Just like the political race coming to a head in a few days,
this week’s challenge is another heated battle: a WTE Food Fight! As you’ve read, my competitor made chili, President Obama’s favorite food. My sleeves rolled up, I prepared to swing back with opponent Mitt Romney’s beloved fare.
Therein lies the problem. Romney’s favorite food is PB & honey sandwiches (oh, and he’s coo coo for Cocoa Puffs). My point
being, one doesn’t go up against chili, inspired by the family recipe of an incumbent president, with peanut butter. I’d rather bring a spoon of the sticky stuff to a gun fight.
At least Mr. Romney prefers healthy, organic foods (well, aside from the Cocoa Puffs, that is). Eating organic is something the candidate’s wife, Ann, credits with helping her overcome multiple sclerosis. If her husband ousts Mr. Obama, there will be plenty of that served in the White House, and it fits in well with the Mormon commitment to good health.
Actually, Romney’s religion also posed an interesting Food Fight hurdle. The Mormon recommended dietary code is heavily focused on grains and vegetables and advises eating meat sparingly. But to win this week’s challenge, I really needed something meaty to beat my opponent.
Then I stumbled on Mrs. Romney’s meatloaf cakes, made by the candidate’s wife on the Rachel Ray Show.
Apparently, Meat Loaf loves Romney. Er, I mean … Romney loves meatloaf.
But, my concerns about winning this election (OK, fine … competition) were reignited when I looked closely. The recipe seemed sort of, well, bland. If you can only eat meat sparingly, why not cram as much flavor and variety into the dish as possible? My own meatloaf recipe includes five — yes five — different kinds of meat. And there’s lots of other things in there for a Mormon to love, too.
I think the former governor of Massachusetts would like the copious amounts of veggies counterbalancing the quintet of meats. The zucchini and mushrooms
serve a purpose, too, soaking up the juices and binding everything together — a job typically reserved for bread. There’s no bread in my recipe; I use heart-healthy oatmeal instead, which gives the meatloaf a mouth-watering earthiness and depth. And while the flax seeds in my version may seem strange, they add an interesting, nutty touch.
But there were things I liked about Ann Romney’s recipe, too. Like the onion and lemon juice, and the dry mustard in the topping. I was also smitten with the idea of a meatloaf cake — individual portions that bake separately, like crab cakes. One of the things I love best about meatloaf is the crusty, savory top, and following Mrs. Romney’s lead means more surface area, and thus more crust.
So I decided to marry to two recipes together, to reach across the aisle and see what comes out of compromise. What better place to shop for all that goodness than one of the Romney’s favorite stores: Costco.
Though Mr. Obama and his spouse likely would rather hit a farmer’s market for ingredients, my competitor, Adam, was kind enough to reach across the food aisle and tag along. Sadly, there was no crossing the aisles inside the store.
We arrived during the melee of Frankenstorm preparations, with half of the city clogging the place. We made it as far as admiring some of Mr. Romney’s fave shirts before we aborted the mission in favor of Whole Foods.
The results? Fabulous.
But don’t take my word for it. And consequently, don’t take Romney or Obama’s, either. When it comes to recipes — or platforms — there are lots of resources out there. Know the facts … be an informed voter.
See you at the polls!
Amy’s Meatloaf (With A Nod To Mitt Romney)
Makes about 16 servings
4 pounds ground meat, 1 each of lamb, veal, pork and buffalo
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
4 to 6 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 large green zucchini, shredded (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup flax seed
3 cups old-fashioned whole oats (not quick oats)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1/4 teaspoon zest, about 2 tablespoons juice)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic, chopped and scraped across cutting board into paste (or use Dorot)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
2 cloves garlic, prepared as in above meat mix
A dash of ground clove (to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients for meat meatloaf in a bowl and mix with fingers until fully incorporated. Take a small amount and cook in a hot pan (as described in WTE’s savory burger recipe) to test for taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed. In a separate bowl, mix the topping. Using balls the size of a baseball, form into oval-shaped loaves, indenting slightly in the middle. Place on cookie sheet, brush liberally with topping and bake for 30 minutes, or until the “cakes” are firm to the touch. May also be made in loaf pan, adjusting cooking time accordingly (about 45 minutes for a large loaf pan.)
This makes a very large batch geared towards leftovers. You can freeze half the cakes uncooked, or bake extra now to freeze. They’re great for meatloaf sandwiches.
About 16 servings