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?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meatloaf Mother and Child

Turns out a woman's figure isn't just hard to sculp in real life.

Yesterday I served this to my mother and sister-in-law, a mom-to-be, for Mother's Day. Well, this and lobster.  Lobster and meatloaf--talk about a poor man's surf and turf.

I wanted to keep the meatloaf a simple silhouette. Because of this, I had to jazz up the inside. This loving duo is stuffed with good ol' American cheese!

When I had my first baby, my mom gave me a beautiful statue of a mother and child, which inspired this latest creation.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Bunny

Happy Easter!

When I was shopping for the stuff for this meatloaf, I couldn't resist picking up an Easter lily and other pretty spring flowers. I figured I'd use them in the presentation and then bring them to my grandmother. It was worth it to see my daughter, 22 months, walk down the Park Slope street in a spring dress, carrying flowers. But I digress.

The bunny is covered in lots of ricotta cheese to give him rabbit-like fluffiness. (And come on, that cheese makes anything taste good.) For the pink in his ears and nose, I repurposed last week's pink mashed potatoes. And his eye is a simple bean.

Before baking, I used a knife to carve out lines on the basket. I hollowed out the basket using 3 raw eggs while baking. After it cooked I removed those eggs and replaced them with eggs my kids had colored and decorated. The two eggs on the right say Melody and Theo. Also in the basket is some curly parsley.

The "grass" is created from chives...I didn't trim them because I liked the look of the wild grass.

My intent was for the bunny to be peering in the basket, but my husband says it looks like he's pushing the basket. What do you think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Layer Cake? April Fools!

Of course I didn't make this "cake" with the intention of actually fooling anyone. So imagine my delight when Melody walked in, saw it, and happily chirped, "Cake!" I asked my 21-month-old if she wanted some. "Yeah."

I fed her a bite and she made a face. Uhhh, mom, why isn't this sugary?

Wanna know how I made the pink "frosting?" I'm dying to tell you! When I started this blog I promised myself I wouldn't use food coloring. Dear readers, I kept my promise. I dyed my mashed potatoes using beet water--the water in which I steamed beets. My original thought was to puree the beets and mashed potatoes together, but once I realized that just the water would do the trick, I didn't need to take that extra step.

My husband showed me this awesome George Carlin bit...check it out, starting at :50 seconds. He does a bit where he can't identify leftovers in the fridge. "Is it meat or is it cake?" 

MySpace Video

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Giraffe Love

When I saw the giraffes at the Bronx Zoo two feet in front of me yesterday, I decided they were the most majestic animals I'd ever seen.

What is it about giraffes that have such a profound impact? The big teary moment of The Lion King (the Broadway musical) comes two minutes into the show when the giraffes walk out. Brilliant, brilliant costumes that require super stilts skills.

Oh, but to see them so up close! I didn't know their legs are as long as my body. And such funny bloated bellies rest on top of those legs! Their skin is tight and waxy; nature gave giraffes the most magnificent color and amazing spots, the design of which are unique to each animal.

Then there's the giraffe's funny face! So tiny compared to the rest of his humongous self! He has hilarious ears and strange horse-like features.

Needless to say, the giraffe's neck is his greatest achievement. It's a thrill to watch him slowly extend his neck to grab food while his body stays put.

I decided I had to create a giraffe meatloaf.

When I googled giraffe images for inspiration, I found many shots of the animals being intimate with one another. Males and females necking, lovely photos of mothers tenderly leaning their long necks down to lick their young--I quickly became enthralled with giraffe love. And that's why I made the meatloaf you see here.

Clearly, the biggest challenge was--how do I make those spots? I was going to pipe mashed potatoes in an attempt to draw them on...'til I noticed my daughter's string cheese out of the corner of my eye. Perfect! As the meatloaf baked, I pulled off string after string of the cheese and made a plate of strings.

I was worried about the squares the strings would form if I made a checkered pattern, but as the cheese melted on the hot meat, it became malleable! I was able to smooth out corners and make it look more...well, giraffe-y.

Giraffes have lighter faces, so I used the mashed potatoes there and dotted them with golden raisins.

And there ya have it--smooching giraffes.

P.S. The backdrop you see here was taken from the actual one being used behind the giraffes at the zoo right now because they're sadly crammed inside a room barely bigger than they are. What up, Bronx Zoo, get those poor things outside or more space indoors.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Triple Irish Meatloaf

What is it they say--everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day? For this meatloaf I channeled the spirit of my neighborhood. Sunnyside, Queens has a large Irish population. Around here, you don't have to look far to see adorable red-haired children, hear the delightful accents, and eat Irish classics.

The Triple Irish  Component:
1. I ground up Irish soda bread to use as my breadcrumbs. The subtle sweetness and spice added a nice flavor to the meat.

2. This was my take on the traditional Irish Shephard's Pie, which is ground meat covered with mashed potatoes and baked.

3. The shamrock. Duh.I liked shaping the 3-leaf clover--it was like making hearts!

Pesto topped it off and made the whole thing smell good--basil, garlic, cheese. What's not to love? The sauce was homemade, of course. After all, I'm not really Irish. I'm Italian, and we don't do jarred pesto.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Oscar Goes to: Meatloaf Creations

"If you eat me, you'll like me! You'll really, really like me!"

One of my favorite things about this blog is the weekly collaboration with my husband, Joe, who photographs my work. It was his idea to photoshop my meatloaf into a photo of the real statue. In case it's not obvious, just the part in gold is meatloaf.

The yellow-gold color is a combo of pureed yellow split peas and mashed potatoes. I got a nice pasty texture that allowed me to use a knife to carve out Oscar's muscles. Oscar is a hottie.

I had a lot of fun sculpting him because I played with a new technique. Usually I apply the topping--mashed potatoes, bean paste, etc--after the meatloaf is cooked. This time I decided to bake it on. This caused the juices of the meat to color the areas the knife had cut, helping give Oscar definition. (Oscar is made from ground turkey because I gorged on red meat at an Argentine steakhouse last night.)

Have you ever wondered what Oscar is holding? I had to google it. Turns out he's a knight holding a sword. Who knew?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Legend of Zelda Meatloaf

Happy Birthday to My Brother--We Were LINKed By Blood, and Now Meatloaf.

Back in 1989, I used to watch my big brother play The Legend of Zelda on our Nintendo. We watched the cartoon they made out of it, and still quote it in 2010...more frequently than we should admit. Now we're playing the original game together, but on the Wii. We have played Zelda on various gaming systems; we're currently on the latest Nintendo DS version, Spirit Tracks.

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve gaming with my bro. And even though we're now grown with families of our own, when we pick up our controllers (which are wireless--wow), we're kids again.

I have to admit, this may be my favorite meatloaf so far--maybe because I couldn't wait to surprise Elliot with it and thought of his reaction with each element I added to it. This was the first meatloaf I've given away as a gift (I was glad to have a week off from eating it, despite how tasty it is!).

I love you, Ell. Pretty soon our kids will be gaming together.

P.S.Check it out, I'm not the only one to have made Link out of food.

P.P.S. You don't like the meatloaf? Well excuuuuuuuuuse me, princess! Great site for hardcore fans!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meat: The New Dough

This one's for you, mom. Mom asked me to do the Olympic rings and torch.

Shaping the rings: I started by rolling my meat, piece by piece. It rolled just like dough--in fact, the five rings looked like doughnuts.

As I worked, I couldn't help but wonder if I was a meat-rolling pioneer. Other than shaping meatballs, this seemed to be unexplored territory. What would an Iron Chef do if he knew about the possibilities offered by ground meat? The nature of the competition would be changed. Forever.

It's not just a matter of taking a chunk of meat in your hands and swishing it back and forth with your palms to create a cylindrical shape. To create smooth, elongated rolled strips, place the meat on your board and gently place your palms on the ends and roll forward in a swift motion. Bring your hands back to starting position and repeat this process. You should feel the meat stretching as it rolls--as you would dough. Man, this is exciting stuff.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about putting the rings together. My original plan was to interlock them using the raw meat, but that was surprisingly difficult. I eventually gave up and realized I could handle the meat better when it was cooked. Besides, I knew I'd be covering any mishaps with other food toppings.

When I thought about the colors, I wasn't into the idea of making purees. I decided to play with texture. For the flame of the torch I wanted two shades of orange, so I layered cheese with shaved cooked carrot (which gives off a richer orange hue than raw). I experimented with more textures for the rings: yellow melted cheese, red chopped peppers, lovely fresh green spinach, ye olde black bean paste that keeps popping up on my meatloaf...and purple cabbage. I like that this blog has me trying new foods--don't think I ever would have bought purple cabbage otherwise. It's good for my kids to see me modeling this, especially when I've always been a picky eater.

Steaming the spinach and cabbage very slightly allowed me to wrap the leaves onto the meat. The deeper colors were a plus as well.

I didn't think to look up the origins of the Olympics emblem until after I made the meatloaf. Turns out there are lots of rules on how you may or may not use the symbol. Well, after today, they're going to have to amend the rules to read "The interlocking version may be produced in any of the aforementioned colours, or in full colour. Or in meatloaf."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shoot For the Stomach (and Bypass the Heart)

Introducing meatloaf as the new aphrodisiac. This Valentine's Day Cupid's flying around hoping to strike an unsuspecting Romeo with his arrow of carrot. Watch out, Easter Bunny, it could be you--but whoever heard of a rabbit needing an aphrodisiac??

Pasta as Art
I knew I wanted to use mini shell pasta as Cupid's headdress. I decided to go with cooked pasta and bake it right on, rather than add the pasta to the baked meatloaf. I really liked the result--the shells turned gold, an effect I was looking for just a couple of weeks ago.

The string on the bow is a single strand of Angel Hair pasta (regular sized spaghetti might have worked better but I didn't have any on hand).

A Note About the Meatloaf
I passed by the McCormick's seasoning packets at the supermarket and noticed there was one for meatloaf. thought it would be amusing to try it out--after all, this is a blog about meatloaf, and don't all methods deserve a fair shake? I went all the way by using the recipe on the back of the packet. When I opened the packet, I got the predicted whiff of a concoction that screamed soooodium. But I could smell garlic and paprika, so I was encouraged. I have to admit, Cupid tasted fantastic! As Rachel Ray often says on 30 Minute Meals, sometimes it's good to take some help from the store. But will I be using the packet again? Nope. The meat was yummy, but you could still detect that processed taste.

But Elyse, meatloaf for Valentine's Day? you ask. Doesn't your husband deserve something different after eating meatloaf for weeks? Yep--I made it yesterday. Tonight we're having chicken parm. But---DO make a Valentine's Day meatloaf for your family!

Other Valentine's Day Meatloaf Ideas:
-Keep the romance alive by shaping a big heart and using a toothpick or knife to carve your and your honey's initials in the meat.
-Kids would love getting to carve their initials, too!
-Spell out your Valentine's name, shaping the letters out of meatloaf (works better if his name is Joe and not Englebert).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yoda vs. Darth: Tackle You, I Will

Take your bets. Who would win the Star Wars Superbowl Showdown? We have Yoda from the Rebel Alliance taking on Lord Vader in the flesh--er, metal--representing the Death Star.

Beef, where's the? I omitted the beef and went with ground turkey for today's meatloaf creation. Fine, I admit it, I also threw in some pork for a fat element. And the turkey wasn't for health reasons--I just wanted the meat to be a lighter color for the lil' Jedi dude.

Stumped, I was, when it came to the design. So I turned to Stacy, artist extraordinaire and devoted Star Wars fan, to make a sketch for me. Stacy is used to my weird art requests, like when I made her paint my pregnant belly and she turned out a masterpiece. I asked her how Yoda and Darth would look with football helmets and here's what she whipped up in 15 minutes. Complete with Alliance and Death Star logos!

To make the face masks on the helmet, I piped on a turnip-potato puree. Darth was all about the beans. Luckily, my husband has really been enjoying eating meatloaf smeared with bean paste week after week!

Only a month in, my 6-year-old is already sick of meatloaf. Bored, he's getting. When he saw me working with the ground meat he asked with a whine, "Can't we have meatballs this time?" As for me, I'm starting to run out of ideas for the leftovers. If you have any, please post.

May the meatloaf be with you.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the Cheesy Grammy Goes To...

I made this because the Grammy Awards are on tonight, but I don't know 90% of the nominated songs. Clearly I need to get my out of the meatloaf.

OK, tell me it looks like a trumpet after it was used to bash someone in the head--I can take it.

The Grammy posed a few head-scratchers:
1. How the heck do you make gold? (I have a no food coloring rule.)
Answer: You don't. Yellow is close, and cheese is yummy. And the Grammys are friggin' cheesy.

2. How do I make the hollowed out part of the phonograph?
Answer: I admit I'm stupidly proud of this soda can-mold idea.

See the lovely rim I formed from the meat? Sadly, that did not hold up in the baking process. But, good meatloaf lesson learned! Doncha know I'm making all this up as I go along.
3. How do I preserve decent meat sculpting once I pour the cheese sauce on?

Answer: I don't have a good answer, because I wasn't successful here. I had more difficulty controlling the cheese than I expected. Sounds like a good lesson for a culinary institute. "Today's lesson is: Controlling Your Cheese."
I played around with using more breadcrumbs than usual. I wanted dry meat for sculpting and I thought the shape would hold better. I was so excited when my meat easily rolled, like dough! The downside was, I ended up with cracks after it baked. I had to "glue" parts back together with cheese.
For the cheese sauce I made a simple roux and added milk, cream, cheese and salt. I chose a cheese sauce over melting shredded cheese directly on to the meat because I hoped to capture the glimmer of gold. That didn't quite work--maybe if the sauce had been thinner, but then I'd run the risk of it running everywhere.
For the base, I recycled last week's idea of making a paste out of black beans. It's a great "tool" for meatloaf art and I'm sure it will reappear in many of these creations.
If you've read this far, congratulations. Your reward is getting to see what a real Grammy award looks like.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Audacity of Making the President Out of Meatloaf

Happy 1-year anniversary of your inauguration, Mr. Obama!

I made a bean paste by reducing black beans with soy sauce to enrich the black color for the hair and jacket. The soy sauce gave the beans a nice flavor--a bonus!

I kept the meatloaf simple: beef, turkey, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, and garlic. Obama is quite tasty--who knew?

The eyeballs and shirt are mashed potatoes, and the tie is ketchup.

Photography by Joe Orecchio.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Meet Bob: Meatbob

Ohhh, who lived in an oven in apartment 1G?
Spongebob Squarepants!
Edible and scrumptious and moist was he
Spongebob Squarepants!
If dining on Spongebob be something you wish
Then get your meatloaf creation onto a dish!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

Jan 2010, the first meatloaf creation of the year.

This kind of snowman doesn't melt; he's the snowman freak who's hot, not cold. My little boy was more than happy to eat this guy's head.

Mr. Snowman (RIP) had:
-Raisin eyes and buttons
-Carrot nose
-Turnip puree to color his body white

Superbowl: Shrimp Vs. Meatballs

2008: A second stab at meatloaf art. The meatloaf here was the football. There was also:
-Mashed potatoes covered with pesto for the field
-Asparagus for the goal posts
-A cute cat for effect

Any suggestions on what I should make for this year's Superbowl meatloaf creation?

Evil Dead

This was the first time I fooled around with meatloaf. It was 2007, and my friend Melanie came over to watch Evil Dead.

This lovely lady has:
-Pesto spaghetti hair
-Hard boiled eggs with olives as eyes
-Potato nose
- Pepper mouth
-Almond teeth
-Her blood is marinara sauce