilla strips simmered in a red or green salsa.  From there, you find many different variations, with additions such as fried or scrambled eggs, cheese, chiles, shredded chicken or pork, sour cream, onions and cilantro.

I found a recipe that looked interesting and easy at Redbook magazine online.  It’s a baked version and you basically just layer all the ingredients lasagna-style and then put it in the oven for ten minutes.  It was suggested as a way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  It was really, really good (and really, really easy).  The guilty leftover-pork-snacking-person just kept saying, “yum” between bites.  We’ll be making this one again… I’ll have to remember it next November!

Note: just made these again.  I skipped the whole first step of simmering the salsa in oil.  No need.  Just put a generous tablespoon of oil in the ovenproof skillet before starting the layering.  

Chilaquiles

(adapted from redbookmag.com)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups green salsa

2 cups leftover cooked turkey (or chicken or pork), shredded

4-6 ounces lightly salted restaurant-style corn tortilla chips

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup jalapeño (or regular) Jack cheese, shredded

2 eggs, fried over-easy or to your liking

1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 425º.  In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat.  Add salsa and heat to simmering.

Spray a large, deep ovenproof skillet with cooking spray. Spread half of the salsa on bottom of skillet. Add half of the shredded meat, half of the chips, half of the sour cream, and half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining salsa, meat, chips, sour cream, and cheese to make one more layer.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until hot and cheese has melted.

While that’s baking, fry your eggs.

Remove chilaquiles from oven and spoon onto individual plates then top with fried egg, crumbled Cotija cheese (if using) and fresh cilantro.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage and Sage Skewers

Apparently the “Grilling” issue of Fine Cooking magazine caught my eye once while standing in the checkout line at the supermarket and enticed me enough to buy it. There must have been something really delicious on the cover, but I couldn’t tell you what that was because the cover has since been chewed off by one black lab puppy named Lulu.  Anyway, there are a couple of recipes in it that we make all the time.  This is one.  The other is Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards (and we like that especially because we like saying “paillard” in an overly-exaggerated French accent, with a strong emphasis on the “D”).

One of the secrets to these yummy skewers is the garlic-rosemary infused olive oil that you marinate the chicken in.  You’ll want to make the oil and start marinating at least a couple of hours, or even a whole day, ahead.

These are delicious accompanied by either Apple/Pomegranate/Blue Cheese Salad, Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad or the Urban Solace Watermelon/Cucumber/Tomato Salad.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage and Sage Skewers

INGREDIENTS

Rosemary-Garlic Oil

3/4 cup cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Skewers

2-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 7 or 8)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Rosemary-Garlic Oil (recipe follows)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces
24 large fresh sage leaves

6-12″ metal skewers OR wooden skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for half hour before using).

DIRECTIONS

Rosemary-Garlic Oil

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to bubble steadily, 3 to 4 min. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass jar or other storage container, cover, and refrigerate. Use within five days.

Skewers

Trim the chicken of excess fat and cut in half (the pieces should be roughly equal in size; if the thighs are large, cut them in thirds or quarters).

Up to a day ahead and at least a couple of hours before serving, toss the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbs. of the oil, the rosemary, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup oil into two small bowls (one for grilling and one for serving).

Alternately thread three pieces of sausage, three pieces of chicken, and four sage leaves onto skewers.

Grill the skewers, covered, until one side is browned and has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with some of the rosemary-garlic oil, flip, and cook the other side until it, too, has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with more oil and flip again. Continue cooking, flipping, and brushing with oil until the sausage and chicken are both cooked through (check by slicing into a couple of the thicker pieces), about 10 min. more.

Let cool for a couple of minutes and then arrange on a platter, drizzling with the remaining oil.

Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash

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One of my favorite things about Spring is that asparagus is in season.  I love asparagus.  I love roasted asparagus and grilled asparagus and Tony’s pickled asparagus.  I love Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus dipped in a Saffron Aioli.

I came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (I know…I know…it’s an obsession…but, damn, she’s GOOD) last year and just knew it was going to be delicious.  I mean, come on…asparagus, potatoes, onion, pancetta, all topped with a fried egg??!?!?  The first time I made it Tony said it was (and I’m quoting here) the best thing he had ever effing eaten.  I didn’t change one thing. Tony fried the eggs and we topped with a little crumbled goat cheese and finely chopped chives.  Spring has sprung!

Oh boy…this just in…the new Bon Appétit came today (and you all know how happy that makes me) and there are nine asparagus recipes! Asparagus salad with gruyere and herbs…potato salad with asparagus and olives…smoked salmon and asparagus toasts…asparagus and ricotta flatbread!  Oh my my.  Can’t hardly wait!

Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash

INGREDIENTS

1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 small yellow onion, chopped small
1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
Salt and pepper to taste

Serving ideas: Fried eggs, dabs of goat cheese and slivers of green onions

DIRECTIONS

Heat a 12-inch cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Fry the pancetta, turning it frequently so that it browns and crisps on all sides; this takes about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon and drain it on paper towels. Leave the heat on and the renderings in the pan. (With a well-seasoned cast iron, this should be all the fat you need to cook the remainder of the hash. If you’re not using a cast iron, you might need to add a tablespoon or so of oil.)

Add the potatoes and don’t move them for a couple minutes. Use this time to season them well with salt and pepper. Once they’ve gotten a little brown underneath, begin flipping and turning them, then letting them cook again for a few minutes. The idea is not to fight them off the frying pan, once they’ve gotten a little color, it’s easier to flip them and you’ve gotten closer to your goal of getting them evenly browned.

When the potatoes are about three-fourths as crisped and brown as you’d like them — this takes about 15 minutes — add the onion. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the asparagus, cover the pan and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until crisply cooked. (Skinny asparagus will take just 5 minutes; thicker asparagus will take longer.) Remove the lid, return the pancetta to the pan for another minute, to reheat.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Fry yourself a couple eggs in another pan. Gently place an egg on top of each serving of hash.  Sprinkle with a little goat cheese and chopped chives or thinly sliced green onions.  Serve immediately.

The Perfect BLT (with very little mess)

Update – I wrote this post a month or so ago.  Today is the day before Thanksgiving.  You’ve been doing a lot of cooking  (Pumpkin Roll and Cranberry-Pecan Bread Pudding)   and/or still have a lot of cooking to do AND/OR packing and getting on the road…over the river and through the woods…er…on the I-5 to Sonoma, stopping at LAX to pick up your daughter on the busiest travel day of the year…BUT it’s all worth it because we are going to be with BOTH kids for Thanksgiving!

 Anyway, where was I?  Oh, so you’re cooking and baking and don’t even really want to think about dinner tonight.  Well, here is an easy, super easy, and tasty solution.  The Perfect BLT (with very little mess)!  Read on.  And Happy Thanksgiving! 

So ever since I posted the recipe for Grilled Avocado and said that they would be delicious on a BLT, I’ve been craving a BLT.  Problem is I really dislike cooking bacon.  It’s such a mess.  It makes such a disgusting mess of your stovetop.  I’ve tried the already cooked bacons, they are okay to use crumbled in a salad, but just not good starring in a sandwich.  Then I remembered seeing something in Bon Appétit about cooking bacon in the oven. Bingo!

Found this great article.  First line is, ” There’s a reason the “B” comes first…without bacon, you’d just have salad on toast.” OMG.  Then, “Ditch that skillet! To make crunchy, BLT-ready bacon, roast it in the oven instead. This restaurant trick allows you to cook more than a few strips at a time, results in more evenly cooked bacon, and is light on the mess. Here’s how to do it: Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set a rack in the pan to allow hot air to circulate for even cooking. (For more than 1/2 lb. of bacon, use 2 sheet pans.) Arrange strips on the rack and roast, rotating pan once halfway through cooking, until browned and crispy, 15 minutes.”

Holy Moly!  It works.  Awesome, perfect, evenly-cooked bacon with very little mess.

Now, just assemble the other ingredients for your perfect BLT.

Thick sliced Country White, sourdough or egg bread, toasted

Heirloom tomato, sliced thick

Arugula

Grilled Avocado

Mayo

You say “to-MAY-to”…I say “to-MAH-to”!! Part Three

Part Three in the “You say “to-MAY-to”…I say “to-MAH-to” series.  Another great use for those delicious summer cherry or grape tomatoes.  I found this recipe at Smitten Kitchen last year.  I was immediately attracted to the recipe because, well, I love me a Bloody Mary cocktail.  And what could be better than a steak and a Bloody Mary?

It’s funny because SK writes that the recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit which, as you know if you read my “About” page, is where I get most of my recipes…great minds think alike (but how did I miss it in BA?)  The recipe calls for skirt steak.  SK says that she used flank steak and that both cuts are interchangeable.  When I went to the butcher and asked for skirt or flank, they recommended a hanger steak, so that’s what I used.

Skirt Steak with Blood Mary Tomato Salad
INGREDIENTS

Steak
2 1 1/2 pound skirt steaks (or flank or hanger)
Kosher salt
4 teaspoons (packed) brown sugar, light or dark
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil (for brushing)

Salad
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, divided (if you don’t have or can’t find Sherry vinegar, use red wine vinegar)
2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (from about 3 pints or 10 ounce containers)
1 cup chopped celery hearts (inner stalks and leaves; from 1 bunch)
1/2 cup chopped brined green olives plus 2 tablespoons olive brine
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Prepare steaks: Arrange steaks on large rimmed sheet or cutting board. Mix 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, dark brown sugar, paprika, cayenne and freshly ground black pepper together in a dish. Rub all over steaks and let them marinate in this rub for 1 to 3 hours, covered in the refrigerator. Remove steaks from fridge 1 hour before you’re ready to cook them, to bring them to room temperature.

Prepare salad: Pour 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar over onions in the bottom of a large bowl and let them sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will temper the onion’s bite. Add tomatoes, celery and olives. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, reserved olive brine, horseradish, Worcestershire, pepper sauce and celery seeds in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly until combined. Add to tomato salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until needed, and up to 4 hours in advance, if covered and refrigerated.

Cook steaks: Preheat a charcoal grill to medium-high or a gas grill to the highest heat. Brush grill grates with oil. Grill steaks for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick slices, against the grain.

Alternately, cook the steaks inside: Heat a large cast-iron skillet on medium-high to high and coat bottom with oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. Repeat with second steak. If your steaks are too large to cook in one piece, you may halve them to fit. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick slices, against the grain.