Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dinner with the Newlywed Neighbours

Being a wee culchie who doesn't drive, when I was buying my house I wanted to be around people I know and love, so I moved into a great neighbourhood right beside my big bro and two friends who had also bought houses in the area. One of these is the lovely Niamhy Mac, who just got married recently. I am a tad behind on my wedding pressies, but since they are my neighbours they got bumped up on the list, so I had them over for dins last night to give them their pres. Since I was working and going to physio that afternoon I wasn't going to be home too early, so I prepped on Monday night. I've been Nigella-ing it up a lot since I bought her new book, and this time I thought I'd try the meatloaf, with lemon polenta cake for dessert.

I've never made meatloaf before. I first heard of it on Roseanne when I was a kid, and lets face it the Conners were hardly an advert for healthy eating. When the recession first hit it became a tad trendy to come up with mincemeat-based recipes, so, belligerent as ever, I chose to shy away from what everyone else was doing and instead I made my grocery savings by eating more veggies and less meat (em, and also rather conveniently turning up at my brother's house around dinner time). Anyhow, with the snowiness that's swirling around these parts I took one look at Nigella's egg-infested version and I was sold. Bonus points for being able to assemble it the night before, ready to pop in the oven when I got in the following evening. And, as I have found with all of the recipes in Nigella's new book, there aren't too many ingredients and they are not too expensive.

Four onions and I didn't shed a single tear! *beams with pride* I may hold off on buying those funny chopping goggles just yet.

Gloriously golden melty onions.

Eggs bubbling, reminding of our very specific egg saucepan that we had at home when we were kids, with half the handle missing. It's still there, but knowing my mother it'll be landed in my kitchen the next time she tries to do a clear out.

I whizzed up some breadcrumbs; I am rather obsessed with making sure that food doesn't go to waste, so bread either gets frozen in slices while it is still soft or blitzed to a suitably crummy state and frozen for future use.

Vegetarians look away now:

LOVE squidging mince and onions and eggs together with my hands. Very juvenile, I know, but there's a recession on and I'm pretty skinners, I have to get my kicks somehow dammit.

Patted into a civilised roundy shape with three eggs tucked snugly inside.

Tucked up for the night with streaky bacon like a load of piggy blankets.

Next stop lemon polenta cake. I had polenta cake for the first time at a market a couple of weeks ago and it was delicious - love the very fine gritty texture of the grain.

Baking can be so very simple, a bit of weighing and mixing and soon there's a lovely whiff of eggy, sugary amazingness wafting from your oven.

I'm not as puritanical about my egg saucepan as my mother, mine gets repurposed when needs be - this time to make syrup for the top of the cake.

And this stunning piece of kitchen sculpture was a housewarming pres from my brother and his girlfriend - the Phillipe Starck-designed citrus press for Alessi. LOVE it. It works like a dream, and when it's not in use it looks really cool on the countertop, like something out of War of the Worlds.

Cloudy lemony sugary syrup.

Cake out of the oven, being tested with a strand of uncooked spaghetti for cooked-ness, and then prodded full of holes to absorb the syrup.

Gleeeeeeeeeeeeeeaming full of sugary goodness.

I was slightly anxious that it may not have turned out quite as it should though, as it was supposed to have collapsed in the centre. You'd think I could have waited until I had taken a pic of the whole cake before tucking in, but oh no, my greed is highly impatient and I tucked straight in. You see that missing slice? That's the cone of shame right there.

Bits of cake may come off the sides when you take the outside of your springform tin off. Since it's so sticky, you could actually pop them back on very easily. You could also eat them. Clearly I went for option B.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening, all I have to do is stick the immense boulder of meatiness in the oven and an hour later - ta daaaaaaaa!

Other essentials were bubbling away on the hob in a lovely low key, low maintenance way.

The absolutely epitome of wintry comfort food.

Melty, eggy meatiness, oh my.

We did good on the plate-clearing front.

Fear not, leftover meatloaf slices, you will be made into a sandwich and soon you will be safe in my stomach with the rest of your meatloaf slice pals! Hwah hwah hwah.

The newlywed neighbours very graciously left room for dessert. Imperfections were masked with a blob of vanilla cream.

Love those newlyweds, they'll be invited back. As for the meatloaf - it's gonna be a bit of a winter staple in my kitchen.

I'm full just writing this, think I need to go take a lie down.


  1. Just found your blog. I love the war of the worlds juicer thingy! Food looks nommy!

  2. Isn't it cool! It's a great pres if you're looking for one for a housewarming gift, or something for someone who loves cooking. A bit of a design classic - though it could be pricey, I've no idea how much it costs.