Monday, March 19, 2012

Favorite Things #2

I like this idea of doing a favorite things post every now and then.  You know the Quakers never celebrated holidays because they thought that every day was reason to celebrate.  That's a little bit how I feel when I make a favorite food in the middle of the week with nothing more in mind than, for example, just having a slice of warm, brimming-with-flavor meatloaf.  And, the thought that it'll be be sitting in the fridge for days waiting to be sliced and stuffed between 2 slices of toasted quinoa bread from Loaf and a few bread and butter pickles making a sublime sandwich thrills me.

I developed this meatloaf recipe on September 17th 2004 to be exact.  (I have a habit of recording memorable meals, whew - it turns out to serve me well) for a Sunday night Scrabble game that I used to play with some regularity with my friend, John.   The meatloaf never ceases to amaze - mostly me.   I have rarely deviated from the exact recipe that I recorded more than 7 years ago.  Until now.    I buy my ground pork and beef from Pigasso Farms - sometimes directly from them at the Hudson Farmer's Market - but, throughout the winter months from Lick the Market - where it's sold in 1 1/2 pound packages.   So, instead of 2 pounds of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork as per the original recipe I use equal measurements of each.   The difference in the two recipes is subtle.  My Hudson meatloaf tastes even more like a country pate than the first NYC version.   Where did I just read a quote from a chef  saying that the best meatloaf should taste like pate?

I've always made mealoaf Italian-style, adding milk-soaked chunks of bread to the meat in order to keep the whole loaf moist - however, when I made this one the first time I happened to have a quart of whole milk yogurt and a pound of feta cheese in the refrigerator.  I asked myself, why not try those ingredients instead of milk-soaked bread? I did - it was AMAZING - just the flavor and texture that I had always desired.  I've never looked back.


Makes a 10-inch by 7-inch loaf

1 1/2 pounds round beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
3 eggs
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 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.

Adding a poached dish to the top of any dish of leftover food immediately elevates right back up to an original dish with its own very special sauce.   I'm particularly enamoured of topping leftover pasta with a poached egg.  I like breaking the egg open and watching the bright yellow yolk run all over the pasta (this time with sauteed kale and blistered grape tomatoes) creating the most sumptuous and creamy sauce. Don't forget a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese as the perfect counterpart to the egg and punctuation for the pasta.

I'm so happy to see the local supermarket shelves stocked with Passover provisions.  In particular, the Shoprite carries my favorite, Yehuda organic matza.  It's thin and super crispy.  Besides, #1 chewing on matza row by row, #2 spreading butter and almond butter on it, I like to make, #3, matza brei - or fried matza.  I favor salty matza brei - but when cooked, this pancake-like dish can be topped with cinnamon and sugar, or maple syrup or honey butter to consume. 
The first night of Passover is on April 6th.

for 1

1 sheet matza, broken into pieces and soaked in water until slightly soft
1 large, or 2 small eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste - or any other topping

1.  Drain the soaked matza and add to a mixing bowl.  Add the eggs and mix to thoroughly combine with the matza.
2.  Add the butter to a small frying pan over medium heat.  Let the butter brown (my preference).   Add the egg mixture to the pan and fry until the sides appear crisp and golden.  Flip over and brown the other side.
3.  Serve immediately with your choice of topping.

I like that I can walk to the train station in Hudson, get on Amtrak and be in NYC's Penn Station in just under 2 hours.  That's just what I did on March 17th.  You're an idiot, you say?  Well, yes, there were lots of drunken leprechauns on the city's streets but I managed to sidestep them right through a delicious lunch at Il Buco Alimentari - tiny fried artichokes all golden crunchy on the outside and warm, soft artichoke creaminess on the inside, and grilled octopus, exquisitely charred and served with a salad of chick peas and currants.  My mouth is still watering.  A few errands, a visit with dear friends and a magical birthday celebration in candle-lit rooms filled with various sized transparent helium ballons capped the lovely day in grand style.
I'm happy that I found, on such a tumultuous NYC eve, a cab to take me back to Penn station in plenty of time to catch my train home.


So nice to see pal Stella (known to me as Stella, Wella, Bella) looking so good in her  East Village window throne.

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