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It's about food, restaurants, recipes and just plain eating.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm making these biscuit dough pizzas again for only the second time.  I first blogged about them at madKnews.  I was almost embarrassed to confess to liking them as they stand for everything I dislike in the kitchen, namely convenience foods.  But I also confess I buy and use these biscuits (and crescent rolls and bread and cookie dough and pizza dough) all the time so . . .

The reason I decided to make these again is because they were so good the first time.  That and the fact that I found pepperoni in the freezer when I thought there was none.  Moral of the story - clean your room!  You'll find things you thought were gone!

Another reason is that tonight is a special TV night which means I'll be in front of the tube pretty much all night long and these can be made oven-ready in just a few minutes, then baked when wanted.  Nifty.

Quotable Quotes; in the category That's What I'm Talking About - Less Talk!

"So I promise you that this State of the State, like a good pizza, will be delivered in 25 minutes or less."  Ruth Ann Minner, Governor of Delaware 2001- 2009

Monday, February 11, 2013

Totally Easy Pot Roast

I was looking through some recipes this weekend and came across this wonder.  It reminded me of a recipe I saw made back in the 1970s by the housekeeper of my dance teacher, who used to have us over to her house for meals.

Keep in mind I never knew growing up that things like stew and pot roast were supposed to taste good.  I thought stringy beef in watery gravy with mealy potatoes was how it was supposed to be.  Thus my dislike for things like Swiss Steak.  Indeed, once when offered a serving of homemade lamb stew by my boss, who brought in a crock pot full, made by his wife, for lunch I at once declined.  Thankfully he insisted and I tasted the most delicious stew ever.  Unfortunately I have never been able to duplicate the recipe, though not for lack of trying.

I also thought pot roast was supposed to contain lots of vegetables and lots of water.  How else was it supposed to feed a family of eight and how else were you going to get those mushy carrots and soggy potatoes?

Watching this woman prepare the pot roast was interesting.  She laid a large chuck steak in a shallow corning ware pan, seasoned it and covered it all over with thinly sliced onions.  She added a splash of vinegar.  When I asked why she replied that "it cuts the grease".

When I saw this recipe for the very best pot roast I remembered the sight of that woman preparing this humble dish, the smell of it cooking slowly all afternoon and the taste of succulent meat and rich gravy.  This recipe may not provide rich gravy (unless you thicken it with a roux and add some cream or butter) but it will produce delicious pan drippings to spoon over potatoes or noodles.  Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch shallow pan.  Lay in the pan a 3 lb. chuck steak with ALL fat removed.  Season with salt & pepper and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme) and a crumbled bay leaf.  Thinly slice one or two onions and lay the slices over the meat.  Do not add any water as the dish will make its own.  A teaspoon or tablespoon of vinegar may be added.  Cover the pan with heavy duty foil and seal tightly.  Place in a 275 f oven for six hours.  Don't lift the foil until done.  Allow to rest briefly before slicing or shredding the meat for serving with its juices.

Quotable Quotes; in the category Does Anybody Really Know What Thyme It Is?

"A minister has to be able to read a clock.  At noon, it's time to go home and turn up the pot roast and get the peas out of the freezer."  Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Meat . . . Loaf . . . Meatloaf!

I made meatloaf yesterday.  Since it's only the two of us I made a small one using 1 pound of ground beef.  I know a meatloaf should be made bigger but even using a whole pound of beef meant half the loaf was leftover.  What to do with the leftovers?  I don't like meatloaf sandwiches and I was not confident I'd enjoy it reheated - and reheated leftover mashed potatoes are never my favorite thing.  Cottage pie to the rescue!

I know most people talk about Shepherd's pie but that, strictly speaking, is made with leftover roast lamb.  A similar dish made with leftover roast beef is known as Cottage pie.  Just sayin'.

I know there are recipes for Shepherd's pie that start with ground beef that is browned, things added, then assembled into the well knows dish with a mashed potato topping.  I make it a rule never to cook two meals when I will only end up with one.  Better to cook once and have two meals.  Thus my Shepherd's or Cottage pie is always made of leftover meat and mashed potatoes.

My sister confirmed that my leftover meatloaf would make a successful pie.  Here's how it goes.

Slice, cube and crumble cold leftover meatloaf into a lightly oiled casserole of appropriate size.  Moisten the meat with enough leftover gravy or juices just to make it moist - not wet.  If you don't have any leftover gravy add some tomato sauce and a little Worcestershire, or even ketchup and/or barbecue sauce.

Add any leftover vegetables you may have or add some canned or frozen (cook first) vegetables.  We want this to be a one-dish meal so go ahead and add plenty.  I like to make sure there is some corn and green beans.  Diced carrot is also good.  Use what you like or what you have.  Give it a stir so it's well combined, and spread it evenly in the dish.

Now plop some leftover mashed potatoes over the top.  Moisten your hands with water and smoosh the mash all over until it's evenly covered.   You want a layer about 3/4 inch thick or so.  (If you wish you can moisten the potatoes with a little milk first to make them easier to spread).  Take a spoon or a dinner knife and dollop little swirls over the potatoes as if icing a cake.  (Optional, some people like to mix a little shredded cheese into the potatoes - I do not - do what  you like best).  I dot a few bits of butter over the potatoes and sprinkle generously with paprika for a pretty color.

Pop your pie into a hot oven - about 375-400 f - for about an hour until the pie is piping hot throughout and the potatoes lightly browned on top.  Covering the casserole with a lid or a layer of aluminum foil will help it heat and prevent too much browning.

Serve your pie hot with a side salad, a little crusty bread or whatever you like best.

If you do not have any leftover meatloaf use any leftover meat such as roast beef or lamb, pot roast, steak even!  If you do not have a favorite meatloaf recipe here's one you can try.

Combine in a bowl about a cup of bread crumbs, cracker crumbs or crushed cornflakes with an egg and a small onion, finely minced.  Season with Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper, a little cayenne pepper and some green herbs.  An Italian seasoning blend or poultry seasoning will do or you can add a pinch of oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, you get the idea.  Add about a pound of ground beef (or a combination of ground beef, veal and/or pork) and mix well to combine.  Use your hands - the best kitchen tools for the job!

Spray a piece of foil with vegetable cooking spray and fold up the edges to form a rim.  Place this on a baking sheet and plot the meat mixture on it, shaping it into a free form loaf about 2 inches or so thick.  Smooth the top and pop it in a 350 f oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While it bakes mix in a small bowl about a cup of ketchup or a combination of ketchup & barbecue sauce with a little more Worcestershire and/or soy sauce, some lemon juice and some molasses or brown sugar.  Or just use plain ketchup.  After the loaf has baked about a half hour start spooning the ketchup mixture over the top, repeating about every 15 - 20 minutes.  This forms a glaze that will be crusty in spots.  When the meatloaf is done turn off the oven and allow to rest while you finish preparing your mashed potatoes and gravy and other sides.  Enjoy and think about the meatloaf sandwich or cottage pie you'll be savoring the next day.

Quotable Quotes in the category It's Comfort Food But Is It Hip?

"The day that I ever become hip . . . please shoot me and put me out of my misery!"

Meat Loaf, Rock Musician