I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

September 26, 2011

Damn I'm good.

Sometimes I come along a recipe or an article on food and read it and think to myself..."That is bloody brilliant! Why didn't I think of that????". Then I take the recipe, most often tweak it to my liking and write about it here. Which is why I write a food blog and not for Bon Appetit. But when I do nail it, I nail it. And making up a recipe is so much sweeter when the result is better than you even expected.

A few weeks back I left on a lovely vacation with my parents and other friends There are a few unusual things about this trip that are different from my normal vay-cay's.

Number One: It was a long one...10 whole days away from home, with 4 of them being driving well over 2000 miles on the way there and back. Wheeeeeee!!!!

Number Two: I left my work phone in my desk at work. The place we were going has extremely limited cell service and I felt that the need for a completely disconnected vacation was well deserved and quite frankly very needed. After the heartburn went away I really did enjoy myself.

Number Three: Even though we stayed in a house with all the comforts of home, I did very little cooking. This is because I had two wonderful ladies (Mama & Jill) cooking for me. Here is one of the wonderful dinners they made for us. Argentine Pork Loin & Mashed Potatoes, YUM!

Number Four: The reason for number three is that I was out hunting every morning and every evening for elk with my father and our friend Bruce. This is my new favorite picture.

Unfortunately for all of us, none of the three hunters were able to bring home an elk. Multiple factors contributed to our unsuccessful hunt including the heat, the amount of water and just dumb luck. It's not that we didn't try, the stars just weren't with us this time.

We stay on a ranch that our friends own in the upper part of Colorado, it is a working cattle and hay ranch for the most part, but the land is so vast and diverse I am sure there are riches to be found on the land if you just have the patience to look. We found wild raspberries and wild mountain strawberries on a trip up to a mining camp, mushrooms grow like crazy and there are any number of different game animals to take home.

Unfortunately for me, the only four legged creature that I came in contact with daily I was not allowed to shoot. If I could, I would be a well fed woman with a stocked freezer. Bummer that there is no cow season in Colorado...those things just stand there and chew the hay or grasses and look at you.

Our hosts were so kind at the end of the trip to gift us with a fair amount of beef from the ranch (ground, steaks and roasts) to take home as a consolation prize for not bringing in an elk. Now, I know what we all say about California Cows being happy and all that....but man they have NOTHING on the cows from Deline's ranch. These are some of the fattest, grass fed, relaxed cows I have ever seen.

I brought home a little bit, leaving the bulk at my parents house since I cook so rarely these days. But tonight as the weather changes and there is a little nip in the air, I felt the need for comfort food. With very little in the house I finally came up with meatloaf for dinner but wanted something a little different than my standard.

I googled and found several fun recipes, none of which I followed, and finally found the one that was the catalyst for this post.

The thing with meatloaf is that it really does need gravy in my opinion. I can do without if I have to, but it's just kind of missing something if you don't have it. Unless of course you are talking about a meatloaf sandwich in which case ketchup is perfectly acceptable. But meatloaf in a bread pan generally leaves a fair amount of fat and no drippings to speak of to make a homemade gravy. Unless you do this.....

Hello meatloaf bed. Thank you for joining us and letting us rest upon you. Please feel free to mingle with the juices of the meat and mirepoix to create a perfect base for homemade gravy.

I think this might be my new standard regardless of what flavor meatloaf I make as it is the ultimate gravy making method.

Porcini Mushroom Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy

1 oz Dried Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 C hot water
1 Medium Onion-1/2 diced fine, 1/2 rough chopped
1 Carrot, Peeled and Chopped
2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
1# Lean Ground Beef
1 Egg
1/3 C Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 C Chopped Parsley
1 T Salt
1.2 tsp Pepper
2 Slices of Bacon, cut in half
1/2 C White Wine
1 C Chicken Stock
3 T Flour with 1/4 C Water for Slurry

After mushrooms are reconstituted in water, pull out with a slotted spoon and pat dry, chop finely. Add 1/4 of the mushrooms to the carrots, onions and celery and place the mixture at the bottom of a metal pan that is suited to stove top use as well as oven.

Mix beef, egg, panko, remaining mushrooms, parsley, salt & pepper together until mixture holds together. If needed, add more bread crumbs if it is too moist. Don't overwork the mixture or it will be tough. Pat in to a loaf and place on top of vegetables in the pan. Top with the bacon slices. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. 

When done, remove meatloaf from the pan and place on a cutting board, tent with foil. Place roasting pan on he stove top and turn on low. Add the mushroom liquid and wine (not all the mushroom liquid, leave a little in the bottom to keep any grit in the container) to the vegetables and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom boiling for a minute. Pour the liquid in to a saucepan, straining out all the solids and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and thicken to your preferred thickness with the slurry. Season with S&P of course.

I served it with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes because what else do you serve with meatloaf, right???

September 24, 2011

It's better when you know where it came from!

I swear food really does taste better when you know where it came from, how long it's been off the vine or out of the water.

A few nights ago I finally had enough time off to get my ass back in the kitchen and cook something other than quickie meals, pre-packaged easy meals or heat up leftovers.

Simple simple simple...I had a fellow friend who was also overworked and in need of food love and girl time so I knew I didn't want to go crazy in the kitchen, but wanted to spend time chatting, drinking wine and burning our fingers gluing corks together to make corkboards.

Fresh Silver Salmon from Alaska courtesy of our friends Bruce & Jill, quick seared in a hot skillet and topped with a hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise sauce made from scratch with dad's eggs (well...his chickens eggs anyway) and dad's lemons of course.

Sliced tomatoes from Mom & Pop's garden drizzled with fig balsamic and fresh basil from a plant that is gracing my counter.

Zucchini from my friend Tiffany shredded and made in to cakes with a little cheese and other goodness.

Nothing frou frou, nothing fancy and everything probably took me about 45 minutes to prep and cook. But damn it was good. And the zucchini cakes are just as good, if not better, the second day so feel free to make extra!

Zucchini Cakes

1 Large Zucchini, shredded
1/2 of a Medium White Onion, shredded
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 Eggs
2/3 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
1 T Dill
Salt & Pepper to taste

After shredding the zucchini, squeeze with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. Blend everything together in a bowl and season to taste. If you let it sit too long it will get watery so try to do it at the last minute. Spray a large nonstick skillet with spray and fry the cakes over medium heat for about 5 minutes to a side or until browned. They can be kept warm in the oven before service.