Yum Peaceful Cooking: January 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cherry Chipotle Meatloaf - The Best Meatloaf I've Ever Had

Just for the record here, let me tell you that I have never been a fan of meatloaf. Not even meatloaf sandwiches.

Until now.

And...just for another record, let me tell you that when it comes to ketchup, I can take it or leave it (most often I leave it).

This is a Not Ketchup meatloaf.

And when I say Not Ketchup....I literally mean Not Ketchup

My friend and fellow blogger Erika from In Erika's Kitchen, has launched an amazing new product called Not Ketchup Dipping Sauce. There are currently 3 flavors: Cherry Chipotle, Blueberry White Pepper and Smokey Date, with the promise of 4 more flavors to come. You can see which two bottle Erika sent me...and I couldn't be more thrilled! Not only is Not Ketchup a great alternative to ketchup, but it's made with fresh ingredients (fruit, not tomatoes), natural sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no processed sugar and no preservatives. And....its gluten free.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, it's delicious!

I haven't figured out what I'm going to make with the Blueberry White Pepper yet, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the spicy tang of Cherry Chipotle.

Let's talk about meatloaf for a minute. People either love it, or hate it. And most who love it, only love the kind they make. I never knew how particular people are about meatloaf. I guess when it comes down to it, if it's not made right, it's not good.

I learned something the other night....part of what makes or breaks a meatloaf, is how you mix up the ingredients. DO NOT squish everything in your hands, making it ooze out between your fingers (cuz I know...that is part of the fun, right?) Well, it makes for a bad meatloaf. Just kinda stir everything together with your hands. I beat the egg before adding it, which made me feel better about not over mixing it.

And here's an amazing tip: instead of using bread crumbs, puree some garlic croutons in your food processor!

Use a meat thermometer. You want the inside to be 155' F. The temp will rise once removed, while it's resting. Using the thermometer will prevent you from ending up with a dried out meatlog meatloaf.

Ingredients make a difference too, of course. Swap things around...if you know you don't like bell pepper, swap it for something else. If you're not into garlic, use extra onions or something. Get it?

Cherry Chipotle Meatloaf
Inspired by: Good Eats Meatloaf
Printable Recipe

3 oz garlic croutons
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp summer savory (if you prefer thyme, then use that)
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1/2 carrot, chopped
1/4 of a bell pepper (I used yellow)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 egg (beat an egg and measure out about 1 1/2 TB. Gets a little tricky, but don't stress, you don't have to be exact on this)
1/4 cup Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup, plus more for serving
1/2 lb ground chuck
1/2 lb regular ground beef

Preheat the oven to 325' F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder and summer savory. Process until the croutons have becomes fine crumbs. Place in a medium sized bowl.

Put the onion, carrots, bell pepper and garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Add to the bread crumbs.

Add in the salt, egg and meat. Combine without squeezing everything together.

Place the mixture on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and form into a loaf, pushing it all together into a solid loaf shape.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Pour the glaze of the top and down the sides. Place the thermometer in the meat loaf and bake until done. The length of time will depend on how thick your meatloaf is, which is why I believe the thermometer is really needed here. You want the reading to be 155'. Once temp has been reached, remove from the oven, cover lightly with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Serve with you're favorite sides (mashed potatoes seem to be top on that list) and a little extra Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup to drizzle over your slice.

And....this folks, is the meatloaf that won me over. I can now say: Yes, I like meatloaf. But only the kind I make.

Psst....Stop by Not Ketchup for a list of stores that carry this new yummy sauce, or place your order direct.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Style Bread Pudding

What do you do when your husband brings home Pandoro (traditional Italian sweet yeast bread) and you forget to eat, serve or otherwise do anything with it during the holidays?

You make bread pudding.

Crazy good bread pudding.

Maybe because you feel guilty for ignoring the Pandoro. Or maybe you think it might deserve to be treated a little special. Ooor...maybe you're just craving cinnamon rolls and are too lazy to make them.

Cinnamon Roll Style Bread Pudding
Inspired by Cinnamon Roll Bread Puddiing
Printable Version

10 oz of large dice Pandoro (about 7 cups)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Amaretto or any nut flavored liqueur
1/2 cup sugar plus more for garnish
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Cinnamon Roll Glaze (recipe to follow if you don't have one)

Preheat your oven to 350' F.

Sprinkle the cinnamon over the diced bread and arrange in a 2 quart casserole dish.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, Amaretto, 1/2 cup, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread. Let everything soak together for at least 15 minutes.

Bring about 8 cups of water to a simmer.

Top the bread pudding mixture with pecans and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of sugar. Place the dish into a larger roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach about halfway up the side of the baking dish, creating a water bath.

Place both dishes in the oven and bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until custard has set and the top is browned. Remove from water bath and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

To make a simple glaze, combine 4 TB butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla. Beat until combined. Add 3 - 6 TB of hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. Drizzle over the top, reserving some for individual servings as desired.

I don't know if this is a dessert...or a breakfast....both? One and the same...depending on how late of a night you've just had? Which ever it is....you're gonna want more of this velvety smooth, cinnamonie, nutty, deliciousness.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bread Rolls made with No Knead Dough

Well, as of yesterday, it's been 5 years since my first blog post. Boy have things progressed. I started blogging without a purpose but over the years it has become a tool. Not only for recipes, but for edging me forward in my cooking ventures. Encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone and spread my wings a bit.

I have tried many new things and have written about my journeys. I write about it, not because I have become an expert but because I want to encourage you to do the same. If you dream of making donuts or ice cream or....whatever, then do it. Follow a recipe and try it. I'm not a chef. Beyond home economics in junior high school, I have never taken a cooking course what so ever. There is nothing special about my abilities. I want to show encourage you....if I can do it, so can you.

Before blogging, I had dreams of baking beautiful loaves of bread (without the use of a bread machine) but I just couldn't do it. I tried several times, with less than adequate results. It actually stressed me out. The whole kneading and rising process was the worse part. How long? How much? Is it warm enough in the room? Has the dough doubled? I really got hung up on the 'time' issues. Through blogging and the friends I've "met" in the food blogging circuit, one of my greatest achievements over the years has been finding my comfort zone with yeast. I can now bake bread with confidence. Not that every loaf is perfect and beautiful, but at least I know what I'm doing.

If I can give you any advice on baking bread it would be....don't get hung up on the restraints of  the almighty clock. The dough will be ready when it's ready and not a moment sooner.

Here's a little tip: in order to find out if your dough is ready for the oven, gently poke it with two fingers. If the dough does not spring back quickly, then it's ready.

There are 4 basic ingredients that are the foundation for most breads; flour, yeast, salt and water. With these 4 ingredients you can make a basic loaf of bread in any shape. You can make a dough that requires kneading or you can make a dough that requires no kneading. The manner in which you bake it will affect the texture, whether the crust is soft or chewy. As long as you have those 4 ingredients, you're good to go.

I'm going to show you how I make most of my bread these days. I use a no-knead recipe. Why? Because of the convenience. You can mix up a rather large batch of dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, using only the amounts you want.

And it's not an all day process.

You don't need any special tools or equipment. Just a large container that has a lid.

Most of the no-knead recipes that I use, I get from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I do switch things up here and there, but you can search my blog for all that.

Basic No-Knead Dough

6 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 TB yeast
1 1/2 TB salt
3 cups lukewarm water

In a large bowl that you can cover or a large container that has a lid, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add in the water and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover loosely and let sit on the counter for 2 hours or more. If it ends up being several hours, no worries. It won't hurt anything. The main goal is for the yeast to activate and for the dough to double in size.

At this point you can place the container in the refrigerator. Do NOT secure the lid. It needs breathing room, otherwise with all the yeast gases dancing around in there, you'll end up with a minor explosion. I've heard that it creates quite a mess.

At any time during the next 2 weeks you are ready to bake bread.

Get out a baking sheet and either sprinkle it with corn meal (you can use flour but it burns quicker) or line it with parchment paper.

Dust your counter or work surface with flour.

Sprinkle the top of your dough with some flour and grab a handful of dough, about the size of a grapefruit

Form it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating as you go until all four sides have been stretched and you have a nice little taunt surface. You can sprinkle the dough with a little more flour if needed in order to keep things from being too sticky.

With a bench scraper or serrated knife, divide the ball into 4 equal segments. Form each segment into a ball as you did before.

Working with one ball at a time, Flatten and elongate with your finger tips to form a rectangle, about 4 inches in length. Working with the long edge of the rectangle, fold 1/3 of the dough over as you would a letter, then fold the opposite end down to the edge, pinching as you go. You should now have a little baguette shape. Place it on your prepared baking sheet, seem side down, and continue with the remaining 3 balls.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton tea towel and allow to rest for about 45 - 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of the dough and the room. Do the finger poke test I told you about earlier to see when it's ready for the oven. About halfway through the rest period, preheat your oven to 450' F.

Once ready, there are two routes you can go. If you want a soft crust, just brush the tops with water (I then sprinkled them with flour for a "rustic" look) and slice the length with a serrated knife about 1/4" in depth.

Let me explain what happened here. Normally the surface is nice and smooth but I may have let them rest a bit longer than necessary because the plastic wrap I covered them with....well...it pretty much stuck to my dough. Which was a little challenging to peal off. Thus creating a nubbly surface. Let's just say...thank God, looks isn't everything.

Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown.

These were perfect for a non-traditional French Dip sandwich with alfalfa sprouts

If you want a more hardy, artisan surface that's chewy and crispy, when you pre-heat the oven, place a baking dish at the bottom of the oven and just as you're placing your dough in the oven, pour a cup of water in the dish to create steam. I didn't brush these rolls with water or anything. No reason other than I forgot.

This time I used a cotton tea cloth to cover them (no sticking) but the surfaces got a little firm which caused the dough to bust out a little during baking. I think the humidity in the air is really low right now. But the crusts came out nice and crisp and were great for my breakfast sandwich

Sauteed mushrooms, leeks and garlic, topped with bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese.

And there you have it. Both of these sets of rolls came from the same dough batch, yet turned out very different. And I still have enough dough to make another loaf of bread or set of rolls. Neither set came out perfect (due to the sticky plastic wrap and the dry air conditions) but both were worth every minute and tasted wonderful.

In 2014 I want this to be the year you conquer your fear. I challenge you to try something you've been wanting to do...whether its a technique, recipe, a particular ethnic cuisine. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome and this in turn will give you the courage to try more.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Happy New Year everyone!