Monday, June 8, 2015

Notes: Mini Meatloaves

7 June 2015

  • Anticipating a long day of hiking, I chose a quick meal for this Sunday dinner. We have had mini meatloaves before. The recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook.
  • Diane thought the glaze (ketchup + brown sugar + vinegar) was too sweet last time (I know because I wrote that in my blog post ) so I halved the sugar.
  • I used 100% ground beef, no pork or veal or meat loaf mix. I have looked at the supermarket for meat loaf mix but I've never seen it or ground veal. There is ground pork but only in 1-pound packages; I didn't want to have any left over and I didn't want my meat mixture to be 75% pork.
  • Dinner was ready about 70 minutes after I started preparations.

  • The meatloaf was served with peas & baby onions, mashed potatoes (how classic), Vella Merlot, and water.
  • Diane grew up eating meat loaf with no glaze (my mom often glazed meat loaf with ketchup) but she said this glaze was OK, not too sweet and not too sour from the vinegar and ketchup.   
  • The meat loaf was good, juicy, tender and flavored nicely.
  • These little meat loaves are a perfect size for us, one mini loaf per meal is just right, and they store well in the refrigerator and the freezer. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Notes: Rhode Island Dynamites

1 June 2015

  • I have never heard of this sandwich but came across it at It's like sloppy joe but with different seasonings.
  • The original recipe called for 2 pounds of ground beef and made 10 servings when served on torpedo rolls. I halved the recipe which would provide plenty of meals for the two of us, particularly when served on slider buns.
  • Because I halved the recipe I used a 4-quart sauce pan instead of a Dutch oven.
  • I made this on Saturday so we could eat it on Sunday after a day at the ball park.
  • I was afraid of the spiciness of the recipe so modified it, as suggested in the recipe notes. I used jarred sweet cherry peppers instead of jarred hot cherry peppers and I reduced the red pepper flakes, reduced them all the way to zero. So my version is probably not very explosive.

  • I wasn't hungry after getting back from the ball park on Sunday (where I had a fried chicken sandwich and a lot of peanuts) so we didn't eat this until Monday.
  • Served with white corn, potato chips, Bubbies bread and butter pickles, and lemonade or Vella Delicious Red so a very quick meal to put together, as desired. The only "cooking" was reheating the filling in the microwave and toasting some buns.
  • Without the hot pepper flakes and hot cherry peppers the sandwich was a little bland. 
  • As expected, given the ingredients (which included Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, and tomato paste), the sandwich had an Italian flavor.
  • It took some searching at the supermarket to find the jarred sweet cherry peppers; I never did see jarred hot cherry peppers.
  • The filling was nice and tender; cooked ground beef can sometimes be rubbery. The raw ground beef was mixed with a solution of 1½ tablespoons water with ½ teaspoon baking soda for 15 minutes which contributed to the pleasant texture. I might try this trick when next I make Peg's Sloppy Joe.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Notes: Tender and Juicy Slow Cooker Meatballs

25 May 2015

  • Recipe from Serious Eats; preparation time about 80 minutes.
  • Several changes were made to the recipe:
    • I used milk instead of buttermilk for the panade, so I wouldn't have a lot of leftover buttermilk.
    • By coincidence I used buttermilk sandwich bread, though I doubt that makes any difference.
    • The recipe calls for 1 pound ground beef (25% fat) and 1¼ pound ground pork (25% fat). Because of what was available at the supermarket I used 1¼ pound ground beef (20% fat) and 1 pound ground pork (5 % fat)
    • I used vegetable oil in place of olive oil.
    • The tomatoes were whole peeled plum tomatoes. The recipe said these should be crushed by hand. I imagined using my hands to squeeze the tomatoes one by one but instead I added them to the Dutch oven and crushed them with a potato masher.
    • The recipe did not specify what to do with the juice from the tomatoes. I was leaning towards discarding it. Finding a comment on the recipe web page saying the sauce was thin clinched it for me and I drained the tomatoes before using them.
    • The ingredient list included a sprig of basil. Not only do I not know how much is in a "sprig" but the instructions didn't say what to do with the basil. I skipped the basil.
  • I used a #24 disher (almost 3 tablespoons) to make 20 meatballs. There was still meat left over which I cooked in some oil and added to the sauce in the crock pot.
  • I made a sourdough version of almost no-knead bread. I replaced ¼-cup of water with ¼-cup of sourdough starter. I made no other changes to the recipe, including the yeast, beer, and vinegar.
  • Served with salad (made with Earthbound Farms Spring Mix, tomato, peanuts, and dressing) and Chianti.

  • The bread was very good: good texture, good crust, good flavor. 
  • The sauce was runny and didn't adhere to the pasta. Since the juice that I drained was thick, perhaps it should have been included?
  • I would omit the red pepper flakes, not because they made the sauce too spicy but because the flavor is so strong it obscures the other flavors.
  • The meat balls were tender and flavorful. I am glad I took the time to brown them under the broiler as I am not sure they would have cooked through with 30 minutes in the sauce.
  • We had two meatballs each so the recipe should make 10 servings. We'll see how the sauce holds up.

Eat leftovers
  • I liked this much more as leftovers. The heat from the red pepper flakes had dissipated so the other flavors shone through. The sauce, however, still does not coat the pasta even after further cooking to thicken it up.
  • We have had this food for dinner three times and there are two more meals stored in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Notes: Hawaiian French Toast

17 May 2015

  • A simple dinner after a long hike.
  • This recipe popped up on Facebook recently so I thought I would try it.
  • I am still looking for the best recipe/method for making french toast. I don't expect this is it, but I may learn some things. 
  • The recipe uses King's Hawaiian bread. While the recipe calls for a round loaf we used a sandwich loaf. The slices were ¾-inches thick instead of 1-inch as in the recipe, but more uniform than I could cut them by hand.
  • Rather than leave the bread out to get dry as in the recipe, I dried it out in the oven. I wasn't sure how many slices of toast the recipe would make, so I filled a rimmed baking sheet which was 8 slices. They were baked at 225° for 30 minutes, turning them over half way.
  • Many years ago we used to eat King's Hawaiian Bread and we liked it, but we haven't had it for some time. I don't know exactly what it is but it would seem to be an enriched, sweetened bread. Since brioche is good for french toast, this should do well.
  • I omitted the nutmeg (Diane doesn't like it).
  • The bacon was cooked in water, initially, which keeps it tender and meatier.
  • To go with the french toast we had bacon, fresh fruit salad (strawberry, pineapple, banana, blueberry, raspberry, orange), and mimosas.

  • The french toast was good, not great. It was pretty sweet with ¼-cup sugar in the the batter plus maple syrup or jam topping.
  • It had an odd texture in the center, kind of chewy rather than custardy. The bread is a little thin for french toast and it would be interesting to taste a slightly thicker version.
  • There was only a little batter left over, maybe enough for one more slice, but 8 is a good number: 4 for dinner and 4 for leftovers.

Eat leftover
  • The leftover slices of french toast were cooled then placed in individual sandwich bags and frozen.
  • For breakfast: one slice is removed from the freezer and heated in the toaster on "frozen" mode and a setting of 6.  It makes for a good, quick breakfast with some juice and tea.