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.