Sunday, March 27, 2011

SNOW? AGAIN? Give me a break!

So, what happened to Spring? Blink and its gone! Here I was, blogging away about warm sunshine, crisp green veggies, painting at the vineyard….and we have had more snow! That is Kansas for you…..however I did see the East coast is expecting a foot of snow today. At least our’s is just blowing, but not sticking. That is good, but I still HATE it!
I went into The Tasteful Olive on Saturday….wow! It was hoppin’! Jeanne and Jay Mackay are such a delightful couple. They had a great idea and are executing it beautifully. I absolutely could not leave there empty handed, so today I have added their Roasted Sesame Oil to my collection. I am thinking up all sorts of ways to incorporate it in tonight’s dinner!
I added to another collection today also. I bought another brand of watercolors today; only problem is now I have to actually paint. David was here for the weekend, so my new German watercolors will be tested. If the color is as vibrant on paper as it is in the pans, I will be thrilled.
Saturday I watched Lidia Bastianich’s program, Lidia’s Italy. On the menu was her Meatloaf with Ricotta, Polpettone di Manzo con Ricotta. I have always loved meatloaf, in fact, my Dad’s meatloaf was truly wonderful. As a chef at Crown Center in the early 90s, I prepared my Dad’s meatloaf and it became famous. So famous that we had Meatloaf Mondays! For several years after leaving Crown Center, I would run into people who would beg me for the recipe. They swore up and down that their lives were just not the same without that meatloaf.
Lidia’s Meatloaf with Ricotta may possibly have the same effect on the world today….it looks and sounds that good! I am sure Lidia won’t be offended if I share her recipe with you.

Meatloaf with Riccotta

Polpettone di Manzo con Ricotta cookbook: Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy

 “Most of you have made meatloaf on occasion; you may even have a family-favorite recipe that you make frequently. Well, I want to introduce you to the Marchegiano style of meatloaf, with ricotta added to the mix, which renders the loaf tender and tasty-not heavy and dense, as they so often are. Another textural delight in this loaf are cubes of mozzarella, oozing and moist when the meatloaf is served hot and fresh from the oven. However, if you plan on having extra meatloaf to enjoy the next day (I think it is almost better that way) omit the mozzarella, because the cubes harden and won't melt again. In this case, use an additional cup of ricotta in the loaf mix.” Lidia Bastianich

serves: 8 servings
1 cup milk
3 cups day-old bread, cubed, from a loaf of country bread
3 pounds ground beef
3 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 pound fresh ricotta , drained, plus more for the sauce if you like
1 bunch scallions , finely chopped
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups Tomato sauce, try using Lidia's Marinara Tomato Sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour the milk over the bread cubes in a bowl, and let soak for a few minutes, until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can (discard milk, or give it to a pet), then tear bread into small shreds and toss back into the bowl. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.
Brush a roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the pan with foil and bake 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan as the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir 1/2 cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, in slices as thick as you like. Serve on warm dinner plates, topped with a spoonful or two of sauce, and pass more sauce at the table (or, for family-style serving, arrange the slices on a warm platter, topped with some of the sauce). To accompany this meatloaf, I love braised broccoli rabe or escarole, served on a separate plate or platter. Note: If you love fresh ricotta, as I do, you can stir some into the tomato sauce, too, just before serving the meatloaf.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to give you Lidia’s recipe and not my Dad’s. So here it is.

Note: Lidia’s recipe makes a much larger meatloaf than my Dad’s Meatloaf recipe. If you triple Dad’s, to achieve a meatloaf of the same size and weight, use the baking time and temp recommended in Lidia’s recipe.

TBJ’s Meatloaf (Thomas Bingham Johnston)

1 pound ground beef
1 cup Ritz Cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt (crackers give the recipe most of its salt)
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup V-8 juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, cracker crumbs, bell pepper, onion salt and cheese. In a small bowl, combine beaten egg, Worcestershire Sauce, sugar V-8 juice and pepper. Pour over the meat mixture and blend with your hands, but do not overmix.
Shape mixture into a loaf and place in a greased baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. That's all Folks!

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