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?