I am one of those people who read cook books like novels. LifestyleFood is my favourite TV channel. I find watching cooking shows relaxing and reassuring – you have some ingredients, some instructions, you follow them, and you get something yummy to eat. Such a wonderful antidote to the uncertainties of existence.
This is why I do not like competitive cooking shows like Master Chef. They render the cooking process stressful and pressure-filled, which it should never be, at least not for the home cook. Plus, I really do not need to know about the “issues” someone has battled in their past. Just give me my bloody food, preferably unseasoned by tears.
I love Nigella, and Jamie, and Hugh, and Adrian, and Donna, and Ina, and Maggie, and Rick. I even love Gordon Ramsay’s latest series, Gordon’s Ultimate Cookery Course, because it is informative, instructive, and he comes across as a nice, normal human being, not an abusive arsehole.
When Rachel Khoo’s show The Little Paris Kitchen screened last year, I immediately wanted her life.
I have a kitchen cupboard stuffed to overflowing with cookbooks, cooking magazines, and notebooks filled with recipes I have torn out of various publications over the years.
And, what is probably the most embarrassing thing of all to admit, I own both of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. But, you know what? They’re actually very good. (Aside: have you read her latest detox guide? Here it is. I assure you, I will not be trying it.)
The point of all this food porn, though, is that I don’t just look at it. It really does inspire me to get a bit more adventurous and daring in the kitchen, to try new things. Having said that, one of my family’s favourite meals is meatloaf. Exciting, huh? But this is no ordinary meatloaf. This is Roslyn’s Meatloaf, Roslyn being my mother. Several years ago, I took a leftover slice to work and heated it up for my lunch. I kid you not, the whole office asked what the delicious smell was and demanded the recipe. Here it is. You’re welcome:
Ingredients (topping): 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder, 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Mix all these together in a small jug and set aside.
Ingredients (filling): 1 cup cooked rice (put this on to boil whilst you make the loaf. I always forget to do this), 1 cup grated cheese, 3 finely chopped spinach leaves (more often than not, I use thawed frozen spinach).
Ingredients (loaf): 500 grams best mince, 1 egg, 1 chopped onion, 1 stick chopped celery, 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 chopped capsicum, 1/2 chopped carrot, 1/4 cup bran, 1 packet French onion soup mix, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of dried or fresh thyme and oregano, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
Directions: Mix all the loaf ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl. I use my hands. Spread a large sheet of foil on your bench. Put the loaf mixture on it and shape into a rectangle about 20cm x 30cm. Spread the rice, cheese and spinach evenly on top. Roll up the rectangle as though you are making a Swiss roll. Using the foil to lift it as you go helps. Pat it into shape. Place it onto a baking tray and cook for one hour in a 180 degrees centigrade oven. After an hour, pour the topping over it and cook for a further 15 minutes. Wait for about 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven before you slice it.