Friday, July 10, 2009

Bobby Flay's Balsamic Glazed (Veggie-filled) Meatloaf

Bobby Flay's Balsamic Glazed Veggie-filled Meatloaf

Meatloaf and I. Me and meatloaf. Whichever way, I haven't had much luck with this ubiquitous Americana staple. If it wasn't rubbery, it was greasy goopy mush. If it wasn't flavorful, it was dry with the charm of an old leather shoe. Every recipe and store bought package (*shudder*) elicited the same lacklustre verdict.

And then I met
Bobby. (OK, fine - I met him on my TV screen).
Bobby is sassy. Bobby is from NY (HOMEBOY Alert!), Bobby exudes the suave of a know-it-all chef coupled with the boyish charm of a guy-next-door-who-just-happens-to-grill-really-really-good. OK, before this turns into a Bobby love fest - try this for din din one night, the secret is in the balsamic vinegar glaze which REALLY kicks things up a notch. I was a disbeliever (What!! Ketchup and Vinegar in my meatloaf?? EGAD!). Trust me on this one....

I also took the opportunity to sneak in a host of veggies into these meatloaves - and turned a blind eye when my kids eyed me suspiciously. They still wolfed it down....Score 1 for the sneaky mom....
Cook's Note - Bobby Flay's original recipe calls for ground turkey - so his version has much less calories and fat than my adaptation because I used 90% lean ground beef.

Recipe - adapted from Food Network Magazine (Feb/March 2009)

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 small zucchini - finely diced
1 red bell pepper - finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper - finely diced
2 small stalks celery, finely diced
1 large carrot - finely diced
1 small onion - finely diced
5 cloves garlic - mashed with a little salt
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp fresh thyme - chopped (I used store bought Greek seasoning)
1/4 cup fresh parsley - chopped
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add all the vegetables, garlic paste and half of the red chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook till almost soft (about 5 min).I added a dash of Greek seasoning. Set aside to cool.
2. Whisk egg and herb/seasonings in a large bowl. add meat,panko, cheese, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and the cooled vegetable mix. Mix until just combined.
3. Press mixture into a baking loaf tin, or form individual mini loaves and place on a lined baking sheet. Whisk the remaining ketchup, chili flakes and balsamic vinegar and brush this mixture over the entire loaf. Bake for 1 - 1.5 hours. Let rest before slicing.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Orange Flavoured Olive Oil Cake

Orange Flavoured Olive Oil Cake
There's just something about citrus flavoured cakes that does it for me. Ahhh, a slice of an orangey-lemoney-tangeriney cake and a cup of tea....bliss. Here's a moist and dense cake with lovely orange tones.
Add to that, if the cake doesn't call for butter , then I'm all for it in leaps and bounds. Disregard the fact that I can subsist on junk like hot dogs and Doritos alone for an entire day, but remove butter from my baking and sub with olive oil and I'm suddenly Ms.Healthy -"It's made with EVOO, you know" - I condescendingly snark to others, as I fit (read CRAM) another slice into my mouth.
I found this recipe on a happy blog hopping day on more than burnt toast, and is originally from Anna Olson who hosts her own show on Food Network Canada. I didn't have enough oranges as the original recipe called for, so I substituted fresh orange juice instead.
You will want to break out the good stuff for the oil, the taste of the EVOO is quite prominent in the cake.
Recipe - adapted from Food Network Cananda - (Anna Olson's Orange Olive Oil Cake)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup 2 %milk
zest of 2 oranges or tangerines (I used zest of 1 orange + 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice)
1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash salt
icing sugar for dusting

1.Preheat oven to 350 °F and butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2.In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar. Add olive oil, milk and orange zest (and juice, if using) and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to olive oil batter and stir just until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
3.Let cake cool completely, then turn out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Veggie Bread Baskets

Bread baskets have probably been done to death across the blogosphere, but this was the first time I tried them, and I found them to be a cute albeit sassy way to serve up a nibble or two before a party. The basic premise is to line the cups of a muffin baking tray with slightly damp bread, bake the blitz out of them, and then lo and behold - you get a crispy little edible cup within which you can serve up some more goodness.
Think of it as a healthy and tinier version of the taco salad shell.
I served up my bread baskets with a crisp medley of corn and green bell pepper with a little bit of red chilli flakes for heat and melted cheese, but the possibilities for fillings are truly endless. Think bacon, mini broiled shrimp, personal salsa holders, crab dip....
The only caveat is that I found the baskets were best consumed right after they are baked, they got a little limp and tended to fall apart over time, so this may be a little impractical for a large crowd.
Unless, you have the help make them for you. Tut tut....
Veggie Bread Baskets (adapted from

8 slices white bread with crusts removed (as many slices as you have muffin cups - I used a large 8 cup muffin tray)
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic - minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 green capsicum/bell pepper - seeded and diced finely
1/2 cup onion - diced finely
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
red chilli flakes - a pinch
2 Tbsp chopped green onion - for garnishing
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese - for garnishing

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Slightly dampen the bread slices by sprinkling a little water on them, flatten with a rolling pin.(This step can get a little messy, the trick is not to dampen the bread too much)
3.Oil or coat the muffin pan cups with non-stick spray
4.Place each bread slice in a muffin cup, you will need to "coax" the bread slices to form a circular rim.
5.Brush the bread with melted butter
5.Bake in oven till bread is crisp and golden-brown.(My oven took less than 5 minutes at 400 degrees). Do not over brown the bread.
6. In a saucepan, heat oil and add onion and garlic. Saute till golden brown.
7. Add the corn and bell pepper, season to taste with salt and pepper and chilli flakes.
8.Saute the vegetables till they are still crisp to the taste but heated through.
9.Add the milk and cornflour, adjust seasoning and cook till you have a fairly thick mixture ( you do not want a runny consistency- it will ooze through the bread).
10.Add the veggie mix to the prepared bread baskets. Top with cheese and chopped green onions. Broil the filled baskets for a minute or place back in hot oven till cheese melts.
11.Serve immediately.