Archive for October, 2010

It may not look pretty on the plate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t supremely tasty.

Adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, this meat loaf recipe is a fantastic way to get dinner on the table with little fuss but lots of flavor.

Meat loaf and potatoes à la slow cooker

Meat loaf:

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 potatoes, scrubbed clean but unpeeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pound ground sirloin
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers
3/4 cup ketchup
salt and freshly ground pepper


    3/4 cup ketchup
    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

      Drizzle the bottom of your slow cooker with the olive oil. Add cubed potatoes and toss to coat.

      Combine all meat loaf ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly but gently, taking care not to compact the meat. I like to use a fork, and then switch to my hands once the mixture is fairly well incorporated.

      Shape the mixture into a loaf the same shape as your slow cooker and carefully place atop the bed of potatoes.

      Mix all the topping ingredients together and pour over the meat loaf, using a spatula to cover entire loaf.

      Cook meat loaf on high for one hour, then switch slow cooker to low for 5 to 6 hours. When an instant-read thermometer reads 160°, the meat loaf is done.

      Use a large slotted spoon to serve the meat loaf and potatoes, taking care to let grease at the bottom of the cooker sift through the spoon before plating.

      This is one of those recipes that may be even better served cold the next day as sandwich fixings.


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      Read part 1 of my gastronomical Portland getaway here.

      On the first night of our stay in Portland, Kate and I decided on Clyde Common for dinner.

      Attached to the Ace Hotel and the downtown location of any in-the-know coffee lover’s favorite, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Clyde Common dubs itself a “European-style tavern.” It serves up delectable food and drinks in a minimal, modern space that also manages to be casual enough to feel comfortable.

      The ground floor level houses an open kitchen, dark wood bar, and large, wood, communal tables. Upstairs, the mezzanine holds smaller, somewhat quieter seating.

      Kate and I were led to a table upstairs, which was perfect for easy conversation, but still within ear’s reach of the slight roar of happy patrons on the main floor below. Clyde Common felt like the place to be, without making you feel you needed to look or act a certain way to fit in.

      Our server was fantastic, keeping tabs on our drink so we could make an easy move from our spot at the bar to our upstairs table (we waited less than 10 minutes to be seated; Clyde Common only takes reservations for larger parties). She answered several questions about the menu options knowledgeably and with patience.

      The menu changes daily, so you can’t be certain what you’ll get, but judging from our experience, I don’t suspect Clyde Common can go wrong.

      Kate had the Clyde Common burger which, as with Higgins at lunch, was far better than your average, ho hum burger. She also ordered fries and a green salad, keeping it simple but delicious.

      I went with the homemade cavatelli, topped with mushrooms, corn, and grana. Everything about the dish made me happy; the textures were interesting and the flavors in perfect complement. My pasta’s portion size was refreshingly realistic, rather than gargantuan.

      We didn’t have a single complaint. The drinks were delightful, the food fantastic, and the ambience outstanding.

      When the bill came, we thought there must have been a mistake; the price was far lower than we anticipated when first stepping into the stylish eatery.

      So far, our Portland restaurant experiences were exceeding my (already high) expectations. The next day was our last in town, and we planned a big breakfast, a day of shopping, and an extravagant dinner.

      Things had sailed along smoothly so far — from the service and seating ease to the food and feel of each place we’d tried. But could our luck hold?

      Clyde Common
      1014 SW Stark St.
      Portland, Oregon

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      Olympia certainly has its fair share of fantastic restaurants: my personal favorites include Waterstreet Café and Cicada. No matter what your taste, interesting eateries abound in Oly.

      Still, sometimes it’s nice to hit the Interstate and shake up your usual culinary roadmap. And you simply can’t go wrong driving two short hours south, to Portland.

      I spent last weekend in the Rose City with my best friend, whom I rarely get to see. She flew in from the Midwest to celebrate my 40th birthday. We enjoyed a weekend away — no spouses, no kids, and no schedule — that was chock full of fabulous food and wine.

      Our first stop was lunch at Higgins, just a short walk from our hotel. Inspired by the classic French bistros, Higgins was a sublime kick-start to our gastronomical tour of Portland.

      Kate enjoyed a delicious — and gorgeously presented — shrimp salad, while I went with a simple (but not at all boring) burger. The lunch menu was varied and reasonably priced. The food and service? Outstanding.

      Higgins is decidedly upscale — many business suits came and went while we enjoyed our leisurely lunch — but not at all stuffy. I watched an older couple dressed in denim enjoy a light lunch over a fine bottle of wine; you’ll be comfortable dressed up or down for a mid-day meal here.

      Read my next blog post for the continuation of our Portland restaurant tour. Coming up: Clyde Common, Mother’s Bistro, and Wildwood.

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