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Loaf-in-a-Loaf

The whole of last week, flu was in the air. All of us felt like wet socks… limp and floppy. When the weekend came, we decided to hibernate. Just staying at home, watching television and catching up on sleep never felt so wonderful. But as usual, for me, not a weekend goes by without me doing research and experimenting in the lab.

The whole week, I was thinking of meatloaf… and I decided to tweak the usual meatloaf “presentation”. Instead of baking it in a loaf tin, I baked it in a hollowed-out French loaf. And I added a layer of sautéed mushrooms and swiss-cheese in the middle. My version of the mushroom-swiss-burger. Yeah. I had it going on my head already.

I winged the meatloaf recipe (the quantities below are, at best, estimations), because I couldn’t be bothered to go through my stack of recipes to look for my go-to meatloaf recipe. If, after reading this post, you want to attempt it with your own meatloaf recipe, go ahead, I won’t hold it against you.

I’ve split the ingredients and methodology into steps, so bear with me…

LOAF-IN-A-LOAF (my way)

1 medium-sized French loaf

a pack of turkey bacon

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 pack portobello mushrooms, gilled, diced

(can be substituted with tinned button mushrooms, diced)

italian herbs

dried parsley flakes

salt and pepper to taste

sliced swiss cheese

(if you can’t get hold of it, replace with shredded cheddar or mozzarella)

1 kg minced beef

panko

1 handful grated parmesan cheese

italian herbs

dried parsley flakes

paprika

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

pizza topper herbs

———-

Set oven to 180C.

Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.

———-

STEP 1.

Slice the French loaf length-wise, about two inches from each end, but DO NOT cut through to split the loaf completely.

Using a spoon or your fingers, gently scoop out the bread, taking care not to puncture the shell of the French loaf.

Set aside the French loaf, while we work on the bread filling first.

STEP 2.

Roughly cube the bread filling, place them on the prepared baking sheet, tossing them generously with olive oil.

Toast in the oven for a few minutes until crispy, but NOT browned.

Set aside to cool slightly.

Do not throw the aluminium foil yet, we’ll be using them again.

STEP 3.

Heat your skillet with a little olive oil, fry the bacon slices until cooked, but not to a crisp.

Drain completely on kitchen paper, set aside.

STEP 4.

In the same skillet, with the remaining oil, brown the diced yellow onions and add in the diced bell peppers.

When the peppers have softened slightly, add in the diced mushrooms.

Sautee them lightly, season with salt and pepper according to taste, and add a few pinches of Italian herbs and dried parsley flakes.

Set aside to cool slightly.

STEP 5.

Now back to self-made croutons… place them in a ziplock bag and smash-smash-smash!

You can use a food processor, but why clutter the workspace?

They will be incorporated into the meat filling, so you don’t want any big pieces.

So bash them up real good until they are as fine as the panko.

STEP 6.

Measure the bashed croutons in a measuring cup (duh!), and add the extra panko to make 1 cup.

Add in the parmesan cheese, italian herbs, dried parsley flakes, pepper and a pinch of paprika.

Stir to mix thoroughly.

STEP 7.

In a small bowl, stir together milk, eggs and salt.

STEP 8.

In a big bowl, dump in the minced beef.

Also toss in all of the seasoned panko and milk-egg mix.

Mix together until just combined, do not over-mix.

Over-mixing will cause the meat to turn tough.

(Something about the protein links in the meat… yada-yada-yada…)

STEP 9.

Now it’s time to assemble the loaf-in-a-loaf…

with the aluminium foil still on the baking sheet, place the hollowed-out French loaf in the centre.

Carefully line the inside bottom with the cooked bacon

(that’s why you’ve got to drain it real good, or else the loaf’s base will be soggy).

Then carefully scoop the meat mixture over it, until just halfway up in the shell, then pressing it down slightly.

Then layer the sautéed mushroom, pressing slightly.

Arrange the slices of swiss cheese/sprinkle on the shredded cheddar or mozza, pressing slightly.

Again, arrange the bacon slices on top of the cheese.

Then fill to the top with the remaining meat mixture, pressing slightly.

** the reason I keep on re-iterating to press down the filling at every stage ,

is to slightly compact it, such that when you slice the loaf, it doesn’t crumble and fall apart. **

***if there is leftover meat and mushroom filling that can’t fit into the loaf, no worries,

(arrange them in the same way as you did in the loaf) in a greased muffin pan and bake ‘em up the same way.***

STEP 10.

Wrap up the sides of the loafed-up loaf (is there such an expression?) with the aluminium foil

– to help keep its’ shape and that it doesn’t split open in the oven –

and chuck it in the oven for about 40-50 minutes.

STEP 11.

Remove it from the oven and test for done-ness with a skewer to see whether the meat juices run clear

(that’s when you know the meat has cooked thoroughly).

If it isn’t clear, return it to the oven for a few more minutes.

YOUR CREATION IS NOT DONE YET!

STEP 12.

After testing that the juices have run clear, arrange more cheese on top.

Go to town with the cheese. Don’t skimp.

Cheese is good for you.

Then on top of it, sprinkle some pizza topper herbs and return it to the oven.

STEP 13.

Leave it in there for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and bubble.

Watch it like a hawk, you don’t want the pièce de résistance to burn.

STEP 14.

This time, remove it from the oven for good.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes while still wrapped in the aluminium foil.

Then unwrap it and slice up the baby.

Ooouuuuuhhhhh………. Awesome…..

The loaf-in-a-loaf slices go well with parmesan-mashed-cauliflower (in place of mashed ‘taters) or broccoli-mayo-cheddar salad, along with some onion or mushroom gravy. But I just grab my trusty sriracha. Love that cock… sauce to death!

I am still finding the scrap of paper that I jotted the salad recipe on. Yes, I owe the recipe to another friend… she mentioned once that her daughter loves broccoli. I haven’t forgotten, M!

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Link

erm…. yeah……

http://mingmakescupcakes.yolasite.com/

Make ’em. Make ’em all. And give me ten one three. For breakfast lunch and dinner. ‘Cos you’re kind. And you want to make me happy.

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Cholesterol + Cholesterol… But it’s all gooooooooood…..

With eyes on the prize, both The Hubby and I sit opposite each other. The steaming hot dish between us. Mwahahaha…..

It all started after we woke up famished after our afternoon nap. I opened the fridge to see what I could whip up in a short time. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And then I saw it when I opened the freezer. I could almost hear the choir sing. A bag of frozen prawns, cleaned and ready to be cooked. So out it came from its freezing abode. And the salted eggs. And the evap milk… and the other stuffs.

BUTTERED PRAWNS WITH SALTED EGGS

60 G BUTTER

2 TBSP COOKING OIL

3 SHALLOTS, PEELED AND SLICED (I SUBSTITUTED WITH REGULAR ONION)

6-8 CHILLI PADI, SLICED (ADJUST ACCORDING TO YOUR PREFERENCE)

3 SPRIGS CURRY LEAVES

3 SALTED EGGS, YOLKS ONLY, MASHED (I USED 4)

150 ML EVAPORATED MILK

3 TBSP WATER

500 G FRESH MEDIUM PRAWNS, CLEANED, DE-VEINED

SALT & SUGAR TO TASTE

HEAT BUTTER & OIL IN WOK ON HIGH HEAT

SAUTE SHALLOTS TILL FRAGRANT

ADD CHILLI PADI AND CURRY LEAVES, CONTINUE SAUTEEING TILL FRAGRANT

ADD EGG YOLKS, STIRRING, AS IT MELTS IN THE HOT WOK

ADD MILK & WATER, LETTING IT BOIL FOR A BIT

SEASON WITH SALT & SUGAR ACCORDING TO TASTE

ADD PRAWNS & STIR IN, SIMMERING IT UNTIL SAUCE THICKENS (DO NOT LET MILK SEPARATE)

ONCE PRAWNS ARE COOKED , REMOVE FROM HEAT AND TRANSFER TO SERVING DISH

SERVE HOT

Sit back and see your loved ones enjoy this dish with steamy hot rice, lightly toasted baguette slices or pasta. There will be no squabbling on the dinner table. All you’ll hear are grunts of appreciation and the occasional pair of eyeballs rolling back in food ecstasy. Or maybe that’s just me. But be smart and set aside a portion for yourself before calling them to the dining table.

Actually, The Hubby and I were quietly challenging each other on how many prawns we could inhale in one sitting. He lost. Haha!

As this was my first attempt trying this recipe (and it was a success, on the whole), The Hubby and I agreed on one thing. To increase the amount of sauce the next time I cook this dish. And maybe use smaller prawns. So we don’t have to waste time peeling them. Yeah, we’re lazy eaters like that. And that’s why I used prawns instead of crabs in the first place. But I’ll still head to the other end of the island for that wonderful big platter of salted egg crabs. And the big pile of deep fried mantou buns… **eyes glazing over**

So there, cholesterol (salted egg yolks) + cholesterol (prawns) for a cool Saturday evening. I might sneak out for some ice-cream later. Maybe. Just to round off my dinner. Heh.

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Best Of Both Worlds, In My World

Last week, I had a bad case of PMS-induced cravings. Of the chocolate kind. So I scoured through my very messy collection of recipes, looking for a very fuss-free but very satisfying sweet something to satisfy my craving. i wanted something portable, but I didn’t want a cookie that needed refrigerating before baking. I WANT MY CRAVING SATISFIED NOW. I came across this, near the bottom of the last pile (I had three separate piles) of recipes that I have scattered in my room (neatness is not one of my good points I’m comfortable with organised mess.)

BROWNIE COOKIES

2 2/3 cup (450g) dark chocolate, 70% bitterness preferably, chopped

4 tbsp (65g) butter

4 eggs

1 1/3 cup (260g) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup (125g) plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup mini chocolate chips (half of a hersheys bag of mini chocolate chips)

 

Oven : pre-heated to 180C

Parchment-lined baking sheets

 

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt together the chopped dark chocolates and butter.

(recipe suggests using a double boiler, but I can’t be bothered. I just made sure I kept watch over the saucepan and continued stirring non-stop to prevent the chocolate from burning.)

Once everything has melted, remove it from fire and set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, caster sugar and vanilla till well combined

Slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate-butter mixture.

Stir until everything is well combined.

Fold in flour mixture until no flour streaks remain.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop brownie batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2″ apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, the tops will crack slightly.

Cool on baking sheets for about 3-5 minutes,

 before transferring brownie cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe makes about 56-58 cookies if batter was scooped with a 1-tbsp… erh… scooper.

But seriously, I like to gobble (impatient greedy chocoholic) them down while they’re still slightly hot, because the chocolate chips will still be a little melty and oh.so.divinely.awesome. Burnt fingers and tongue can be soothed later. Melty chooclates more important.

As per all other recipes, always envision the steps you have to go through, so you will have an enjoyable time making these brownies… cookies… brownie cookies… whatever… little pieces of heaven. And the fact that I had to make two batches in one week, showed that these babies do pack a punch! All you need is a BC a plate full of BCs and a tall glass of cold milk, and you’re good to go. Remember to lock the door behind you if you intend to keep all the BCs to yourself. Something which I miserably failed to do last week.

ps : Be watchful of popping eyeballs from unsuspecting tasters.  Or those who suddenly lose the ability to speak (temporarily) after a bite.

pps: I didn’t plan on uploading this recipe, but I lost count of the number of people who asked for the recipe. so there you have it, my darlings, go forth and bake!!

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Home-made Salmon Patties

This past week, a friend mentioned smoked salmon aglio olio, and my mind instantly went to this recipe, which I have forgotten about for eons!! And to think it was an almost weekly fixture in our kitchen!

Home-made Salmon Patties

1 kg salmon, diced

8-10 stalks spring onions, chopped

1/2 cup panko (japanese breadcrumbs)

250 g smoked salmon, roughly chopped

In a food processor, place half of the diced salmon and all of the chopped spring onions

Blitz together till well combined

In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed salmon, remaining diced salmon, panko and chopped smoked salmon

**sometimes I add a pinch of dill weed into the mixing bowl, it goes perfectly with it**

Heat a skillet on medium-high, spray with some olive-oil, sprinkle a little salt

Take about a fistful of salmon-mix and shape into a burger patty

Place it gently on the heated skillet, letting it cook 4-5 minutes on each side

That’s all there is to it! It’s a good way to introduce smoked salmon to your palate. If you are wary of the taste, the briny smoky flavour will not hit you in the face, because it has the salmon meat and spring onion to help you along with it. Because you know what exactly goes into the patties, you know that you are not getting any empty fillers (like commercial patties), but full-on omega-3 salmon goodness.

The salmon patties are versatile, not just as sandwich fillers:

– sandwich (duh!) : spread mustard, or mayonnaise (for the uninitiated) on the bread, pile it with butterhead lettuce, a handful of alfalfa sprouts, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, a slice of cheese, and a sunny-side-up egg, or whatever you like in your sandwich

– as a main, with a side of salad – i suggest rocket salad, with a few shavings of parmesan &  accompanied by some roasted baby potatoes… whatever combo that rocks your boat.

– broken into smaller chunks, over a bed of just-cooked rice, with some shredded seaweed, a light drizzle of soy sauce and a good sprinkling of japanese pepper flakes

– or my favourite, crumbled over a bed of salad, with a squeeze of lemon and some freshly cracked black pepper to finish it off.

– but if you’re feeling a little lazy, just dip them into some sriracha sauce

So there you have it, one of my family’s favourite recipes.

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**Sorry, there are no pictures this time round, they got lost somewhere between my handphone and my lappie. Bugger. But don’t let this wordy post stop you from trying this out, okay-kayzzzz!!

Unicorn Poopz

My mum and nephew popped by my place last weekend. And I decided to make another batch of Unicorn Poopz (which was supposed to be done on Friday, but I was too knackered!) The kids wanted to help me make them… but I decided, nah… they’ll make too much of a mess in my tiny kitchen. And besides, small kitchen + two hyper boys = no thanks, thankyouverymuch!!

So I shooed them off to play in the kids’ room while I chatted with my mum in the kitchen as I puttered about making the Unicorn Poopz. It isn’t a difficult recipe to begin with, it’s a straight-forward soft sugar cookie recipe. But mummy dearest said I was crazy enough to go through the steps to turn them into Unicorn Poopz. Er, mum… some traits do run in the family line. LOL!! Joking mum, love you!!!

Rainbow Cookies

1 cup (250g) butter, softened

2 cups (500g) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

4 cups (500g) plain flour

Food colourings

Oven : 180C

Parchment lined baking sheets

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, eggs and salt, giving it a little whisk. Set aside

In another bowl, whisk together the baking powder and flour. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy.

Add in the egg mixture and continue beating till well mixed.

Add in the flour mixture and combine until just mixed. basic sugar cookie dough

Separate the cookie dough equally according to how many colours you have

(I used five colours, so five separate cookie dough balls)

tinted cookie dough

Tint the dough accordingly and stir in the colour until homogeneous

ready to be fridged

Bag the coloured dough individually into ziplock bags and stick them in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes

(I skipped this step this instance, and the cookies were not quite so smooth when rolling them)

After taking out the dough from the fridge, pinch a little bit of dough (I used a 1 tsp scoop) to form grape-sized balls

Do it for all the colours until you have piles of grape-sized cookie balls

cookie mini balls

Taking one ball from each pile, combine them to make a multi-coloured ‘beach ball’

beach ball

Roll the ball out into a snake, then coil it up like a snail

snake

snail

Place it on the prepared baking sheets

 ready to bake

Bake for 10-12 minutes (depending on your oven)

 freshly baked

Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to the cooling racks to cool completely. Don’t do it immediately, cos cookies just taken out from the oven are fragile!

After they have cooled, send the Unicorn Poopz out to the masses with tall glasses of cold milk. Delish!!

*Why do I call them Unicorn Poopz? Because calling them Rainbow Cookies are not macho for boys, and boys being boys… they’re thrilled to know that they’re eating poop. Eventhough they came from the mythical unicorn. Gotcha, boys!!!

**Mum loved my idea of tinting the cookies and making them into colourful spirals. She said she’s going to make them for the pre-schoolers in the school she’s working at. Lucky little kids, aye.

***This recipe makes about 50-big-ish cookies, so it’s okay to halve it if you are not feeding an army, okay-kayzzz ;P

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Weekend Wontons

Another weekend, and I got another opportunity to flex my kitchen klutzing abilities. I handed over ‘The Big Book of Noodles’ by Vatcharin Bhumichitr, to The Captain, and asked him to choose a recipe for me to try out today. He picked out…

Wonton Noodle Soup (serves 4)

For the wonton filling:

85g minced chicken meat

1 spring onion, finely chopped

1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in warm water, dried and finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped ginger root

1 tsp light soy sauce

½ tsp sesame oil

White pepper

20 wanton wrappers

280g fresh thin egg noodles (wonton noodles)

1.5l chicken stock

2 large iceberg lettuce leaves, halved and blanched

3 spring onions, chopped

In a bowl, thoroughly mix together all the filling ingredients

Lay a wrapper flat, scoop about 1 tsp of filling onto the centre

Wet the edges of the wrapper lightly with water, then fold over diagonally to form a triangle,

pressing out the air at the same time as sealing the edges

Repeat the procedure until you have used up all the wrappers or the mixture. ( I got about 70 pcs)

wontons

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.

Blanch the noodles for about 3 minutes.

Drain and place into a bowl.

In another saucepan, ladle out a portion of the soup base, and boil the wontons in it for 3-4 minutes.

Pour the heated soup base and the wontons over the noodles, garnish with chopped spring onions and serve immediately.

The Captain's Plate

*as usual, for cooking, I read through the ingredients and methodology, and rocked on from there…

** I scaled my recipe to 500g minced chicken meat, added half a small cabbage and cubed chicken meat (to substantiate an otherwise ‘empty’ soup base) to my stockpot, and some button mushrooms and fishballs, cos The Boy loves them. I omitted the iceberg lettuce leaves, and with the remaining half lettuce, I chopped them up and served as crunchy garnish together with the spring onions. I also made a dipping sauce with birds eye chillies in light soy sauce.

The Captain drifted to la-la land soon after his second helping!

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**********Woohoo!! My nephew just arrived 🙂 Unicorn Poopz, here we come!!