T T T

Tasty
Tried
True

In these days of the internet and skaty-eight-b’zillion recipe blogs and sites, what’s a home cook and sometime blogger to do?

I like and trust the “old” recipes and believe that anything from the internet is untrustworthy unless it comes from a site with an editor (Epicurious, NYT, etc). Blog and magazine recipes tend to involve twists and turns and sauces and rubs, etc (*chicken wings 21 ways*) I respect and revere real cookbook authors/writers — James Beard, Madher Jaffrey, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martha Stewart, and so on — many of my favorite recipes come from them. That said, there are new, innovative writers and recipes; but that’s another story.

And so… (drumroll)
These are the first of a number of recipes that I have cooked lately and have decided are good-to-go, as is. They are worthy of bearing the appellation T T T [Tasty Tried and True]. They may or may not have appeared on *eats…* but they have been hanging around my recipe files for some time.

That doesn’t mean I won’t alter a recipe somewhat as I cook depending on what I have on hand or my mood or the weather or whatever, but if I want — and I usually do in this day and age — I can cook them straight, flat, as written.

In most cases, they came from somewhere — a book, magazine, the TV, newspaper or my head — and have been cooked and adjusted and re-written until Carol and I love ‘em.

and another T: Toss

I’ve recently posted a couple:
K-Paul’s Cajun Meatloaf TTT
The Perfect Steak TTT

More are to come:
Grilled Chicken Thighs
Bourbon Baked Beans
Fish Chowder
Bi-Rite beans n chard
cuban black beans
Basic Cooked Rice
my bean vegetable soup
Cajun Catfish
Beer Butt Chicken
and more…

K-PAUL’S CAJUN MEAT LOAF ttt

Ironically, we got news of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s death at age 75 as I was writing this. RIP

I’ve been cooking this dish since we received K-Paul’s Cookbook as a gift in 1984. It was written to be mixed by hand and baked in the oven. I have cooked it hand mixed, using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and on every kind of grill, including — most recently — the Big Green Egg.

 

 

 

K-PAUL’S CAJUN MEAT LOAF
FULL RECIPE Rewritten *Marc’s way* 8.09
Note: I’ve substituted sour cream, yogurt, or condensed milk, of necessity, but evaporated milk is best.

Recipe for 1 1/2# ground beef, 1/2# ground pork, 2 eggs, 1 C breadcrumbs

Spice mix
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Combine in a small bowl and set aside.

Vegetables
3/4 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C finely chopped celery
1/2 C finely chopped green pepper
1/4 C finely chopped scallions
2 tsp minced garlic
Combine in a small bowl and set aside.

Preparation
Melt 4 Tbsp butter in the Le Creuset red pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and spice mix. Stir to mix thoroughly until mixture begins to bubble. Add 1 Tbsp Tabasco, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Saute till mixture starts sticking excessively, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom well. Stir in 1/2 C evaporated milk (see note), 1/2 C ketchup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove the bay leaves.

formed and waiting for fire to peak…

Mix by hand = Break 2 large eggs into a big bowl and lightly beat. Toss in the ground beef and pork a big pinch at a time. Add the cooled cooked vegetable mixture and 1 C breadcrumbs. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Do not overhandle.

Mix with KitchenAid = Break 2 large eggs into the mixer bowl and lightly beat. Toss in the ground beef and pork a big pinch at a time. Add the cooked vegetable mixture and 1 C breadcrumbs. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to SPEED 2 and mix for one minute.
Transfer to the small glass (6”x 10”) ungreased baking dish and shape the mixture into a loaf that is clear of the sides of the dish.

loaf on the Big Green Egg

COOK
For the Oven:
Fan bake uncovered at 350° for 25 minutes, then raise heat to 400° and continue cooking until done, about 35 minutes longer to an internal temperature of 150°F.
For the Big Green Egg:
Set up the EGG for indirect grilling with platesetter – legs up – and porcelain grid.
Preheat to 350°F. Place baking dish on the grid and close lid. Bake uncovered at 350° for 25 minutes, then raise heat to 400° and continue cooking until done, about 35 minutes longer to an internal temperature of 150°F.
For a Charcoal or Gas Grill:
Cook over an indirect fire on a covered grille for about 50 minutes.

loaf on kitchen counter with scalloped potatoes

It’s better to overcook than undercook this dish, if you’re not sure. Serves 6.

Some Cooks Notes

Cooked 10.2015 — DIS is Good. Always. For Brian and Natasza, stand mixer and Big Green Egg. As ever, predictably good, though C thinks its too spicy. (I think its an age thing — she’s also way more sensitive to onion vapors — back in the day, she would beg for me to cook it..)

Cooked 8.2013 — Substituted a shallot for scallions. Used stand mixer. Cooked on Big Green Egg. Used same temps as for oven baking; platesetter legs up, grate on that, baking dish on grate. Just as good as always.

Cooked 8.2010 – Using Mariquita Dexter ground beef, and stand mixer… Wrapped meatloaf with caul fat. Seemed more dense than usual, and darker colored.

what we have here is a bare-ass meatloaf with ketchup sandwich on English muffin

Jerusalem 1989 –K-PAUL’S CAJUN MEAT LOAF
This is oh so wonderful, from the making to the cooking smells to the eating of the last meatloaf sandwich on white bread with ketchup, days later. In Jerusalem, I always made a half-recipe, because that’s what fit in the oven.

Dinner Salad

Breakfast Salad

DINNER
“I’m cooking some spaghetti and that 1 1/2 links sausage with red sauce for dinner. If you want a salad, make one, I don’t care.” Carol announced dinner plans while I watched “Sportstalk Live” a show on Comcast Sports Net Bay Area and picked up on my Direct TV. Gotta keep in touch, and the 49ers whupped up on the Seahawks yesterday.

When I saw her put the water on to boil, I started thinking about the salad. We both like what we call Israeli Salad, which is basically chopped vegetables. The true Israeli Salad (or Arab salad) has a base of tomatoes and cucumbers, but I make it with whatever — and tomatoes and cucumbers aren’t exactly in season (there’s six inches of snow out the window).

I started by littering the kitchen counter with all things choppable and started chopping. I know I started with three cornichons and that didn’t look like enough, so I chopped one more. This gave me a basic quantity to match for each vegetable. To chop a cornichon as wide as its diameter, gave me a size to work with. So… the rest of the vegetables are listed in alphabetical order. I can’t remember in what order I chopped and added, and it doesn’t matter.

  • • pickled asparagus from a jar
    • celery, the very very tender inner heart left from using stalks to make soup
    • green olives
    • mandarin orange, sectioned and chopped
    • red radishes
    • scallions
    • sugar snap peas
    and lastly, a sliced endive. Last because I didn’t know if one would be enough. It was.

I tossed those with Newman’s Own salad dressing and there you have it. (OK, I coulda shoulda made my own dressing, but I did the whole salad while the spaghetti was cooking. Besides, I like Newman’s.)

dinner — chopped salad, spaghetti with red sauce

That made more than enough for Carol’s and my dinner salad and I had a cup and a half or so left for my breakfast (that was not unplanned, I love salad for breakfast).

BREAKFAST
Salad out of the fridge. I like salad for breakfast, but not cold salad. I dumped it on a plate and put in the countertop convection oven for a while at 150°F while I fried some cubes of Spam (I chopped one slice, about 1/2 ounce). Added the Spam to the salad plate and fried a flat egg to go over.

plate of not cold chopped salad

with a flat egg

Yum.

 

Salad and Sugo

How do you like YOUR salad?

By now, I’m resigned to the fact that I usually eat differently than other folks. You’ve seen plenty of examples in my BKFST posts. Now for salads.

I think my best salad experiences were in Jerusalem, where Israeli or Arab salads were the norm. As you can see, the wikipedia definition for each is pretty similar. Indeed, chopped tomato and cucumber is the base salad. In practice, many small plates of chopped vegetables often found our table, and one would take something from each. At breakfast in the hotels, the buffet followed the same principles.

I’m not a fan of lettuces or greens (derisively called leafs, by some non-foodies); although a good ceasar salad, properly made, is pretty hard to beat. At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco — oh, how I miss that — hearts of romaine were available most of the year, and endive — crunchy and mildly bitter — for much of the year. Those kept well in the crisper drawer of our refrigerator and formed the basis for salads that I made. Arugula and frisee and radicchio — especially grilled — are okay, too.

Carol’s sugo with spaghetti and my salad

Last night, Carol got a container of her Sugo out of the refrigerator and said, “We have two endive, why don’t you make a salad for dinner?” At about the time to put pasta in water, I chopped the endive, threw it in my favorite wooden two-person salad bowl and rummaged around to see what else to throw in. I sliced some red radishes and tiny baby carrots we get from a guy at the winter market — Sundays 10am to 2pm, indoors at the Garden Shop Nursery. Reno is cold just now, but there is plenty of sun and he grows his vegetables (including chard) in a heated cold frame.

those baby carrots and radishes

Core, peel and cube a pear, that’s good for something sweet. If I didn’t have a pear, an apple would do. Slice in a couple of scallions and cube a fabulous pickled yellow beet.

I tossed all that together and put on a little more than a tablespoon of Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing, just enough to coat and moisten everything, but not add a lot of taste. If I hadn’t had that, I would have used Newman’s Own salad dressing — or my own concoction of vinegar and oil and lemon juice. I seasoned with salt and pepper and just a pinch of sugar to make the beets and pear happy.

You’ve seen these beets on my breakfast plate. We get them at the Great Basin Coop, roast them for about 50 minutes at 400°F, cool, peel and put them in a jar. I mix 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 ounce Pastis and a good pinch of salt and pepper mixture in a saucepan, heat to boiling and pour over the beets. Refrigerate for a day and they’re ready to eat. (That’s for the yellow beets, for red beets the vinegar of choice is balsamic.)

the next morning’s breakfast of egg, beet and leftover salad

The Best Meatloaf of All Time

K-Paul Meatloaf

meatloaf_done.jpg

My hardcover copy of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen is dogeared, foodstained and some of the pages are coming out of the binding. It is inscribed, “From Robert and Katy, 1984,” and it is still a “top shelf” cookbook in my kitchen library.

I prize it because the recipes have a zing to them and it contains the best meatloaf recipe of all time. Paul Prudhomme calls it Cajun Meat Loaf and it’s on page 112 after Cajun Prime Rib and followed by Fresh Veal Liver with Mashed Potatoes, Smothered Onions and Bacon. I call it K-Paul Meatloaf.

I am a lover of good meatloaf, and its first cousin, meatballs. I have tried countless such recipes over the years, 13 remain in my database, and probably an equal number in my Cookbook collection; most are good. K-Paul Meatloaf is the best.

What is meatloaf anyway, but ground meat, bread, egg, milk and seasoning. It can be hard and dull or rich, moist and full of flavor, depending on the “other stuff” that goes into the mixing bowl.

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Gravy

“Gravy isTomato sauce, usually the kind made with meat like pork, veal, etc, and typically eaten with macaroni, rigatoni or ziti. As opposed to marinara sauce, a meatless tomato sauce usually eaten with spaghetti.”
Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri quoted in The Sopranos Family Cookbook [Warner Books 2002]

I’m posting this Pork Braciola and Tomato Gravy recipe just because its so good and reminded both Carol and me of the “spaghetti sauce” she used to make back in the day when there were hungry kids around. I’m pretty sure she picked it up from one of the neighbor ladies in South Roanoke Apartment Village. In any case, it followed us to Newton, and is one of the few recipes I took to Jerusalem.

After our move to San Francisco, there were no longer hungry kids around and we got caught up in trying new recipes from new cookbooks, and then there was the no carb phase and Carol’s tried and true spaghetti sauce fell by the wayside.
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Artichoke Season

little_artichokes.JPG

Baby Artichokes at the Market

I don’t know when I “learned to like” artichokes. It was before 1977 when we took a three-week family trip from Boston to explore California. Driving on the Route 1, along the Pacific, we marveled at the artichoke fields around Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World.

All we knew then was the big ol’ Globe Artichoke that we boiled and ate, leaf by leaf dipped in a butter sauce, until we got to the “choke,” which we carefully removed with a spoon to attack the heart or bottom of the artichoke. Of course, we naively overcooked them, but they were good eatin’, nonetheless. Far superior to the only other artichokes we knew, which came in a jar.
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