Monday, January 10, 2011

Patrick's Birthday

Patrick is already putting in requests for his birthday dinner and cake in April.  Looks like I'm not the only one that plans things four months in advance. . . .
Of course neither is South Beach even a little bit, but it's okay to splurge once in a while, and splurge we will.  I know that it will make me sick afterward, binging on non SB foods always do when I've been good for a long time, which will hopefully only encourage me to stay good.

First up - a bacon wrapped meatloaf he saw on the cover of a magazine called Fine Cooking, which I've never even heard of.  I tweaked the recipe just a tiny little bit based on preference and user reviews.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
4 oz. cremini (baby bella) or white mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped (1-1/3 cups)
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
3 Tbs. dry sherry
1 Tbs. minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. day-old rustic or dense white bread, torn into about 1/2-inch pieces (1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb. ground beef (85% lean)
1 lb. ground pork
2 Tbs. light or dark brown sugar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
8 slices center-cut bacon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms with the onion, sherry, garlic, 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread, milk, and egg. Stir well, lightly mashing the bread until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the beef, veal, pork, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and the onion-mushroom mixture. Using a large, sturdy wooden spoon or your hands, gently mix just until all the ingredients are blended; you may need to push the meat against the side of the bowl to get the pieces to break up.

Put the meat mixture in a 9x13-inch metal baking pan. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf about 10x4 inches. Wrap the strips of bacon around the loaf crosswise, overlapping them slightly and tucking the ends securely under the loaf. Pat the loaf back into shape if necessary.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 160ºF, 60 to 70 minutes. Take the meatloaf out of the oven and position the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiling element. Heat the broiler to high. Broil the meatloaf until the bacon is brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Let the loaf rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Use two flat spatulas to transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter. Slice and serve with the mushroom gravy.
Just in case you were wondering:  Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): 19; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 26; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 610; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 1;

Sherry Mushroom Gravy 
1 cup lower-salt beef or chicken broth; more as needed
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices center-cut bacon, minced
6 oz. cremini (baby bella) or white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced about 1/8 inch thick (2 packed cups)
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. dry sherry
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Combine the broth with 1 cup of hot water. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring to break apart the pieces, until just starting to crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have cooked through and start to brown the bottom of the pan, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the sherry and stir to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture has browned and is slightly dry and crumbly, about 30 seconds.
Whisk in half of the broth mixture and continue whisking until the liquid is absorbed into the flour, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the remaining broth mixture and bring the gravy to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and thin with water or broth if necessary. Transfer to a small saucepan, cover, and keep warm. Reheat the gravy if necessary before serving.

Served with butter laden mashed potatoes, this is certain to make us very happy to eat and then very ill for having eaten it.  Then of course there will be the meatloaf sandwiches the next day. . . I can hardly wait.  But there's more!!!  Maybe laying in bed on the weekend watching Food Network until we're too starved to stay horizontal any more isn't a good thing.  We saw Paula Deen try to awkwardly set up her son with a pretty blonde AND make an amazing looking meal.  I'd like the whole thing actually, but the cake certainly caught Patrick's attention.

Double Decker Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 cup butter, softened, plus 1/2 cup, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple slices in juice, drained well (reserve 2 tablespoons juice for frosting)
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained well
Pineapple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
Chopped pecans, for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour.
In a large bowl, beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
In a small bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the brown sugar evenly into each pan. Pour the melted butter equally over the brown sugar. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries over the brown sugar. Reserve remaining pineapple slices and cherries for another use.
Pour equal amounts of batter over the fruit and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, carefully arrange 1 cake layer, pineapple side up, on a cake plate. Carefully stack the remaining cake layer, pineapple side up, over the first layer. Frost the sides of the cake with Pineapple Buttercream Frosting. Press chopped pecans into sides of cake, if desired.

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Beat all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

Yield: about 2 cups

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