Since I've been traveling and a tiny bit lonely I have really developed my cooking skills. I seem to have impressed my current roommate with my skills. She made the point which I find to be true that many people don't know how to cook. It's going to become a dying art form soon. I know a bunch of guys and gals who live off of a bland diet or reheat able food, take-out or PB+J. C'MON people! I know personally I couldn't make instant mashed taters to save my life until I moved out into my first apartment. I thought I was so cool, doing laundry and grocery shopping. I was a real adult. I soon realized that Mom wasn't going to be making my meals and I had been spoiled with a lifetime of delicious meals. I wasn't about to downgrade that lifestyle with Ramen Noodles and TV dinners. I was going to need to learn how to fend for myself. At about this time Rachael Ray was starting to become popular and she had started a magazine. I'm very visual and cookbooks sometimes didn't cut it but magazines were a totally different story. I loved the pictures and soon was trying to replicate the recipes. It wasn't totally flawless. I called home often. My Dad would pick up and our conversations would go something like this
DAD: Hey sweetie, how's it going
ME: Great Dad, hey is Mom around. I have a cooking question
DAD: Yeah... CAROL! ASHLEY'S ON THE PHONE
ME: Hi Mom, I've got another cooking question... How do you boil eggs again.
No joke, I literally have a hand written recipe to remind me how to cook hardboiled eggs. I still call home. Mom is surprised when I call and I don't have a cooking question.
This is one of the first things I cooked in the little Winooski Beirut House. It's a Rachael Ray recipe and I haven't made it in almost 10 years but I've been holding onto it for nostalgic reasons. The gravy reminds me of a tomato gravy my Mom used to make to go on top of meatloaf. I just love it! I decided to go a little healthy and make mashed cauliflower. It you use 1 tater and a whole head of cauliflower it's surprisingly good. Since I'm cooking in a stranger's kitchen I get to "experience" some new cooking environments. I can't pack my entire kitchen to take on the road so I only take the essentials. Potato masher just didn't make the list but I was wishing I had it when I made the mashed cauli. Using this imposter of a potato masher was hell on a stick. After a bit I just gave up and stuck my immersion blender in there until I was happy with the consistency.
Meatloaves with Tomato Gravy
- 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 pound each ground pork, veal and beef
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2-3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (a couple of generous handfuls)
- 1/3 cup plus a splash heavy cream
- 1 large egg, beaten
- A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (eyeball it)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then salt the water and cook the potatoes until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add them back to the pot.
While the potatoes are working, in a large bowl, combine the ground meats with 1/2 cup cheese, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, a splash of cream, the egg, parsley, half of the chopped garlic, the Worcestershire sauce and allspice; season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of EVOO onto a baking sheet, form the meat mixture into four loaves about 1-1 1/2 inches thick and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of EVOO. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Wash your hands after handling the raw meats.
While the meatloaves bake, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic, carrot, onion and bay leaf and cook until tender, 7-8 minutes; season with salt and pepper and the rosemary. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and simmer until thickened. Discard the bay leaf.
Add the remaining 1/3 cup cream and 1 cup cheese to the potatoes and season with 1 teaspoon salt; smash to desired consistency. Divide the potatoes among four plates and make a small well in the center. Remove the meatloaves from the oven, turn in their sauce and set alongside the potatoes. Spoon extra sauce into the wells and over the meatloaves.