Monday, February 23, 2009

Myra's Meatloaf Wellington

My friends Nick and Mitch were thrilled to tell me about their fabulous friend who's a fabulous cook, their neighbor, Myra. This is one of her most impressive dishes and I'm SO grateful that she's letting me share it with all of you. It's sophisticated, elegant, and perfect for a candle lit dinner or special occasion.
Thanx Myra!

3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 small onion, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup parsely, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine all ingredients and shape into a loaf with minimum handling.
Bake for one hour. Allow to cool.

3/4 lb button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 onion,finely chopped

Saute in olive oil until cooked through but not browned.
Chill and allow to set up.

Heat oven to 375F.
Spread the duxelle evenly over the top and sides of the cooled meatloaf.
Roll out a sheet of puff pastry to 1/4" thickness. Cover top and sides of meatloaf. Trim excess. Use extra pieces to decorate top of loaf. (leaves, circles, strips, etc). Brush entire surface with egg wash, which is simply an egg beaten with a little water or milk. Bake until golden brown and heated through, about 15 minutes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicken Fingers

Here's an easy appetizer that everyone loves, especially the kids. Maybe it's because it's yummy finger food, or maybe it's because they're just yummy! Whenever I make them for a party, they always disappear in no time flat. So, you should probably make LOTS of them! Everyone will be glad you did!

boneless chicken
3 eggs
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
bread crumbs
lots of oil for deep frying

Cut chicken into strips. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs and add flour. Beat again until you have a thick batter. Place all of the chicken in the bowl of batter and toss until well coated.
In a shallow plate, mix bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Toss chicken, one piece at a time, in bread crumbs until all of the pieces are evenly coated. Carefully place the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in hot oil to deep fry. When the chicken strips are cooked through and golden brown, remove them to a paper towel to drain. Serve with a choice of sauces such as BBQ Sauce, Honey Mustard, or Chinese Duck Sauce.

I just guessed at the amounts. Usually I don't even measure the flour or the bread crumbs. I just add it until it's enough. Clearly if you're going to make more than say, one package of chicken, you'll need more eggs and flour and bread crumbs.
You can dredge the chicken in flour then in egg then in bread crumbs, but my Mom always mixed the egg and flour when she used to make chicken fingers for the First Fret, like a million years ago. So, of course, that's how I do it too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mom's Best Chocolate Cake

This is the recipe my Mom always used. At one point, I had it written down on a card somewhere but now it's nowhere to be found. Luckily Cathy keeps hers handy....

" recipe says "Best Chocolate Cake" and I call it Mom's Chocolate Cake. Reen gave it to me as part of a bridal shower gift, which was a lot of family recipes, all typed up nicely (on a typewriter!) on index cards in a wooden recipe box, which I still have and use all the recipes frequently. Reen added little tips & jokes on a lot of the recipes & they still make me smile even though I've read them a million times."

Oh, and btw, Cathy baked the cake in the picture,
chocolate curls and all!
Thanx Cath!

1/4 c. butter
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 c. cocoa
1/4 c. shortening
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. milk

Heat oven to 350F. Generously grease and flour 2 9" layer pans. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, shortening, and vanilla until fluffy. Blend in eggs. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add alternately with milk. Pour into prepared pans. bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Spread layers with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Cathy's Tips:
The chocolate curls are melted chocolate chips, poured onto an inverted cookie sheet and spread out really thin, then just get a small metal spatula turned upside down, and scrape the chocolate off in strips, holding the spatula at an angle so as the chocolate comes off the sheet it curls onto itself.

Mom's tip:
Be sure to grease the pans extremely well, otherwise the cake will stick.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Joey's Feel-Better-All-Over 20-Minute Tomato Soup

Recently, I was a little under the weather. Well, ok, I was A LOT under the weather. I spent a few days doing what one is supposed to do. Lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and lots of home made soup.
This is an easy soup that I came up with, sort of out of necessity, actually. I wanted a hot brothy soup and I didn't want to ask anyone to run to the store for me. So, I improvised. I just threw a couple simple ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. It was so easy and it made me feel SO much better. It'll do the same for you if you're not feeling your best or even if you're just in from the cold!

a few glugs of olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 (32 oz) containers chicken broth
2 tsp dried basil (or more)
1 tsp dried thyme (or poultry seasoning)
a good amount of salt and pepper
freshly chopped parsley

Place olive oil and chopped onions into a large pot over medium heat. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir and saute until the oil becomes a deep crimson and the tomato paste begins to caramelize. Add the chicken broth, herbs, and spices. Don't scrimp on the spices! Give it a good stir and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Top with croutons and serve.

The key to this recipe is to make it spicy and serve it hot. Those spices really warm everything up on the way down and before you know it you're feeling like a new person.
To make it heartier, add a bag of frozen vegetables, a cup of cooked rice, or a cup of cooked noodles.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Creamed Chipped Beef

Here's a Quaile Family staple that will surely satisfy the heartiest appetite. My Mom used to make this whenever she cooked a big Sunday breakfast, and it just wouldn't be an Easter Brunch or a Midnight Breakfast on Christmas if we didn't serve it. My Dad, in particular, is a HUGE fan. Oh, and here's a little trip in the way-back machine for my family......I don't know if my siblings will remember this, but Mom used to call it "frizzle" beef. (a name referring to the way the slivers of beef curl and crisp when you fry them). Guys? Anyone else remember that?
Anyway, if you've never tried it or never heard of it, you MUST give it a try. It's quick, simple, and inexpensive to make. It's one of those comforting "stick to your ribs" sort of dishes that always hits the spot. Serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

1 (3oz) sliced dried beef
4 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
2 cups milk
dash of Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the dried beef. Place in a skillet with butter. Saute over medium heat until it begins to crisp. Sprinkle in flour. Stir and saute until flour and butter are well combined, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until it thickens. Serve over toast, biscuits, potatoes, or even rice. Delish!

I'm serious when I say that it must be stirred constantly. When you add the milk, you just have to stand there and stir. You'll be amazed at how quickly it pulls together into a thick sauce. If you walk away, even for a minute, you risk burning the bottom, and that's just a whole lotta no fun.
If you're serving a crowd, say for a breakfast buffet, double or triple the batch and keep it warm in a crock pot. Then people can serve themselves as they fix their plates and it'll be nice and hot for them.
My family likes to serve it over hash brown potato patties. You know, the ones that come in a sleeve in your grocer's freezer. They're super convenient because all you do is bake them on a baking tray until they crisp up. Simple!