Mom’s meatloaf, not

My mother’s meatloaf is baked with strips of bacon on top of it and while I like the smokey flavor that imparts, the bacon itself isn’t really all that toothsome. It’s just ends up being flaccid ketchup-y stuff that I usually toss.

Recently at a friend’s house I was served some smoked Gouda cheese which is not something I often have but it was seriously smokey and I had the idea that adding that to the meatloaf would really rock. It didn’t. Oddly, smoke flavor is very delicate and the hour or so of baking it pretty much destroys the smokiness of it but the real issue is that the cheese on the top turned into, well, let’s just say it would not have been out of place on the sandal of a charioteer in Ancient Rome. Apparently Gouda is not a melting cheese. Who knew?

So I decided to fix the problem by grinding the whole fucking mess up in a food processor and reimagine it as paté. I added an egg and threw it into a paté contraption I have because a certain horse-riding enforcer of the law just HAD to have it and then left it behind when he moved to the continent because it weighs 478 pounds. This is the first time I’ve used it in 11 years.

It was awful. I ate it but I’ll eat anything. Almost.

Muffalatta tomato pie

The mister asked me to bring him a jar of muffuletta from good ol’ the USofA and I obliged despite its weight which was about half of the weight in my luggage. We made sandwiches which were amazing but later when I was making tomato tart for a dinner with his colleagues I slopped a couple three tablespoons of it onto the top and drizzled the oil over that. OMG. So good. This recipe, which follows, is so easy (aside from the making of the crust but you could use a purchased one depending on whether or not you could live with yourself afterward) and it’s an absolute crowd pleaser. His colleague Frau Vargas leaned towards her husband and said, “Lecker!” (Delicious in German). I love her.

While Glorioso spells it muffalatta, the real spelling is muffuletta. Before anyone jumps down my throat (you know who you are).

Tomato Tart

Preheat oven to 400

One pastry crust, just the bottom part.

Some sliced tomatoes, enough to cover a pie, thickly sliced

(Winter tomatoes are perfect for this, fortunately, though, these were summer tomatoes)

3 cups shredded cheese (about)

(I shred my own but you can use bagged cheese, it’s a lot easier, if less delicious and more not-ecological, just sayin’)

Dijon mustard or a mix of mayonnaise and mustard, or just whatever. Who cares? I don’t.

Basil chiffonade (pinky in the air emoji)

••••••• ••••••• •••••••

Put the crust in a tart pan, you can use a pie pan or anything that holds it although it won’t be as fussy fancy as one would like it to be.

Spread the raw crust liberally with mustard and/or mayonnaise.

(You can use sour cream, mayonnaise, oh hell, peanut butter for all I care)

Fill it with shredded cheese

(Swiss cheese is nice but anything works, a combination of cheeses is great, add some bleu cheese, would work for sure)

Cover with sliced tomatoes

A light sprinkling of parmesan works here, and muffuletta if you have it on hand, olives, onions, absolutely not anchovies, though.

Plop it the oven for 35-45 minutes until it looks browned.

Throw on some basil when you take it out of the oven, or not.

Let cool and slice up. Or just fold it on half and eat like a sandwich.

Just like YiaYiá made

Recently arrived from Germany, my better half (or whatever) decided to make babaganoush (or whatever) for a recent Tastebuds meal whose theme was Mediterranean but when he saw the grape vines in my yard he added dolmades to the menu.

On the one hand I love it that he did this. On the other, dolmades are not my favorite food in the world. And on the third hand, for someone who thinks only Indians can make Indian food he goes out of his way to know how to make the foods of other countries when he likes it (or whatever).

Entertaining again

More colleagues. But this particular batch was vegan, well she was anyway, him not so much, but so then we all were. I have to admit this made it a little difficult (for me anyway) so my better half whipped up a batch of falafel (from scratch, dried beans even). I do not impress easily but I was impressed. There was a rough patch when I thought he was going to toss his grinderizer out the window as it was not grinding as appropriately as he felt it should be but we (he) got through it.

It was a great meal and I am sure they liked it. The falafel was amazing.

Leftovers? Lasagna!

The NYT recipe for shrimp creole that I used said “four servings” but there were like 28. So yeah, leftovers and I thought, “Lasagna!” You can make nearly anything into lasagna, FYI. However, there wasn’t really enough to make a full on shrimp creole lasagna, I thought, so I improvised by adding some Italian sausage.

When I was done I suddenly had enough lasagna for another 78 people, approximately. The miracle of the loaves and shrimps. I like to think that I learn lessons as I go, but apparently not.

I did get an Mmm from the Royal Indian Mounted Police when he tasted it for the first time so there’s that.


So I can grow rhubarb. I mean anyone can grow rhubarb and it’s a nice looking plant. Whether or not it’s a nice tasting plant is another matter. I don’t mind it. I have a terrible sensitivity to it when it’s raw but cooked it’s fine. I learned from that English gardener guy whose name escapes me (much in the way that everything seems to escape me these days) that putting the plant under a cover to keep it dark until you’re ready to use it will make it sweeter and more tender. I dunno. It still tastes like rhubarb to me.

Someone kindly sent me a recipe for a rhubarb tart tatin from Saveur Magazine. Imma let you guess which one is mine.

Reentry issues

And boy do I have issues. When you return to the USA you need to quarantine for 14 days or get a COVID test after 4 days (I am getting mine tomorrow). But honestly, aside from the Royal Mounted Police, I was pretty isolated. Even when we went out to dinner we were blocks from fellow diners.

I did not take these pictures to demonstrate how empty the streets of Berlin were, it was only after looking at these that I realized how devoid of people it was. I grocery shopped early in the morning when the place was empty and museums were very uncrowded. I would say something about how nice that was but in truth it was disconcerting and the situation is so unpleasant it’s hard to make even mild jokes about it.

I’ll let you know how the test turns out.

Despite certain obstacles

such as the insanity of German ovens and unknowable cuts of meat I managed to make a fabulous roast. I wanted to make something like the roasts of my childhood but when I was at the store the butcher offered me a massive solid slab of fatless meat which to me is just shoe leather waiting to happen. There may be a way to make this, what looked like a big bright red brick, into something tender and falling apart, but I don’t know what that is. The butcher spoke no English but since I seem to get on well with butchers . . . I was able to say “more fat” in German, imagine that. Mehr fett. I pointed at a pretty fatty huge meat thing. Not like anything I knew. He was surprised but picked it up approvingly.

It turned out to be a piece of dry-aged beef that cost an eye-popping $28 a pound. Not like anything I’d seen in America. The closest I’d come to anything like that was a prime rib I’d braised for a New Year’s Eve. (A counter-intuitive idea at the time, but fabulously delicious.) What the hell. I’m on vacation and a meal in a restaurant is gonna cost a lot more than that. I got a packet of some sort of seasoning mix that looked appropriate. I know that this also seems counter-intuitive when you’re paying an arm and a leg for a piece of meat but in my mind (channeling my aunt Florence) a roast like this need packages of Lipton French onion, and cans of Campbells cream of mushroom soup and in Germany there is a complete aisle of these mixes, so I went with it. (to be honest, in the US these seasoning mixes and powders annoy me but, you know, with foreign words on a package it takes on a whole new dimension of desirability).

Then I went back to the paddock to do battle with the oven. Once I’d gotten that over with and the damn thing was no longer hissing, flashing and beeping sinisterly at me I assembled the braise. The mounted militia had foraged for mushrooms (not really we bought these chanterelles at a farmer’s market) and I used them in lieu of the mushroom soup but I did use a packet of something that looked appropriate. I was cautious though, I didn’t use all that much of it in case it contained anchovies or marshmallow fluff. One never knows with these foreign languages no matter how desirable they appear.

It was unbelievable. Really sensational. Second only to the meal he made last night. (I’m only saying that on the off-chance he reads this.)

Zu Haus essen

It’s never a pretty picture when I’m done cooking and I had to really work insanely quickly to clean this mess up before sergeant major galloped onto the scene. He is not quite as patient with mess as I am, particularly with mine. His own he seems to tolerate adequately well.

We were eating at home for a change and we’d, well, I’d decided on lasagna. I’d had it recently in an Italian restaurant here in Berlin and I was like pfft, I can do this better with my hands tied behind my back (which, depending on what straight jacket I’m sporting, they often are). I started with Bolognese the day before while he was off performing his mounted police duties, which is where all the mess comes in. The sauce needs to get made the day before so the flavors can co-mingle, as it were. The actual final assembly is not all that messy.

His Worship made the pasta and I must say it was perfectly exquisite. And once made, the lasagna was indeed better than the perfectly tolerable one I’d had just the last week. The haus-made pasta really made the meal. That and the wine I traipsed all over hell and back to get. Oh, and I added a pretentious bit of spinach salad with vinaigrette in an attempt to pretend it was all healthy.

I knew this day would arrive

When I was in my early twenties and on the second vacation of my life in Acapulco, there was a raft of British tourists lolling around the pool making an insane amount of noise during the day and I recall the most offensive of the group, a big old fat guy in a green Speedo gasbagging on about his trip and all the “birds” he was “shagging”— as if. (I still have a picture of him but not being at home I can’t quick put it in here, I will though, count on it) Anyway, whilst enduring his bullshit one day at the pool I was eating my lunch and having maybe my 60th beer of the morning, he commented that he could not eat like that anymore and I thought Oh jeez, I hope that doesn’t happen to me.

Well much to my chagrin, it has. We stopped for lunch at some French place in a groovy neighborhood where I had a burger and my royal mounted companion had a lobster roll. (the bun was not cut on the top as I seem to think they are in the USA and the way my brother-in-law despises them. He, my brother-in-law, was in Acapulco on this other trip with me coincidentally). Anyway, we had American food, in a French restaurant in Germany. But I cannot eat like that. I had half of a beer too. I could hardly waddle to the bus stop.

All I’m missing is the green Speedo. Well, and shagging all the birds.

Quick should out to my wife-in-the-eyes-of-the-Lord . . . it’s our 45th anniversary today!