sticky glazed meatloaf

It may be sacrilegious to say this, but this meatloaf performed in true loaves and fishes style recently. Spanning a number of meals (ie intended dinner to lunchtime rolls with relish) and across the suburb – to my mother and her temporarily housebound neighbour, it just kept on giving. All were sated and many enquired about seconds. Not customary for the humble weeknight meatloaf – but this one was holding a couple of illicit secrets close to its glazed chest. Bourbon and coffee.

I’m not sure how many meatloaves I’ve shaped and baked over the years, but most have been met with reasonable appreciation – although never requested for birthday meals. Hearty, hale and hot, they do their winter mealtime job well. However, as with all things in life, there is always room for improvement. So when Masterchef’s hale and hearty Matt P coated his meatloaf in homemade barbeque sauce, it occurred to me how just how naked our meatloaves had been.

Once this sauce was whipped up, there was plenty to dress the meatloaf in and ample over to freeze for rissole and burger nights to come.

250ml tomato sauce
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp English mustard powder
120g treacle
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp paprika
2 tbspn Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup  maple syrup
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tbspn brown sugar
3 tbspn bourbon
1 espresso shot

  1. Combine all ingredients except for bourbon and espresso in a saucepan set over medium heat.
  2. Cook for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add bourbon and espresso, stir to combine.

If you need a simple meatloaf recipe to play with this one makes a good starting point. If there are herbs or condiments that you prefer, simply add them and take out those that don’t appeal. Shape the loaf and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush liberally with the barbeque sauce and bake for a further 30-40 minutes or until well cooked through. Slice and serve with mash and steamed greens. Now you’re ready to feed the masses.

Meatloaf glazed in BBQ sauce

Postscript: If a strong shot of coffee and good swig of bourbon has a kid eating meatloaf and a neighbour feeling better, then I say bring it.



Apple crumble basics

Each of us carries through life a mental collection of recipes (size of which depends on age, experience or inclination) that can be executed by heart without reference to text or screen. These are the dietary life-lines that we draw upon in times of pantry shortage, time paucity or sheer lack of energy and inspiration. Normally consisting of a handful of basic ingredients, these dishes come together quickly and are reliably enjoyed by all and sundry. When a dessert situation such as this arises in our kitchen, and I need to draw on my cerebral spirax, my only requirements are an apple tree and a passionfruit vine….

Fruit crumbles are the simplest and most cost-effective way of getting a hot caramelised sweet onto the winter table. Throughout the coldest months, the fruit selection pales beside it’s summer sisters, but the offerings are perfect for baked puddings. Apples, pears, rhubarb and frozen berries stew beautifully under the crisp, oaty crumble blankets.

The topping constituents will already be in your pantry and I daresay your fruit bowl or crisper will contain the rest. So toss it all together before dinner and as you sit down to eat, slide it into the oven. By the time you are ready to land for the evening with that well-earned cup of tea, the crumble will have cooled just nicely to scoop and devour.

This apple and passionfruit crumble is a great one to commit to memory, for your next kitchen question mark.

apple and passionfruit crumble

5 – 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
4-5 passionfruit
1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
60g chilled butter, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine apples, passionfruit, and white sugar. Spoon this combination into a baking dish.
  3. To make topping, combine topping ingredients in a bowl and rub butter into the mix until it all resembles the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  4. Sprinkle the topping mix over the apple mix and bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling.
  5. Serve with cream or vanilla ice-cream.

apple crumble and ice cream

Postscript: passionfruit are at a premium right now, so subtracted, you will enjoy a lovely apple crumble, but added, it will be superb!

gardening · recipes


Backyard mushrooms

Without prior notice and seemingly from nowhere, a small community of field mushrooms made their recent appearance near the mailbox. When spied by the offspring, topics of discussion ranging from magical creatures (the youngest) to poisonous death (male teen) were triggered. The eldest, who has wisdom (and botanical knowledge) beyond her years, cancelled out both with evidence-based biological explanation and species definition. As the merits of all theories were staunchly argued, my thoughts were galloping in an entirely different direction, one that was leading directly to a beef and mushroom pie.

I’ve never yet met a child who will voluntarily eat a mushroom, and if you know of one this rare phenomenon should be donated to science for DNA cloning, then all further issue would be appreciative of their mother’s cooking. I was one from the genetic masses and could never bear the smell or the taste of the fleshy fungus, yet the mention of a day out ‘mushrooming’ would fill me with excitement. Running along with a bucket or basket and being first to spot a patch was pure delight. Flipping the caps over and waiting for adult confirmation of edibility before cutting and collecting was all part of the process. Sunny days, with a chill in the air, meant coats and red cheeks. Boots of course, as the recent rains responsible for coaxing up those crops had left the paddocks moist and spongy. Happy and weary at the end of it all, but not remotely interested in the catch that some poor individual (my mum) had to clean and slice later that night.

Now I am that cleaning and slicing individual. An individual with an adult palate who adores mushrooms in pies.

A close inspection of your garden or neighbourhood may reveal similar treasures and if they do, here is a wonderful place to stow them:

beef and mushroom pie

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg blade or chuck steak trimmed of fat and cut into 4cm cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
250 ml beef stock
400g can crushed tomatoes
250g mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thickly
2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
1 lightly beaten egg to glaze

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Brown meat in batches. Transfer cooked meat to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add remaining oil to pan over medium heat and add onion, stirring until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the stock and mix in any residue from the base of the pan. Return beef to pan and add tomatoes. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  4. Stir in the mushrooms and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes until beef is tender and sauce has thickened.
  5. Transfer mixture to ovenproof pie dish(es) and leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Cover the pie(s) with pastry sheets and trim and press edges together. Brush with beaten egg and cut slits in the top to allow steam (and some gravy to escape).
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden. (Depending on the size of your pie dish of course, this recipe will produce up to two family pies)

field mushrooms

Postscript: and should your garden or your botanical confidence be lacking, it’s a quick, even magical, trip to the local supermarket….