Monday, February 28, 2011

Erupting Volcano... and the Aftermath

"Yesterday, I ate a volcano," Theo wrote for homework. I wish you could have seen the look on his face -- he was cracking himself up.

Elizabeth Streich, a good friend and follower of this blog, invited me to her house to create a volcano out of meatloaf. I loved her idea, and was very excited to get started. While  her adorable two-year-old, Matthew, napped, she and I got to work.

We chopped and sauteed our veggies, and combined our meat with sour cream (her idea -- keeps the meatloaf moist!), Elizabeth's homemade breadcrumbs, eggs, and other random ingredients we pulled from her pantry and fridge...

...and as we worked, we deliberated about how we'd actually make this thing -- looking back, my fondest memory from the night. You could say the conversation was, er, heated?

Ultimately, we shaped foil like a volcano as a foundation, mounting the meat on top.We inserted an empty tomato paste can to form the opening.

We pulled it out of the oven just as my husband arrived with our kids -- and a giant bag of lights.

(You know you have a true friend when she doesn't have you committed for showing up to her house with equipment to do a photo session with...meatloaf.)

We removed the tomato paste can, moved the volcano to a serving dish (kinda looks like the volcano is in Hawaii, right?), and heated up some tomato sauce to pour in the center.

Here's the volcano, erupting!

The aftermath:

But wait, there's video:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zombie Van Gogh

Just when you thought Vincent's story couldn't get any more tragic -- here he is, undead.

In case it's not obvious, everything from the chin up is food.

Vincent's hair and his beard are a yummy mix of yams and carrots.

He already has an ear cut off -- the redheaded artist did that one on his own -- but I thought I'd slash open his head and ooze out some brains. Why not?

As an homage to my first meatloaf and original zombie, I kept the pepper mouth and almond teeth.

Two white button mushrooms for his eyes.

I used ground chicken for the meat to give him a lighter flesh color. Hey, Vincent's pretty nutritious.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh Snap! Single Lens Meatloaf

This one is a bit of birthday silliness for my photographer husband.

I was trying to think of what I could use to make the glass for the lens and the viewing-thingie. What food is translucent and glass-like? Then boom, it hit me--spring roll wrappers! I had remembered seeing them in the store for just a couple of bucks. When you buy them, they're hard. Never having made spring rolls, I wasn't sure what to do with them. So I just cut off a couple of pieces and steamed them, which made them maleable.

This camera brings the return of one of my favorite things to play with--string cheese!
And my kids were happy that I bought a bag of onion rings--one for the meatloaf, the rest for them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No, This is NOT Edward and Jacob

The Project
A package of paintbrushes has sat unopened in my closet for years. What made me finally open them? Child 1? Ha. Child 2? Yeah right. Meatloaf? Yep.

I usually use my pastry brushes, but for this one I realized I'd need something smaller for detail work. Look at me, saying detail work!

While I applied my vampire's blood, my 2-year-old daughter popped up next to me. "Mommy, are you painting? I want to try."

So my husband set her up on the floor with a brush, a paper plate, ketchup, and black bean paste. Soon, my 6-year-old son wandered in and wanted in on the action. "More paint" they insisted every few minutes, and we replenished their supply of beans and ketchup. I wondered if I was the only mom in the world whose kids painted with food. The sad part is, I have real paint sitting untouched and it will probably continue to be until I feel ambitious one day.

The Meatloaf
I found a supermarket that sells a mix of ground beef, pork, and veal. Score! I usually don't use all three or this blog would land me in bankruptcy. It really does make a difference in the flavor to have all three meets. Yum!

The vampire's eyes and teeth are egg whites, and the hair is black bean paste (hello, food processor) with a touch of soy sauce to deepen the black color.

In the past I've used mashed potatoes for faces, but wanted an extra white hue for vampire skin. What do you think of the rice effect?

The Inspiration
Vampire vs. Werewolf. OK, so there is a certain popular series out right now about a rivarly between a certain vampire and werewolf. My guys are the generic versions. :) I daren't attempt Robert Pattinson.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pain De Viande En Brioche

Last night I brought a classic brie en brioche (brie baked in brioche) to a potluck, topped with apricot preserves.

And I thought, why not make meatloaf in brioche? It would be an elevated meat pie. I don't speak a lick of French; I had to ask a friend how to say meatloaf. Pain de viande: bread of meat. Perfect.

For this, the meat needed to be simple. Pork and beef, with romano cheese, seasoning salt, and just one egg. It turned out to be the most scrumptious meatloaf yet--what did it? Well, I had some stale slices of brioche leftover from a previous loaf (I've been on a kick. It happens.). Rather than whirl 'em up in the food processor, I turned to my grandmother's method of briefly soaking the bread in water and mashing it up with the meat. The meat turned out moist and rich--really lovely.

As the meat, formed into a flat disc, baked in the oven, I rolled out my dough, which had chilled in the fridge overnight and was easy to handle. My toddler yelled at me to let her try, so I set her up with a step stool, a teeny piece of dough and a miniature rolling pin so we could work side by side.

Now for the fun part--assembly. One layer of dough, then meat, then cheese...but I wasn't done. In order to recreate the flavor profile from the night before, I spread a layer of roasted sweet potato on top of the cheese. That, I hoped, would bring a sweetness and color similar to the apricot. I topped it off with more dough and brushed the whole thing with egg wash. After it rose for an hour and got nice and puffy, it was ready for the oven.

This was the first time I was mad about having to wait for the photo shoot. It smelled so good, I wanted to dig in--especially when we cut into it and the cheese came oozing. Mmm! Good stuff, I hope you try it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meatloaf Father and Son

OK, so in my family the baseball bat is a Wii remote more often than not. But it's the quality time that counts, right?

Happy Father's Day to the photographer who captures our greatest moments, the husband who helps set up the birthday parties, the guy who knows how to put band-aids on a scraped knee, the faithful Mets fan, the garbage taker outer, and most importantly, the dad who makes my kids drop everything to run to the door when he gets home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Autism Speaks...and Autism Eats

This may be among the simpler of my meatloaf creations, but I wanted to pay homage to Autism Speaks, and this puzzle piece is the organization's logo.

As I sculped the piece, I thought about how appropriate a symbol it is for autism. I thought of my son Theo doing the same three-piece puzzle for hours when he was a toddler. I thought of the very puzzle that is autism--where does it come from? What will be the cure?

And I thought of the meatloaf Theo and I made together when we experimented with a gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free diet for almost 6 months last year. The meatloaf was admittedly still pretty tasty with the gluten-free breadcrumbs. But I hoped he wouldn't have to eat this way forever.

Though other moms turn to the diet counting on it to be a cure, I secretly hoped it wouldn't work. And it didn't. (In fact, it made his stimming behaviors worse, which all his teachers could attest to!)

You see, my boy has always been my little sous chef. Cooking together is part of our relationship. I want him to know the delicate crisp of great bread, the silkiness a touch of butter brings to a sauce.

I believe Theo's food vocabulary will be a great asset to him. He's almost 7 now and as his social skills emerge, it's important for him to grab a slice of pizza with friends or bake brownies with them without having to worry about feeling different because he can't eat what they eat. Last year, with the decision to quit the special diet, I concluded that it was counterproductive to inhibit him in social situations by setting him even further apart from the other kids than he already is. I wrote a post about this on my other blog, How are Theo and Melody?.

I've often fantasized about starting a cooking therapy program for children with autism. Who's with me?