Monday, June 26, 2017

Meatloaf... its what's for dinner!

Though I grew up a vegetarian, my mom always cooked meat things for my dad, and meatloaf was one of the dishes I loved. It’s tasty, filling and approachable, especially for someone who isn’t used to a lot of meat, because there is no clue as to what animal it was. It’s just a loaf. Of goodness. It’s fun to mix up with your hands, it’s delicious right out of the oven, and also nice cold on a sandwich. It is an all-purpose food and modelling material!

today's fridge finds = tonight's dinner!

Carrie wrote this, age 10

I have indeed sampled and experimented with other loaves, like the Super Hippie mushroom-lentil loaf so popular in Berkeley and other communal living hot spots, and if nicely spiced (and if there is some fat content), some are actually not bad. I’ve also made the quintessential mid-century style meatloaf (see 1959 General Foods Cookbook) which derives its flavor from a packet of dry soup or dressing mix, and might be topped with freeze-dried onions! My mom’s recipe (see my hand-copied notes, written at age 10, above) was a somewhat gourmet mix of several meats and traditional Italian spices. If done thoughtfully, one can create a loaf out of just about anything, meat or otherwise. I’ve begun, lately, to treat meatloaf a bit the way I treat quiche: I believe I can throw just about anything in, and it will be good. That thinking has given rise to my general weekday meal-planning strategy: my favorite formats being 1) quiche 2) salad 3) soup and 4) meatloaf. I pretty much rotate those 4 and use whatever is fresh, leftover, given to me by neighbors or otherwise discovered  in my fridge, to create one-dish suppers that I will also enjoy the day after for lunch.

Love this cookbook, thank you GKG!

A very traditional version from the 50s

Carrie’s Theory of Meatloaf: Basically, mix up some ground meat, chopped veg, some kind of binding agent (bread crumbs or oatmeal are typical), and a liquid like egg, cottage cheese or milk. Add a member of the Allium family (onion, leek, scallion, garlic), add a little spice (oregano, basil, Worcestershire sauce), form into a loaf, and bake. This can be topped with tomato paste, basted with wine or chicken stock, or can be left plain to firm into shape in a medium oven (350-375) for somewhere between 45-60 min and then fill er up! For serving, you can try something fancy like a drizzle of tomato sauce (aka catsup) or a sprig of mint, but don’t try too hard – it’s meatloaf : not pretty, but pretty darn tasty.

meatloaf version 2.0

mix it up!

Loaf + tomato paste = yum

Going in

Today’s loaf is a turkey and veg creation, based loosely on a modern recipe:

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ chopped green bell pepper
½ chopped onion
Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Tomato paste to top; Red wine to baste

Bake as suggested above (350-375 for 45-60 min)

and enjoy with a glass of the red wine you used to baste. #nom

Have a slice!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Unicorn Frappuccino Hack #pinterestfail

The Unicorn Frappuccino. Business analysts call the drink's creation "stunt marketing" but Starbucks calls it "flavor-changing, color-changing, totally not made-up" and describes the flavor as "magical" starting off "sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour." Meanwhile, lovable culinary snark Anthony Bourdain called it the "perfect nexus of awfulness" but unless you've been under a rock the past month, you've seen or heard about it. Perhaps you even tried one, like I did with a mico-sample at my local crack dealer's Starbucks:

Sample Size. A good place to stop. 

And what does it taste like? SUGAR. Sugar-flavored sugar that tastes vaguely of mango, in fun colors that was available for a short time only, is 100% Instagram-worthy, and will give you street cred with middle schoolers. So, basically, a win for Starbucks and "diabetes in a cup" according to health experts, parents and sane people everywhere. Clearly I lost my sanity when I tried it: they say that the taste of sugar induces our brains to seek more sugar, so I decided to make my own at home. Yeah... because if I made it, it would somehow not be a bucket of cold iced shiny sugar mess? Well, not if I made it exclusively with ingredients available at my favorite health food store, San Francisco's venerable Rainbow Grocery! 

Yes, I took my tween daughter to get one and Instagrammed it, what. 

Semi-healthy ingredients mostly from the health food store. I should point out that my cost was significantly higher than the cost of the actual drinks, though due to their scarcity, it was my only option as the drinks were discontinued the day before. According to my calculations, two drinks made at home cost approximately $38, while the drink retailed for just under $5. Hmmmm...


For the "Frappuccino" I blended frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of vanilla ice cream, and coconut water. I tried using grenadine to color it pink, but that had seemingly no effect, so I resorted to red (natural! No red #5 thankyouverymuch) food color, and had to use the whole package ($2) to get even a slight pink. BUT IT WAS PINK! I skipped the cranberries, worrying about texture, and let the yogurt provide the slight tartness we tasted in the original. I added agave syrup to sweeten it, but I am sure mine was nowhere NEAR as sweet as the original (59 g of sugar).

The procedure was rather messy, and required numerous elements of my "Ninja Mega Kitchen System" (OK I just like to say that aloud in my best NASCAR voice! Don't you do that too?) and I pulled several things out of the fridge that were not planned. This was truly an experiment, not a tested recipe. So, I might need to do it again...

You'll note in the original, there is a blue drizzle around the inside of the cup... I tried to recreate this with blended blueberries. They didn't get blue enough or thick enough, so I added a bit of vanilla ice cream, as well as blue food coloring. 

AND OMG here it is! In fact the most disappointing element was the Soy Whip, which did not set up the way conventional whipped-cream-in-a-can does, so the top of the cup is sadly empty, but we did sprinkle it with blue sugar crystals in an effort to recreate the neon blue "fairy powder" of the original.... After laughing for about 5 minutes straight, and referring to the hilarious Instagram account @pinterest_fails we tried it, and you know what? It was GOOD! 

OK maybe not quite as good, colorful or thick as the original...

But I did it!