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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

I'm still cooking with Red Pack tomatoes, and, I have to admit, my little project has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.  I just never thought that canned tomatoes could bring so many people together.  I've had a lot of new visitors to the blog, and I've gotten far more creative with tomatoes.  I'd say that the Tomato Bowl has been a real touchdown for me.

So, here we are.  It's Thursday so it must be tomatoes.  What to do, what to cook?  My fellow bloggers have all been very creative, and I'm feeling like they've raised the bar to a level that's a real challenge.  Now, I love a challenge so bring it on Green Bay.  I can take you down with one arm tied behind my back.  Or, rather, I can take you down with a can of tomatoes...

When I was growing up, meatloaf was never a favorite in our house.  In fact, I think that meatloaf is universally disliked by kids the world over.  What made meatloaf more fun in my house was that my dad hated meatloaf, and my mother would make it from time to time just to annoy him.   To this day, I cannot imagine why she bothered with the meatloaf in the first place.  At dinner she was the only one  who wasn't moving the food around her plate in an artful manner.

Skip forward to 2011.  I have outgrown my dislike of meatloaf. In fact I like it a lot.  Part of the reason I now like meatloaf is that I have also discovered that meatloaf doesn't have to taste like my mother's.  You can doctor it up, and it's really quite tasty.  Not so much for my kids.  Charlie doesn't like meatloaf but doesn't count for these purposes.  He's away at college, and when he's home I try to make all his favorites so meatloaf is off the menu.  Kate tolerates meatloaf, although it's clearly not a favorite.  Ted and I both like it so it's two against one, and we win because we're bigger.

The key to meatloaf are the mix-ins.  You have to give it some pizazz or it's just meat in a loaf which isn't very appealing.  A couple of months ago Fine Cooking Magazine did a feature on how to make a great meatloaf, and my newest try is culled from their suggestions.  I have to say, Ted and I really like it, and Kate, well she tolerates it.

Now for the tomatoes.  Yesterday I was talking about tomatoes with my sister Jill.  Actually we were probably talking about how difficult teenage girls are and somehow that morphed into tomatoes.    Anyway, she suggested I make a tomato relish for the Tomato Bowl.  When I googled "tomato relish" there were several recipes that popped up and suggested serving the relish as a side dish to meatloaf.   I think it would also be nice on a hamburger, if you are so inclined.

Sunday is fast approaching.  It's a tight race between the Pittsburgh bloggers and the Green Bay bloggers, with Green Bay slightly ahead.   I think our team will pull it out.  Even if we don't, Pittsburgh will have their seventh ring.  So there.

Recipe:  You Little Tarte's Meatloaf
(Adapted from Fine Cooking, 2011)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup fennel, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup red wine
4 ounces sliced sourdough bread (*I used olive bread)
1 cup milk
2 pounds ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seed, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons ketchup

Preheat the oven to 375.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook the onions, garlic, fennel and mushrooms, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer briskly until almost dry, about 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and put the vegetables in a large bowl.

In a shallow dish, soak the bread in the milk for about 5 minutes.  Lightly squeeze the milk out of the softened bread and then finely chop it.  Put the bread in the bowl with the vegetables.

Add the meat and the eggs to the bowl with the vegetables and the bread.  Add the thyme, parsley, fennel seed, Worcestershire, cheese, scallions, olives, salt, and pepper.  Use your hands to gently mix all the ingredients until just combined, trying not to compact the mixture as you do this.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking sheet with parchment.  Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the baking sheet and form it into a 10x4 rectangular block.  Spread the ketchup over the top and slightly down the sides of the meatloaf.

Bake until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf registers 160, 40 to 55 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 to 1 inch thick slices.

Recipe:  Tomato Relish
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced small
1 (14-ounce) can Red Pack diced tomatoes
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 (12 ounce) bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves until soft.  Add the red peppers and cook them until they are soft.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, ketchup, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.  Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together.  Remove from the heat and serve along side the meatloaf.

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