Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Meatloaf is apocryphal. Yup, there is something primitive about the 'loaf. It seems to call to all cultures, creeds and ethnicities. This doesn't mean it is stagnant. The 'loaf is ever changing, as I found out tonight.

Some of you may remember Athena's comment that she "took an informal poll" and that 'loaf was only batting about .500.

Well, this shook me. Yup, it shook me to my core. Being chief lobbyist of the 'loaf in question, I have a lot of questions to answer on a daily basis. You wouldn't believe how may people get antagonistic over the 'loaf. It would turn your hair white. Well, tonight I went toe to toe, yup, mano y mano, with the official driver of the nice yellow schoolbus to Hell.


He is the anti-christ's official chauffeur. And, boy, does he take his job seriously. He gets excited by sin. And not your run of the mill sin. He takes EVERYONE's name in vein. Every chance he gets he makes bad choices. Simple.

Anyway, needless to say, Bryce voted in the contrary, in Athena's straw poll, about meatloaf. Strangely, growing up in rural Saskatchewan made him anti 'loaf. However counter-intuitive that is , I had to accept it. Saskatchewan has been nothing but a speedbump to me in the past so why should I know anything about the culinary perogatives of the prairie folk, past or present (sorry, Danielle).

Well, Bryce was anti 'loaf. He hated it; didn't understand the purpose. He just couldn't find a place in his heart for the ground baked meat. As many of you know, this is anathema to me, but, also knowing me, it isn't surprising that I didn't approach this situation as a confrontation. Bryce is a friend and if, god willing, I am on that bus, I will need all the help I can get, so I am not going to antagonize him. No sir!

So I brought out the big guns. Yup, the Big'uns! And for a loaf lover like myself this is only one thing. Yup, you guessed it.


Bryce's jaw dropped. No, I didn't provide a lead up. I didn't say, "I can convert you". All I did was mention the Duck Burger from the cookbook. He asked for more information and I slammed him.

"Well", I said, "I was only looking at the cookbook because I wanted to expand my options. Every burger can be expanded to a loaf, you know. Think about it... Duckloaf."

You can almost see the jaw as it hits the floor. Maybe you can actually hear it. I did. It was a satisfying mixture of Iggy Pop and *kerplunk*. His only response, weak as it was, was "I love duck. Duck loaf sounds goooood."

No truer words have been spoken. Duck loaf does sound good, doesn't it? It is exciting, very exciting, but expensive. Buying enough ducks, deboned and ground, to fill your average loaf pan will cost you in upwards of $50. That is a lot for a 'loaf, but not out of reach. Inspite of the fact that duck is fatty and will shrink. A lot.

So, what do you do?

Bryce, Athena and myself brainstormed the problem.

The only thing we could come up with was

Triple Glazed Turducken Loaf with a Cranberry Relish

but I will talk about that later.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What is it with the Brits and their cookbooks? Why are they so much more accepting of ethnic and or lifestyle food choices? Why can you get a curry on your fries (chips?!)? Why is vegetarianism so much more accepted and seen as a viable alternative, especially for restaurants?

I have this cookbook that I bought at work a while back. It is titled The Burger Book by Gina Steers and as you can imagine it is a collection of burger recipes. Of the 34 distinct burger recipes, 5 are fish and 10 are vegetarian. Roughly 45% of the book is for non meat eaters. The rest fall under meats and poultries and even those are more exciting than most. A couple fun examples would be Smoky Trout Burgers with Pesto Relish from fish. Or my favourite from poultry, Duck Burgers with Sweet Apple and Plum Relish. Meat comes in with a couple of whoppers (mind the pun) like Lamb Tikka Masala Burgers and Beef Teriyaki Burgers with Sizzling Vegetables. The veggie options are the true winners, however. How could one not get excited by Butternut Squash with Cornmeal Burgers or Blue Cheese and Apple Burgers or Macadamia and Feta Cheese Burgers? It just boggles the mind.

I just wonder where I can find enough ground duck to fill a loaf pan.

Friday, June 24, 2005

My dear friend Kate sent me a short anecdote about growing up in her household. Her Mom, who I have known my entire waking life, is a phenomenal cook. And she is the most patrician woman named Patricia I have ever met. I never imagined she would ever cook a meatloaf, but according to Kate she did, on special days. Have a look:

"As kids, we got to choose our own birthday suppers. For a few years in a row I chose....meat loaf. I think this was in the Eva [the best Hungarian gourmet family friend anyone could ask for - editor] years when food at our house took a turn for the gourmet and meatloaf fell out of favour with the chef. What I really wanted was "frosted" meatloaf - oh yes, the loaf can be coated with a creamy white casing of mashed potatoes...I have seen photos in my Betty Crocker Junior Cooks cookbook. But I never got it. The mashed potatoes were always on the side... probably thesis writing and tending house and kids did not leave a lot of time for a left-handed, uncrafty-type to drive herself insane trying to smear potatoes evenly over a log of ground meat..."

Well, this was the first time I had ever heard of this 'frosted' loaf and to be honest, it really intrigued me. Albeit, 'frosted' loaf sounds like Shepherd's Pie without a 5pm visit from the gravy train, but what do I know. So as any enterprising blogger would, I googled it. And let me tell all of you once and for all. My Google-Fu is stronger than yours!!! So here is a simple recipe (from a very God-fearing woman named Heneliz) for...

Frosted Meatloaf

1 egg

1/3 cup quick oats

1/3 cup barbeque sauce

1/2 tsp salt

dash black pepper

1/3 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

instant mashed potatoes(or real,it's up to you)
sliced american cheese
1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 clove minced garlic

1. In a bowl beat egg and add oats, barbeque sauce, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chopped onion and minced garlic. Mix well add ground beef & mix with hands.

2. Put your meat mixture into a loaf pan, bake at 350 degree oven for 1 hr & 15 mins. Remove from oven and drain fat.

3. Make instant potatoes according to package directions but use only 1/2 the milk. Spread the potatoes over top and sides of meatloaf bake 15 minutes more.

4. Put american cheese slices on top of potatoes and let melt before serving. Place meatloaf on serving platter and slice. You may substitute any kind of cheese you like.

I would pay particular attention to the last sentence. Please, by the will of God, substitute ANY kind of cheese you like. American cheese isn't!

And Kate, maybe it is time you frosted one up for your kids.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Well, today I realised I wasn't the smartest man I know (no, it isn't you either Nick). It just so happens that the smartest man I know is a woman. Anna, during a very engaging discussion about the loaf, stated, and I paraphrase, "Well, it seems very Atkins friendly". Boy is she right. And maybe this is the exact thing we need to get meatloaf back into it's rightful place on the kitchen tables of America.

So for your enjoyment and recipe boxes, here is a meatloaf recipe approved by the good Doctor.

Mushroom-Flavored Meatloaf

Mushrooms, Parmesan and herbs jazz up plain-old meatloaf for a dish that just might become a family staple. Serve with roasted vegetables on the side for a nourishing and hearty autumn meal.

2 slices low-carb white bread, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
8 thinly sliced white mushrooms
7 finely chopped scallions, including half of the green tops
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 pounds ground chuck or ground turkey
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup ice water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil. Cover a wire rack with foil; prick foil in several places with a fork. Place rack in pan; set aside.

2. Pulse bread in a food processor to make fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

3. In a small cup combine 1 tablespoon bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon Parmesan; set aside.

4. In a 12-inch skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, scallions and garlic; sauté until mushrooms are tender, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes.

5. Transfer mushroom mixture to food processor and process until finely chopped.

6. In a large bowl, gently combine ground meat, plain bread crumbs, mushroom mixture, cream, water, egg, remaining Parmesan, salt, thyme, pepper and all but 2 tablespoons parsley. Mix until evenly blended. Transfer mixture to a work surface and form into a 9- by-5-inch loaf.

7. Place loaf on prepared rack. Bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle top of loaf with bread-crumb topping. Bake until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 160°F for chuck or 165°F for turkey and bread-crumb topping is nicely browned, 20 to 25 minutes more.

8. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with reserved 2 tablespoons parsley.
Everything courtesy of

Thanks Anna!
Well, I couldn't sleep. I think it has to do with the large cup of coffee I had around 5:30 this afternoon. Everytime I drink coffee after 4pm I am up all hours. Unless I dilute the coffee with liquor. That seems to work.

'What does this have to do with meatloaf?', you ask. It just so happens that one of the thoughts floating around in my scattered little mind while lying in bed was how much I loathe my father's hamloaf. When I say loathe, I mean loathe. The mere thought of this monstrosity still, to this day, actually, makes me cringe in a 'I'm about to be sick' sort of way. I am not sure why this has stayed with me. As a small child, I used to get violently ill when I smelled cooked eggs. That response was hard to break, but I managed and now I eat eggs regularly (egg salad still turns my stomach). So why is it that a loaf made of ham still haunts me at the ripe old age of 31. Its not like it was on regular rotation of the meals made by Dad repetoire. I only remember having to eat it twice and of it making an appearance, where I flatly refused, twice more after that. So why has this thing stuck with me?

My father grew up in odd circumstances and needless to say this affected his cooking. He is not a bad cook nor is he uncreative it is just that sometimes things he likes seem to come straight from the 'Tom Jode Cookbook'. I guess Newfoundland in the 30s and 40s was a rough place. Anyway, he used to keep these hams in the fridge kinda like this one (not to disparage the fine folks at Maple Leaf):

I don't know if any of you has ever had to open one of these puppies, but they have this disgusting layer of gelatinous ham juice coating their entirety. It is just gross. Anyway, my father would keep one of these in the fridge for use in a quick lunch or snack or something. None of us ever seemed to eat them, but my father would cut off a slice here or there and eat it with cheese on crackers or flatbreads (before they were called flatbreads). Rarely, but on more than one occasion, he would run out of things to cook for dinner (either in the fridge or his imagination) and would grind or chop what was left of one of these suckers, mix it with things (to this day I have no idea what went in it, but I have a feeling rice was involved) and bake it in loaf form. It would be served with potato and some sort of green vegetable (steamed broccoli is a Dad fave) and mustard pickles. Sometimes my mother would take pity on us and make cheese sauce.

I may not have made this sound all that unappetising, but to this day I get queasy whenever I see this type of damn ham.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I thought I would show you all a picture of the meatloaf I made last night. It was great! I served it with garlic mashed sweet potatoes and some steamed carrots.

You may think it looks rather small, but that is only because I couldn't stop myself from having seconds. And no I didn't take a bite out of that slice right before I took the photo, but I thought about it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Tonight I made my first meatloaf in months, so I thought I would share the recipe with you. It was modified from a recipe I found in The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook.

Beef & Lamb Meatloaf

4 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp butter
1 lb lean ground lamb
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup skim milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp ground savory
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tbsp dried sage
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Saute the mushrooms and onions in the butter until most of the juice is gone. Put them aside and let them cool. Preheat oven at 375F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, mix thoroughly. Place mixture in loaf pan. Combine glaze ingredients in bowl. Pour mixture over loaf, spreading evenly. Cook loaf for about 1 1/2 hours or until internal temperature is 150F. Let stand ~20 minutes before serving.

Inaugural post!! Tonight saw the humble beginnings of the I Love Meatloaf blog.

"Why meatloaf", you say? Well, I like a good meatloaf. I make a mean meatloaf. Whenever I see it on a menu I am always tempted. Meatloaf is a great food, so why not.

Meatloaf causes passions to rise in any number of people. I love them. Veggies get angry. Vegans get enraged. Grandmoms talk with dripping sentimentality about their secret recipes. Meatloaf is cross-cultural and as relevant today as it was in the 50s.