April 15, 2008

Recipe Remix

Middle-Eastern Meatloaf Roll

I was never a fan of meatloaf despite its regular appearance as a staple meal while I was growing up (sorry, mom). The tomato paste or ketchup sauce congealed in an unappealing way and the texture of the loaf itself was often mealy and heavy. I don't think that was mom's fault. I had it at a variety of church potlucks and friends' homes as well and it never became a sought-after meal for me.

So, when I saw the challenge for Recipe Remix for April, in which participants were invited to take an old standby recipe from their list and attempt to apply some creativity, I decided it was time to take advantage of how my own cooking skills have developed over the last few years and also of my food interests that now range into various ethnic cuisines that I never sampled as a child. And, so, I present a new and original recipe: Middle-Eastern Meatloaf, garnered from the review and use of types of kibbeh and other similar dishes.

Photo by: Michael Curry

Middle-Eastern Meatloaf Roll
a Jennifer original

1/3 cup bulgur, rinsed in cold water
1 lb. Ground lamb
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 shallots, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
salt, pepper to taste

4 oz wilted baby spinach
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

Mix all ingredients for meat mixture together. If possible, do one hour before baking and allow flavors to meld.

Saute the spinach in a non-stick pan with a splash of olive oil. Spread meat on sheet of foil in large rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover the surface with the pine nuts, then feta, then spinach, and use the foil to roll like a roulade or jelly roll. Brush the top with melted butter. Bake it on a broiler pan at 350 until thermometer reads 160 degrees F, about 55 minutes. Let set 10 minutes before slicing and serving with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp allspice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 TBSP water
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Mix well. Can be done 4 hours ahead.

Notes: There were actually three versions of the yogurt sauce: (1) with 2 TBSP tahini paste, which did not work, and then (2) as above, but without the allspice, which was fine but needed something else, and so (3) the choice above came to be. I liked the seasoning of the meatloaf as well as the filling. Will very likely make this again sometime.

Posted by Jennifer at 1:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
April 8, 2008

Spicing up the Spice Must Flow

For years I have had to order my Penzeys online and wait days and days for their arrival. But the Hartford Courant reported on April 3rd that Penzeys, my fave spice supplier, has opened up a store just 40 minutes from my door at 24 LaSalle Road.

See: Hartford Courant article.

My kitchen rejoices even though my wallet may not....

Posted by Jennifer at 1:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
April 6, 2008

Duck Breast with Mushrooms, Dried Apricots and Almonds

Pan-Grilled Duck Breast with Mushrooms, Dried Apricots and Almonds
from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook

1/2 pound fresh trumpet mushrooms, quartered
1 boneless duck breast
coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 TBSP butter
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
1 large shallot, chopped
1 TBSP lemon juice
15 whole blanched almonds
1 TBSP minced fresh chives

About 1 hour before serving, rinse duck breast and pat dry. Trim of excess fat. Score the skin in a cross-hatch pattern without piercing the flesh. Sprinkle the fat side generously with salt and half the pepper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp of butter and duck breast, flesh side down, and sear well, about 2 minutes. Add 2 TBSP stock to deglaze the pan and boil until thick. Turn the duck over, reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly cook the duck breast, fat side down, without turning, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large straight-sided skillet set over medium-high heat, sear the mushrooms, stirring until you hear them squeak, about 30 seconds. Add the apricots, shallots and remaining butter and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add half the stock and simmer until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Turn the duck breast over and finish cooking on the flesh side. To test for doneness, use your thumb and finger to pinch the flesh. If it springs back quickly, it is rare. Remove to side dish, cover with foil, and allow to rest at least 5 minutes. [Note: For rare this took about an additional 7 minutes.]

Pour off all the fat from the pan. Deglaze with the remaining stock. Scrape the mushroom mixture into the pan and bring to a boil. Heighten the flavor with the lemon juice and correct seasoning, if desired. Fold in the almonds and chives. Serve at once with duck.

Notes: The original recipe called for chanterelles but I ended up with royal trumpet mushrooms because they were fresh instead of dried. Other wild mushrooms that were recommended included oyster or porcini. The trumpet mushrooms were much larger, so had to be quartered prior to cooking. The directions for the chanterelles includes: cleaning them early in the day by dropping into boiling salted water for 2 to 3 seconds and then dipping into cold water before draining, wrapping in paper towels and stashing in the 'fridge. I took none of those steps with regard to the trumpet mushrooms.

Also, I felt the salt was over-pronounced in the dish and would likely use it only sparingly in the initial seasoning if I were to make this in the future, which I probably will because it was quite good.

Posted by Jennifer at 2:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack