True Confessions…I’d never made meatloaf before. It’s not that I don’t like it. I like it perfectly fine. So, I’m not really sure why this is true.
Sammy was a steer raised by Jane’s father-in-law on their farm in Maryland. When we visited my sister Jane for Thanksgiving, she sent us home with Sammy the Steer’s tail and two bags of ground beef. We made this oxtail stew from the tail. The ground beef has been in the freezer waiting for the right meal.
I decided one right meal would be my first meatloaf. Jane gave me her recipe. When I called to ask a few questions about, I mentioned to her that I had never made meatloaf before. “Why do you think?” I asked her. She speculated that because our mother never made meatloaf perhaps it just wasn’t in my repertoire. She wasn’t sure why my mom didn’t make this meal because a meatloaf is basically a giant baked meatball, and Mom was half Italian and made great meatballs. That might explain it, though I don’t actually make that many of my childhood dishes. My mother was an excellent cook. It’s just that I eat differently now than I ate growing up.
I followed Jane’s recipe. I didn’t have seasoned breadcrumbs, but I had some croutons on the counter and some bread in the freezer. I toasted the bread and tore it up into pieces. I threw the toast pieces and the croutons in the food processor along with a teaspoon on Italian herb mix to make seasoned breadcrumbs.
It made a BIG meatloaf. It didn’t completely bind together. I might have added a little too many breadcrumbs, so I think maybe I should have added another egg. It also wasn’t completely cooked through after an hour. We ate from the ends, and the leftovers are getting zapped in the microwave, so no worries there. It was tasty. We’ll be eating leftovers all week.
Because I had the day off, I took advantage of the hours while I was hanging around the house, and I made some loaves of Country Olive Rosemary Bread from The New Basics. This recipe was much more successful than the Anadama Bread I tried to make during last week’s storm (it didn’t rise at all and I had to throw it out). I’m really not sure why one worked and the other didn’t, but I was glad it did. The olive bread was moist and hearty. It had chopped olives, onions, and rosemary with a mix of white and whole wheat flour. The only flaws were that the crust was a little softer than I would have liked and I added too much black pepper.
After that is mixed up, add 1½ lbs (give or take) ground beef.
Shape into loaf in greased baking dish.
Pour one can (8 oz) of tomato sauce over it. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Cook uncovered at 350F for 1 hour.
Another one of my favorite salads, year round, is bread salad. If you haven’t had it before, you might think it sounds either boring or disgusting. It’s not either. It’s certainly not for anyone on a low-carb diet.
I actually have several different bread salad recipes that I make. A couple use homemade croutons from a good loaf of bread. There’s one with Tuscan flavors and the one with Mexican flavors. I also make a Middle Eastern bread salad called Fatoosh with toasted pita bread.
I first discovered my favorite bread salad recipe in a Rick Bayless cookbook. The way I make it most often now still bears a resemblance to the original recipe with my own touches. His recipe used a Caesar dressing with croutons, tomatoes, scallions, olives, and cilantro, which I still use, but I make an eggless dressing, left out the cheese, and add a avocado when I have one.
This is another salad that is flexible about its ingredients. I had leftover dressing from a batch made earlier in the week, but I was out of some of the ingredients I like to use. What I did have were fresh green beans, so I cut about ¼ pound of the beans into 1-inch pieces, cooked them, and mixed them in. The beans gave the salad great color. I also threw in a handful of toasted pumpkins seeds. You can also substitute chopped onion for the scallions, if you prefer.
My favorite local bread to make the croutons from would be a Francese from Iggy’s Bread of the World. I don’t bother cutting off the crust. I make fairly large croutons, ¾ to 1 inch cubes. In the evening, I’ll cut up a whole loaf and toast the cubes in a 350F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are just slightly brown. Then I’ll turn off the oven and leave it overnight. They turn out just right. If you plan to use them right after toasting, they probably need to bake for 10 to 15 minutes instead.
While this salad is best in the summer when ripe local tomatoes are available, I’ve made it successfully with a carton of grape tomatoes in the off season.
One other thing to keep in mind… Only make as much as you are going to eat right away. This salad does not keep until the next day. The bread gets too soggy, and it just doesn’t look or taste very nice. However, for just Howard and me, I simply halve the recipe and make it a few nights in a row.
Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Mexican Caesar Bread Salad
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 cups croutons (¾ to 1-inch cubes)
1 large tomato, diced
½ cup Kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
2 scallions, sliced
1 avocado, diced (optional)
Chopped cilantro leaves
To make the dressing, place all the dressing ingredients in the blender and combine until smooth.
To make the salad, put the remaining ingredients in a very large bowl. Toss gently to combine. Add enough dressing to coat all ingredients well. You might not use all of the dressing.
Let it sit about 10 minutes before serving so the bread can soften up a bit.