Friday night, 11/13 was our Teen/Preteen ‘Winter Comfort Food’ Class.
Twelve young people between the ages of 10 & 16 gathered together to learn how to prepare and cook a menu for cold Winter nights.
Creative Vegetable Soup
Jeweled Meat Loaf
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
The students were divided up into groups depending on their skill level. Four students who had never made yeast dough before were put in charge of the Foccacia with of course, a supervising adult to guide them through the process. They made the Dough and then set it aside to rise. The actual Foccacia was made from a risen dough that had been made before the class started. Once the Dough was fitted into the Baking Pans and topped with Olive Oil, Herbs and Tomatoes, and Cheese the Bread went into the oven for baking.
The Dough that the students made was divided up and given to the students that made it to take home and finish. They were told that they could make either Pizza, Foccacia or Breadsticks with it.
Two of the girls made the Apple Crisp. This involved peeling, coring and slicing about 10 Apples and combining them with spices and other ingredients. A streusel topping was made to go on top of the Apples. This dish was baked while the rest of the food was being made.
Two other students started the Soup. This is a wonderful Vegetable Soup that can be made with most any kind of Vegetables and Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Broth. Even though we generally advise the students to mise en place their recipes before they start cooking, the rule was changed for this recipe so that the soup would be done in time for the students to eat it. The Onions and Mushrooms were prepared first so that they could start sautéing them. While the Onions and Mushrooms cooked, the other Vegetables were prepared. After the Onions and Mushrooms were sufficiently cooked to start caramelizing them, the Stock was added and the whole mixture was allowed to simmer for about 45 minutes. Then the seasonings were added along with the remaining Vegetables. Once the Vegetables were almost cooked sufficiently, the tiny pasta was added.
While all this was being done, the Meatloaf was prepared by two different groups of students. One group put all the Vegetables into their Meatloaf and one group who preferred not to have Bell Peppers, put all the Vegetables, except for the Bell Peppers into their loaf.
While the Meatloaf was baking in the oven, the Cheesy Broccoli Casserole was prepared and baked. This dish does not take too long to bake. Once the students were done cooking, the tables were cleared and set with placemats and dinnerware and the soup and Foccacia were served. After the first course, the Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli was also served and of course, dessert finally came at the end.
The beverages for this meal were fruit juices and water. All in all, everyone had a good time and learned how to make several different dishes. Everyone took home recipes so that they could practice at home on family members. Keep an eye out for our next Teen/Preteen Class at Let’s Get Cookin’. February will be a Dim Sum Menu to celebrate the Chinese New Year ‘The Year of the Dragon’.
Even though meatloaf has long been a mainstay in the American diet, it has its origins in Europe. The Romans as early as the 5th Century had a version of meatloaf. Every European country as well as the Philippines seems to have its own version. Meatloaf is versatile, filling, nourishing and makes great sandwiches.
Meatloaf can be made from a variety of meats and can include a large number of other ingredients as well. The basic ingredients would be chopped or ground meat and depending on the origin this could include beef, pork, veal, lamb or venison. Today it is common to use ground turkey or chicken as well. A binder such as eggs is used to hold the meat together and usually a filler such as bread crumbs, matzoh meal or oatmeal is used. Salt, pepper, mustard and/or A-1 Sauce, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce or horseradish can also be used.
In addition to the meat, binder and filler, a variety of vegetables can also be used to give the meatloaf more interest and nutrition. For my meatloaf I use chopped onion, shredded carrot, diced celery, minced red & yellow bell peppers as well as parsley and garlic and sometimes basil. For the seasoning, I use salt, pepper and mustard. Some people like to use hard-cooked eggs baked into the loaf and this does allow for more interest, but the loaf is much easier to slice without the addition of th eggs. When I make meatloaf, I always make twice as much as we are going to need. One loaf is baked for dinner with enough left over for sandwiches and the other loaf is frozen for a later date. I always freeze it unbaked so that we have a freshly baked loaf when we get around to using the second one. Another thing you can do with the half batch to freeze is to shape the mixture into meatballs and use it for an entirely different different such as Spaghetti and Meatballs or Meatball Stroganoff.
Meatloaf can be baked in a loaf pan, but better results are obtained if the loaf is free formed and then put in a baking pan. This allows the juices and fat to be released without collecting on the sides of the loaf. If desired, when the meatloaf is finished baking, it can be transferred to a serving dish and then gravy can be made from the drippings. The meatloaf gravy can be used for another dinner for hot meatloaf sandwiches.
Our menu tonight included meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a green salad with a lemon/vinaigrette. The leftover meatloaf will be made into cold sandwiches with pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts.
The next time you make meatloaf try using your imagination and pleasing your tastebuds. You can do just about anything you want. One variation is baking the meatloaf with strips of bacon on top. This will give an additional flavor boost if you like the taste of bacon. Youo can also try using soy sauce, cilantro and ginger for an Asian flavor. Cooked or minute rice can be used instead of the oatmeal or bread crumbs. Whichever way you do it, enjoy!