I had wondered if it would ever feel like ‘Fall’ in San Francisco, and the answer is a resounding YES! Despite the fact that my previous Mid-West and Eastern homes have harkened in this lovely and crisp season with a more pronounced and defined transition occuring somewhere in mid to late September, now that we have settled into the tail ends of October (!), there are finally crunching leaves underfoot, tall boots and leggings tromping up and over the hills, and the return of the painfully ubiquitous “PSL” (that’s ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ for those of you not ITK [duh...'In The Know']).
And, speaking of which, not to be a curmudgeon, but I’ve really had it with the Pumpkin Spice Latte hysteria. Beyond and beside the fact that I am a self-professed avoider of all things SBUX (I’ll take my daily fix from a janky corner coffee shop with some personality any day…..or, better yet, a freshly brewed cup of Stumptown (swoon!) from my pals over at Le Marais), I just can’t wrap my head around something that smells like the instant nausea trigger that is a Yankee Candle store and manages to pack 470 calories (yes, really) in that massive “Venti” size that has morphed into somewhat of a fashion accessory.
Sure I get giddy when I see the return of my favorite totally-fake-food, candy corn, at the corner drug store, and I’m absolutely aware that anything made of sugar, corn syrup (um, more sugar), and wax has nutritional benefits situated somewhere soundly below 0, but let’s get real folks. That’s what Fall is really about.
In other news, I’ve been eyeballs deep in that project I hinted of a few posts back, which incidentally was also a few months back. (I’m sorry! Again.) I’m thisclose to sharing with you everything about the baby I’ve been working very hard to hatch, and, incidentally, it has nothing to do with cooking, writing, or being in the general vicinity of the kitchen. It does however have to do with some very pretty and very sparkly things, and I can promise you that I’ll be looping you in in the next few weeks.
Three weeks ago I was Lucky enough to have 3 separate visits with 3 of my best friends from college, and squeezed in a 10 day trip back East to visit my old collegiate stomping grounds in Tallahassee, and somehow – somehow – managed to find myself on a flight back to San Francisco with a new kitty cat none too thrilled to be stuffed in a travel carrier for a cross country flight. But, in my defense, what exactly is one supposed to do after developing an attachment to a suuuuper sweet and teeny tiny black kitty that the Nanny is too allergic to have around?!
No one’s ever accused me of being a hardened soul. That’s for certain.
So at last count the number of inhabitants in our Cow Hollow pad clocks in at 2 human, 2 feline, and 1 of the pug persuasion, and though it’s ‘cozy’ around here, we’ve still made room still for the usual stream of visitors. As it has become our norm lately, we’ve been hurdling along at a furious pace, and the B&B that is our little apartment is still doing a booming business. James’ family came in town last weekend for the Nike Women’s Marathon, and all 4 siblings ran (and finished!) the race, running with and for a charity that is very near and very dear to home, Team in Training, which proudly supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. A prouder wife I’ve not been than to witness my husband and family rocket over the finish line.
I’ve sadly wound down my days at the jewelry boutique to focus on my new business, and to counteract the hours spent sitting in a chair I’ve signed up for barre classes and am already enamored. Granted I am only 4 days in, but I definitely feel better, and swear I can see the beginnings of progress in my muscle definition – but that could also just be my inner optimist explaining off my jelly legs and burning abdominals – who can really say. Earlier this week I was able to spend a day and night with yet another best friend from college (grand tally: 4 in October!), and checked out a place in Russian Hill we’d been dying to try, Mason Pacific. Last night we attended the launch of a new clothing brand at a really cool shop in the Mission, and spent the after hours gorging on South Indian Cuisine at Dosa, where I’m fairly certain my overindulgence of prawn Masala curry negated at least some of the effects of aforementioned barre class.
Tonight we’ve got a supper at Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield’s new joint, Tosca, and as they were at the helm of some of my favorite NYC spots, I am understandably excited. Tomorrow we set off for a weekend at the beach with friends, and though it will be more the bonfire and s’mores kind than the sun and a tan kind, I’m looking forward to getting out of the city and squishing my toes in the sand.
But enough of my rambling. These little meatloaves are the sort of thing I’ve had lined up for you for weeks now, pictures ready and edited, begging to be posted, but with time on the scarce side I’ve admittedly come up short. Mini chipotle BBQ meatloaves are absolute perfection in this weather, and as an added bonus they are a) super easy (and inexpensive!) to make, b) reheat excellently as leftovers, and c) make your house smell like it did when you were a child flinging open the back door at suppertime after a chilly Fall day. They are spicy and sweet, and since they are made with turkey and lots of fresh vegetables, they veer sharply towards the light side without sacrificing any flavor. Perched alongside a fresh salad, I think you’ll find these a perfect late October meal.
Individual Chipotle Turkey Meatloaves with homemade BBQ sauce
Makes 8 (5 ounce) Little Loaves
2.5lbs (40 oz) ground turkey
2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (both the leaves and stems)
5 scallions (green onions)
2 eggs, lighty beaten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 minced chipotles (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 cup ketchup (I prefer the flavor of an organic type, like Annies)
1 14.5oz can crushed tomatoes
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 chipotles and 3 Tbsp of sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
kosher salt to taste
First, start by making the sauce. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, saute the diced onion in a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and the cumin, and saute for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the ketchup, crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and chipotle peppers and sauce, and bring to a strong simmer. When the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat a bit and let the sauce simmer for ten minutes, stirring every so often. After ten minutes, remove the mixture from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and carefully blend it till it’s very smooth (or alternately use an immersion blender to blend the sauce right in the pan). Taste the sauce for seasoning levels; it should have a nice spicy kick to it and shouldn’t need much salt, but adjust it if needed. If you find you’d like the sauce even spicier, go ahead and add a bit more chipotle sauce or dash or hot sauce.
While the sauce simmers, get your meatloaves ready and preheat your oven to 375F. Combine the ground turkey, chopped peppers, minced cilantro, scallions, breadcrumbs, and chipotle chilis in a bowl. Pour the lightly beaten eggs over the top, and season the mixture with a couple of hearty three-fingered pinches of kosher salt. Then – and this is key – gently combine the mixture, using your bare hands. You do not want to forcefully mash and mix the meat together with the vegetables and seasoning, but rather lightly ‘toss’ it together, using open fingers and folding the mixture from the bottom up, until the mixture is well combined and there are no dry spots of bread crumbs or wet slicks of pooled egg. The reason for keeping things light is to ensure that the final meatloaf is light and fluffy, rather than dense and bowling ball like, and by gently tossing instead of mashing you can achieve this meatloaf-nirvana with ease.
When the meatloaf mixture is well combined, form it into 8 miniature meatloaves that are approximately 5 ounces each and are oval/oblong in shape. Try and make them all the same size and thickness so that they cook evenly. Set the meatloaves on a baking sheet, and brush them very generously with the chipotle BBQ sauce. Put the meatloaves in the oven, and bake them for 30-40 minutes, pulling them out every 8-10 minutes to slick them with another layer of BBQ sauce, until they are totally cooked through and the internal temperature of a loaf registers 160 on a thermometer. Continually coating them with BBQ sauce through the cooking process with create a sweet and sticky outer layer of sauce that is absolutely delicious. When the meatloaves are cooked through, remove them from the oven and turn the broiler on to high. Brush the meatloaves with a final layer of sauce, and return them to the oven, broiling them just for a minute or two to brown up the tops to your liking.
Serve the meatloaves with extra sauce on the side for dipping.