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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just Loafing Around

I've been on a comfort food kick for a while now, trying to remember all those foods that have made me feel better over the years. One of the recipes that Mom and Nancy's Mom have handed down is meat loaf. I've tweaked it over the years by adding a few spices and using multiple types of meat. Here it is:

Meat Loaf

1 lb ground beef, preferably 85% beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal (if available; use another 1/2 lb pork if not)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste (for me it's 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper)
Barbecue sauce

1. There's no fine art here. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the ingredients with your fingers. It's the only way. Get in there and mush it up.

2. Do not use a loaf or bread pan. Form the loaf by hand on either a high sided baking sheet or a ceramic or glass cooking container.

3. Spread a thin strip of barbecue sauce down the center of the loaf. Bake at 350F for 1 1/4 hour.

4. Serve with real mashed potatoes (not boxed) and home made gravy (see below).

Gravy

32 ounces beef stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. Make a roulx with the butter and flour cooking on a medium low heat for 5 minutes or until the butter smells nutty.

2. Add the beef stock stirring rapidly to blend the stock smoothly into the roulx. Bring to a low boil. Add the thyme.

3. Cook approximately 10 minutes to concentrate the gravy. Salt and pepper.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Restaurant that can't count

I know I'm being picky, but at least they could have called it Fourteen Tables since that was the number of tables in the restaurant. For my birthday the kids made reservations at a restaurant in Cambridge called "Ten Tables" (http://www.tentables.net/). The original restaurant is located in Jamaica Plain and supposedly has only ten tables, hence the name. The Cambridge location is also called Ten Tables but according to Josh has fourteen tables. If that is the only thing wrong with the place then they are doing pretty well.



The menu was nicely varied with a good mix of meat, fowl and fish dishes. The waiter informed us we could also get the tasting menu for $40 per person. The tasting menu would be several courses chosen by the chef. The catch was we all had to order the tasting menu to get it. A vegetarian version was available for Sarah. Since it was my B-Day, everyone allowed me to pick. I chose the tasting menu for all and it was very good. Here is a rundown of the courses:



The first course was an amuse bouche consisting of a shot glass with a cold potato and leek soup. It was different and tasted mildly of the leeks. Sarah didn't like it, I did, and the rest of the table thought it was "OK". Second course was a fish broth with a nice pile of sauteed spinach topped with mussels. It may have been the best item on the menu. The broth was very tasty and the mussels added just the right hit of seafood to the taste. The third course was two diver scallops on a bed of farrow and beets. The farrow added a nice nutty offset to the soft sweet scallops. The fourth course was rare sliced steak on a bed of field greens. The steak had been marinated with a nicely acidic herb and juice blend. Very tasty. The finale was a grapefruit gratin and then a chocolate tureen with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.



The restaurant would be difficult to find without very specific directions. It is housed in the basement of an apartment complex. The decor is traditional black and white and could be a very romantic destination for a party of two. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slacker

I admit it. I'm a blogging slacker. I haven't been keeping up with this thing.

It was my B-day this weekend. We went to Fratello's Restaurant (http://fratellos.com/) in Manchester on Friday night. The atmosphere there is always friendly, the room can be noisy so you don't have to worry a lot about making your own noise. The food is good but not special. They have a nice mix of Italian and traditional dishes. I had the calamari Fratello, a nice combination of linguine in a butter and garlic sauce with fried calamari and chopped hot cherry peppers. The recipe had changed a little with the breading on the calamari being a little heavier now, but it was still good. Afterwards we went to Fran and Dave's for a warm fire, hot tub and cigars. I opened a bottle of wine from the wine club. It was the 2005 Zinfandel. I'm not usually a big fan of Zin's, but this was very different. Deep tasting while sipping with no after taste, and not dry at all. I usually like dry wines but this was different and good. I also had a Rocky Patel 10th anniversary cigar, one of my favorites.

Saturday night was pizza and guitar tunes with the Mulcahy's, always an enjoyable evening. My fingers are in bad shape so it gave me a great opportunity to build some calluses. I'm noticing some scratches around the sound hole so it might be time for a repair job. Sunday we drove to the beach and had lunch at the Lobster Cove restaurant on Long Sands at York beach. Nancy was having a problem walking with her new glasses. She said they made her feel like she was on stilts when she walked with them. I tried them on and could see what she meant. So I walked her around the beach walk holding her by the arm while she had her new prescription sunglasses on. It looked like I was leading a blind women around by the arm. Every time I had to let her go to let someone pass she had to take the glasses off to walk. Very strange.

In a few days I'll write about dinner witjh the kids at Ten Tables in Cambridge.