Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Grilled Swordfish with Lemon and Oregano

This swordfish was the last of the fish I picked up at Citarella last Saturday and it is probably the last seafood dish we will make this year.   It isn't the most successful seafood recipe we have tried this year, nor is it the most successful swordfish we have ever made.  But it was light, fresh and very easy to put together.  Speaking of the other fish recipes we made this year, my favorites were probably the Swordfish with Chile Pesto, the Pistachio-Crusted Halibut with Spicy Yogurt (this halibut was my favorite new fish recipe of the year) and Mark Bittman's Roasted Salmon with Butter.  If we broaden the category to include seafood other than fish, one of my favorite recipes from this year I have to mention these Moroccan Baked Scallops.  But this was a nice seafood recipe to close out the year with and it was an excellent counterpoint to the duck breasts we are going to have tonight and the pork belly we had last night for dinner.  I bet if we had a grill and had been able to grill the fish to give it that extra smoky flavor, it would have made a big difference.  It is the type of fish dish that it is reminiscent of lazy evenings at the beach in summertime - I think it's the bright/summery combination of the lemon, herbs and evoo.  I have never been to Greece but the swordfish feels like it should be eaten on a white sand beach in Greece. 

Recipe after the jump!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark and Candy Cane Pretzel Bark

This past week at work was a tough one - we were crazy busy and there were goodies everywhere.  So I sat at a desk and ate lots and lots of cookies.  And candies.  And candied apples.  My absolute favorite goodies were the chocolate-dipped and candy cane-dusted pretzels that someone received as a gift and left out for all of us to snack on.  I snacked on several of them.  After we ran out of goodies I decided to try to make them at home, only the grocery store didn't seem to have any large pretzels (or pretzel rods).  I ended up buying mini pretzels instead and decided I would make a lazy pretzel bark with them.  And while I was thinking pretzel bark, I thought why not make a salty-sweet pretzel bark as well.  The obvious choice was salted caramel pretzel bark.  And it's a good thing we made that salted caramel pretzel bark because I love it.  Of the two pretzel barks, it is my favorite.  I love the combination of salty and sweet.  It totally does it for me.  I wish we had salted the candy cane pretzel bark a little more, but I barely dusted it with sea salt (and I'm pretty sure that most of the sea salt fell off along with some of the pretzels and the candy cane bits) so really it was just sweet with sweet.  Sweet with sweet is yummy too, but nowhere near as good as the combination of sea salt, buttery caramel and chocolate.  Yum.  There is one problem with the salted caramel pretzel bark - you need to keep it cold or the caramel gets all melted and sticky.  I thought it was amazing right out of the freezer.

Recipe after the jump!

Restaurants in NYC in the Last Six Months

I will be the first to admit that I have been a little lazy with the blog recently.  My posts are becoming shorter and shorter and some just never make it up there.  For instance, Alex and I had two great meals at City Grit (one with Paul Qui as the guest chef and another with Ricardo Zarate as the guest chef) and I never posted about either.  We also tried a number of other restaurants that somehow never made the cut, even though we really enjoyed our meals there.  Sorry everyone.  I know there is no real excuse for being so delinquent.  I have decided to post at least a few of the pictures of the meals I enjoyed most over the past six months or so with some (brief) commentary.  
First and foremost, City Grit is one of my favorite discoveries of this year.  It calls itself a "culinary salon," which really boils down to the fact that they host a few dinners a week in a furniture showroom connected to a parochial school (no joke - you actually use the parochial school bathrooms), some of which feature guest chefs from all over the country.  Paul Qui won the last season of Top Chef and we had an amazing meal at Uchiko in Austin earlier this year.  So when I saw him on the schedule at City Grit (and I honestly have no idea how I came across City Grit) I knew we had to go.  We had a number of memorable dishes that night - my favorites were the tuna jamon (raw tuna wrapped in lardo with melon) and the pork jowl (pictured below).  I also really enjoyed the "tomato water" (a tomato consomme with mussels, celery and basil - pictured above) and the sunchoke dashi (pictured below).  So that was Paul Qui.  And then a few months later Ricardo Zarate came to town and I bought tickets to his dinner.  I had never heard of him before, but his restaurants in LA sounded really interesting and we don't have a lot of good Peruvian in the city so I decided to give it a shot.  When the meal kicked off with a kampachi ceviche with leche de tigre jelly, I knew we were in for a fun (and delicious) meal.  The next two dishes - a Peruvian bouillabaisse with crabmeat and a raw quail egg (pictured below, although my picture was taken before they added in the broth) and a scallion and uni tiradito (also pictured below) were my two favorite dishes of the night.  That night I was introduced to a crazy Amazonian fish called paiche that is apparently among the largest freshwater fish in the world and is similar in texture to Chilean sea bass.  The meals at City Grit take forever and the air conditioning leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a really fun experience.

 More after the jump!

Steamed Snapper with Ginger, Lime and Cilantro

All of the late nights eating dinner at my desk mean that I end up eating a lot of pan-Asian (the easiest thing to share with a bunch of coworkers, including one that has a gluten allergy, is Thai or pan-Asian).  And there is the occasional pizza or burger thrown in at 11 pm for good measure.  After I finish one of those work benders all I want is vegetables and simple home-cooked meals, including lots and lots of seafood.  It's hard to order decent seafood for delivery (except sushi, which I order if I am eating by myself).  Since I have a few days off for Christmas I dragged Alex to Citarella on Saturday afternoon for some nice fish.  That night we made some nice rainbow trout (seasoned lightly with cayenne pepper and s&p, before being lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried in butter with a squirt of fresh lemon juice for serving) and yesterday afternoon we made red snapper.  Red snapper isn't one of my favorite fish, but I do enjoy it from time to time (plus it looked really good so I couldn't resist).  Since I was looking for something really light and simple we decided to make this steamed snapper recipe I found on Epicurious except that instead of steaming it we made little foil packets and baked the fish in the oven (which basically braised/steamed it).  The fish was easy and fresh - which was exactly what I needed.  And served with some coconut rice it made a simple, but flavorful meal.  The sauce that you steam/bake the fish in is really nice (the combination of lime, herbs, soy, fish sauce, sesame and soy is right up my alley) and it really helped take the very mild flavor of the snapper and amp it up without totally overpowering the fish.  

Now I just have to figure out what I want to do with the swordfish we picked up at Citarella.  I'm thinking we will stick with simple - lemon juice, some herbs, and evoo are at the top of my list right now.  We need something light to balance out the pork belly we are eating for dinner.  But it's going to have to be a game time decision...

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Roast Sunchokes

My favorite new farmers' market discovery of the year is definitely the sunchoke (aka the Jerusalem artichoke).  We have made some fabulous dishes with a number of other farmers' market purchases - broccoli spigarelli was my second favorite (which is lame because I didn't take pictures of it and we only made it once before it disappeared from the farmer's market).  I was shocked by how much I loved the sunchokes.  I don't typically love potatoes and I assumed that the sunchokes would be similarly starchy and bland.  But they weren't.  They don't have the heavy, starchy flavor and texture that I dislike about roast potatoes.  Instead they are wonderfully sweet and just a hint nutty.  And if you roast them long enough they turn nice and caramelized and crusty on the cut sides, with a soft and slightly pillowy interior.  Alex compared them to sweet potatoes, although I don't think they taste like sweet potatoes at all.  Supposedly they taste like artichokes, but I didn't taste artichoke at all.  We tried adding some fresh thyme to the pan with the sunchokes this time, but I don't think it really added anything.  I liked them just as much when roasted simply with evoo, s&p.  We served them tonight with roast chicken breasts, but I think roast sunchokes would go with any number of meat dishes.  Given how successful we have been roasting them, soup is the next step.  Perhaps next fall...

Recipe after the jump!

Roast Romanesco Cauliflower with Chistorras

A few weeks ago we picked up some chistorras at Despana and we had to figure out what to do with them.  We served them one night with cheese and crackers and then I had to think of another use for them.  Since chistorras remind me of chorizo I decided to use them like I would use chorizo and roast with vegetables.  We had a head of romanesco caluflower in the fridge so I figured why not roast the chistorras with the romanesco cauliflower.  So we tossed the cauliflower with the usual assortment of ingredients - evoo, crushed red pepper flakes, s&p - and roasted them halfway before throwing in the chistorras.  I had never tried romanesco cauliflower on its own before but it was a really interesting and eye-opening experience.  I took my first bite of the romanesco cauliflower and was instantly stumped.  It tasted like popcorn to me.  I can't explain it.  It had a very different texture from normal cauliflower (a little more delicate) and the taste was much sweeter and perhaps a touch nuttier.  The chistorras added a nice porky, spicy (not in the sense that it was hot, but more in the sense that it had a lot of flavor and spices) flavor, which gave the dish some real depth of flavor.  And the lemon added that hit of acid and brightness to balance out the richness of the chistorras and the sweetness of the romanesco cauliflower.  I thought it was really cool combination.  And I was intrigued enough by it that I couldn't resist picking up another head of romanesco cauliflower for further experimentation!

Recipe after the jump!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup (Suan La Tang)

This soup doesn't look like much - in fact, it kind of looks like gruel (or something equally gross).  But it was actually one of my favorite soups we have made all year.  It had a ton of flavor and a wonderful rich texture.  I'm not really sure how to describe the texture, except to describe it as slightly unctuous.  I know that unctuous can be an unappealing adjective to describe food, but I can't think of a better way to describe the soup.  And hot and sour soup is supposed to be a little unctuous.  The cornstarch slurry did its job in thickening the soup a little, but I think a lot of the texture also had to do with the richness of the homemade broth we used from our Chicken Pho (Pho Ga).  When we took the broth out of the fridge to use it, it already had some body to it.  Actually, it almost appeared to be verging on gelatinous in its chilled form.  It actually jiggled.  And even once we heated the broth up, it retained a lot of that richness, as well as the complexity of flavor that I babbled on about in my post about the pho.  And after we added in all of the additional ingredients, the soup was beautifully complex, yet balanced.  The dried mushrooms added a touch of earthiness and umami, the vinegar added the sourness and bite that you want in a hot and sour soup, the white pepper added a hint of heat, the eggs added creamyness to the already rich broth and the scallions/cilantro on top added a little brightness.  It was awesome.  I heart this soup. 

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Steamed Eggplants with Chile Sauce (Hong You Qie Zi)

When work starts to get busy for me, it becomes a game to figure out exactly what produce we can buy from the farmers' market (or at the grocery store) that won't go bad before we have a chance to use it and is also fairly easy to throw together at the last minute.  Take these eggplants - we had them for over a week before we used them.  And that worked out fine.  Actually, a lot of the fall vegetables last for a fairly long time (although you can get into trouble with greens).  Part of the reason we end up eating so much cauliflower and squash in the fall/winter is because both items have a pretty good shelf life.  And with a job like mine - you need some shelf life from time to time.  I think I have finally figured out what works for us and what doesn't.  For the first year or two of work we ended up throwing away a lot of produce because we would buy it and then suddenly work would pick up.  And before we knew it, 1-2 weeks would have gone by with me eating every meal at my desk (and Alex eating peanut butter crackers at home) and we would then throw away everything in the refrigerator and start from scratch.  Things still crop up unexpectedly occasionally, but I like to think that we have learned to manage it better.

This eggplant dish was something of a last minute side dish.  It was cold and rainy out, so I wanted to make hot and sour soup (which had the added benefit of using up the rest of the leftover homemade chicken stock from the Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)).  And we had this eggplant just kind of hanging out in the fridge from our shopping trip to Chinatown so I decided to try to come up with an easy Chinese side using the eggplant.  Of course we turned to our two Fuchsia Dunlop cookbooks first and then we picked this recipe because it looked like the easiest one.  My favorite thing about the dish was the silky texture of the steamed eggplant.  And I really appreciated how easy it was.  This would be a really easy side dish to put together to round out a nice home-cooked Sichuan meal.  It's not the greatest eggplant we have ever made, but it really went perfectly with the hot and sour soup.  We ended up drizzling the dipping sauce over the eggplant (and adding some scallion greens for color and to add a bit of additional flavor).  The dipping sauce is nicely salty and spicy and the steamed eggplant just soaks it up like a sponge.  Our chili oil had peanuts in it and they provided a nice little textural contrast, but totally aren't necessary.

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

This chicken pho recipe has been a long time in coming.  I think we made it 3 weeks ago, but I have been pretty swamped at work (and as you will notice below, the recipe is really long) so I haven't had time to post about it.  But instead of attending a holiday party that we were invited to, I'm stuck at home this evening with a pretty awesome head cold, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to post about the soup.  First things first - this broth was amazing.  It is totally worth the extra steps to char the onions and ginger, parboil the chicken parts, and strain it.  It was delicious and very complex.  It was also clear (hurray for parboiling) and rich.  We used the leftover broth in two more soups later that week (and the following week), including a Shrimp, Pumpkin and Coconut Soup we have already posted about and a fantastic hot and sour soup that we haven't posted about yet, because you end up with a ridiculous amount of broth from this recipe.  The recipe probably took 4 hours from start to finish, but I thought it was well worth it.  The chicken breasts were succulent and had an almost silky texture.  Andrea Nguyen says that you should start with a quality bird for this recipe and I totally agree.  We used nice locally raised organic chicken and chicken parts that we picked up from Fairway.  The soup might have been even better with some of the nice organic chickens from the farmers' market, but we used what we had.

We made another Vietnamese chicken soup called mien ga from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen cookbook some time ago.  I think this pho ga blew the mien ga right out of the water.  The broth was so nuanced and yet the dish had the freshness that the other soup was lacking.  The fresh herbs had a lot to do with that freshness, but it was also the broth itself.  I'm not sure how you make such a rich broth still taste light and fresh.  It was just so bright and had so much flavor.  I loved it.  Clearly this isn't a soup that you could make every day (or even every month), but it is definitely going into my lazy Sunday rotation for the future.  The broth alone is well worth many repeat visits.

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rice Noodles with Chinese Chives and Egg

Two weekends ago Alex and I trekked down to Chinatown for lunch and groceries.  I love grocery shopping in Chinatown - everytime we go down there I come back with such an interesting assortment of goodies (like my favorite Ching Kee Cookies, which are both delicious and amusing).  During our last visit I came back with a package of fresh wide rice noodles, flowering chives, fried tofu, Thai chilis and a bunch of other fun things.  I started trying to come up with dishes to cook using those ingredients and ended up deciding to throw them all together in one noodle dish.  The biggest hurdle was trying to loosen the fresh rice noodles because mine were stubbornly stuck together.  I used a combination of the two methods noted below - soaking them in hot water and then microwaving them.  I had never heard of throwing fresh rice noodles in the microwave to loosen them, but I found a post on About.com saying that it worked and I tried it.  It really did work.  Brilliant.  Beyond learning how to nuke fresh rice noodles, I realized a few things while cooking this meal.  The first is that I really like fried tofu.  I need to buy the packages of dried tofu more often because they are brilliant.  You totally don't need meat of any sort when you have some dried tofu in the dish.  The second is that noodles are always better with a little egg mixed in.  The third is that you really need to cut flovering chives up into slightly smaller pieces (especially if you are barely cooking them at all).  Ours were roughly 2 1/2-inches in length and that was just too long.  I'm thinking 1 to 2-inch lengths in the future.  The last thing I realized is that it takes a really long time to prep a meal like this, particularly when you decide to serve the noodles with a side of yu choy, which requires chopping.  There is a lot of chopping involved.  And when there is a lot of chopping involved, there is a lot of mess (and a lot of dishes) involved.  When Alex got home he asked me if I used every single dish in the kitchen.  The answer was close, but not quite.  But it was totally worth it because the noodles were tasty.  And in my opinion, the end (a delicious lunch) totally justifies the means.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shrimp, Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

We made chicken pho last weekend (which I will post about later this week - I promise) and we ended up with a ton of really good leftover Asian chicken stock.  The only logical thing to do when you have 8 cups of leftover homemade chicken stock (and you already have some homemade chicken stock in the freezer) is to go on a soup-making extravaganza.  And given the cool temperatures and rainy weather outside, soup was the ideal meal.  Last night we made this shrimp, pumpkin and coconut soup.  We had a cheese pumpkin and some Thai basil hanging around the apartment that I wanted to use so I started thinking pumpkin soup.  And then I started thinking pumpkin and coconut soup because they work brilliantly together and are fairly common in some Asian cuisines.  So I started paging through our Thai cookbook and stumbled pretty quickly on a recipe for a pumpkin coconut soup (which I have renamed Shrimp, Pumpkin and Coconut soup since it has shrimp in it too).  We adapted it a bit to work with what we had in the apartment and then went for it.  

I thought that the soup was a success in a lot of ways.  It was tasty and fairly easy.  And the flavors were pretty complex.  I think some of the complexity was due to the homemade stock, but some of it was due to the spice paste and the other ingredients.  The soup had a lot of intense flavors without tasting fishy - and given that it had dried shrimp, fish sauce and shrimp in it (and given the smells that filtered out into the hallway as the soup simmered) I was worried it would taste a little fishier.  But the sweetness of the pumpkin, coconut milk and the coconut sugar and the heat of the jalapeno and the Thai chili really balanced it out.  After tasting the soup we decided to add a little squeeze of lime juice at the end and the acid really brought it all together.  Yum.  Hurray for soup.

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saigon Chicken Salad

 Two weeks ago I was struck with a vicious Vietnamese chicken salad craving.  I wanted cabbage, peanuts, poached chicken, dressed with lime juice and fish sauce.  Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a single place near my office that serves Vietnamese chicken salad so I had to go without.  And last weekend I decided that if I couldn't find a restaurant that would serve me Vietnamese chicken salad I would just make some for myself.  First I had to go down to Chinatown to buy all of the various ingredients - it goes without saying that the grocery stores on the UWS aren't exactly chock full of things like long beans, green papaya and Thai shrimp paste.  And then after we bought all of the ingredients we spent what seemed like several hours, chopping, cleaning and prepping the various salad ingredients.  Peeling, de-seeding and chopping up the green papaya felt like it took 30 minutes alone.  Once you add in all of the other ingredients that needed to be julienned/chopped/shredded - tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot, napa cabbage, long beans, etc., it's no wonder that this salad took forever to prepare.  Even the nuoc cham dressing was more labor-intensive than usual.  I have never toasted shrimp paste for a nuoc cham before.  But I will be the first to admit that the dressing was pretty kickass.  We were worried that it would be overly salty/fishy but it worked beautifully.  I would use this dressing on any future Vietnamese chicken salad attempts.  Actually, I would use it on any variation on a Vietnamese salad - shrimp, beef or chicken, noodle-based or not.  It was that good.  The only problem is that the dressing does not improve with age.  By the next day the dressing had lost its piquancy and the salad just seemed a little limp and sad.  But the day that we made the salad it really hit the spot.  It was bright and flavorful, as well as full of crunch and texture.  I really enjoyed the combination of the various ingredients (although it was pretty painful to chop and prep all of the vegetables) and I thought that the chicken itself was very tender and flavorful.  In the end, I think the two things that I would definitely use again from this recipe are the marinade/cooking method for the chicken and the recipe for the nuoc cham.  While I enjoyed them, I'm not sure that the green papaya and long beans added enough to the salad for me to trek down to Chinatown every time I want a Vietnamese chicken salad.  And I probably won't go out and buy a whole bunch of celery just for the celery leaves again.  I can (and probably will) make a passable version of the salad with just chicken, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, cilantro and peanuts.

Recipe after the jump!

Cauliflower Curry

I'm currently at the tail end of a cauliflower obsession.  Every fall I go through a cauliflower phase where I buy oodles of it at the farmers' market.  And then I have to take a break because it gets a little monotonous after awhile.  We have another head of cauliflower in the fridge right now (romanesco cauliflower to be precise) so I was trying to come up with two very distinct recipes for the cauliflower.  I picked this one because it seemed interesting and it was very different from all of the other recipes that I was considering.  I'm hoping that the other cauliflower recipe turns out better than this one because truth be told, I was a little disappointed in this dish.  The cauliflower was mushy and the balance of flavors just seemed off to me.  Alex thought it was missing something, whereas I thought the flavor of the coriander was a little overpowering (I would definitely reduce the amount of coriander seeds) and the dish tasted really sweet.  I actually asked Alex if he added sugar, but it was just the sweetness of the onions and the cauliflower itself.  All in all it tasted a little... uneven?  I don't think the flavors melded as harmoniously as I thought they would.  Anytime you use cumin seeds and coriander seeds rather than the ground variety you run the risk that some bites will have a surplus of spice, while others will have little to none.  This recipe suffered a lot because of it.  So you would have some really sweet bites, others with a burst of floral/peppery coriander flavor and others with a hint of smokeyness from the cumin.  But I didn't have a single bite that successfully blended all of those flavors.  And then there was the texture, which I found slightly off-putting.  Note to self - roast cauliflower is way more my speed than stewed cauliflower.  I love the crunch of roast cauliflower and the richer flavor of the caramelized florets, whereas I don't particularly love the mushy texture of stewed cauliflower.

P.S.  I have been a little swamped at work the past couple of weeks so I am a wee bit behind on my posts.  More will be forthcoming as soon as I have time to put them up - I promise.  I have some new Vietnamese and Thai recipes to post about, as well as a few others.  So stay tuned.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mustard-Crusted Salmon

Every time we drive down to Maryland to visit my parents we come back with a cooler full of random food and a trunk full of clean laundry.  We also tend to come home with Cost Co-sized bags of toilet paper and paper towels, but that is entirely beside the point.  This past visit I appropriated a few things from the freezer for the trip home - including a salmon filet and some pre-marinated Korean spicy pork.  I couldn't tell what kind of salmon it was, but it looked really red like Coho or sockeye salmon.  Rather than stick with our tried and true salmon recipes I decided to do something new.  This recipe was vaguely inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe I found awhile ago for salmon with a matzo and herb crust.  I started trying to think of creative ways to use up the herbs we bought for Thanksgiving with the salmon and that made me think of the herb and matzo-crust.  I didn't bother to look back at the original recipe but the idea of an herb-y crumb topping stuck with me.  We don't tend to keep matzo around the apartment so I didn't have any matzo to use, but we did have some leftover baguette from the night before.  So we whipped up some fresh bread crumbs and crusted our salmon with a mixture of bread crumbs, mustard and fresh thyme.  Oh and we threw in some butter for good measure.  And since we both love crispy salmon skin Alex and I decided to crisp up the salmon skin in a pan on the stove-top and then broil the salmon quickly to brown the bread crumbs and to cook the top side.  I think in the future I would use finer bread crumbs.  Our crumbs were more like small bread chunks.  I also might trip throwing in some fresh parsley or other herbs.  Otherwise I think it was a really nice and fairly easy recipe.  And our salmon was very nicely cooked.  The next time I pick up some matzo I might try the Rachel Ray recipe, but seeing as that almost never happens, maybe we will just stick with our own mustard-crusted salmon.

Recipe after the jump!

Stripetti Squash with Garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Herbs

So we took a break for a few weeks (a much needed squash hiatus) and we finally got around to cooking the stripetti squash that I picked up at the farmers' market in early to mid-November.  One of the best things about squash is that you can buy it and then hang onto it until you are ready to cook it.  We also have a cheese pumpkin sitting on the hutch that I picked up a few weeks ago that we hang onto until this coming week.  I don't have any inspiration for what I want to do with it, but I'm sure something will come to me eventually.  

If I hadn't bought the squash in the first place and seen the whole squash prior to cooking, I'm not sure that I would have been able to tell that this was a different variety of squash.  I think the stripetti squash was a little sweeter than spaghetti squash, but they are similar enough in appearance, taste and texture that it wouldn't have occurred to me that this was a different variety.  With that said, I really liked it.  And I would totally buy it again.  As for the recipe, I think it was nice.  I have never tried adding cheese and herbs of this variety to spaghetti squash so it was a very different take on squash for us.  But I wanted to use up some of the fresh herbs leftover from Thanksgiving so I decided this was a good opportunity to do so.  I originally planned to serve this squash with some turkey meatballs but I decided that after the meatloaf I wasn't really feeling meatballs.  But the dish had a very nice combination of flavors and made a really nice side dish.  Between Alex and I we ate the whole 4 cups of squash so that really says something.  In case you're wondering about the cooking method for the squash (boiling it, rather than roasting), we boiled the squash because that's what they told me to do at the farmers' market.  It seemed like a strange cooking method to me, but that's what they said to do so we did it.  And it worked.  I might try roasting it next time just for the sake of variety, but boiling it worked just fine. 

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Moroccan Meatloaf

This might sound a little weird if you know me (because all-American dishes like meatloaf and casserole aren't really my thing), but I have been craving meatloaf for awhile now.  I am going to blame it on the Grandpa Jack sandwich I had in Maine back in October (which was absolutely delicious) and inspired me to pick up some Moroccan meatloaf at a gourmet market near the apartment a few weeks later.  That Moroccan meatloaf was also delicious and it inspired me to plan a Moroccan-inspired meatloaf of my own.  Since this is probably only the 5th or 6th time in my life that I have ever eaten meatloaf (and only my second attempt at making it - my first attempt was a Turkey Meatloaf) I wasn't really sure what went in it.  But I knew that I wanted to use carrots, onion, garlic, harissa, tomato paste and herbs.  I couldn't decide what meat to use but ended up just picking up a pack of meatloaf mix (ground veal, ground pork and ground beef) at Fairway and going with that.  Then Alex and I did a little research to determine exactly what goes in a typical meatloaf and discovered that we weren't far off the mark.  Alex really wanted a glaze on top of the meatloaf and I wasn't sold on the whole ketchup glaze, but agreed to it because I wasn't sure if the meatloaf would be sad and lacking without it.  But I added some harissa and some spices to the ketchup glaze to mix it up a little.  In the end, I'm glad we went with the glaze because I think it really added a nice sweetness without being cloying, which was my biggest fear.  And all of the spices and things we added really gave the meatloaf a nice flavor.  If you think you have the patience, I would totally make this the day before you want to eat it because it was even better the next day.  When I had it a few days later the flavors had really melded and it would have made an amazing meatloaf sandwich.  I wish that the meatloaf itself had been just a little more moist - we might need to soak the bread crumbs in milk or something first next time (like you do with meatballs) to provide a little extra moisture.  Or maybe we will replace the tomato paste in the meatloaf with ketchup...  I had hoped that the combination of the evoo, harissa and tomato paste would provide a little more moisture than it actually did.  But, with a little tweaking I think this recipe could be really fabulous.  I don't know if it can compete with the Grandpa Jack, but I think we are on to something here.

Recipe after the jump!