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Feb-17-2010

whoops

Was totally going to post all the pictures I got of the Recipe Round-Robin tastetests, and then I published before I remembered that I was going to do that. So uh, whoops.

In order to save myself some work, though, I made an Omnomicon Flickr pool for RRR pictures and also if you happen to maybe try one of my recipes . . . I’d love to see how they come out for you! Will also help me diagnose problems if you’re not sure why it didn’t come out (it comes up not infrequently).

Here are some of the wicked sweet photos fellow Omnometrists had to share. I’m seriously impressed! Click to see bigger photos, and feel free to add your Omnomicon-related photos to the pool!

carey - pink.pcakes.2miriam - pink pancakes3tyler - Harvest Wheat Pancakeskelsey - PinkPancakes-Pancakekelsey - MrsNelsons-Pancaketyler - Dad's Buttermilk Wheat Pancakeshailey - harvest pancakeskeri - griddle pancakes 1
janice - pouring harvest pancakes

Let’s talk pancakes. Finally. It’s been a spectacularly shitty couple weeks and I’d like nothing more than to discuss this little contest thing we got going on…

Your typical high-bokeh pancake stack.

I was impressed with the variety of pancake secrets revealed by the recipes submitted. One called for specifically, a griddle. Another sweetly suggested a few drops of red food colouring to charm your favourite little girl with pink pancakes. Yet another with the admonition that “this isn’t rocket science, people” and that you can add milk or yogurt until, y’know, the batter looks right. On a side note, I’d like to confirm with a rocket scientist that this ISN’T rocket science because I really wouldn’t know, I’m just a data analyst.

And then there was the winner: Blender Pancakes. Not only did this recipe call for a blender, but also cottage cheese, specifically, creamy small curd cottage cheese, which I’ve never had occasion to search for but AM IMMEASURABLY INGRATIATED TO DANIEL because hola crap, is this stuff good! I didn’t find anything specifically labeled creamy, but I did find some Vermont Style, which fits the description and makes me want to eat buckets of cottage cheese every night for dinner. And I’ll be making some kind of dip too. Ooo, ooo, and putting grapes in it. And so on in that fashion, at least until the cost of greek yogurt comes down.

Buy this. And eat it by the bucket.

Also, Cabot Creamery is relatively local, in that it would be easily within-state distance if I lived in the midwest which, thankfully, I do not. Our states are small up here, but scrappy, and Vermont proudly produces cheeses of all varieties that make us proud to be New Englanders, because most of us would be considerably less proud to be Wisconsiners.

Daniel would have been the proud new owner of one snazzy-looking and totally kitsch Automatic Pancake Maker, which hails from the era of scripty diner-writing, if it hadn’t turned out to be um, nonfunctional actually. Not completely nonfunctional, but it did leak batter all about and made a terrific mess. Thankfully, I had a backup Automatic Pancake Maker that is better designed, so I used that instead. I would argue that “pancake dispenser” would be a better term as this thing is neither automatic nor self-sufficient in making pancakes, but the marketing department never consulted me.

More free advice: don't bother. All looks. Pretty useless.

Even the better dispenser is not really meant for such a thin batter. I cite as evidence what happens with a thin batter in an automatic pancake maker when the user is attempting to photograph it as well. That thing practically barfed up the hugest pancake I’ve ever unintentionally made.

Ever seen a pancake barfed out? Here you go.

In trying to avoid this from happening again, I ended up with some interesting modern art kidney-shaped pancakes with holes in them, in addition to a stack of pancakes where not a single one is the same size as any other. Despite their size variance, they did remain more-or-less round, and certainly more than when I try to use other pancake dispensing techniques, so I’ll chalk this gadget up as a moderate success.

Warhol's pancake delight.

I’m kinda happy that the process is so simple, thus letting me ramble on and on about rocket scientists, cottage cheese varieties and products that failed to catch the public’s imagination for obvious reasons. The process is basically “blend all this stuff and then make yourself some pancakes out of it.” That’s it. I like that these are skinny, high-protein little treats that are almost a pancake-crepe hybrid. No leavening, but still a lighter-than-rubbery texture given how thin they are, which can be attributed to the whippiness of egg whites in a blender. I like a good skinny pancake m’self, though they do not accommodate blueberries very well . . . but no reason you can’t throw a handful in the blender.

For real, best cottage cheese ever.

The glow of yolks.

Another nice thing about these is how quick it is to accumulate a stack. About a minute a side and tada! Pancake. I used my electric griddle because um, it’s awesome, and even though it isn’t the best-ever griddle, it’s well worth the $20. This will not be the last you see of this thing.

Pollock pancake.

Even though I’m a syrup dipper, it’s not as pretty as catching a little drop of syrup glistening from a stack of pancakes, so I did that. For my art. I suffer for it, you see.

The classic syrup drip. Beautiful every time.

And I call this one “Pancake Sunrise,” despite the fact that it was photographed around 2am and would have been inedible by sunrise.

Pancake sunrise, 2am wednesday morning.

The crepey texture aids this little photographic feat, bee-tee-dubs. See?

Cut right through.

Way to go, Daniel. You win.

Blender Pancakes
courtesy of Daniel and 50 tastebuds’ taste test efforts

Combine in a blender:
1 c small curd cream-style cottage cheese
4 medium or large eggs
1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/4 t salt
1/8 c melted butter
1/8 c canola oil
1/2 c skim or 2% milk
1/2 t vanilla
Whirl at high speed 1 minute. Grease griddle thoroughly before cooking.

Serves 3 as main dish.

Always make the first pancake right in the middle of the griddle at the hottest part. It will get bubbles as any good pancake should but don’t let that be your only guide — you have to keep trying to turn it up at the edge to make sure its cooking right. The key is to flip it as soon as you can. Hopefully this occurs at the point that its golden brown. If it takes more than a minute or so to cook, turn up the heat! If it is too dark when it sets up enough to flip, then turn it down. Temperature variations on the griddle are not your friend.

Welcome to the pancake party.

Don’t you want nothing more than pancakes now?? If so, I’ve done my job.

nutrition summary (1/3rd batch): 390 calories, 26g fat (yikes!), .6g fiber, but 20g protein; ~ 10 weight watchers points

Omnomicon’s premier recipe contest is finally back! While the holidays are rife with opportunities for a round-robin, I was busy and wasn’t entirely sure everyone else would follow through given their own busy-ness, (but mostly I was just busy). And SO I’m pleased to announce January 2010′s Recipe Round-Robin: Pancakes!

Pancakes. The easiest thing that will ever impress a new love interest first thing in the morning. In addition to those lucky ladies and gents, it’ll also impress your family and friends crashing on the couch.

This month’s prize is the product of one of my infamous thrift store binges: a 1950s vintage aluminum Automatic Pancake and Donut Maker! I would argue that it’s not *really* automatic, and is more of a *dispenser* than a maker, but the name Automatic Pancake Maker really sells itself better. I’ll be uploading a photo of the actual item likely on Monday, but I wanted to kick things off sooner rather than later. In the meantime, all you need to know is that it appears to be unused, comes with the original directions (and recipes!) and works just like this modern version.

There will be a super secret special prize for one Tastebud selected at random. Incentive!

pancake maker
Pancake Batter Dispenser/ Donut Maker

So, if you’re new to the Recipe Round-Robins, please take a moment to read the rules. The short story:

Ooo ooo, I make the world’s most incredible pancakes!
Awesome, we’d love to try ‘em! Send your wicked awesome recipe to aleta [at] omnomicon [dot] com. The contest can only accommodate a certain number of recipes (limited by the number of participants), so submitting as early as possible is to your benefit. Submissions will be accepted through Thursday, January 21 (2010, just in case that needed to be pointed out).
Please note that if you submit a recipe, you are committed to taste-test two other recipes. This helps assure that we have enough taste-tests going on to include as many recipes as possible.

Okay, so I make my pancakes from a box, but I’d love to get into them from scratch!
Well hey, friend, you are totally in the right place! We need far more taste-testers (tastebuds) than recipes, and your commitment is crucial to making this little experiment work. Leave a comment indicating your taste-buddiness, and you’ll receive two recipes from two different contributors. Try each and then send me an email with which you prefer. Tastebuds will be provided two recipes to compare by Friday, January 22nd, just in time for the weekend! You will have two weekends to report your favourite, and send me your choice by Tuesday, February 2nd.

Please note that if you agree to be a tastebud, we are relying on you to test two recipes in the timeline indicated. Shit happens, I know, but really, if you don’t think you’ll have the time, please do not volunteer.

I’m defining pancakes as, well, pancakes. Your famous pancakes may have blueberries or chocolate chips, but we want to keep things consistent, so while you are welcome to include your secret add-in, please list it as optional; Tastebuds will be encouraged to try the pancakes naked. I’m also requesting that we stick to the standard, Bisquick type pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some crepes, Finnish pancakes (and regional variations), and German pancakes, but they’re really not the same thing.

The only thing I’ll be changing from the old rules is allowing tastebuds to blog the recipes they tried (after a winner has been announced). I used to discourage this, but it’s too hard to police and I’ve never had a complaint from a recipe contributor for another blogger simply printing their recipe. I am asking all tastebuds to link to the owner’s website if applicable.

  • If you are contributing a recipe and have a food blog of your own that you would like linked, please send the link so I can pass it along to the tastebuds.
  • If you are contributing but not comfortable with having your site linked to your recipe, please indicate.
  • And if you are contributing but not comfortable with having your recipe printed here or elsewhere, with or without credit, please do not contribute.

What has not changed is the demand that the tone in discussing these recipes be respectful. Remember that someone treasures this recipe, is likely to see your post, and if you wouldn’t give your critique to their face, keep it to yourself. We try to run a warm and fuzzy ship over here.

Free advice based on past RRRs:

  • Bear in mind that the tastebuds’ opinion is extremely subjective—that’s the point. Keep in mind things like the difficulty of obtaining ingredients and the preparation time, so if the batter needs to sit overnight (which is fine!) it might work against you.
  • I try to edit recipes as little as possible, so a little personality never hurt!

Alright…who’s in?

Tags:

I’m back! Didja miss me? Vacation was vacation, I won’t bore you with details, but I did meet Steffany from Dinner Love, and she’s a dear.

But hey check it out, while I was glutting myself daily on hotel breakfast Danish, there were 45 Tastebuddies trying out 11 different recipes in a valiant effort to determine which would qualify as THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES there are. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, welcome to Omnomicon! Here’s where you can read about our monthly Recipe Round-Robin contest.

And here, let me show you what the best looks like, beginning to end.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

That up there is all the stuff that goes into these suckers. It’s hard to tell, but there are a couple secret ingredients in there.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

The white stuff is ground oatmeal, and the brown crumbs are grated Hershey bars. Specifically Hershey bars. Except instead of grating, I thought I’d try getting the job done with my food processor.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

And what do you know, it totally worked.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

And then stir that into all the other stuff with some nuts and, naturally, chocolate chips.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

The batter is extremely tempting, but be sure to save some for the cookies, they’re worth it.

Cookies.

So do you recognize these? They were Bubbe’s Fantastic Chocolate Chip Cookies, code named Recipe L, and many big thanks to Hallie for letting us give them a try! Here’s what she had to say about ‘em:

Here is my bubbe’s fantastic recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re definitely not low-fat, but they’re the best I’ve ever made (and I’m a pastry chef!).

So these are both pastry-chef and Tastebuddy approved. I knew you’s guys had great taste. My guess is that the groundedness of the oatmeal gives these more texture without being so suggestive of oatmeal cookies. I also have a theory on how the Hershey bar plays into things: usually a chocolate chip cookie is a sugar cookie with bitter chocolate chips here and there, but little to tie these two elements together. Maybe the grated chocolate creates a gentler transition from cookie to chip? Even if my theory is right (and I’m open to the alternative, I know what I don’t know), my word choice is not even remotely technical, so Hallie, please feel free to jump in with your expertise.

Here’s the word I got via email results:

  • Our house votes for recipe L. It had lots of chocolate and grinding the oatmeal was a great idea because it made for flatter and less dry cookies. Recipe L was nice and chocolaty! After we made our decision we did our own taste test with friends and recipe L definitely won hands down.
  • Far and away, I and my 3 co-tasters chose Bubbe’s Fantastic recipe as the best of the two. The finely ground oatmeal added a nice substance to the cookies without giving it the graininess of an oatmeal cookie. They baked up nicely–no flat cookies here–and the ground Hershey’s chocolate gave the cookies a beautiful brown color and a little extra chocolate kick. I used hazelnuts since it said you could add your choice of nuts–not a huge fan of nuts in cookies, but they tasted great in this recipe.
  • The texture was very nice; the oatmeal provided more substance to the cookie and even though some of us had hesitations about whether oatmeal belonged in a traditional chocolate chip cookie, it was quite good.
  • So good. If you’re including technique suggestions, rolling these guys into balls really helped.
  • Who knew oatmeal could help so much?

And here’s the word on the web (leave a comment with a link if I missed your post!):

And here’s what they looked like in other people’s kitchens:

Ruth made Bubbe’s
Ruth tries Bubbe's.

And Jeff also made Bubbe’s
Jeff gives Bubbe's cookies a shot.

Then Domestic Ambitions made the Friendly Choco-Chippers . . .
Domestic Ambitions also tried the Friendly Choco-Chippers

. . . and also Sheila’s (nice collage-work, btw).
Domestic Ambitions makes Sheila's cookies.

Next up are the Kitten-Free (calls for exactly 0 kittens in the ingredient list, and the cleverness was simply adorable) as compared to the Family Secret recipe, the latter which did not seem to work out for Carly, who may have been too busy with Sunday’s NYTimes crossword to care.
Carly compares the Kitten-Free to the Family Secret chocolate chips cookies...

And lastly, there was the recipe that ended in “Mmm. Eat.” and Ruby’s Plan ahead cookies. I want to give Lisa mad props for this photo, it’s gorgeous.
Mmm Eat vs. Ruby's Plan-Aheaders (courtesy of Lisa)

And there you have it! Yet another Recipe Round-Robin, now with 200% more reader participation. Hooray! So I’m announcing a savoury recipe for July . . . any suggestions? I’m thinking summer-time BBQ dishes—pasta salad, seasoned hamburgers, probably not potato salad because there’s a huge tendency toward grossness and grossed-out taste-testers—but I bet comfort food will work regardless of the time of year. We’ll save fruitcake for December.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. Really, I mean it! I’m so psyched that this works out every month because people are saying they had fun and because I like reading about it, and giving stuff away is fun too.

And last but not least, here’s Hallie’s winning recipe.

Bubbe’s Fantastic Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies
yields about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal, ground to mealy texture
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips [2 cups]
4 oz grated hershey bar [this amounts to 18.5 rectangles from the Big Bar, but use your algebra to figure it out if you can manage . . . I food processored those suckers, and it seemed to do the trick. If grating by hand, however, one Tastebuddy recommends freezing the bar first so it doesn't melt in your hand.]
~1 cup chopped nuts of choice (I usually use pecans or walnuts) [editor used pecans, and they were fabulous]

Cream the butter and sugars together.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
Mix the dry ingredients and add to egg mixture.
Stir in the chips, nuts, and hershey bar.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes. [editor's note: mine took about 10 minutes, and one Tastebuddy had reported 11-12 minutes. Final recommendation is check in at 6 minutes, and then every two minutes after that until you can see a little bit of browning happening on top].

nom nom nom!

nutrition summary (1 of 36 cookies yield): 220 calories, 12g fat, 1.5g fiber; ~5 weight watchers points

And here we are, upon our third Recipe Round-Robin! This is a sweet month (we’re alternating sweet and savoury, as you’ll recall) and though I’d hoped to stave it off just a bit longer, it looks like everyone is cheering for Chocolate Chip Cookies—and, accordingly, that’s what we’re doing in June.

I have dedicated an entire page for the Recipe Round-Robin, so if you aren’t familiar with the concept, you can read all about it here (there is also a link at the very top of the homepage next to my “About” section). Bare bones version: it’s a recipe contest, and each participant taste-tests two of the recipes to determine the best. Take a moment to read through the rules. Five minutes. Then you’re good to go.

The schedule this time around is a little longer than usual because I’m a going on vacation when I would normally post results. That’s okay, though, it gives our Tastebuddies an extra weekend. And it gives me a vacation to the opposite coast, where I have never been—I am a local girl through-and-through, but I’ve no doubt I’ll love San Fran.

This time around the prize will be a personal favourite of mine, that perennial classic The JOY of Cooking. I find that the JOY’s recipes are always very basic (sometimes bordering bland), but it is by far the most usefully encyclopedic cooking/baking resource I have come across. If I have an ingredient and I don’t know what to do with it, chances are the JOY has a few ideas, in addition to a descriptive flavour profile and preparation tips with clear illustrations. It was my very first and still remains my favourite cooking resource! (and hey, if that isn’t one hell of an unofficial endorsement, I’ll never sell anything).

[edit: what the JOY has taught me]

I ignored this
The directions were confusing.

And then learned this

A tutorial.

[end edit]
 

Recipierres
Consider this an official appeal for your expertise! Please send your most treasured chocolate chip cookie recipe to [aleta at omnomicon dot com] by Wednesday June 3, 2009 at 9pm EST. Please note that we are limited to the number of recipes we can test based upon the number of participants, so your chances of getting in on the action will increase the sooner you send along your recipe. And I’ll be checking your recipe against Toll House’s, so please be sure your contribution is original.

Tastebuddies
There are a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes, but they are all unfailingly delicious, so that right there is a good incentive to be a Tastebuddy! Leave a comment by Tuesday June 2, 2009 at 9pm EST to volunteer as a taste-tester. You will have the following three weekends to make two batches of cookies, and your final decision is due Monday, June 22 by midnight. Unlike recipe submissions, all those who sign up to be a Tastebuddy will be able to participate, promise!

One last thing…
As I’ve mentioned before, the Recipe Round-Robin is a work in progress, so there will be tweaks to the process every round (but never within a round, of course). This month, I’m limiting the number of recipes being tested. Last time around we saw A LOT of meatloaf recipes, which is super duper awesome sauce, but unfortunately it meant that some only got tested a few times, which has the potential to mess with the accuracy of the results.

The number of accepted entries will be a function of the number of Tastebuds we have (more Tastebuds = more tested recipes) so we can make sure that every recipe is tested against every other at least once. You can see the formula I use at the Recipe Round-Robin page. I laboured over how to choose the recipes to be included and settled upon the objective and safe “first come first serve” method. If anyone, this rewards my more regular readers, and hey, that seems fair to me! The best way to make sure your recipe is tested, however, is to invite more Tastebuddies, so please spread the word!

And lastly, whether sign up as a Recipierre or Tastebuddy, please be aware that your judgment is very important, especially now we’re limiting the number of recipes tested. I’m convinced that everyone who signs up intends to follow through, but when you see a lot of other Tastebuddies signed up, it looks like your vote doesn’t count, right? Well, with this particular experimental design, it actually does, and quite a bit too, so when you don’t send your results it can make it difficult to pick a winner. Don’t underestimate your expertise; make some time to make some cookies!

Alright, enough with the boring stuff, let’s see your chocolate chip cookie recipes!!

Tags:
May-18-2009

rrr: meatloaf winner!

Posted by aleta under recipe round-robin

I am very excited to announce the winner of Omnomicon’s second Recipe Round Robin: it’s Dixie, who can now officially call herself an award-winning Recipierre! Turns out Dixie is defending her PhD thesis tomorrow, and holy crap, I can’t even imagine the pressure. But the good news is that with grad school is over, she’ll have plenty of time to pore over her prize, this 1000 page tome that I read before bed every night (true story): The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition

But a big ole thanks to all the Recipierres who put themselves out there with their precious family favourites (and new takes) and the Tastebuddies who eagerly made not one, but TWO meatloaves over as many weeks and shared their experiences. I’ve said it before, and I’ve no doubt it’ll be said again, but: y’all rock.

Meatloaf time!

And making my job immensely easier is Dixie’s inclusion of a really neat and awesome backstory:

I grew up eating dry, boring meatloaf that my mom (who hated cooking) made, and I believed I didn’t like meatloaf. It wasn’t until I met my grandparents in college (that’s right, until halfway through college Iwouldn’t have known them from Adam and Eve) that I experienced
meatloaf worth eating. For a while it was the only thing I could cook other than omelets, so whenever it was my turn to cook for friends or bring something to a potluck it was this meatloaf.

One of my friends is ridiculously picky and still says she doesn’t like meatloaf. Unless it’s mine.

Meatloaf time!

The truth is that I don’t care much for meatloaf either, so these were promising words! I think a lot of the success of this recipe has to do with creating a channel on the sides of the baking pan to drain the grease. Dixie’s was not the only recipe demonstrating this technique, and indeed, even America’s Test Kitchen agreed that draining grease was important. Without doing so, the meatloaf will get soggy at the bottom and that gross grey ground beef sludge will abound. Disgustingly.

Meatloaf time!

I’m a complete jerk because I just realized, like, while typing this out, that I completely forgot the breadcrumbs! Crappish! So imagine a loaf with a bit more body. I have to say, though, I was very impressed with this meatloaf. I really don’t eat meatloaf because it’s usually totally not worth the calories, but this one, somehow . . . it’s different. I saved the leftovers and didn’t feed them to my coworkers. That’s mighty praise.

The channels to success (on the side there). Meatloaf time!

The pic on the right looks like it has an abstract face in it. If you see that too. If not, um, I must be awfully lonely tonight.

I drained like, a cup of stuff out of the meatloaf at the 45 minute mark, and it was exhilarating! Really, I suddenly felt SO much better about eating a slice of meat Wonderbread knowing that so much fat had been removed. The nice thing is that you can get the cheaper, fattier ground beef, which will baste itself as it cooks, leading to a nice tender loaf with the calorie-dense fat removed. It’s a perfect system as far as I can tell. The loaf does shrink up quite a bit; I used a 90/10 leanness, and a leaner loaf will be bigger and a fattier loaf will shrink up even more. In the future, I think I’d have used a 93/7, but any meat you want to use will do.

Meatloaf time!

I did halve Dixie’s original recipe, as hers bakes 2 lbs of beef in a 9×13 pan and I am the only one home this week. I also probably eat less than 2 lbs of beef in an entire month, so eating that much in the next week just wasn’t going to happen.

Meatloaf time!

Dixie serves her meatloaf with “garlic mashed potatoes and mushy peas,” and normally I’d go to great lengths to recreate this as it sounds so classic, but alas, peas are probably the one food I just hate hate hate and will not eat. I’m not even remotely picky about food, but peas tortured my entire childhood and I’m just not ready to move on yet. So I steamed up some green beans with almond slivers and enjoyed it that way instead.

Meatloaf time!

And my my, what a delightful loaf of meat! Thank you, Dixie, for sharing a family gem. Take it away!

Oh oh, and hey, everyone, the next Recipe Round-Robin will be announced in about a week. We’re looking for a sweet treat this time around, so feel free to use the comments on this post to not only wax poetic on Dixie’s tantalizing recipe, but also to cast your vote for what we should do next time!

 

 

My Grandfather’s Meatloaf

the loaf:
2 lb ground beef
1 stick of celery
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 eggs
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 16 oz can of tomato sauce

the sauce:
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce (packets left over from Chinese takeout work great:
use 2 packets)
3 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Chop the celery, onion, and garlic. The finer you chop, the more heterogeneous your meatloaf will be. You may beat the eggs before adding them to the mix, but I don’t. Combine the beef, celery, onion, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, and *half* the can of tomato sauce. I use my hands to squish everything together.
When fully mixed, place in a shallow bread tray (my grandfather used,and I still use a 13 x 9 casserole dish, having never personally witnessed a “shallow bread tray,” but I pass the term along in case you foodies have one or know where to find one). Create a channel along the sides to drain the grease.

Mix the mustard, soy sauce, sugar, and the rest of the tomato sauce in a small saucepan and heat gently. Pour half of the heated mixture over the loaf. Bake the loaf covered for 45 minutes. Take the loaf out, drain the grease. Add the rest of the sauce to the loaf and bake uncovered for 30 more minutes. Drain the
grease again. Allow the loaf to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Meatloaf time!

 

 

nutrition summary: I have absolutely no idea. Since a lot of fat is drained out during the cooking, and having no way to quantify how much of that was actual fat and what was other juices, I really am unable to calculate calories for this dish. Given the grease draining, I’d assign this a health score of “not that bad for you.” Suggestions are always welcome.

The last Recipe Round-Robin met with success, and I was so happy the idea took hold! Since the close of the contest, I’ve done a little informal polling to decide on the next generationally-transcendental delight. I thought it would be nice to alternate sweets and savouries, as food-types tend to gravitate toward either cooking or baking specifically. And with that in mind the next Round-Robin Recipe is meatloaf!

And this month’s prize is The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition. From what I hear, it is a fantastic read.

For those of you new to Omnomicon’s RRR scene, welcome! This is our second contest, the first was for Blueberry Muffins, and here’s a link to the results. I think we’ll do this monthly to give everyone plenty of time to hold up their end of the bargain. The basic concept follows.

  • Omnomicon announces this month’s recipe, aiming for some widely-enjoyed comfort food. A tantalizing prize is mentioned.
  • You say “oh hey, I have my own recipe for that!” and step up to the challenge by sending aleta at omnomicon dot com your recipe. You don’t need to be supercook to throw in your recipe, but if it’s something you’d feed to someone else, what do you have to lose by entering? Recipe-providers will henceforth be referred to as “Recipierres.” Fancy!
  • Or maybe you don’t have a recipe for that, but you would still like to taste-test. Great! We need more taste-testers than recipes anyway! Readers have said they have a lot of fun taste-testing with their friends, roommates and families. Taste-testers will be referred to as “Tastebuds.”
  • Aleta sends you (whether you are a Recipierre or Tastebud) two anonymous half-recipes to try out, giving you two weekends to test.
  • You reply with which was your favourite.
  • A winner is announced and sent the prize!

I’m hoping to better define the process and rules with each iteration, so the concept is a bit of a work in progress, but here are some new details for this round. Please note that many of these details are anticipatory rather than a reflection of people trying to bend rules. For example, nobody tried to enter multiple recipes last time, but I could see someone misinterpreting the spirit of the contest and wouldn’t want to make them feel bad nor make the contest unfair for others. Rules: they keep things easy.

  • One recipe per entry. Remember, this is supposed to be your favourite meatloaf recipe. The term “favourite” implies just one.
  • Contributed recipes MUST be (at least mostly) your own. It’s fine if you started off with someone else’s and modified it (hey, there’s nothing new under the sun), but please use some scruples. So your grandmother’s recipe from some ancient text is fine, but copying and pasting some other food bloggers’ recipe is a huge no-no.
  • Recipierres MUST taste-test in order to qualify for the prize. This is kinda just good manners.
  • You are more than welcome to blog about your experiences, but please save your posts until the contest has ended—we wouldn’t want to bias anyone.
  • As a corollary, if you are blogging about your testing, please keep it kind. The recipes are anonymously titled, but you never know if someone who reads your blog was the one who sent in their more creative recipe that just didn’t do it for you.
  • To keep things fresh and fun for everyone, once you’ve won one RRR, you must wait 2 more rounds before entering a new recipe. So far this only affects Lo. Sorry to single you out, Lo.
  • And lastly, your judging is completely subjective; as a rule of thumb ask yourself  “which recipe would I be more likely to put in my recipe box to make again and again?” For example, suppose Recipe A tastes better than Recipe B, but you’re watching calories and Recipe B is way lighter and you think you’d be more likely to make B in the future . . . Recipe B deserves your vote. Think similarly about prep time, availability of ingredients, appearance, the coolness factor . . . etc. “Best” is all about your opinion and priorities.

According to Dictionary.com, a meatloaf is “A mounded or molded dish, usually baked, of ground beef or a combination of various meats and other ingredients.” You may submit a vegetarian meatloaf if you so wish, but must be willing to taste-test meatloafs of the more traditional variety.

Recipierres:
You have until 5pm EST next Thursday: April 30th, 2009 to send your most bestest-ever meatloaf recipe to aleta at omnomicon dot com. Please, no recipes in the comments.

Tastebuds:
You have until 5pm EST next Thursday: April 29th to leave a comment indicating your interest in tasting. You will (hopefully) receive your assignments by the next day (Friday 4/29), and will have the better part of two weekends to try both recipes. Your vote is due Sunday May 10th by 3pm EST.

I just broke a bottle of champagne over my computer monitor and cut a ribbon with some giant scissors, so we are good to go!

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Okay, Recipe Round-Robin Tastebuds . . . did you get Recipe A? Did you just love it? Well, so did everyone else, and I’m so excited to announce the winner of Omnomicon’s very first Recipe Round-Robin: it’s none other than my old pal Lo of Burp! Where Food Happens fame!! Come on down, Lo, you have won your very own copy of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.


See? Like that!

I want to thank the several other folks who entered the contest for so generously sharing their recipes. Y’all rock! Everyone had delicious descriptions of each of the recipes involved, so rest assured yours garnered some mad props in some end of the globe.

So what made this recipe so awesome? Here are some of the nice things our Tastebuds had to say:

  • Muffin A was hailed as “the best blueberry muffin EVER”.
  • A was fluffy, moist and very very tasty.
  • This was a difficult, very delicious decision. But Recipe A is the winner in my book (er, stomach?).

And here’s what my test run of Lo’s Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Brown Sugar Topping looked like. We start with buttermilk and oil. It looks pretty cool.

Oil and buttermilk.

If you don’t have a cup of buttermilk on hand, you can always substitute a cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice, or, as I recently found out, 1 cup of yogurt. Now, clearly Lo got it right with the buttermilk, but just in case you forgot to pick up the buttermilk at the grocery store, these are things you are more likely to have already on hand.

There were blueberries, of course.

Blueberries, of course.

. . . and a subtle amount of pecans in the batter that is *juuuuuusssttt* enough without overdoing it.

Pecans are a secret.

I have to admit that I kind of messed this up just a teensy bit, though not enough to destroy the tastiness of all this (*phew!*). See, I was out of dark brown sugar, and apparently I haven’t quite mastered how to make dark brown sugar out of sugar and molasses, soo . . . my topping was a little too wet (as in, it had too much butter and not enough sugar). And because of that, I ended up with little holes into the top of my muffins. But if you use hard packed brown sugar and did it right, yours should look more like mounds of brown sugar and less like um, well . . . brown gloop on top. Like I said, this is me and NOT the recipe. So make sure yours looks like brown sugar still.

My mistake.

And you know, the brown sugar and pecan topping really makes this extra-special.

The topping makes it.

But in the end, it’s a blueberry muffin, and aren’t they always just totally delicious?

Best blueberry muffin.

Lo’s Award-Winning Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Brown Sugar Topping
courtesy of Lo

2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
3 T melted butter *(see NOTE below)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375º.

Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and 1/2 cup pecans in large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla in small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; stir just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Allow batter for 15 minutes before dividing evenly among paper-lined muffin cups.

Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. [Aleta's NOTE (and the only part of this not word-for-word Lo's recipe): a lot of people have had a hard time with this crumbly topping like I did (notably, others have had no problem at all), probably from not packing sugar enough. Because brown sugar packing is an inexact process, I recommend reducing the butter 1 tbsp or eliminating altogether to prevent sunken-in tops.] Spoon 2 tsp over each muffin then sprinkle with 1 tsp of the remaining finely chopped pecans.

Bake muffins at 375º for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

nutrition summary (for 1 of about 14 muffins, with topping, real egg & all-purpose flour): 310 calories, 1g fiber, 16g fat; 7 weight watchers points

 

 

Hey, one last thing: a lot of participants said they enjoyed taste-testing and would do it again. Yay! That means my experiment was successful! That said, what do you think would be a good recipe standard for the next Recipe Round-Robin? I’m looking for the kind of thing that everyone has a recipe for. So far Twitterers have recommended things like macaroni & cheese, meatloaf and shepherd’s pie . . . keep going, what else can you think of? Leave a comment if you know just the thing, and thanks dude!

Heya recipe holders! Just a status update Blueberry Muffin Recipe Round Robin (details, prize, etc. at that link if the Round-Robin thing doesn’t ring any bells for you).

So far we have 23 25 enthusiastic tastetesters, not counting roommates, girlfriends and other pals who are generously donating their tastebuds! But I’m sad to tell you that it would appear SOME people are hoarding their family secrets and not sharing the baked blueberry love. We do have recipes from some bakers (y’all are the best!), but I’d love to make it more interesting with a few more. Listen guys, and I mean that in a very gender-neutral way, there is a PRIZE for the best recipe. Who could say no to a prize?! I don’t say no to prizes, and neither should you. See, I set good examples.

With this in mind, I’m extending the due date for recipes through tomorrow Saturday March 28th 2009 at 2pm EST. Taste testers will start receiving their assignments immediately after the window closes, but no later than 6 or 7 pm.

Thanks for rolling with the punches, Taste-buds! Yes, I just coined that term there, it means “my taste-testing friends”—write it down, it’ll be used again.

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This morning I had the most amazing idea ever. Ever. One that excites me SO MUCH that I’ve been squirming in my seat all day and can’t even wait a whole day to post it. I call it THE RECIPE ROUND-ROBIN.

Here’s how it works: I pick a foodstuff, in this case blueberry muffins. You say to yourself, “Lady, everyone knows that *I* have the best blueberry muffin recipe!” Meanwhile I already know that *I* have the best blueberry muffin recipe. Neither of us is going to bother with a new recipe because we already know ours are the bestest. But how would we ever know whose is truly the best?

The answer is we ask everyone we can to test two recipes (half batch each) and just answer which one they like best! I’ll employ my fancy statistics skills to determine which recipe wins the most. Depending on my recall of Partially Balanced Incomplete Block Designs and their analyses, which may not be very much, I might do a legit analysis or perhaps just take a basic “add ‘em up” approach. (Mathy types with more recent DOE knowledge, if you’re out there, please contribute your perspective on a proper analysis, kthx).

If you want to put your recipe in the running:
Please email your blueberry muffin recipe to aleta at omnomicon dot com with RRR in the subject line by Friday March 27, 2009 at 6pm EST. Original-ish recipes only—the recipe your grandmother found on a bag of flour 50 years ago is okay, but a recipe featured by a fellow food blogger is a big No-no. No comments with recipes in them, please, we want to keep this nice and anonymous. You will automatically be entered as a taste-tester (hey, only fair), and will receive two recipes to try that are not yours.

If you just want to taste test:
Please leave a comment by Friday March 27th 2009 at 6PM EST saying so any old time, as long as you have some time to bake ‘em by Sunday! We need more taste testers than recipes, so even if you have never made blueberry muffins and don’t have your own recipe, we still need you!

Each taste tester and each recipe contributor will be assigned two half-batch recipes to try by Friday at midnight EST and will have until Sunday April 5, 2009 at 5pm to give a thumbs up to one or the other.

And now you’re wondering if there’s a prize, right? Aside from the fame and a link on Omnomicon, I can’t think of anything more appropriate than America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book so you can compare your recipe and technique to theirs! Yeah!

For the record: ATK doesn’t even know I exist, and I’m buying this out-of-pocket because I’m personally so very enthusiastic about this project and it’s just the perfect prize. I have ATK’s The New Best Recipe and have been devouring it before bed as though it were a novel. So even though I haven’t perused it, I can’t imagine their Baking Book would be any different.

Okay, Omnometrists, have at it! This experiment will be only as successful as we have participants, and please tell your friends too! Squeee!!!

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