Wednesday, January 23, 2013

52 Cookbooks Challenge #1: Nigella Kitchen

My first of new recipes for the New Year was from my culinary idol, Nigella Lawson (are you really surprised?).

On my honeymoon, Nigella’s Kitchen debuted on the shelves. It was great, I was in England for my honeymoon and my favorite cook had a new cookbook out and she was English – how perfect!! I picked up a copy at the airport (couldn’t wait). I was so excited to have a true English version of my idol’s cookbook. I read it front to back on the flight to Edinburgh and made plans for all the good food I was going to make.

Flash forward 2 weeks and I’m home, in my kitchen with my new Harrods Christmas mug full of Breakfast blend from Edinburgh and ready to try a recipe out of my treasured honeymoon gift to myself. I tried pumpkin biscuits. You would think it would have been easy, but to my horror (and with a groan) I looked at the recipe for the first time with cook's eyes. Holy crap… it’s in metric! What does gas mark mean for me? How many milliliters in a cup?

Out came the computer and I started my translation. I translated the measurements best I could to match my cups and ounces.  I made the recipe per my changes, thinking it was quite simple. And the biscuits were... well.... crap. I totally attribute this to my translation and maybe a bit to my own taste buds (I’m not as big of a fan of pumpkin as I thought).

After that, my beautiful book was shelved not to be opened again but to keep as a tribute to my honeymoon trip.

This past winter, I was in my local bookstore chain and they were having a sale on the American version of Nigella Kitchen – YAY!! I picked it up and now, without need of translation, I was ready to dive in again. First off the block is comfort food at its best – Ed’s Mother’s Meatloaf.

Ed’s Mother’s Meatloaf

1 raw egg
2 hard-boiled eggs (shelled)
1 onions (2 if you don’t have a finicky husband), diced
3 tablespoons butter and or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
10 slices of bacon

For a one pot recipe, use a cast iron skillet (looks kind of awesome too).

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a skillet, melt butter or heat oil and start to cook the onion. Add a dash of salt to help the onions soften instead of fry. Once onions are soft (4-5 minutes), remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk raw egg slightly. Add raw ground beef, salt, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs and cooled onions. Bite the bullet and get your hands into the bowl (trust me, it will just break a spatula) and mix until well combined.

Split meat mixture in half and make a mound in the now cool cast iron skillet (or in a baking pan with edges). With the side of your hand, make a well in the middle of the meat in the pan lengthwise. Place the 2 hard-boiled eggs end to end in the well. Take the remainder of the mixture and cover the eggs and try to seal the sides. The end product should not show any sign of the eggs.

Take the bacon and start to cover the meatloaf from one end, overlapping the pieces slightly to adjust for shrinkage. Tuck the ends of the bacon under the loaf, like you were tucking your little beef log in to bed with a bacon blanket. Weird, but that’s what it feels like.

Put swaddled meatloaf into the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and there is no more pink on the inside. Let rest 5-10 minutes to reincorporate juices and then serve.

Serves 3-4

Beef Loaf in a Bacon Blanket - cow in a pig blanket?

This is a no-red-sauce meatloaf so it tastes like a super moist, well done burger with the cute surprise of an egg on the inside.  If you serve right after cooking, and the meat you used wasn't too fatty, the juices can be poured over like gravy.  Perfect comfort food!


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