Growing up in the ’70s, I remember one of the most traditional made dinners we had, was a meatloaf. My mom had her version #tastethelove, my friends’ moms had their version, and my grandmother had her version. They were all delicious but so very different. I think that’s what makes this dish so common throughout households but so individually unique. Meatloaf is a blank canvas to use whatever flavor profile you’d like. Traditionally meatloaf was made with ground beef, but that’s not the case any more. Ground chicken, turkey, pork, all of these are used in meatloaf today. I like to use a combination of meats in mine, it just adds so much more flavor. For mine, and because it’s such a hit in my house, I always make a large one using 3 pounds of ground meat. I start with 1 pound of lean ground beef, like sirloin, and add 2 pounds of ground pork. So to start, I begin with the veggies. Above are all the veggies that go into this delicious meatloaf. I start with roasted garlic, around 4 cloves. The other important thing you want to remember is to dice all the veggies in a small dice and close to the same size. What I have above are 2 cloves also of raw garlic. I use both roasted and raw in this recipe. They offer 2 totally different flavors. 1 1/2 diced onions, 3 ribs of celery, 1/4 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes, and finally 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers. I have the peppers already in a large bowl along with the roasted garlic because I do not saute them. So now I start sauteing the other veggies in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.. As the veggies start to soften I sprinkle in some Kosher salt, and black pepper. I also add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme leaves. I saute this until the veggies are just soft and then I take them off the heat to cool.In the bowl with the roasted red peppers and garlic I add 2 beaten eggs. To that I add 1-1/2 cups of Italian style bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of half and half, 3 tablespoons of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of ketchup and I mix this all together. This is what that should look like. Now I add the cooled veggies. Now it’s time to add the meat to this. I do this first so I don’t over mix the meat, After everything is combined and all that goodness is mix throughout the meat I form the meatloaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I try to form the meatloaf where it is even all around so it will cook evenly. I bake this in a 350 degree oven for 1 and 15 minutes, to an 1 hour and 30 minutes. Then I let it rest on the counter covered in foil for another 15 minutes. You want to make sure that the meatloaf is cooked completely through. Use a meat thermometer and make sure it reads at least 155 degrees before letting it rest on the counter. There will be some carry over cooking time. Now you have to have some gravy to go with this right? I think so. The gravy is simple. In a sauce pot I add 4 tablespoons of butter, with 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme. This was also the flavors I used in my lumpy mash potatoes, so I’m echoing them through the gravy as well. To the melted butter I whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. After the flour and butter are combined and you’ve cooked out the raw flour taste. I slowly whisk in some chicken broth. Have the stove on med heat. Then I add a couple of dashes or so of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of browning seasoning. A sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Once all of this comes up to a boil that’s as thick as the gravy will get. Take the gravy off the heat so it doesn’t burn. Now as you’re plating up this beautiful dish and you take your first bite, that’s when you taste the love.
When I was a kid I hated mash potatoes. I hated everything about them. The texture, the taste, just everything about them. As I got older, that all changed. I became a parent and cooked almost every night. So I learned how to make some improvements on foods I didn’t like as a child. I wanted my daughter to try and honestly, wanted her to like everything. Especially her veggies. That mission was accomplished. I can remember though, the texture of mash potatoes was just awful, now I love them creamy and smooth. Funny thing is, Steve doesn’t like them smooth, he likes the potato feel in his mash potatoes, so I came up with my lumpy mash potatoes. I start with a large pot of cold water, and throw in 5 large Yukon golds into the pot. Bring the potatoes up to a boil, add a good amount of salt. Let them continue boiling for about 10-15 minutes until just fork tender. Then I strain the water out, put the potatoes back into the pot and set a towel over the top so they will continue steaming for another 5 minutes or so. They will be perfectly cooked. Then the skins of the potatoes will come right off. I dice them up into small chunks.
Now for the roasted garlic. I take 1 whole head of garlic, slice it just taking the top of the head off. Place it a small piece of foil, and drizzle the top with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper. With the oven at 425 degrees I roast the garlic for around 35-40 minutes. This is what it will look like.
The garlic becomes sweet, and comes right out of their jackets. In another large pot I melt 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter. To the melted butter I add 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme. I add 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, and 4 ounces of Mascarpone cheese, 1-1/2 cups of half and half, and the roasted garlic into the pot. I have all this on a very low heat until everything becomes nice and smooth. I add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Then I take the mixture off the heat and add the diced potatoes right in.
With a potato masher I just go to town and start mashing. If I wanted silky smooth potatoes I would have used my food mill. That recipe is in an earlier blog. But this recipe is going to be just for Steve. The warm potatoes start to absorb the liquid as I start the mashing. This potato recipe is kind of unique because it still has the creaminess of what you know mash potatoes to have, but yet, because they are not whipped or put through a food mill they still have little bits of potatoes throughout. Finally I add 4 tablespoons of fresh chopped chives. There you have it, lumpy mash potatoes.
This salad is light and refreshing. My herb roasted chicken starts out like this. I take 1 stick of room temperature butter and put it into a bowl. I then grate 2 cloves of garlic, the zest of 1 lemon,1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped tarragon leaves, 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. I mix this all through the butter. Now for 2 large chicken breasts, bone in skin on, I lift up the skin and spread this butter mixture all underneath so it covers the whole underside of the chicken skin. I place the two breast on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil on the top of the skin, and a sprinkle of Kosher salt and pepper. I bake them at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the internal temp is 165. I then take the chicken out of the oven and let them rest covered for another 10 minutes. At this point I remove the cover and let the chicken cool until I can handle it to shred the chicken off the bone. When the chicken has cooled and I’ve removed it from the bone I start assembling this very easy salad. What I think makes a great salad is a lot of different colors and textures. So here’s what I do. I get myself a large serving plate and fill the bottom,with Mesclun greens, which are a mix of small young salad leaves, very Provencal, using them as a bed for all the deliciousness that goes on top. I add wedges of heirloom tomatoes, different colors and some thinly sliced red onion for some heat. To that I add the shredded herb chicken. I also sprinkle on some dried fruit, I used cranberries and then some sliced fresh fruit, for this I used strawberries. I also tossed in some shelled edamame. I finally shaved some Parmigiano- Reggiano over the top. I mean really, can’t you just taste the love that went into this salad. As for my dressing, I had a great store bought creamy Caesar and some croutons in my pantry that I also sprinkled on top. This is my idea of a great salad that won’t leave you dissatisfied.
Home alone, and I have the whole day to myself. I went to the market found some heirloom and some green tomatoes. Right then I knew it was a meatless night for me. Fried green tomatoes with a simple salad that has the brown heirloom tomatoes and a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
I thought, fried green tomatoes, yum, yum! The crust has to be nice and crunchy. I like my green tomatoes a little on the thick side. I just think they hold up better and you really get that tomato flavor to come through. So I slice them about 1/2 inch in thickness.
Now for the breading stage of these beauties. I start a bowl with about 1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour. Then in another bowl I put 1- 1/2 cups of buttermilk which I add 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt maybe a teaspoon or so. In the last bowl I have 3 cups of yellow corm meal. To the corn meal I add 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of dried parsley for some nice color. i mix all of that together and let the breading begin. I line the bowls up first, flour, then buttermilk, and finally, the seasoned corn meal.
I start with a large saute pan and add enough oil, I use a neutral flavored oil, like canola for this recipe. You don’t want anything to over power the tomatoes.
I fry them in batches, and when I take them out I salt them right away. Set them on a paper towel to drain any excess oil, then place them on a sheet pan to go into a 250 degree oven to keep them warm until all them tomatoes are done. That’s it, dinner for me tonight, tomatoes two different ways.
This recipe is one I love because it can be done in advance. It’s great to serve as Hors d’oeuvre for parties or just if you want to have it as a meal. We have this at my house pretty often, when we are in the mood for tuna. Tapenade is an olive spread that is served on bread. In this recipe I’ve made the star tuna, but this one is made with Italian tuna that I just found in my local grocery store. Now, of course you could use regular tuna and that would be delicious. So let me tell you how I did this. I started with half an red onion, and 3 ribs of celery and 3 cloves of garlic, that I pulsed until they were finely minced in my food processor. I like to give them a head start before adding the other ingredients.
There are quite a few ingredients that go into this recipe, so let me just show you those now.
At this point I’ve already added the onion and celery and garlic, so now for the tuna. Italian tuna can be expensive so I decided to mix 1-6 ounce jar of Italian tuna packed in olive oil, but drained, and 2 small packages of chunk light tuna packed in spring water to the food processor.
To the tuna I added 4 ounces of Mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons of drained and rinsed capers, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon. I also added 1/4 cup of chopped and pitted Kalamata olives and 3 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley. To this I added 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. I pulsed all of these ingredients together until smooth.
When the Tapenade has reached a smooth consistency, it’s done. Taste to make sure you’re happy with the seasoning. If you like a spicier version of this, you could add some cayenne pepper or add a Fresno chili at the beginning, to the mix as well that would be delicious too. I like to serve this on some toasted or grilled ciabatta bread, and top the tuna Tapenade with some roasted asparagus and even some roasted Piquillo peppers for a little sweetness.
Whenever I mention “tastethelove” it’s just my way of letting you know that I put my whole heart into the dish that I’m preparing. I love to watch as someone takes that first bite of something I cooked, and I just know when they get that smile on their face and their head nods up and down. When I see that happen, I get warm fuzzies inside. I guessing if you follow my blog, that you’re asking yourself, asparagus again! Yep!, we love some asparagus. Anyway, this dish is out of this world. Steve loves meatloaf, but I think he loves his lumpy mash potatoes just as much. I made these potatoes for him a few years ago, and I’m still making them today. I’ll put the potato recipe up soon. Getting back to the star of this show, the meatloaf. This recipe has the best qualities of my mother’s meatloaf, and those of my grandmothers’. I of course, added some of my own special touches. Now what is even better than meatloaf?, meatloaf sandwiches the next day.
Meatloaf with melted Fontina and heirloom tomatoes on great Italian bread.