Happy Valentine’s Day. I got my love of cooking from my beautiful Hungarian mother, Marion, who made meatloaf in the shape of a heart. Not until I was much older did I ever realize it didn’t always come that way! Her secret to the meatloaf was putting a few small ice cubes into the mixture to keep it extra moist. More precious than gifts were the edible expressions of love she would prepare: my favorite comfort food — cabbage and noodles or ultra-thin crepes known as palacsintas filled with jam. The tradition continues with my 16-year old daughter Shayna who helped me write my cookbook for teens “Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs.” The book, to our delight, was reviewed in the Science section in the New York Times, helping us spread the secret about healthy eating. There you will find another style of meatloaf — made with sun-dried tomatoes, grated carrots and chives, but today I am sharing my mother’s original recipe…complete with ice cubes and seasoned breadcrumbs.
And while you might swoon from my intensely delicious and ridiculously simple chocolate mousse, you might also consider making palacsintas, thin Hungarian crepes, and fill them with scarlet red strawberry jam and dust with powdered sugar. It’s a simple and sexy way to finish a Valentine’s dinner. What to drink? Consider the selections in Wines for Valentines. And just what do farmer’s give their wives for Valentine’s Day? Hogs and kisses! Enjoy the day.
A Heart-Shaped Meatloaf (adapted from Little Meals)
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1-1/2 cup ground sirloin (or a combination of sirloin and chuck)
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons ketchup
1 clove garlic
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water plus 2 small ice cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a medium pan. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside. In a medium bowl put chopped meat, breadcrumbs, mustard, 3 tablespoons ketchup, and the cooked onions. Mix lightly. Add egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste, and ice water and ice cubes. Mix well with hands and form into a large heart shape that is 1-1/4 inches high. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Glaze top with an even coat of remaining ketchup. Bake 35 minutes. Serves 4
Palacsintas with Scarlet Jam & Powdered Sugar (adapted from Eat Fresh Food))
Use the best quality strawberry you can find or a variety by Tiptree called Little Scarlet. You can also top the rolled crepes with fresh raspberries, lightly sugared.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup strawberry jam
powdered sugar for dusting
optional: fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Blend milk, flour, sugar, eggs, melted butter, and a large pinch of salt in a blender. Process until smooth. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in an 8-inch skillet until ti sizzles. Coat bottom of pan with batter so that you have a very thin layer. Let crepe brown lightly and turn over. Cook 30 seconds. While still in pan, put 1 tablespoon jam in a line down center of crepe and fold like a jelly roll, pressing down as you roll. Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven until you have made 8 crepes. Serve 2 per person on large warm plates. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with raspberries, if desired. Serves 4