Mad Men’s Triumphant Return with Bacon Covered Meatloaf

Like nearly all Americans, both roommate Alex and I are huge fans of Mad Men. Since late fall, we have frequently mentioned hosting a party to celebrate the show’s undoubtedly triumphant return from a long hiatus and the start of the fifth season. At the time, March 2012 seemed so far away and we would only drop a few words here and there like, “we should make updated versions of 60s classics,” or “everyone should dress up like characters in Mad Men.” As the day drew near, Alex and I solidified our plans for this bonanza; we would indeed make everyone dress up in Mad Men inspired garb, and delicious and updated versions of 60s classics would be had. We invited a dozen or so of our dearest Mad Men loving friends and laid out the conditions for the evening: dinner from 7:00pm until 9:00pm when the show would start, no talking while the show is on, and yes, dressing up is required under penalty of exile.

Clams Casino from Tom & Shelley

Deviled Eggs, also from Tom & Shelley

That Sunday, I tapped into my inner Betty Draper and made two bacon covered meatloaves and Mothers Ruin Punch while Alex made green bean casserole.

A glass of mother's ruin punch

Alex's Green Bean Casserole

Not to be outdone, our guests brought over inspired dishes such as deviled eggs, clams casino, scalloped potatoes, spinach salad, bacon wrapped dates, and jello with cool whip.

EJ's scalloped potatoes

Needless to say, we had a feast at hand. All in all the night was a hit: everyone had a great time, the food was really amazing, and the first episode of Mad Men’s Season 5 was very good. To top it all off, I had an extra meatloaf to last me through most of the week! To all of this, I can only say Zou, Bisou, Bisou.

Jello & Cool Whip

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Mania (Part 3)

While planning away for the baking marathon, I completely forgot that cookies are not dinner. I was not short on time and didn’t see any reason why Emily and I couldn’t both eat a delicious meal before digging into the cookies. With that, I decided to make one of my favorite winter meals, braised short ribs. There are two short rib recipes I love to make but my favorite is an Asian Spiced Short Rib from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and published in Food and Wine Magazine. Although the braising would take some time, the short ribs would not be difficult to make and the braising would be done by the time Emily and I needed the oven for the cookies.

Asian-Spiced Short Ribs (adapted from Food and Wine Magazine)

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Six 12-ounce bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt
Ground fennel, for dusting
1 cup ketchup
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons seeded and minced chipotle chile in adobo
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
water

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 325°. Heat enameled cast iron casserole over medium-high heat.
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Mania (Part 2)

With the cheesecake pecan bars in the fridge, Emily and I got to work on the Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints. As the person with more baking experience Emily took control of this overly ambitious monster project and I basically just read the directions, followed her lead, and washed dishes.

Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at a very soft room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus 1 cup for finishing the cookies
2 large egg yolks, at room temperatures
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Nutella

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl.

Combine the butter and 1 1/3 cups of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat for about 2 minutes on low speed, until fluffy, then add the egg yolks, cream and vanilla extract; beat on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.

Scoop 30 to 35 heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets. Shape each mound of dough into a ball, then roll it in the remaining sugar to coat evenly. Space the balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, then use your thumb to make an indentation in the top of each cookie, gently flattening the cookies a bit as you work.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes or until the edges are just set; the tops of the cookies will be soft. (If the indentations have lost definition, press the centers again immediately after you remove the cookies from the oven.) Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Pipe or spoon the Nutella into the center of each cookie while the cookies are still slightly warm.

Serve or store once the Nutella centers have slightly set.

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Mania (Part 1)

After relative success with entry level pumpkin related baking, I felt comfortable being a bit more adventurous. Soon after the Washington Post Food section published its annual cookie issue on December 6, my friend Emily and I got together for a Sunday afternoon of baking. We had previously decided that we would make the Cheesecake Pecan Bars, Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal Cookie, and Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints — all published in the Washington Post.

To settle in for an afternoon of baking, I decided to make a batch of glögg, a traditional Swedish beverage. Drinking while baking may not be wise, but it will be fun! To make the glögg, I again turned to the Washington Post. While traditional glögg is made with aquavit, a special Scandinavian liquor, I decided to use vodka instead as there are three bottles in my freezer.

Glögg (adapted from the Washington Post)

INGREDIENTS:
10 whole black or green cardamom pods, cracked
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger
10 whole cloves
3 one inch pieces of orange zest
3/4 cup golden or dark raisins, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 750ml bottle of good dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon
1 1/2 cups vodka, separated
1/2 cup dark rum
sliced almonds (to serve)

DIRECTIONS:

Clockwise from top left: crystalized ginger, cinnamon sticks, cracked cardamom pods, orange zest, raisins, whole cloves

Bottle of syrah & the remains of the Menage a Trois wine from Folie a Deux

Combine the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves, orange peel, 1/2 cup raisins, sugar and wine in a large saucepan over medium or medium-low heat. Stir to mix well.

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