Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beef and Sausage Meat Loaf with Mozzarella

This is an excellent meat loaf recipe that comes from Mario Batali's father.  It is definitely the most "Italian" meat loaf I have ever made or eaten.  Here is a quote from Armandino Batali that was posted on the Bon Appetit website:  Armandino Batali of Salumi in Seattle, writes:  “My son, Mario Batali, may be the most recognizable foodie in the family, but the Batalis’ interest in Italian cooking and culture goes back generations.  My grandfather opened Seattle’s first Italian-food import store in 1903.  It was located just a few steps from where my restaurant, Salumi, is now, and it’s one of the things that inspired me to get into the business."

“The idea behind Salumi was to create a restaurant, deli, and meat factory in one place, just like the salumerias in Italy.  We’re known for homemade sausages and salami, but we also attract a large lunchtime crowd.  Some of the specials, like the meat loaf and frittata, have been in our family for years.  They’re also easy to make at home.”

This Italian-inspired version is filled with sausage, mozzarella cheese, and basil.  This recipe is a winner.  It is makes a LOT of meat loaf.  Thank you to Mario Batali's dad for this recipe!

Beef and Sausage Meat Loaf with Mozzarella
Bon Appetit  ~ September 2004
By Armandino Batali
Salumi, Seattle, WA

Yield:  8 Servings

2 pounds lean ground beef (15 % fat)
1 pound coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, meat crumbled
2 cups chopped fresh basil
2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from crustless French bread
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce, divided
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
½ cup dry red wine


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine first 11 ingredients in large bowl.  Gently mix in ½ cup tomato sauce, eggs, and wine.  Place meat mixture on large rimmed baking sheet and shape into 16 x 4-inch loaf (I used two 8 x 5 inch loaf pans).  Brush with remaining ½ cup tomato sauce.  Bake meat loaf until cooked through and thermometer inserted into center registers between 160 degrees and 170 degrees F, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

The Wet Ingredients

The Flour

The Dry Ingredients

Mixing the Wet Ingredients into the Dry

The Blood Orange Segments

The Greased Pan

Adding the Orange Segments into the Batter

The Cake Batter in the Pan before Baking

A Blood Orange with Top and Bottom Removed

Badly Supremed Orange

Honey-Blood Orange Compote

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
just after it came out of the oven
A slice of cake with compote
and whipped cream
This recipe came to me from The New York Times, Good Appetite column.  The recipe itself was created by cookbook author, Melissa Clark. She has co-written many cookbooks and has recently authored a cookbook under her own name called "Cook This Now."  After making the cake, I saw this same recipe on my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen.   It was posted on that blog last year.  I guess I'm a bit behind the times.

I did not know what supreming an orange meant before I made this cake.  I saw no need to learn about it until I read the recipe.  You might say I taught myself how to "supreme" an orange by watching this video on  The video helped me understand what I was supposed to do.  Too bad I didn't watch the video before I started the process.  This cake is not difficult to make except for "supreming" the orange.  Once you learn how to do that though, it is easy.  I'm here to tell you that I made a few mistakes with this cake.  Here goes:  I left out the 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, I put the wet ingredients into the dry instead of the other way around and I left the membrane on the blood orange segments I put into the cake. I was surprised that the cake still rose nicely even without the baking powder.  I don't know if I'll try making this cake again but at least I learned how to "supreme" an orange! The oranges that I did a fair job supreming are the ones I used for the Honey-Blood Orange Compote.  The honey I used for the compote is orange blossom honey from a local family-owned business called The Bee Folks.

Even with my mistakes, this cake tastes yummy.  

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Time:  1 hr. 20 mins. Plus cooling


Butter for greasing pan
3 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
Buttermilk or plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Honey-blood orange compote, for serving (optional) (see note)
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)


1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-by-5 –inch loaf pan.  Grate zest from 2 oranges and place in a bowl with sugar.  Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.
2.       Supreme an orange:  cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife.  Cut orange segments out of their connective membrane and let them fall into a bowl.  Repeat with another orange.  Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4 –inch pieces.
3.       Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup.  You will have about ¼ cup or so.  Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether.  Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well.  Whisk in eggs.
4.       In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ones.  Switch to a spatula and fold in oil a little at a time.  Fold in pieces of orange segments.  Scrape batter into pan and smooth top.
5.       Bake cake for about 55 minute, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.  Serve with whipped cream and honey-blood orange compote, if desired.

Yield:  8 to 10 servings.

Note:  To make honey-blood orange compote, supreme 3 more blood oranges according to directions in Step 2.  Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.


The Creative Cook

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rigatoni with Cauliflower Sauce and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

Rigatoni with Cauliflower Sauce and
Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

I tried this recipe last week.  It made a nice meal that was almost meatless if you don't count the Italian bacon or Pancetta which is technically meat.  This recipe comes from Rachael Ray.  Generally, I think her recipes are a bit complicated for the outcome but this one was pretty good.   It got my family to eat cauliflower which is a good thing.   

Rigatoni with Cauliflower Sauce and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

For the Breadcrumbs:
·         2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         4 tablespoons butter 
·         6 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 cup breadcrumbs, Panko or homemade (coarse ground)
·         1/3 to 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley tops, finely chopped
·         1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the Cauliflower Sauce:
·         2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         1/4 pound pancetta, guanciale* or bacon, chopped
·         1 onion, chopped
·         2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
·         2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
·         2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
·         1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
·         3 tablespoons chopped golden raisins
·         1/2 cup dry white wine
·         1/2 cup chicken stock
·         1 head cauliflower, root and core cut away from head with sharp paring knife
·         Salt and pepper
·         1 pound rigatoni
·         3 tablespoons butter

Yields: 4-6

For the breadcrumbs, heat EVOO and butter over medium heat, melting butter into oil. Add garlic and stir 1-2 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and stir until very fragrant and deeply golden in color. Remove breadcrumbs from heat and cool; toss with parsley and cheese.

For the sauce, heat EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add pancetta, guanciale or bacon and stir until rendered and crispy, 3-4 minutes. Add onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes and raisins, and stir to soften 3-5 minutes. Add white wine and stock, set cauliflower into pot, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Cook 15-20 minutes until very tender then mash up into small pieces with wooden spoon or potato masher.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Add a cup of starchy water from pasta to sauce just before draining.

Along with starchy water, stir butter into cauliflower sauce. Combine with pasta and adjust seasoning. Serve in shallow bowls topped with garlic breadcrumbs. 

*Guanciale (Italian pronunciation: [ɡwanˈtʃaːle]) is an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig's jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guanciaItalian for cheek. Guanciale is similar to the jowl bacon of the United States.   This definitionis from

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf

I can't explain what possessed me to make this... dare I say.... fruit cake.  I never made one before.  I'm not even a big fruit cake fan.  So I can't explain my need to make this loaf.  I found the recipe on  It looked interesting and I had an over abundance of dried fruit in the house.  Maybe that was it.  I don't know but it came out great.  I used 5 mini loaf pans instead of one 9 x 5 loaf which helped with the baking since my oven is set so low.  I did compensate and get the temperature in the oven up to 300 degrees.  It did not seem like this loaf would even hold together.  There are more fruit and nuts than batter so it is probably better for you than the average fruit cake.  My mother absolutely loved it and so did my  husband.  I had no idea he even remotely liked fruit cake.  I thought it was pretty good, too.  So give this recipe a chance if you have the opportunity.  I think you'll like it.  It may even change your opinion of the dreaded fruit cake!

Keep in mind that you don't have to use the dried fruits that are recommended in the recipe.  As long as you use 3 cups of dried fruit and 3 cups of chopped nuts you will be fine.  Just be careful about buying good quality, fresh dried fruit (which sounds like an oxymoron).  I used cranberries, apricots and figs for the dried fruit and pecans instead of walnuts. I think that any way you mix it, this loaf will be tasty.

Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf

3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (160 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups (300 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts (can also use pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds)
1/2 cup (65 grams) dried cherries and/or cranberries
2 cups dates and figs, pits removed and cut into quarters
1/2 cup (85 grams) dried apricots, cut into quarters
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a vegetable oil spray, a9 x 5inch (23 x 12 cm) (8 cup) loaf pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, and dried fruits. Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruits and nuts have been coated with the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer) the eggs and vanilla until light colored and thick (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.

Bake for about 60 to75 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. (If you find the loaf over browning, cover with aluminum foil.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When cool, lift the loaf from the pan. To store, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This loaf is best after being stored for a couple of days. Will keep for about 2 weeks at room temperature or for a couple of months in the refrigerator. Cut into small slices with a sharp knife.

Makes one - 9 x 5 inch (20 x 13 cm) loaf.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carrots Vichy

This is a recipe that comes from  My son made Carrots Vichy while he was at a cooking camp over the holidays.  He didn't bring home the exact recipe so I did some googling and found this recipe for Carrots Vichy.  I didn't follow the recipe correctly.  I did't use boiling water because I just did not realize that they were asking me to boil the water first then add it to the pot with the carrots.  It really didn't make sense, at first.  A burning question I have is do they really want us to add the butter along with the boiling water and then cook the carrots until the water evaporates.  Are the carrots supposed to brown in the butter after the water evaporates.  I was just too confused.  I have to experiment a bit more.  They came out fine and smell good but I don't think they are exactly the same as when my son made them at camp.  

Traditionally, Carrots Vichy were made with the naturally carbonated mineral water found in the town of Vichy which is located in the center of France.  You don't have to use carbonated water to make this dish but it would be interesting to try it and see what different effect it might create.  

Carrots Vichy

The cooking time is variable for this dish.  Just cook them until they are the way you like them. 


2 cups carrots or 2 cups parsnips, peeled and sliced
½ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Chopped chives or parsley


1.       Place all ingredients in a saucepan except the chives or parsley.
2.       Cook the carrots or parsnips over medium heat until the water evaporates.
3.       Permit them to brown in the butter.
4.       Serve them sprinkled with either chopped chives or parsley.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I saw this in a email.  It was on their "top three" list last week.  It looked absolutely delicious.  I read the recipe carefully (ha) and noticed that the Gojee chef  had gotten the recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs "Smitten Kitchen".  I didn't think about the recipe too long before I decided that I had to try it.  I mentioned it to my son.  He thought it would be a great cake to make on Martin Luther King Day.  Of course, I agreed right away.  He did most the work but I separated the eggs, assembled the cake and put it into the oven.  I guess you could say I acted as his assistant on this cake.  It was nice to have someone to bake with.  After he mixed up the cake and I put it into the oven I dove into the Smitten Kitchen blog post about this cake. I read the recipe carefully again and (thankfully) noticed a note at the bottom of the blog.  Apparently, when Smitten Kitchen originally posted this recipe back in 2006 an ingredient (salt) was inadvertently left out. Obviously, when the Gojee chef copied the recipe from Smitten Kitchen it was before they made the correction to the recipe because my version from Gojee does not contain any salt.  The cake tastes and looks great anyway.  Maybe it has a different consistency than if it did contain the salt.  I don't know, but we will definitely be making it again. According to the Smitten Kitchen post, this was her mother's "go to" cake recipe that everyone requested during her childhood. So it seems that this recipe has been around for a long time. The chef at Smitten Kitchen is Deb and her husband Alex is her assistant.  They are great!  Their blog is fantastic so check it out.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Chip Coffee Cake


For the cake:
1 stick butter at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (16-ounces) sour cream
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt

To assemble:
2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate bars
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. In the bowl of the mixer, whip the egg whites until they are stiff. Take out of the bowl and set aside. 

2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla.

3. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick. In a medium bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.

4. Spread half of the cake batter into a greased 9-x-13 pan.   Sprinkle with the half of the cinnamon and sugar and half of the chocolate chips (1 cup).

5. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a rubber or offset spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top. Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips. With the palm of your hand, gently press the chocolate chips a bit into the batter.  

6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes rotating halfway through. When the cake is done, a tester will come out clean. Cool on a cooling rack.


The Creative Cook

P.S.  These are my own crappy pictures.  I did not steal them from anyone else.  Why would I?  I got a wonderful new camera last year for my birthday (thanks honey) but I still need to learn how to use it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Three Onion Soup

This is a very nice, easy alternative to French Onion Soup for a cold winter day.  We all enjoyed this soup very much.  This recipe is from the Epicurious website.  

3-Onion Soup
serves 4

4 medium leeks
1 medium onions, sliced thin
2 large shallots, sliced thin
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large potato (Yukon Gold)
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon sherry
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium, low fat)
1/2 cup grated Gruyère (2 ounces)
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Chop enough white and pale green parts of leeks to measure 2 cups.  Wash leeks well in a bowl of cold water.  Lift from water and drain in a colander.  Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook chopped leeks, onion, and shallots, stirring frequently, until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add red wine and sherry and deglaze skillet, scraping up brown bits.  Transfer mixture to a saucepan.

Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  Add potato, broth, and water to onions.  Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are very tender (approximately 20 minutes).

Purée one cup soup in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) and stir into remaining soup.

Serve soup sprinkled with cheese and drizzle with vinegar.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Authentic Mexican Rice

I made this Mexican Rice with the Chicken Enchiladas that I posted last year.  The last time I made these enchiladas I served Spanish Quinoa instead of rice.  I decided to be more authentic this time and make a traditional rice dish.  I also served some refried beans.  You can make this rice spicy by using medium or hot salsa instead of the tomato sauce.

Authentic Mexican Rice
Prep. Time:  5 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes


2 tablespoons oil
¼ medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups rice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup plain tomato sauce*
4 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped parsley (optional)


In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the fresh onion and garlic.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes until softened.  Add dry rice and cook with the onions for about 5-6 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color.

Add in broth and tomato sauce (add slowly into the rice, not directly into a hot pan).  Then add parsley if you’re using it.  Stir it up and bring to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and cover.  Let it simmer for 20 minutes and fluff with a fork.

*Substitutions:  If you don’t have fresh garlic or onions on hand you can use the equivalent in powder form.  Do not sauté the powder, just skip that step and add the garlic powder and/or onion powder when you add the liquids.  If you don’t have tomato sauce you can use 1 cup of unseasoned stewed tomatoes (with their liquid) that have been chopped, or canned diced tomatoes with their liquid.  Rotel and jarred salsa can also be substituted for the tomato sauce.