Friday, February 19, 2010

I don't like meatloaf-

I loved your last post. Seriously, I went back frequently just to look at your finished brick chick. There is something about plucked whole chickens that make me alternate between feeling sorry and wanting to chuckle. Mom roasted a speciman a few weeks ago and judging by its position in the roaster, I was sure it was going to sprint the 100 meters, or I should say skate the thousand.

I have a good Olympic-viewing-cooking set up right now. I am working on my middle island counter-top, on the far end where I can view Mike's 42 inch flat screen baby. With the crowds cheering me on, I attempted to conquer an old nemesis - meatloaf (cue thunder and scary music)-

I'm just not that into meatloaf - I'll eat it, sure, but it's on that short list of things I'm not wild for. In the normal world this would be a non-issue- don't love it, then don't cook it. However, since Mike is the pickiest person I know (seriously, everytime somebody tells me that they are picky I just laugh - no one has even come close to Mikey). If Mike ever questions my love - which he may mentally do on a 'why didn't my children sleep last night' kind of grumpy day, then he just needs to look at the plethora of Mike-friendly meals coming out of my kitchen. A key player in his food loves is ground beef. No, nothing resembling a steak, nope, just chuck it into a blender for my manly man.

On my quest for ground beef creativity, meatloaf factors in - well behind the lovely meatball and the mighty hamburger, but eventually we get to meatloaf. In an attempt to tart up the conventional meatloaf I went on the offensive. I stuffed it. Boy, did I stuff it. And I have to say, even I, with a meatloaf aversion, thought that it was OK. The rest of the dinner table was more enthusiastic, Finn polished off two adult-sized servings with ease.

1) Make your basic meatloaf recipe. Now, I don't have a recipe per se, I am sure the wonderful world of google will give you lots of options. I will give you my meatloaf 'method.' Aside: a method not a recipe, therefore I am in no way responsible if your interpretation of my method is not awesome.

Haley's Mealoaf Method: Take some beef - I generally use 2 pounds which makes a good sized loaf. Then add some flavour, this varies as to my mood - I always add: salt and pepper, and garlic powder. I usually add: 1 small grated or finely chopped onion. I often add: dash of dijon mustard, barbecue sauce, and/or worcestershire and I occasionally add: grated carrot (if I'm feeling that we need to up the veggie in-take). Next I add about 1/3 cup of fine oatmeal or bread crumbs. Finally, most people add an egg to bind - I've done with and without and don't notice a difference- this time I added about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce instead.

2) Now for the Filling and Rolling-
If you're still with me - next, on a large cookie sheet lined with my silicon mat ( if you don't have one I would use foil or parchment), I patted the meatloaf mixture into a large rectangle - a bit bigger than a 9 by 13 pan. Then I spread one package of defrosted and drained spinach (you could use fresh, just cook it first), topped with about 2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese. Then I rolled the whole baby up length-wise. Does that make sense? Rolling on the vertical to get a long skinny roll. Picture one giant sushi roll. If the meat crumbles just patch it back and keep going. I then put the whole roll on the middle of the cookie sheet (still on the mat) and baked it at 350 for an hour. Maybe 5 minutes before it was done I spread some tomato sauce on top. You could also top it with barbecue sauce or grated cheese.

In the meantime roast your potatoes and make a salad - You might just see me on the podium yet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brick Chick

Hi Haley,

First off, you should know that this post is as much for Heather as it is for you, as I've come to realize how much she loves appetizing photos. I have a feeling the splayed naked chicken is really going to do it for her. Heather: enjoy!

Chicken Under a Brick: The Photo Journey

This is one of those recipes that looks difficult and results in an impressive finished product BUT is in fact a cinch (great word) to prepare.

The gist is, you strip your chicken of her backbone, smoosh her flat, then cook her in a hot pan under a brick.

I use a heavy cast iron pot rather than a brick. To use a brick, find a vacant lot, and then a brick. Wrap your brick in tin foil and you're ready to go.

Step One: Remove your chicken's backbone.

Do this by putting your chicken on a cutting board breast up, and slicing on either side of the backbone. This will take some force. After the bone is removed use your hands to flatten the chicken. You want it to be as flat as possible so that it cooks evenly in the pan.

Step Two: Season your Chicken's Bod

Rub your chicken with a little olive oil, some coarse or table salt, and some freshly ground pepper. You may also dice some garlic and add that to your rub, or any other herbs such as rosemary or thyme.

Step Three: Fry that Bird
Heat a pan with a teeny bit of oil over medium heat. When it's good and hot, add the chicken and push the brick down on top of it. The breast should be down on the pan. Cook this way for 10-15 minutes before removing the brick and flipping the chicken. Cook breast up without the weight of the brick for another ten minutes. Flip the breast down and cook for another five. If you have a particularly large bird, you will need to finish cooking the bird in a 400 degree oven. You will know the bird is done when the legs move easily in their joints and the juices run clear from the leg joint area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The cake was fabulous - though the step-up that yours had over mine was the big, beautiful coconut shavings.

Thanks for your food list- If the world revolved around me, rather than status updates, Facebook would give me food updates- you know, let me know what my friends are eating hour by hour. When I'm asking Mike about his day what I really want to know is - what did you have for lunch?

As I sit on the couch tonight with a full belly I'll give you my delicious day -

Breakfast- leftover birthday pancakes with cream cheese and raspberry sauce (sauce from leftover cake)
Lunch- Finn and I polished off leftover home-made birthday sushi. Finn had enough soy sauce in this meal to equal his normal sodium intake for a week, maybe a month.
Nap-time snack - leftover cake
Dinner-baked spaghetti and meat balls, spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, in-laws here so I stepped it up a notch and finally got around to making your foccacia bread topped with two sliced garlic cloves and rosemary. (I love living back in BC - my rosemary and thyme have flourished all winter - and my chives think that it is spring and have started sprouting again.). Anyway the bread was great, I loved the shaggy dough concept. I made a double batch and have half the dough sitting in my fridge for pizza tomorrow night.
Dessert- leftover cake

Are you seeing a theme here? There's still one piece left...

I too am mulling over Valentine treat possibilities. A front runner is your chocolate mousse torte - but I don't want to commit to early- I need have something to daydream about whilst pushing the swing at the playground!

Cake (Very Creative Title, I Know)

Hi Haley,

Glad you liked the cake. I'm not really in a bloggy mood right now but I am trying to be good. My food thoughts are revolving around such:

meringue cookies--cooling on the rack
chicken--washed, rubbed down with coarse salt, herbs, and olive oil, waiting naked in the fridge
bread--always new possibilities (I made a banana French sourdough. Very nice)
Valentines Day--heart cookie (classic), pancakes, scones...hmmm, what else can be hearified?
chocolate pudding--slightly obsessed with this treat

I will post the cake recipe, in case any of our eager readers want to try it. I won't post icing and pastry cream recipes. When I made the cake, I split it and filled it with pastry cream and jam and iced it with a white chocolate frosting. It was good. The cake can also stand on its own two feet, so please try serving it unadorned. It is very tasty this way, just not as sweet, or as hello-world-look-at-meish.

Coconut Poppy Seed Cake
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yogurt

Preheat to 350

Sift flour, poppy seeds, coconut and baking powder together.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs; add the sugar and whisk. Whisk in the oil and salt.

Fold half the dry into the wet. Fold in the yogurt. Fold in the remaining dry.

Pour into a sprayed 9 inch round pan.

Bake 30-40 min.

Let cook 5-10 min before unmolding on a rack. Cool completely before devouring.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I know that the Reems table has never been a quiet one; when we were growing up there was much jockeying to get a word in edgewise at the chaotic dinner table. In order for one's story to be heard, it was not the contents that needed to be edited - no matter the excitement of the news, or the drama of the delivery- no, what was important was the sound volume. As our numbers increase with a new generation, the noise at our communal dinners is, if possible, getting louder. As excited two-year-olds wrestle in the family room, and Guy and Brent debate the merits of.. what I'm not sure, our voices raise in competition and companionship.

Now, with the dishes cleared away, the toys back in their boxes (waiting to be released come morrow), and the Reems' offspring back to their homes, a quiet has settled over Grandpa and Grandma's. Finn is in bed - complete with stories, hugs, and bungee cord to secure his door, and I am relishing the silence, but also the afterglow of time spent with family.

And, let's face it, I can't help but reflect on your cake. That glorious coconut poppy seed concoction of deliciousness. I need the recipe. I need to make that cake. I could write paragraphs about that cake but I am too tired to think coherently, let alone write so I am going to sign off.

Thanks for the cake.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Monster Mash

Hi Halzey,

Thanks so much for picking up the flour. What is the mill like? Is it on a farm? Did they say where they get their grain from? So very inquisitive, I am.

I looked up white whole wheat flour on the King Arthur's flour website because I wasn't sure exactly what it was. According to KA, the white whole wheat is "milled from hard white spring wheat, rather than traditional red wheat." Essentially, it will produce lighter baked goods than its red wheat (regular whole wheat flour) counterpart. I think for some cookies and muffins, a combo of white whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour might work well, as the pastry flour tends to really soften the texture of the baking and it sounds as if the white whole wheat will not. I'm thinking that the two might be combined to achieve a nice balance.

Anyhooo, I checked out a fun book from the library called "Baked." It's by two guys that opened a really successful bakery in New York.

I tried their recipe for monster cookies and made a couple of changes, naturally.

Here's my version of "Baked Monster Cookies"

2 and 3/4 plus 2 Tbsp oats (large, not quick)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
pinch salt
1/2 tbsp baking soda

1/4 plus 2Tbsp butter, softened (at room temperature, NOT melted)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp corn syrup (which they stress not to skip despite the small increment)
1 cup peanut butter (smooth, I used unnatural, which the recipe calls for, and I happened to have on hand due to a peanut butter mix up. Natural might be quite good, as well)

1-2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate--dark and milk (I used chopped chocolate and in this recipe, more is better. You may also use a combo of chips and M 'n Ms, as monster cookies typically do, or Smarties if you love them best).

In one bowl, mix the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the corn syrup and vanilla, beating after the addition.

Add the peanut butter and beat yet again.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until almost combined. Add the chocolate and mix until evenly distributed.

Put in the fridge for 5 hours or in the freezer for two.

Drop by 1 and 1/2 TBsps onto a prepared pan. Make sure your cookies are nice high rounds as they will spread.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until just brown. Let them cool for 3-5 minutes on the pan before popping them onto a cooling rack.

Impress your friends.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let the Baking Begin Continue!


Looking forward to seeing you Thursday! I brought your grocery list to Anita's Organic for a flour-shopping frenzy. I have 30 kg of grainy goodness for you - Between your order and mine I came away with the following flours:
white whole wheat,
whole wheat pastry,
stone ground whole wheat,
and all purpose.

So start flexing those kneading muscles!

I received a helpful tutorial on white whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flours - white ww is perfect for heartier cookies and quick breads due to its higher gluten content, while ww pastry is a really soft flour great for.. wait for it.. pastry.

I loved seeing your Grade 9 blondie recipe - as per usual our kitchens are in tandem - I have been blondie-obsessed lately. Of course, I had to whip yours up yesterday and they were superb. I took your advice and went with the 1/3 cup butter - actually 2/3 for a double batch. I am unable to bake a recipe without doubling it - a throwback to growing up in a family of six. This was a necessary doubling, however, as the cookie jar is - less than 48 hours later- almost empty again.

I have taken the liberty to changing the name to suit this household - 'Toddler Blondies.' In the last year or so, in the company of my spirited toddler, I am of the firm belief that chocolate at nap time is a necessity for the happiness of my family. Happy mommy = happy everyone. So thank you for the recipe!

See you soon!