Friday, March 18, 2011
Dinner and Scrabble for Two
About 7 or 8 years ago my friend, John, and I began a Sunday night tradition that continues to this day - Scrabble and dinner. Although our Sunday game and meal is not played with the frequency as it was in the beginning, it's become a custom . The Sunday night dinners were, and are always at my house (other games and meals are enjoyed at John's place). The opportunity to make meals for two that usually result in enough leftovers for up to 3 or 4 more meals is an irresistible undertaking for a single person like I am. The possibility of creating new recipes is also a big PLUS! BTW - I've kept track of every single meal that I made for all our games (I have, however, neglected to keep track of the winner of each game. hmmm). For a recent installment of our mini Scrabble tournament I began the meal plan with dessert first. Lemon Mousse. Man, oh man, I had a deep desire for something bright and lemony. This northeastern winter has dragged on for way too long. If the sun won't show itself in our sky then I was determined to make it to fill up our insides My go-to lemon mousse recipe is Craig Claiborne's (now, there a name we don't hear enough these days!) from The New York Times,International Cook Book (Harper & Row, 1971). More on dessert a little further down.
In an entry dated September 17th, 2004 - Scrabble, John, I wrote "meatloaf - 2 lbs. beef, 1 lb. pork", and a list of the other ingredients without measurements. That first meatloaf was a huge success - no, it was an AMAZING success. So much that I made it again, and again until I got the ingredient list and measures just right.
The loaf is super tasty when you eat it just out of the oven with its savory juices juices running - but, I'm just as satisfied to eat it the next day, cold from the refrigerator, sliced and made into a sandwich - on any kind of toasted bread - garnished with sharp Dijon mustard and a pile of micro greens. This meatloaf has a pate-like quality. I admit, I'm lucky to be able to purchase, local, grass-fed ground beef to use for this dish. I'm not sure that I would be able to be so cavalier about making meatloaf with its main ingredients coming from an unknown source.
Makes a 10-inch by 7-inch loaf
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tomato catsup
1/4 cup prepared Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Add the beef, pork, eggs, feta cheese, yogurt, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and salt to a large bowl. Using your hands, thoroughly and carefully blend all the ingredients.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the topping: in a small bowl add the catsup, mustard and Parmesan cheese and thoroughly combine.
3. Place two sheets of parchment paper on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Place the meat mixture on the top sheet of parchment paper and form into a loaf measuring approximately 10-inches by 7-inches. Cover the loaf with the topping mixture. Loosely close the loaf with the top layer of parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the outside is browned (slightly black).
4. Serve immediately. Leftover meatloaf can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
I served the meatloaf with two salads. Again, the salads were in response to my desire for fresh and bright - in their case, crunchy too. Salad #1 - thinly sliced radishes (sliced on a mandolin), crumbled feta cheese, lots of chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped black olives, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. Salad #2 - shredded carrots dressed with tahini. I made the tahini in a food processor with tahini (sesame paste), fresh lemon juice, garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and thinned with warm water until it reached the consistency of buttermilk. Carrots were tossed with the tahini dressing. The salad was garnished with za'atar - an Arabic spice blend that includes oregano, basil, thyme, savory, marjoram, sumac berries, sesame seeds and dried lemon peel. Za'atar is available commercially, already blended. My za'atar was a gift from Haifa, who makes it according to her Lebanese mother's recipe. My starch of choice to accompany the meatloaf and salads was toasted pita bread. We did not mourn the the lack of mashed potatoes!
To continue the discussion as to why I love lemon mousse and this recipe in particular. It tastes like the cloud-version of a sour lemon drop, and it marries so well with berries. Visually it knocks me out when combined with intense, purpley blueberries or shocking pink raspberries. I just happened to have a pint of last summer's blueberries and plums cooked with my brother-in-law's Nantucket honey and creme de cassis, stashed in a lonely corner of my freezer which I was happy to thaw for the occasion. Actually, I whipped a little extra cream (a bit more than called for in the recipe) and turned all the ingredients into a lemon mousse parfait.
4 eggs separated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon gelatin
1 cup heavy cream plus more more for garnish
1. Grate the rind of the lemons and reserve. Squeeze the juice and reserve.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the rind and sugar and beat vigorously until the mixture is light and lemon colored.
3. Combine the lemon juice and gelatin and let stand ten minutes. Heat the mixture over low heat or hot water until the gelatin dissolves, then stir it into the egg yolk mixture.
4. Whisk the cream until thick and fold it into the moussed mixture. Whip the egg whites and fold them in.
5. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart souffle dish and pour into the mousse mixture. Chill at least two hours.
I made the parfaits by adding the blueberries to the bottom of large white wine glasses, then a few scoops of lemon mousse, and topped with whipped cream and a few blueberries.
SUSANSIMONSAYS: In the summertime, when fresh, local berries are available - starting with June strawberries up until August blackberries, with blueberries and raspberries in between - try swirling the fresh berries through the lemon mousse just before it sets. Beautiful, and divinely delicious!