Monday, February 28, 2005

Feed Me!

Yeah, I know that I could have tried to attract wild yeast swirling around in the air and coax them into a friendly, flour and water living environment. But I didn't. I ordered a starter from the Baker's Catalogue.
I fed it.
I'm ready.

This is how you know someone is serious about bread baking, because my starter requires more attention than some pets I've owned.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Plain Waffles

Despite the fact that this may not be the prettiest waffle, I rather like the way it turned out to be almost circular. I will, however, practice filling my waffle iron.
Last time I posted about making waffles for breakfast, I based my recipe on one from America's Test Kitchen, where I was assured by the testers that a thicker waffle batter produced waffles far superior to normal waffle batter. Unfortunately, America's Test Kitchen does not always provide the justification for their decisions. This was the case here and I was left wondering why a thin batter wouldn't make good waffles.
I pulled out the ol' waffle iron, mixed up some plain waffles, with milk instead of buttermilk, and slapped the batter on the grill. The resulting waffles were crispy and light. Clearly, ATK is missing out here, even though I did let their paranoia goad me into adding a bit of yogurt to slightly thicken up the batter. The added benefit is that to make these, there is no need to separate your eggs and beat them. There was nothing special about these waffles other than that they are good and perfect for everyday dining.

Plain Waffles
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or butter, melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat waffle iron.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in large bowl.
Whisk together milk, yogurt, eggs, oil and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Ladle onto hot waffle iron.
Serves 6. With lots of maple syrup.

I recommend keeping your plates warm in a 200F oven to keep the waffles from sweating and losing their crispness when you put them on the plate.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are good. Very good, as a matter of fact. Though I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches almost every single day that I took a bag lunch to school (K-12), I did not often have peanut butter cookies. Thinking about the reasons why this may have been, it occurs to me that perhaps the fact that we had peanut butter in the house did not mean that we had extra peanut butter in the house; we had peanut butter because we used it to make my sandwiches. One day, it occured to me that there were possibilities other than sandwiches. I set about to make peanut butter cookies.
I have no idea how old I was at the time, but things went smoothly until I had the balls of dough laid out on the baking sheets. Then disaster struck. "Disaster", I should say. I knew that I was supposed to mark the cookies with a fork. I got the fork and began pressing crosses in the tops. Unfortunately, the fork stuck like crazy and my cookies got uglier and uglier as I became more and more frustrated. I was probably 9 and, yes, ugly cookies are a disaster at that age. I assume that I went ahead and baked the cookies anyway, though after that I always shied away from making peanut butter cookies.
I think that when I was in college a friend told me that all I had to do was wet the fork with water to keep it from sticking. Shocking, I know.
I am proud to report that I am no longer wary of baking up a batch of peanut butter cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Joy of Baking
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg. Add vanilla and peanut butter and beat well. Add in dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Using a fork, mark grids on the top of each cookie, dipping the fork in water after each cookie.
Bake for 11-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges.
Cool on wire rack.

Note: I use natural, salted peanut butter. You get a more buttery cookie by using the natural peanut butter, since it doesn't have all that extra sugar. The cookie will also be more brittle/crumbly if you use processed peanut butter, so I would recommend adding an extra tablespoon of butter.

Friday, February 25, 2005

More Soft Pretzels

A while ago I posted about making soft pretzels and posted the recipe. I didn't take any photos that time, so when I made a batch up today I snapped a few shots.
They are super easy and very tasty. I ate a few and froze the rest. Reheated pretzels - especially if I use the microwave - aren't as good as fresh ones, but as far as I am concerned, some pretzels are better than none.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A word of advice

If you need to buy a cake for a man's 22nd birthday, do not buy a Spongebob Squarepants birthday cake. There is something fundamentally disturbing about doing so.

If you are picking up such a cake for a friend, it is best to lie about the age of the recipient when conversing with the cake decorators in the bakery.

If you have already said "There must be some mistake - this cake is for a 22 year old guy!" to the bakers, do not reveal your real name and try to leave quickly before their laughter reaches you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Basic Muffin

One of the biggest obstacles in travelling is a lack of control over the food you have access to. On planes, when there is food it comes in tiny single-serving packets, often accompanied by some of the worst coffee known to man. If you're staying with friends or relatives, your meals might be prepared by them or you might eat out. This could be fine, though if your tastes differ from those of your host, mealtimes could become quite uncomfortable. And when you find yourself in a hotel - while you will have unchallenged decisions on which restaurants to eat at - even if you stop in a grocery store, your food options will be limited by lack of appropriate cooking and storage space.
When you finally get home, often your own cupboards are bare because you (hopefully) disposed of all perishables before leaving. You have to hit the store and start all over. But at least you can make anything you'd like.
Admittedly, cooking at home can be hit or miss, too, but at least there is no one to blame but yourself.

So having just arrived home, I didn't have a lot in the kitchen. I pulled out some bowls, some ingredients and an electric mixer. Flour, leaveners, salt into one bowl and sour cream, yogurt, sugar and an egg into another. Mix bowls separately then, after tossing in some vanilla for good measure, combine the contents. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or so.

Something seems wrong here. Ah, I see now - there is a method, but no recipe! And there won't be because, though tasty, these muffins weren't anything special. Moist, semi-dense and with a crisp top (I guess I was a little heavy handed with the sugar, though they didn't seem overly sweet), I would make these again but instead I think I will try and refine the recipe to produce a great, basic muffin; it will be a recipe worth sharing.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Thank you Dr Biggles!

I received a wonderful package from the UPS guy today, courtesy of Dr. Biggles and my meatloaf. Now I have something to keep me going on my journey into the midwest. Yep, I'm flying out to Indiana to visit some family for the long weekend. I probably won't post while I'm going, but I'm sure I'll have lots to share upon my return.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Steak and Chocolate Cake: Valentine's Day Dinner

It all started with a sauce. A gorgeous, burgundy colored sauce that does not photograph nearly as well as I would like it to. I found it in this month's Bon Appetit magazine. It was a spicy blackberry barbeque sauce. The question was what should I serve it on? Steak.

Again, the picture didn't come out as well as I had hoped. I guess I my hand was a bit unsteady in my excitement. That is a grilled tri-tip steak slathered with the sauce, if you can't tell. I love this sauce. I'll make it again.

Spicy Blackberry BBQ Sauce
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) blackberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (Franks)
Combine all ingredients in a foor processor and process until smooth. Strain mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat - stirring regularly - until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste while it's cooking.

For dessert, I made a chocolate cake. I was going to make Gale Gand's Chocolate Heart Throb cake that Kelli posted about the other day, when I stumbled upon EatingWell's Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake. I opted to make it instead of Gale Gand's recipe for two reasons:
(1) I didn't have to rescale the recipe to fit my pan
(2) I already had buttermilk in the fridge.
The third reason, and arguably the best reason, is that this cake is fabulous. Moist, fluffy, easy to make and easy to handle.

The only change I made to the original recipe was to use all white sugar instead of half white and half brown sugar. I've seen very similar versions of this recipe all over the place. Some with a bit more oil, some with a bit more milk. Here's the recipe I made:

Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups ap flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot strong black coffee
Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Let the buttermilk mixture come to room temperature. Sift all dry ingredients together in a very large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. When combined, carefully whisk in hot coffee.
Pour into greased pans, either 2 9" round cake pans or 1 11x13 pan.
Bake until tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes depending on the pan (the less batter, the more cooking time).

Note: Do not be fooled by the relative thinness of the batter; it really puffs up as it bakes! Do NOT fill any pans more then 2/3 of the way full!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day Cookies

What better way to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you than by baking them a big batch of heart shaped cookies? Ok, there are some things that could be considered better - money, cars, twice as many cookies - but you must admit that fresh cookies are high up on the list.

And this is one gorgeous batch of cookies, if I do say so myself.
I made a basic cutout cookie recipe from Epicurious, a recipe I have used before to much success because it is tasty and very easy to work with.
I mixed mini chocolate chips into half of the dough and, instead of using a cookie icing, I dipped the cookies in red and white jimmies, red sugar crystals and organic sugar. The organic sugar has much larger crystals than regular white sugar, so it looks much better on the cookie. Spreading the sprinkles into a plate or into a shallow bowl will give you much more even coverage of the cookie surface. Most of the sugar will just fall off if you try to sprinkle it on. These cookies aren't too sweet, even with the sugar sprinkles.

Cutout Cookies
3 cups ap flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla until well combined. Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture in two additions.
Now is the time to add mini chocolate chips, if you'd like.
Gather dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Working with one disk at a time, roll dough out 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut to desired shapes. I don't usually use very much flour when I'm rolling these guys, except for a little on the rolling pin. I do flour the cookie cutter, though. Gather scraps together, roll out again.
Dip cookies into desired sprinkles when transferring them to parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake until cookies are light golden around the edges, about 12 minutes. If your oven is uneven, rotate sheets halfway through baking.
Cool completely on racks.

Notes: This made about 5 dozen cookies. The dough keeps well in the freezer, so I would recommend making the full batch and freezing leftover dough for another time if you don't want that many cookies. They're also fairly sturdy, so they're a good choice for mailing as gifts.
I don't usually roll out any dough more than twice, but if you're not using much additional flour, you should be able to reroll until all dough is used without toughening the cookies very much.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Music to Bake a Cake By

I knew it was only a matter of time before I got tagged. And I agree that this is a great way to get friendly with blogging buddies. Of course, I couldn't do this without baking a little something to go along with it. Not to mention that I was determined to make a more successful cake than I made last time; I wanted an actual cake!

So I tried a yogurt cake once more. It worked! And it was delicious.

I adapted this from a recipe for Chocolate Marble Cake, which was originally adapted from Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. It is super, super easy. Very moist, too!

Almond Yogurt Cake
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (I used superfine, but plain white sugar is fine)
1 large egg
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9" cake pan with cooking spray.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat well. Mix in yogurt and almond extract until mixture is smooth.
Stir wet and dry ingredient together until just combined. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until tester just comes out clean.
If you use an 8" pan, it will take a bit longer to bake. I think this is probably an extremely adaptable recipe in terms of add-ins and different flavors.

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
Quite a bit - around 7 gigs.
The CD you last bought?
The Wicked Soundtrack. I saw it last summer in New York - amazing!
What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
Candice Alley's song Falling. I was in Australia when her first album was released in 2003. I have no idea if she's doing well, but that song is great.
Write down five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
Travis Tritt It's a Great Day to be Alive
Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
Poe Hey Pretty (original and remix)
Anything from the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack
Most country music. That's right - I like country.
I'm so glad I don't have to justify all these songs! I'll just say that they all make me feel good.
Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
This is going out to:
the relatively new Skinny Epicurean.
Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess
and Dr Biggles at Meathenge (do I need a reason?)
Good luck guys! I'm going back to my cake.

Friday, February 11, 2005

SHF #5: Layering is so in right now!

This month's Sugar High Friday theme was puff pastry, hosted by Clement at A La Cuisine!. I have to admit that it put me in a bit of a tight spot.
When I am looking to make something sweet, I tend to shy away from things that seem to be already put together (read: puff pastry, I'm just trying to phrase it nicely). To me, it has always seemed like your options are fairly limited with this stuff. Granted, you can combine it with lots of fruits, creams and... uh, different fruits? I have used it many times to make napoleans, turnovers and dumplings and it never crossed my mind that puff pastry had much use beyond fruit and cream in a dessert. Tart shell? Cream and/or fruit. Strudel? Fruit. Don't get me wrong, I like the stuff - I just wanted something more original to do with it for my SHF entry.

One of my favorite sites to waste time at is UKTVFood, the website for a British food network. It doesn't air (to my knowledge) in the US, however it does offer video feeds of many of its shows and recipes. My favorite is Good Food Bites, hosted by Jeni Barnett, and I'm not saying that just because most of the video recipes are from that show.
I was arbitrarily watching dessert recipes - what a surprise - when I luckily stumbled upon one that used PUFF PASTRY! A simple italian recipe from Gino D'Acampo with a gorgeously long name: the recipe from the show almost exactly (I even weighed my ingredients instead of making conversions) and I suggest you watch the video. Here is the recipe with my slight variations, based on personal preference and the video instructions.

Sfogliatine con Crema di Mascarpone
2 eggs , separated
100 g caster sugar
250 g mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
200 ml whipping cream
3 tbsp almond-flavoured liqueur, such as Amaretto
100 g Cocoa Powder , plus extra for dusting
400 g frozen puff pastry , defrosted at least 2 hours
1. First make the mascarpone cream. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together , using an electric beater or a whisk, for 3 minutes until thick and pale.
2. Beat in the mascarpone until mixed through then gently fold in the whipped cream with a metal spoon.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites quickly but gently into the cream mixture while also adding in the Amaretto, taking care not to lose volume. Keep refrigerated until ready for use.

4. Dust 40g of the cocoa powder on a clean, dry flat working surface and flatten the puff pastry on top with the help of a rolling pin.
5. Dust 40g of cocoa powder on top of the flattened pastry and very gently fold three times. Roll the pastry flat into a large rectangle. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cooking.
6. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas 7. (350F)
7. Place the pastry on a lined baking sheet. Cover with a second baking sheet.
8. Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before removing top sheet. Let pastry cool completely.
9. Gently transfer the pastry on a flat surface. Cut in 20 rectangular shapes, roughly 4 x 8cm (~2x4 inches).
10. Place a puff pastry rectangle on a serving plate, smooth over 2 tablespoons of the Amaretto cream mixture, then top with another rectangle of pastry. Repeat the process, making a three-tier pastry tower. Dust each pastry with cocoa powder and serve.

The chef says that they eat this for breakfast in Italy. I don't know if I could handle a country that does this for breakfast.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Also known as "How not to bake a cake".
Wanting to use my adorable new 6 inch round cake pan, I decided to christen it with a cake. Nothing heavy (since I know that I am planning something chocolatey for Valentine's Day).
I ended up with two cakes - one that was essentially a blueberry frittata and one that was a muffin.
For the first cake, I halved a simple yogurt cake recipe. No problems? Well, in my brilliance this evening I decided that half of three eggs was two eggs. And I had jumbo eggs, no less. The upshot of all this was that my "cake" looked remarkably like a frittata.
Smelled like eggs. Looked like blueberry cake. Tasted like a heavy vanilla sponge.

I'm so sorry, Clotilde. I'll have another go sometime soon and do your cake justice!

The muffin one tasted fine, but I wasn't expecting it to taste like a muffin. I used the recipe for Mixed Berry Coffeecake, from my local newspaper, and when I think about a coffee cake... well, let's just say that I don't expect it to taste like a muffin. I liked it, though.
Here's the original recipe (for an 8" round pan):

Mixed Berry (Muffin) Coffeecake - pictured above

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup low-fat granola, slightly crushed
Spray a round pan, 8x1 1/2 inches, with cooking spray.
Mix brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt just until moistened. Gently fold in 1/2 of berries. Spoon into pan. Sprinkle top with remaining berries and granola.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 28 to 33 minutes or until golden brown and top springs back when touched in center. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING: 150 calories; 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated); 25 milligrams cholesterol; 150 milligrams sodium; 25 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams protein.

Notes: I omitted the granola and used only blueberries, all of which I folded into the batter.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

MeatHenge Meat Platter Results

The results are in from Dr. Biggles' meat platter contest! I just eeked into third place with my meatloaf.
Congratulations to all the entrants - everything looked great. And thanks to Meathenge for hosting a great contest.
Check out all the entries here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Girard Chocolate from Paris

Unfortuately, I did not photograph any of the massive quantities of food consumed during the super bowl yesterday. No guacamole, nachos, chicken wings or any of the three kinds of chili. They were just so good, no one could wait to eat them - take my word for it.
A friend was in Pasir last week and brought a little bag of assorted chocolates home. Instead of getting put out with the other desserts yesterday, I hoarded them for myself. How selfish, I know.

The chocolates are produced by Girard Chocolatier in Paris (I wonder if Clotilde has tried them?). With my decent, but limited, grasp of french, I was able to ascertain from their website that if I wanted to find out what goodies were in my little bag, I would have to try them because there was no tasting guide on the site.
Since I prefer dark chocolate, I selected this prettily decorated one to be my first victim.

It turned out to be filled with one of the most buttery ganache fillings I have ever tasted. It was bittersweet and quite dry. Thank goodness this one wasn't any larger - though it was among the larger candies in the bag - or it would have just been too rich for me.

For number two, I selected a much smaller dark chocolate piece that appeared to be garnished with three small bits of nut.

Much to my delight, the center was a creamy hazelnut-chocolate paste with a similar consistency to the inside of a Ferraro Rocher.

Chocolate number three was shaped like half of a geodesic dome, a polyhedron made up of triangular faces (anyone remember geometry class?). Again, dark chocolate with a ganache filling. This time the ganache was flavored very slightly of raspberry brandy - more brandy than raspberry, actually. Not my favorite, but I loved the shape.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Prep

Super Bowl parties require a bit of forethought - particularly if you would rather watch the game with your friends instead of cooking. I try to get as much done beforehand as possible, meaning that I baked all the desserts and mixed up the dips yesterday, leaving only chili and chicken wings for today.
I went with oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip blondies. Classics. Who could argue? These are the blondies in their giant, unsliced bar state. Looks like a chocolate chip cookie, you say? That's what I get for stirring in the chips instead of just layering them on top.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Fried Zucchini Sticks

I remember that when I was about 7, I couldn't imagine how my parents could eat onion rings and fried zucchini sticks when we went out to steakhouses. And it certainly wasn't because I was considering the artery-clogging qualities of those foods. To me, they were vegetables, no matter what form they took! Suffice to say, it did not take me long to love both of these foods: crunchy, salty, and deliciously dip-able.
I think it's a hassle to fry things at home, not to mention that it is much more heart healthy to save large quantities of fried food for less frequent dining occasions. These are my homemade zucchini sticks. There is no specific recipe. I slice zucchini down into several pieces and they are baked in the oven after being dipped in an egg-white wash and a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic and panko bread crumbs. They only take about 10 minutes to brown up in a 425F oven. They will get much crisper if you set them on a rack on a baking sheet, otherwise you'll want to flip them halfway through baking. Serve with marinara and ranch dressing (and a side of steak!).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Orange Cranberry Bread

Since starting this blog, I heave paid much more attention to the food photos on other people's blogs. It never occured to me how difficult taking a good photo would prove to be. The lighting, the contrasts, attempting to adjust the focus and the exposure so the food doesn't appear to have been made by a nearly blind person with hooks for hands, except worse. I'm sure that a nearly blind person with hooks for hands could make tasty and presentable food, but I think you will see what I'm trying to say.
I'm trying to improve the quality of my photos. This has led to many discoveries.
(1) Flashes are generally bad.
(3) Close-ups are generally good.
(2) Loaves are difficult to photograph well, as are oatmeal cookies.
(3) Picassa is very useful.

The loaf here is a Cranberry Orange Bread and it is a particularly beautiful loaf. But since loaves tend to look like unpleasantly like wet, clay bricks, I tried to capture the interior. I'm not entirely satisfied with this picture, so I'll hope for a better one next time. This bread is so good, I don't need any coaxing to make it again.
The secret to a good orange bread is to use freshly squeezed oranges for the juice. An even better secret is to use blood oranges, which I did. This resulted in the batter looking bright purple. Fortunately this color baked out and the loaf was light tan with a slightly pinkish-orange hue. The other secret is to add some dried cranberries, which add sweetness to the bread and a different texture from the fresh cranberries.

Orange Cranberry Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Combine orange juice, orange zest, oil and egg. Pour juice mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in cranberries. Spread evenly in loaf pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My Favorite Meat...loaf

I don't usually eat a lot of meat. This is not because I don't like meat - I really do! The reason I don't eat a whole lot is that various dishes are often only just adequate and that just isn't good enough for me. When meat is bad, it's inedible or not worth it. When meat is good, though, it's really good. Maybe it makes it better because I don't have it as often, I don't know. What I do know is that I love meatloaf.

Meatloaf was the first meat dish that I learned to cook. Chicken and other actual whole and "cuts" of meat seemed far too intimidating to me working alone in the kitchen (you have to admit that raw chicken is not the most appetising thing). Ground beef seemed easy and it was not wholly recognisable as part of any particular animal. Yada, yada, yada... it was easy and it was delicious.
Friends talk about it.
Meatloaf! Unbelieveable? Not when you've had this one.
I don't know if I want to be known for my meatloaf, but I'll take what I can get.

Nicole's Meatloaf Recipe
1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 or 1 1/2 slices)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried mustard (optional)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with foil
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix briefly, but throughly, with your hands.
Form meat mixture into a loaf shape on baking sheet.
Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Serves 4-6, depending on appetites and side dishes.
I usually top it with a swirl of ketchup or chili sauce for the last 5 minutes of baking.

Note: The advantage of baking this on a sheet pan instead of in a loaf pan is that this way the fat can run off from the meat, instead of puddling in the bottom of your pan. Be careful when moving the baking sheet so the juices don't run into your oven!