Christmas is here and as the New Year approaches, I have no doubt that the festivities of the season continue to be celebrated by everyone. Parties, family gatherings, and reunions are what it’s all about. After all, it is the season of joy, where smiles, laughter and warm greetings are exchanged.
In our home, Christmas lunch is a huge event, a special moment for us, our staff, and their families as we prepare dishes that are close to our hearts and yummy for our stomachs. As early as 5 a.m. scrumptious fare such as paella, roast beef, ham, fruit salad, lechon, pancit molo, callos, rellenong manok, just to name a few, are prepared. We also have what I call the “M and M dishes” or the famous macaroni salad and meatloaf.
Here are two family recipes I want to share with you.
Meatloaf is a homemade dish of ground meats, vegetables, seasonings, with eggs and breadcrumbs which act as binder, and baked in the oven. Sliced and served with gravy, this mixture can also be used for chicken or turkey stuffing. The secret to making excellent meat loaf is to mix the beef with the other ingredients while partially frozen. To ensure that it will be juicy and tender as warm. Thawed beef tends to become dry and tough. Ground pork has fat which gives flavor while ground beef the chunky texture. Bacon is wrapped around for extra taste and to ensure the loaf is compressed while the strips cook in the oven, preventing it from falling apart. Slow cooking with medium temperature gives excellent results, and removing it from the loaf pan and leaving it for another 30 minutes in the oven browns the bacon to a crisp.
Macaroni in Italian is maccheroni or semi circled tubular pasta. In early 18th-century, many English dandies came back from Italy wearing continental dress and style called macaronis, hence the famous saying “stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni.”
A good source of protein, iron, and dietary fiber, this egg-based pasta is very versatile with a variety of sauces and toppings that can be added. Macaroni salad can be kept in the refrigerator for one week, and can be served cold or warm. Various seafood such as scallops, squid, or kani (Japanese crabmeat) may be used as well as grilled chicken breast.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F or 175 C. Prepare one loaf pan 9x5x3 inches line horizontally with one 250 gram package honey cured bacon. Put pan on a baking tray to catch drippings to prevent any oven “flare ups.”
Mix in a bowl: 1/2 kilo Monterey ground round beef, 1/2 kilo (500g) ground pork, 1/4 cup each of chopped violet onions, pickle relish, chopped celery, red bell peppers, grated cheese, canned liver spread, 2 cups bread cubes mashed with 2 eggs, 1 tsp. each of fine salt and pepper.
Boil then simmer uncovered 4 eggs with enough water to cover with 1 tsp. rock salt for 12 minutes (salt gives flavor and prevents the egg shells from cracking). Drain hot water and replace with tap water. Drain. Remove the shells.
Press half of the meat mixture (letter b) on prepared pan. Arrange hardboiled eggs down center vertically. Press the remaining meat mixture on top of eggs. Bake for one hour and 30 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven. With two potholders, carefully invert meat on tray. Return to oven to brown bacon for 30 minutes more. Serves eight. Will last for four days if refrigerated. Reheat a slice in the microwave on high with gravy on top for one minute.
For the gravy: Put in a saucepan, one 290 grams can cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup milk, pan drippings. Mix with wire whisk over medium fire until simmering. Put in a sauceboat.
Tuna/Ham/Chicken/Shrimp Macaroni Salad
1/4 kilo elbow macaroni. Cook according to package directions. Drain under faucet water. Cool. (If pasta is hot, it will absorb all the dressing and your salad will be dry.)
Mix macaroni in a bowl with: 2 cups sandwich spread (one 470 ml bottle), 2 cups diced cooked ham or chicken or shrimps or canned tuna chunks , 2 red bell peppers — wash and wipe well. Put over fire, turning with a fork or tongs until skin is black. Cool. Remove skin and seeds. Cut into cubes. Two red apples unpeeled. Cut into cubes, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, one 220 grams bar grated Magnolia Chezee cheese.
Pour salad on romaine lettuce lined tray. Top with 4 hardboiled eggs sliced into rings. Cover with plastic cling and refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last for one week if refrigerated. Serves 8 to 10.