Wednesday, November 07, 2007

November 7th, 2007

Sorry for not updating the blog sooner.... Been a bit busy. Lots of cooking going on though....

Over halfterm a few weeks back my friend Linda and her two kids came by for a crafting day. We get out loads of crafting stuff and make some greeting cards. Mostly we chat, laugh and eat. The kids really enjoy coming by and I usually try to make them something to eat that they haven't had before or that is a classic American type of dish. So Naomi requested meatloaf this time. Okay.... I thought and thought and thought about it and came up with a meatloaf tasting party. We had three different meatloaves to try. Of course I had to make my traditional American version and then there was the German recipe I translated that has become my favourite lately and a new Chicken version.

And what goes with Meatloaf but Mashed potatoes, gravy and sweet corn.

The German recipe won hands down. And then the American version came in second. And the Chicken one... well lets just say I won't be doing that one again.... Although it was Elliots favourite.

And what else goes with meatloaf, but lots and lots of good ole ketchup!!!

This is roughly how I make American meatloaf (I think each family has their own recipes)
Take one pack of mince/hamburger and place the meat into a large bowl.
I add 1/2 finely chopped onion that has been sauteed in a little olive oil.
1/2 red bell pepper/capsium chopped fine and sauteed with the onion.
Add to the meat along with a good hand full of fresh bread crumbs (may need more if the mixture is too wet), a raw egg and about 1/3 cup of ketchup. Salt and pepper to taste and you can add different herbs as you like. Sometimes it is parsley and sometimes oregano or thyme. Get your hands in there and mix well. Adding more crumbs if needed. You don't want it really wet but you don't want it over dry either.
Now shape into a loaf type of shape on a baking tin and cover over the top more ketchup. Bake in a preheated 180 C and about 350 F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. That is about it. Serve with a brown beef gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet corn. And lots of ketchup. If you have left overs, slice sort of thick and make cold meatloaf sandwiches with more ketchup the next day.

The German translated version
about 20 g bread crumbs
1 kg mince
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper
2 large red peppers, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
150g. feta cheese(although I think the recipe calls for a fresh cheese with herbs)
Take 10 g of the bread crumbs and mix with the mince, one egg, and the mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in 1/2 of the onion, pepper and parsley. Mix well and then spread out on a sheet of foil, so you have a bit of a rectangle about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
Take the feta cheese and crumble into a small bowl. Add the remaining 10 g of bread crumbs, egg, parsley, onion and pepper. Mix well. spread ontop of the meat mixture and then roll up jelly roll fashion. Bake at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes. You can leave the foil on and then remove the last 15 minutes of baking. You can try different cheeses in this recipe as I am sure others would work as well as feta or cream cheese.

I also made a really nice dessert, but can't find the magazine that I got the recipe from. But it is farely simple to make. It was called Flapjack Trifle. Take about 1 cup of porridge oats and toast in a non stick frying pan with about 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar. You can add mixed spice or cinnamon too. I did the mixed spice, but next time will try cinnamon. Toast this over a slow heat for about 5 - 10 minutes stirring all the time, then transfer to a bowl to cool. This will get crunchy once it cools.
Next peel and core about 9 small cox's apples, in the US I would use winesaps or granny smiths. Fry in a little butter for about 10 minutes adding a few spoonfulls of brown sugar and some more mixed spice or cinnamon. Let these cool.
Layer 1/2 the apples into a pretty glass bowl, then top with some of the oats, another layer of apples and then oats, saving back some oats for the very top.
Then the recipe called for some black currant colis. Okay couldn't find that..... so substituted one of those tall skinny jars of black currant only/all fruit preserves. Spread this over next. Then top with some fresh custard (I used a packet of Birds Instant custard that I made up with boiling water) in the US you could substitute some instant vanilla pudding and possibly some rasbperry or black berry jam for the black currant.
Next top with stiffly whipped double cream which I whipped with a little caster sugar(extra fine sugar) and topped with the remaining oats. (Americans can use CoolWhip instead)
This was really lovely!!!!! And I will definately be making this again and again. Although it didn't have the traditional trifle ingredients of sponge cake, sherry, and jelly, it was my very first trifle I have made.

Disaster strikes!!! Okay it just happens to the best of us. I have been wanting to try for ages and ages to make Gnocchi from scratch. I have read I don't know how many recipes about how to go about doing it. And since I had some leftover mashed potatoes from the Meatloaf tasting, I thought I would give it a try. I did good mixing in flour and salt and pepper and creating a dough that held it's shape. I made the little sausage rolls like it said... And I then cut into little bite size pieces and even rolled them with a fork just like it showed in the photos. Put onto a floured cloth covered dish while I finished the rest. Got my water boiling hot... Put them in and then fished them out when they floated on the surface. I should have stopped there.... and just served with a tomato sauce and I think I would have been happy. But NO..... I had to get creative, didn't I...... I remebered in Austria that in one of the restuarants we had something very similar and they had fried theirs in a bit of butter to brown. I thought hmmm that sounds yummy..... Don't do it.... Just don't..... I had this gloopy glutinous mess that took forever to brown. It did however taste nice.... but it didn't resemble the slightest bit of a recognizable Gnocchi.... Oh well.... Here they are before I ruined them.
Herman is still going strong....
I have been using him at least once a week and sometimes twice to make rolls or bread....
To make a loaf of sourdough bread I took 1 cup of herman and added him to the bread machine pan....making sure to feed the remaining herman.(1 cup warm water and 1 cup strong bread flour). Add to the bread pan 240ml warm water,1 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 -3 1/2 cups bread flour and a pkt of yeast. Put on the dough setting and let go until ready to shape and bake.
Turn out onto a floured board and shape into a loaf shape. Put onto a cornmeal/polenta sprinkled baking tray. Cover and let rise till doubled about 1/2 hour or so.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F and place a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
Bake for 10 minutes then brush with a mixture of boiled 1 tsp cornstarch and 120ml water. Continute baking another 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

I think I may add a bit of spelt flour next time as it adds a lovely flavour to the bread.
Here I have sliced some of the bread and then toasted under the grill/broiler with a little olive oil brushed on the slices and just a slight spread of butter. Once out of the oven rub with a peeled garlic clove. I slice off one end of the garlic clove and then make a few crosswise cuts to help the juice flow.
Served here with a nice autumnal supper of baked chicken breasts in a mushroom, bacon onion sauce, baked potato and mixed microwaved veg.
Our Anniversary was the end of last week. 11 years now. And for a treat Brian took me to Borough Market in London. We had lunch at the restaurant Fish. It was warm enough to even sit outside!!!
We enjoy people watching so enjoyed sitting outside, it will probably be the last time till the next warm spring day. We were informed if you want to eat lunch there on a Friday you really should book as they were booked solid for indoor dining.

We started lunch with some Thai Crab cakes. Watch that sauce as it was a bit hot. But lovely!!!
And for our main (I must appologise I forgot to take a photo before diving in that is why the batter is a little broken) the absolute best fish and chips and mushy peas I have ever eaten. The fish is so melt in your mouth lovely. The batter on the outside is so crispy and delicous. The chips are proper chips and the mushy peas just bring it all together nicely. I did however find the tartare sauce lacking something this time. Maybe a few more gherkins or capers would have made it a bit better. But overall it was delicious!!!
We opted for another lovely glass of Sauvignon Blanc rather than desert.
While eating our meal we were entertained by the customers to the raclette stall. It looked really yummy, but ooooooooh so bad for you. All that melted gooey cheese..... YUM!!!
Then off for a bit of a shop.... Lovely produce displayed with pride was such a refreshing sight to see...
And the variety!!!! See that big thing that looks like a bolder...... well that is a giant puffball mushroom!!! And yes, I had to try it. So along with a slab of puffball mushroom, I bought some ceps, a couple of yellow and tiger striped tomatoes.

A giant daikon radish. 4 quinces and a big slab of Comte Cheese. Brian really isn't one much for shopping. I think that was about all.... I did look all over the place for some orzo pasta and no luck. I guess I will have to resort to ordering it off the internet.
Back home and the next day I decided to start cooking our goodies.... So Saturday I made a steak and mushroom and guiness pie using the puffball and some chestnut mushrooms I had in the fridge. I can honestly say I wasn't overly keen on the puffball. So don't think I will bother with it again. Maybe I should have cooked it a bit differently I don't know. The Pie was lovely however.

Sorry but I forgot to take a photo of the puffball before I chopped it up. It looked a bit like a Marshmallow steak.
To me the puffball seemed a bit rubbery and had a bit of a metal taste. Not sure if that is a good thing or not. Anyway, I can say I tried it.
Fiona over at The Cottage Smallholder had a recipe for using quinces. She wrote about this lovely creation called Membrillo that she served with cheese. And also has a recipe for making quince jelly. So this is why I bought the quinces. I just had to try both recipes.... So I spent the day making quince jelly and then taking the pulp that was left over and made the membrillo (which I haven't tried yet with cheese. Saving that for tonight I think.)

As always I sort of followed the recipe. I only used two of my quinces, since I could only find a few empty jars. I really must get some jars in and not let Brian put them in the recycle bin. First I noticed that quinces are really tough to cut into. They look to be a cross between an apple and a pear. And you know that really pithy bitter taste that sometimes apples and some pears have, that is what a raw quince tastes like. The aftertaste is a bit fruity though. So busy with making the jelly....
I boiled the chunks of pulp like Fiona's recipe and then boiled the strained juice and added lemon juice and sugar and here is what I ended up with....
Beautiful and really tasty too!!!! Especially served with some fresh baked Herman rolls!!!

To make the membrillo I took the leftover pulp from making the jelly and pressed it through a sieve adding a touch of hot water that I boiled in the kettle to help the process a little. Added sugar and lemon juice as per Fiona's recipe and boiled the pulp down till it turned a darker colour and became quite thick. Being careful not to let it burn.
I will let you know how it is with some Comte cheese. I just love this cheese. It is a bit of a cross between a nice cheddar and a parmesan. Really lovely flavour and a hard cheese. Great for melting too!!
And for supper that night.. I sliced up the ceps and fried them in a bit of butter with some sliced onions.... a bit of leftover sliced ham and a dash of cream and sherry, chopped clove of garlic, served over some grilled split herman rolls which I rubbed with garlic after coming out of the oven. Topped the rolls with the mushroom mixture... grated on some comte cheese and back under the grill for a little browning. Sprinkle of chopped fresh chives and wow!!!!!!

Quick and yummy!!!
And since I found out how easy Trifles were to make..... I thought I would try a traditional one with the sherry, sponge, and jelly!!!
Yes it was nice..... And I have the ingredients to make another..... Hmmmmmm off now to do a bit of cooking....


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Yummy! All delicious.
A very Happy Anniversary.
Trifle is one of my most favourite things. I have so many memories of eating it.

Cottage Smallholder said...

How lovely to go to Borough Market on your Anniversary! I found it wonderful, inspirational and overwhelming!

Glad that you finally tracked down some quinces!

I think that I'm falling in love with Herman...

Pat said...

Thanks Amanda!!! It is rather yummy!!!

Thanks Fiona, Have you tried your own Herman yet??? He definately makes the rolls and bread rise alot more and they come out with such a lovely texture.

Patricia Scarpin said...

That loaf of bread will be in my dreams forever, Pat!

Cynthia said...

Dearest Pat,

You have been busy! This is a full post in every sense of the word. I love that you take the time to document all that you're doing to accumilate all of it in a post.

I enjoy people watching too :)

Have a great weekend!

Pat said...

Thanks Patricia and Cynthia!!!!

Kelly-Jane said...

Happy Anniversary!

So many lovely things going on here, I so would like to be able to buy quince, (have only manageD about twice in the last 20 years!) making your own jelly is just special =)

Pat said...

Thanks KJ, It is a really lovely jelly too!! I had to go to London to find some here. I saved my seed too. So maybe just maybe in a few years time.... we will see.

Padmaja said...

Happy belated anniversary Pat!!
Love those pictures at borough market.Amazing dishes you ahve lined up there!!I love that bread and those crabcakes!! yummy yum!!