Friday, July 27, 2007

Meatloaf on the grill

This is not so much a recipe but a different way of doing it. I do like America's Test Kitchen; both the TV show and website because they come up with interesting ways to save time and make food more tasty.

I tried their Glazed Meat Loaf last weekend with great success. I'm not going to post their long recipe as it's quite involved. What I will talk about is the method. They roasted the meatloaf, not in a loaf pan, but on a rack over a sheet pan. Over the rack was a piece of foil the size of the loaf with holes poked into the foil. See their website for illustrations. I know, I should have taken photos.

Because I hate to heat up my kitchen in the summer, I cooked mine on my gas grill outside. I have three burners and I lit all three, brought the grill up to 400, then turned off the center burner and that's where I put my sheet pan with the meatloaf. Closed the lid and monitored and adjusted the burners to keep it at 375. Cooked it for one hour and let it rest for twenty minutes. I then spooned on the glaze and cooked it under the broiler in the kitchen. They say twice, which I did and it was a perfect addition.

I did change the glaze recipe and here it is.

1/2 cup ketchup (non HFCS from Trader Joe's)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used balsamic)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Stir and simmer until slightly thick. Spread one layer on cooked meatloaf then broil until bubbly. Add another layer and broil again.

Although the meatloaf recipe produced a tasty dinner I might not follow the recipe completely. They do have a huge long list of ingredients that I didn't think changed the flavor. What they were trying to do was get a soft, tender loaf using only ground beef; no pork or veal and only two eggs. They came up with the idea of using 1/2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin. Odd, I know. What I did like was sauteing the celery and onion with the garlic before adding to the meat. I hate a strong onion flavor and this tones it down a bit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

August Food Bloggy Pets of the Month

Just a reminder--

we'll be collecting the first Food Bloggy Pets of the Month posts for August so get your permalinks sent by the 28th of July. E-mail at

We are looking forward to seeing some old friends, pay attention Ziggy and Mr Woofy, and meeting some new ones.

We're going to try this for a few months to see if it raises like good bread or falls like a flan in the cupboard.

Monday, July 23, 2007

"sun"day dinner

chicken dinner

sorry. cheap pun. couldn't resist.

weekend before last, i tried out the solar oven on a "traditional" sunday chicken dinner. i prepared the chicken and put it in the roasting pan, stuffing the cavity with a quartered onion, a few cloves of garlic, some sage leaves and a sprig of rosemary and simply salting and peppering the outside. by the way, this is a koshered chicken, is there any other kind?

ready to go in the oven

after about three and a half hours in the solar oven, this is what it looked like...

just out of the oven

check out all those lovely juices in the pan, soon to become gravy!

and, look ma, no salmonella!

look ma, no salmonella!

i also cooked some potatoes in the other pan (about two hours). just before serving, i quartered the chicken and seared skin side down in a hot pan, then i made some gravy in the pan to go over the potatoes and plated everything up. alas, the vegetables you see on the plate were stir fried not sun cooked.

solar cooked chicken dinner

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A picnic done up right

This sandwich really is a walk in the park; it looks fussy but is easy. I made it years ago for a picnic and had not tried it again since yesterday when a few of us had a pre-concert picnic. It was a request, so who turns down a command performance.

The sandwich, by no means, was alone. Appetizer was slice apples, celery, carrots and cucumber with a Thai peanut dip. I'm hoping for that recipe because the curry spice really zinged with the apples.

Next was a basil and green bean pasta salad artistically done is shades of green, a fruit salad loaded with all the best of our summer markets, and another sandwich, this one a vegetarian Muffaletta on a tasty olive bread. We each brought a dish and it was fun to lay it all out on the blanket and eat alfresco.

We enjoyed the concert and intermission gave us a chance to break out the hit of the picnic, a wonderful Apple Strudel made by one of our previous guest chef, Teri. The only crummy part about this wonderful meal was Teri was home with a bad back. She couldn't share the feast or the praise we all heaped on; that strudel was a big hit. You might have noticed I didn't get a photo--it would have been a blur it flew from the plate. Possibly she'll share her recipe for the strudel and Muffaletta.

Picnic Sandwich
1 package sheet puff pastry; thawed
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons spicy mustard
½ cup sliced olives, green or black
¼ lb each sliced meat; ham, turkey, roast beef and corned beef
1 egg, beaten

Roll one sheet puff pastry gently with as little flour as possible; about 1/4” thick. Fit pastry in a spring form pan. Cut pieces to form the sides. Pinch pastry together with a little water.

Spread one tablespoon of mustard on bottom of pastry. Layer meat, olives, mustard, and cheese ending with meat.

Roll other sheet of pastry as tin as first and cut circle slightly larger than top of pan. Seal edges and brush top with beaten egg. (yes, that is a smiley face)

Bake 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until brown. Use lower third of oven so the bottom crust cooks. Cool before removing from pan and cool completely before cutting.

Well have another picnic before summer ends if only to bring Teri along with one of her tasty dishes.

Note: Would you like to print a recipe? Click the following link to download a PDF. Easy to print pdf of recipe

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Introducing Mexican food to Canadians

Our dear friends the Nutz, Mr D and Ms G are Mexican food challenged. Not that the group doesn't care for it, they just didn't know what to order. Mr Nutz is a meat and spuds kinda guy so Mexican food was a tad bit of a challenge.

Here's the scenario...Mr Nutz drives by this place he says looks interesting and has breakfast with lotsa cars in the lot, always a good sign.

So we venture to The Monterrey House for dinner that nite as Mr Doodles and I are going to educate/suggest food items. We soon discover the place does not have a liquor license however the food aroma coming from the kitchen convinces me this is a good choice and the group agrees.

The six of us are led to our table by a sweet young man, come to find out he is the owners son and our lovely waitress happens to be sons fiance. I explain to them that four of the group had never had good Mexican food before. Being the good marketing person he is, the young man prompltly went to the kitchen for some samples. One of which was a chilli queso.

Now most folks use chilli queso as a dip which is fine and very good. However the Monterrey House takes a very small corn tortilla fried flat and crisp, then spreads a thin layer of the cheese sauce on top. Now it is what you put in the cheese sauce that makes it tasty, let me tell you these were tasty!!! And I know the cheese was not the velveeta thick gooey cheese, this was the real stuff. Google chili con queso and you will come up with a boat load of recipes. But do try it the way we had it served.

Let's see what they had, tacos. which were a big hit because they were fresh tortillas, crisp. Mr N had a cheese enchiladas, Mrs N had a chalupa and a stuffed burrito which she barley touched because of the size. Mr D enjoyed his stuffed burrito with the green chile sauce on the side. Ms G is a big guacamole fan so the guacamole salad was a must as well as a taco and I'm not sure what else. I had their chile relleno, which were wonderful, light and fluffy along with the obligatory refried beans which I love and these were quite good. In fact as good as a tasty spot in Oxnard that we used to dine with family.

And then the waitress ask if we want sopapillas.......HELLOOOOO!!!! If you read my previous post I'm a big fan of sopapillas. And the ones she brought out were perfect little light and airy pillows of fried bread dough and lightly sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar with of course the bowl of honey to dip if ya want. Needless to say that topped off the meal and all were happy Canadians. I might add that I was the only non-Canadian as Mr Doodles was born and raised in the same area these fine friends came from.

So if you are ever in Golden, Colorado make it a point to go to The Monterrey House for breakfast, lunch and do include dinner. You will be glad you did....oh and tell them the Canadians sent you.

Oh and stay tuna'd cause we are driving onto the Plains of these United States....must be some good farmers markets just around the corner I HOPE!

ps....sorry there are no pics of the above dining fiesta - how could I forget my camera DUH!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Warning: unabashed bragging in this post

Last July we attended a BBQ with a twist. The hostess asked everyone to bring a home-made apple pie. Mine was a rustic apple tart served with my mom's apple dumpling sauce. I think that's what actually won.

Comes July again and another contest, cookies this time. I used a recipe I'd found on fellow blogger's site, La Vida Dulce's Chocolate Shortbread.

We have another winner. Yup, they enjoyed them enough to bestow a second victory. Sadly, we had to leave before the judging so I received the news when we returned from vacation.

This is an easy recipe, though I'm sure fattening and artery-clogging. They will melt in your mouth and go directly to your hips. My way of getting around this is to cut them into small cookies and give most to the neighbors so I don't eat them all. One thing is important, use Dutch process cocoa, it will make a world of difference.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

southwestern salad

roasted corn & blackeyed pea salad

i love to make this salad during the summer, as it goes really nice with grilled items, like chicken or fish, and a fruity white wine, like sauvignon blanc. the original recipe in cooking light actually calls this a "salsa," but i think it's great as a side dish in its own right. i've found that it's actually better to make it a day in advance and let the flavors develop overnight (like flavors tend to do when they're in the fridge all night with the lights off). here's the recipe, as bastardized by moi:

5 ears roasted corn (you could use less, but corn was on sale 5 ears for $2, so i had five in the fridge!)
2 cans blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, minced (i only had yellow on hand; it turned out fine)
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
2-3 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and minced (don't forget your gloves when chopping up these babies!)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste


Sunday, July 08, 2007

here comes the sun

so, because i am becoming such a little greenie (not the dog treat, mind you), i recently decided that i wanted a solar oven. what's that, you ask? well, basically, it's a dark plastic box with a clear plastic lid that collects heat inside and gets hot enough to cook food. i found out about this earth saving cooking device from the path to freedom urban homestead folks. a popular brand of oven, called a solar sport, is made by the solar oven society. this great company is not only helping to save the environment, they're helping women and families in third world countries that are sun rich, but fuel poor. some women in africa have to spend a full day searching for wood just to have enough fuel to cook their food. the solar oven allows them to use the sun's energy as a free and endlessly renewable resource to cook their food while simultaneously freeing up their time for jobs, for other chores and to spend with their families. another problem with using wood as cooking fuel is that the wood not only adds excessive amounts of carbon to the atmosphere, it is usually burned in closed areas risking injuries from fires and increasing health problems from the families that constantly have to breathe in all that smoke. another great use for the solar oven is to make it simple to use the sun to make safe drinking water by pasteurization. every purchase of a solar oven from the solar oven society helps to fund the organization's efforts to distribute solar ovens in developing countries.

my loving family bought me one for my birthday (thanks, family!) and, i'm embarrassed to say, it promptly sat on the inside of my house for almost two months. work's been a little crazy recently and that, coupled with june gloom, has made it difficult for me to find a day that i'm not at the office and is also sunny enough to use the oven. well, today was the day and i decided to test out my solar oven! i haven't been to the market in a while and i didn't have much on hand, so i decided to keep it simple for my first test and just make a pot of basmati rice. at about 11 am, i put the rice and water in the pot (two black camping-style cooking pots come with the oven), arranged the oven facing south in direct sun on a table on my rooftop patio and put the pot in the oven...

the oven door opens

then i clipped the clear plastic top on the oven and let it be (now that's the real meaning of "set it and forget it," mr. popeil)...

the solar oven

the oven also comes with an oven thermometer, which i put in so i could see how hot my oven would get. after setting everything up, i set about pottering around in my garden for a while. after about 15 minutes, the temperature inside the oven was almost 150 degrees. by about 45 minutes to an hour, it was up over 200. the manual said it takes about two hours to cook rice, so i left it to cook and went about my day. about two hours later, i went back upstairs to my patio and checked out the oven. the temperature inside was about 225. i opened up the oven and lifted the lid off the pot to find this...

the lid comes off

...a perfectly cooked, steaming pot of basmati rice - i kid you not!

sun cooked rice

i was so excited! i cooked food with the sun! it was so simple and didn't heat up my kitchen and didn't add to my carbon footprint and all the energy was free! i can't wait to try out some other foods. i'm thinking during the weekdays, i could use it as an electricity-free crock pot and make stuff like red beans for red beans and rice, indian-style dal and stews and such. i'm really looking forward to doing some low and slow braising, like alton brown's baby back ribs. i also got the reflectors for the oven, which direct more sunlight into the inside so you can boost the temperature up to 300 to do baking. can't wait to try that either. yay!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Looking for a good sopapilla there is a story to this request but then isn't there always.

Sister Moon and I were on a trip (I called it our Thelma & Louise trip but we didn't kill anybody or drive off a cliff) that took us into New Mexico. So we stay overnite in Gallup, NM check into our hotel, I iced my finger after breaking it removing luggage from the trunk. That's another story but not for the food blog. Anyhow, we go to this local spot highly recommended. Great food, had posole for the first time, then tamales and god knows what else. BUT we topped it off with a sopapilla another name for fried dough served with honey so what's not to like. Some serve it with powdered sugar or maybe even ice cream. I'm a purist I like mine with honey and that's it.

Now fast forward to where we are, the Nomads, in Cheyenne, Wyoming and we find a local Mexican joint that has great food, even posole almost as good as mine or sister moon's. They served sopapillas. Now get this theirs was whole wheat cinnamon but served with honey.

I must say whole wheat would not be my first choice but it was good none the less. Mr Doodles has never had sopapillas and to be honest he said he could do without - SHAME!!! What's not to like it's fried dough served warm.

So maybe our good blogger friend Christine may have a sopapilla recipe or anyone else that would care to contribute. I know I could Google for a recipe but I am looking for a tried and true.

Oh yes and some drizzle chocolate stay tuna'd.

here's a photo I took off the Internet.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tarragon, basil, sage and thyme

Close to the Paul Simon hit but not. This is my summer herb garden; almost out of hand. Basil and thyme, I've got oodles of recipes, cook with those two herbs all the time. It's the sage and tarragon I'm struggling with so off to the 'net and here are some quick ideas.
  • Caramelize onions an then throw in whole sage leaves and roast for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Swirl two tablespoons unsalted butter in a skillet over medium. Stir constantly until it brown and stops bubbling, add the sage and cook until crisp. Serve over cheese raviolis or plain cooked pasta.
  • Chopped tarragon into your regular potato salad. Also in chicken or egg salad.
  • Chopped tarragon and chives into omelets.
I happened to visit Kalyn's Kitchen and found this recipe for roasted mushrooms with tarragon. How timely. If you have any recipes specific to these two herb, share the permalink with us.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A cool salad idea for your hot 4th of July

When the thermometer moves much past 85 I stop using my oven and move to the gas grill outside. My kitchen is small and I get claustrophobic when it's hot. Go figure, I can sleep in the tear drop. I also have trouble eating anything hot in the summer so salads are a big seller at the Cafe Moon.

Here is an quick and easy alternative to a green salad. It's quite yummy with grilled anything. There a many variations but the sweet of the dressing and the salty cheese makes it a hit.
  • Enough chopped Napa Cabbage for two
  • Crumbled blue cheese, Point Reyes,* if you have it
  • Chopped pecans
  • Dressing
Toss this all together and refrigerate about 20 or so minutes before eating. I like it nice and cold and the cheese and dressing to melding together.


1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried onion
3-4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard, I like Dijon
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients in a covered jar and allow to stand at room temperature for a few hours. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Shake well just before using. Will keep one week in refrigerator.

This dressing is great drizzled over avocado and grapefruit, too.

* Point Reyes Blue Cheese is spectacular and when I get to Whole Paycheck, and feel I can afford it, I pick it up. Here's a trick to stretch an expensive cheese like this. Wrap the cheese in a plastic and then in a freezer bag and freeze. When you want to use it over a salad, grate the frozen cheese over the salad and then rewrap and return it to the freezer. It extends the life of your precious purchase. Mine never last more than a month or two so I'm not sure how long it can last.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Simple cookin'

The Gypsy Caravan and our little Tear Drop headed West to Mc Grath State Beach last week. Oh so lovely was the weather and although we stayed a few days we only really cooked one night. With Andria's Seafood five minutes away who could resist. I knew we were in the right place when Mr Doodles said, "This looks like my kinda place!" If you find yourself in Ventura Harbor, drop in. It's not fancy, just simple and good.

With my seafood allergy I stayed away from anything fishy but everyone else dug right in. Scallops, Fish and Chips and a great looking Clam Chowder loaded with the main ingredient; clams. Not so in some restaurants. Darling husband gave his approval with a clean bowl. They're menu included a grilled chicken sandwich and fries (fried in their own oil, I always ask) and it was tender and tasty.

That next night we started with a bbq'd tri-tip, baked potatoes, and an avocado and tomato salad with lime and olive oil. We finished the meal with a great fire and toasted marshmallows. Aren't simple meals the best? Trust me it was a wonderful meal but it might have been the company, too. The only thing missing was lil bird and company.