Friday, January 29, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf and Cauliflower Gratin

I actually write my blogs in the afternoon before dinner. I find it easier. The house is quiet and I can actually hear myself think. Later, all I have to do is take pictures while I cook and reread the instructions after dinner and post it. I meant to post this last night but as the photo below shows, The Tortured Teenager took over the computer. Being that it wasn’t for Facebook or Myspace I went along. Her latest job is applying for every cent of scholarship money she possibly can. So forgive me for being late with dinner or the blog at least…

(notice how happy she is that I am taking this picture!)

Sometimes I let The Fireman decide what I should cook for dinner. I can’t make all the decisions all the time! No, really that isn’t it! I just want to know what he is craving. I do cook for him to enjoy it. This morning he teetered between a couple dishes until finally settling on Meatloaf. Mmm Meatloaf! That always takes me back to my youth. My Grandma made the most amazing Meatloaf. I didn’t even care about the dinner, just lemme have it for sandwiches tomorrow. That is my take on Turkey too. I enjoy it for dinner but for lunch. Oh! I am getting in a better mood just thinking about it.

Now I am not really sure what made my Grandmother’s Meatloaf so special. She didn’t cook with recipes and passed away before I passed the stage of knowing everything. (You know that dreaded stage! The Tortured Teenager is still in that stage if anyone has any questions you don’t know the answers to) So now all of my cooking is trying to recreate those meals I had as a nine year old. And the palate of a nine year old is different than mine. I do remember that it had Ketchup on it. Something about the sugar in Ketchup makes the perfect sauce. She did put some veggies in it but not enough to deter a nine year old. Sometimes there was Bacon in it. Sometimes there was bacon on top of it but when she did that there wasn’t any Ketchup sauce baked on top and that was always my favorite. My Mom used to put chunks of Cheddar cheese and to be honest, not too sure how I feel about that. My Mom doesn’t do the internet so my secret is safe with you!

I keep mine pretty basic. I do after all have to get the Little Baseball Player to eat it and that is a feat in itself. He hasn’t discovered that covering food you don’t like in Ketchup makes it edible. A couple of years ago I traded out all the Hamburger and Pork for Ground Turkey. The first couple of times The Fireman complained how much he wanted the old recipe back. So I then told him I went back to the old recipe but kept it ground Turkey. He didn’t even notice the difference. Now he knows the truth and it doesn’t bother him. It was getting past the mind block that it was Turkey. You have to add a little more “liquid” so that it stays moist but really it takes on the flavor and plays along. I don’t know if my Grandmother would approve of Turkey. She was an old fashioned woman with old fashioned recipes. Turkey was for Thanksgiving Day and maybe the day after.

Since I really do not want my Meatloaf for dinner tonight (remember I am saving it for the leftover sandwich) I am going to make a Cauliflower Gratin. I have viewed a million blog entries lately on the subject. All seem pretty much the same premises; blanch the cauliflower and cover with a white sauce that is laden with cheese. Most call for Gruyere buy I’m not the biggest Swiss fan. Maybe it’s the holes. I have come to terms with Blue cheese having “Blue” in it but Swiss having holes. No! My kids are just starting to appreciate good cheese. I am thinking about Cheddar and Parmesan even knowing that there is some great Muenster in the bin. Something about Meatloaf with a vegetable that is covered with cheese just screams 1970’s! I think my Grandmother would be proud!

Turkey Meatloaf
Prep time-maybe 15 minutes at the most. Bakes for an hour

½ medium onion finely diced (the finer the better so kids don’t know it’s in there)
1 glove garlic
¼ bell pepper finely diced (I have some ends leftover from fajita night)
(the finer the better so kids don’t know it’s in there)
1 TB olive oil
Cook the above ingredients in a skillet over medium heat until translucent adding the garlic to the pan last (as to not brown it.) Let cool

(see that big pepper in the middle of the pan? That's gonna be a snack!)
In a mixing bowl combine
Cooled Onion Mixture
1 pound (or whatever your grocery store packs as a pound) to 1 ½ pound of ground turkey
1 egg beaten
½ cup bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned is fine and I don’t measure-for me it‘s one palmful)
2 TB (really I just pour so I think it could be more) Worstershire Sauce
¼ Ketchup
1 tsp Kosher Salt
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Mix up with out over mixing. Put into a well sprayed/oiled/Pam-ed Loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until internal temperature reads 160. The last 30 minutes I like to add good ole Ketchup to the top of the loaf, and spread it evenly. Then resume cooking in the oven. Let sit for five minutes before cutting

Cauliflower Gratin

Prep time-maybe 15 minutes at the most & bakes for 25

1 head of Cauliflower cut up into small florets.
3 TB butter
3 TB Flour
2 TB scallions
1 very small glove of garlic crushed (I was lazy tonight and used the jarred stuff)
2 cups warm milk
2 cups your favorite cheese (I chose Cheddar and Parmesan)
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TB butter for Bread crumb mixture

Precook the cauliflower in salted water (it took my old stove about seven minutes) but do not over cook. You are looking for them to be firm. They will resume cooking in the oven. Drain and pour the drained cauliflower into a greased 9”x13” baking dish.
In a sauté pan (why I always use a sauté pan? Who knows? Maybe a sauce pan would work better) Met 3 TB of butter over low heat. Add the scallions and the garlic. You are not looking to add any color to them, just make them translucent so you aren’t biting into raw onions.
Add the Flour. It will become a paste of sorts. You want to let keep stirring with a wooden spoon. Don’t rush this part. You want to cook out of some of the “flour” taste.

Now, slowly add some milk, while stirring the whole time, keep adding more milk and keep stirring.

Squeeze one tsp of table mustard into this mixture and a little pepper. The cheese is salty enough so I don’t think it needs salt. You could even add some red pepper flakes if you really like it spicy or some Tabasco. Maybe next time! It will come together almost like gravy does.
My Grandmother used to say it was done when you could coat the spoon and run your finger through it. I never like doing this. I burn my finger! You know when it’s not soup but just in case you’re a blond like the Tortured Teenager…

Now it should be the perfect consistency, thick but not too thick. Take it off the heat and add all the but ½ cup of the cheese.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the cauliflower making sure to get every ounce of it. I mean don’t waste it unless you have some bread lying around to clean the pan up with.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. In a small bowl (I used a cereal bowl) take the bread crumbs and the last TB of melted butter and mix together and top on the cheese. This sandy mixture was actually my favorite and if I wasn’t considering giving up carbs for Lent, (I'm working towards it…maybe) I would have grabbed twice the amount of bread crumbs. It adds a salty top that just makes it irresistible.

Now Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Beware this dish will have you picking at the pan all night.

I could see The Fireman and I sharing the entire pan and bottle of wine. The meatloaf was good but really not necessary with the cheesy cauliflower. It played second fiddle at best! In fact, at one point we noticed the sunset, ran outside, took a picture (just so I could share) and mentioned that we would have been happy out on the patio with a candle eating this with a bottle of wine. Maybe next time! Enjoy!

Move outta the way dog! I ate too much!!!

Fine! I will go lay on the WHITE carpet that nobody is allowed on!


Viviane, Taste-Buds said...

We have a couple of cauliflowers my mom and I were concerting about how to "dispose" of them. she suggested gratin, but the last time she made it, it lacked something. I like the addition of the mustard and bread crumbs maybe I will suggest that.

Cinnamon-Girl♥ said...

Your meatloaf and gratin sound excellent. And they pair together so well. Such a hearty and comforting meal!

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