Sunday, January 2, 2011

Comfort Food

As a kid, I felt like the term comfort food was frequently misapplied. I found nothing particularly comforting about mashed potatoes. Fried chicken and meatloaf weren't terrible, but the announcement that that was dinner didn't fill me with a sense of well-being or anything. I always thought comfort food should apply solely to Chocolate Cake or Apple Betty or maybe Ice Cream. Perhaps my penchant for chocolate cake and ice cream is the reason that, this New Year's, I've started out on a diet again.

Having recently read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, I am rethinking my approach to this year's gastronomical adventure. I don't want to fill up on low-fat this, and no-carb that. I would like, as he so elegantly puts it, to: "eat food, not too much, mostly plants." So, some of the things I plan to eat hardly look like diet food. They look a lot more like comfort food. I am following Weight Watchers Online, but mostly for how much to eat, not really for what to eat.

Anyhow, all of this brings me to this recipe that I simply must share with the world. Over the holidays, my step-mom gave my sister Shazam and me a stack of old cookbooks. So, I've been perusing them looking for things I'd like to try out. Well, I was paging through one called Italian Cooking Made Easy and I ran across this meatloaf recipe.

This meatloaf is comforting. It's delicious. It's not anything like the meatloaf I grew up eating. And, it's easy. So, without further ado:

Meat Loaf (Polpettone)
4 slices Bread, trimmed
1/2 c. Sherry wine
1 1/4 lb. Veal, chopped *
3/4 lb Beef, chopped *
2 Eggs
1 Onion, grated
1 clove Garlic, crushed *
1 Tbsp Parsley, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Tomato Sauce
1 cup Tomato Sauce, seasoned

1. Soften the bread in wine.

2. Mix bread and everything else except for the 1 c. of tomato sauce in a big bowl. Blend well.

3. Grease a loaf pan (I used non-stick spray) and sprinkle it with bread crumbs.

4. Turn in the meat mixture.

5. Bake at 350 for about an hour and a half.

* The original recipe also called for ground pork, but I just couldn't find any. Blame the giant blizzard that hit Brooklyn last week. So I upped the amount of veal and beef. Also, they called for 1/2 a clove of garlic, but I just couldn't waste the other half of the clove! And I served it with oven fries, green beans and salad. They suggested spaghetti, but I'm just not that Italian.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September's Book

Well, it's September 1st! And without further ado, let me announce the first book I'm reading this school year. It's called The Red Squad and it's by E. M. Broner. I found it on the library's "Summer Reading" shelf, so perhaps it'll be in your local library as well. It's copyright 2009, so it should be available in local book stores as well. I'll let you know how it goes. Read along if you'd like.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Club

So.... I love to read. I've always loved to read. I can't remember not reading whenever I had free time. But, since I started teaching, I have trouble making time for it during the school year. So, in an effort to fit in some much needed stress relief in the upcoming school year, I am making a commitment to read some books just for pleasure. And there is nothing about books that is more fun than talking about them with other people who've read them. So, here's the plan:

I'm going to post a book title on the first of each month. Then, I'm going to get a copy of the book and read it. On the 28th of the month, I'm going to post a review / list of questions about the book. If you want to join the book club, all you need to do is
1) Log on and check out what book we're going to read
2) Read the book
3) Email your thoughts / responses to the questions to me at any time before the first of the following month.

I'll post your thoughts as I get them, so that everybody in the club can read what everybody else thinks. I'm happy to take suggestions on books or formats. Just email them to me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Birthday Cake!

The best thing about getting another year older is, without a doubt, an excuse to make and eat birthday cake. So this year, like many others, I trawled the web for the best-looking cakes I could find. I came across this one which was made for Julia Childs's 85th birthday.
So I made it! TA - DAAAAA!!!!

The Extra-Medium Dude helped me out. He stirred and taste-tested everything. It's 4 layers of chocolate almond cake with chocolate raspberry mousse between the layers and it's covered with chocolate ganache with almonds and a milk chocolate lattice forming the finishing touches.

After taste-testing, the Extra-Medium Dude declared it the best cake he ever had or would ever have.

Happy birthday to me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I DID Dare to Bake

So.... I know it's been forever, but I did do the Daring Baker Challenge for July. I even took pictures!
The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

I was staying with my mom for a week when I made this cake, and that was kind of fun, because I had a humongous kitchen to play in and plenty of freezer space. I'm not at all sure how I would've pulled it off in my itty-bitty kitchen at home. I also had three extra willing taste testers as I finished each layer.

So, to create this ridiculously decadent dessert, I made two Swiss Rolls (for those of you who grew up with Hostess products, think giant Ding Dongs), sliced them and then made a layer of vanilla ice cream, a layer of fudge sauce and a layer of chocolate ice cream. I think if I had it to do over again, I would double the ice cream recipes. The center of my cake didn't quite even out, so the picture of the slice looks a little funny. But I can't imagine doing this one again.

Many thanks to my friend Elizabeth, who had a barbecue, where I brought this cake to be devoured. I'm sure if I did manage to make it in my tiny kitchen, I would have to eat almost the whole thing. This way, I just had a piece.

And the best thing about this challenge was a friend of mine who was at the barbecue. As soon as she tried the ice cream cake, she said, "Gretel, will you marry me???" Now that's cake.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holiday favorites!

Ok, so technically it's not my holiday. But every year, I think of my Mom, who used to give my sister and I grape juice and Matzo to celebrate Passover. I don't like grape juice or Matzo, but it was a fun little tradition. And, when I got older, I went to a Seder meal with friends and learned that there is much yummier food involved in this holiday. And my FAVORITE traditional passover food by far, is the coconut macaroon. I love coconut, and I've been meaning to try making these cookies for years.

So, today, as I was looking around for something to bake while I'm on Spring Break, I found a bag of coconut in my cupboard. Guess what recipe was on the back? That's right: Coconut Macaroons! And they were easy and delicious and I'm definitely making them again. (But they're not kosher.)
Coconut Macaroons
(From the Baker's Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut bag)
1 bag (14 oz) sweetened Angel Flake coconut
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp flour
4 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the coconut, sugar, salt and flour. Then, mix in the egg whites and almond extract. Drop the mixture by rounded spoonfuls onto greased and floured cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet immediately.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One of the latest projects

So, this post should be about the January Daring Baker challenge, but.... I didn't get it done yet, so you'll just have to wait. Instead, let me share with you what has been happening in my kitchen: SAUCES!!!! That's right, I've moved into chapter 2 of the Julia Child cookbook. The rest of my group is involved in doing other things, so I'm soldiering on alone.
The thing is, sauces don't photograph well all by themselves. And they're even less fun to eat without anything else. So I've been coming up with things to put them on. Since the first sauce was a bechamel and I'd made one of those before, It wasn't too hard. I just made this terrific spinach lasagna recipe that I'd done before with the daring bakers. It's got homemade spinach noodles, thin layers of bechamel and marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese.
As much as I love this particular recipe, I had a little trouble with Julia's bechamel. It had a nice thickness, but it wasn't quite smooth. I think my burner was up a little high. I did a little better with the veloute sauce. I'd never heard of a veloute, and I'd certainly never eaten one.
Basically, it's just like a bechamel except, instead of milk, you use a white stock. I served it over poached chicken and asparagus. It was AMAZING! And it was only 2 points per half cup according to Weight Watchers. The Tummy liked it too. This week, I'll be attacking the Mornay sauce. Wheeee!!!