25 February 2009

Garlic Lovin'

I think I had a run-in with destiny today.

As I was ea
ting my scrambled eggs on toast for dinner last night, I thought about the good food that I could be eating. Now, don't get me wrong, I love eggs loaded with cheese and topped with Cholula hot sauce, but one night a week is enough. For some reason, meat loaf sprang to mind.

Being a home cook in China presents wonderful challenges and many impossibilities. For one, I've learned to carefully select my proteins and their cooking method. It's hard to screw up ground meat and a loaf pan. It's hard to screw up the flavors of onion, garlic, tomato, and cheese. Meatloaf offers a few bonuses: easy preparation and cooking, compatibility with many side dishes, and tasty leftovers.

Back to my date with destiny though. I went grocery sh
opping this morning, picking up some staples (butter) and the fixings for dinner (ground beef and pork). The ground lamb winked at me, but I thought its flavor would overpower the other meats. I came home, put the food away, and then sat at the computer for my daily food blog perusal. How did I ever pass my time before the world of food blogging opened up for me? It's wonderfully addictive.

One of my favorites, Smitten Kitchen, blogged today about Meatball Sliders. Meatloaf, meatballs, basically the same thing--except hers are cooked in tomato sauce, while mine will be slathered with ketchup. The epiphany came when I saw her recipe for Roasted Garlic Buns at the bottom of the post. They would be perfect as a dinner roll accompaniment to my meatloaf! I had all the ingredients in my pantry and few glorious heads of Chinese garlic.

If you ever want to impress someone, foodie or not, have some garlic roasting in the oven when they come over for dinner.

Mine turned out well, despite a few alterations due to lack of fresh Pecorino in China, and I did not find it too difficult to work the roasted garlic in for the second rise. I ate one already, fresh out of the oven, and am having problems saving the rest for the meatloaf.

I also made healthy oatmeal cookies since I did not have to teach any classes today. I found a recipe from Martha Stewart that uses vegetable oil instead of butter (hence the "healthy"), which works perfectly in China because butter is a luxury item. Two things did me in, using Chinese peanut oil instead of soybean oil and using Chinese brown sugar. The oil had an odd smell, not rancid, just not as odorless as I would have preferred. Sometimes, Chinese brown sugar contains "rocks," as I call them, which are really just hard clumps of sugar that do not mix in well. I ended up with brown sugar pockets in the cookies.

Martha's dozen or so cookies turned into my six. (I can never make cookies tiny to meet the recommended quantity! It just feels like a waste of space in my toaster oven where space is at a premium.) I also added walnuts that have been wasting away in my freezer.

The cookies taste, well, "okay" would be a good adjective. They'll do in a pinch, but I won't be making that recipe again. "Healthy" and "cookie" should rarely be uttered in the same sentence as far as I'm concerned. One of my obstacles in China is that I have to bake cookies on a rimmed baking sheet all of 12 inches by 6 inches, approximately. This tends to lead to too many cookies baked at once, hence the flat edges.

1 comment:

  1. First, let me say, if you don't know who I am, I'm your BIGGESTEST fan ever. I eat all the foods you review and recommend. But I must protest your use of the word "addicting" don't you mean addictive? I think the word addictive would suffice here. Mucho gusto!