A Surprising Day!

So today was our fourth wedding anniversary and in anticipation of that, I had romantically prepared Boston Baked Beans and Ham Hocks. I know, Pork and Beans constitutes romance on a Byronic scale but calm thy beating hearts. I had had the hock in the fridge since Friday and it needed to be cooked. There was no room for it in the freezer (and I'm happy to see that other people have 'issues' with their anthropomorphous freezers too) and it had to be cooked.
So, romance wasn't foremost in my mind with my food preparation. I've never had Boston Baked beans though, so any new food experience is always special for me anyway.
I asked Paul how he felt about that being our anniversary meal and he said, non-commitantly "that will work" so the hocks and beans went in the oven and filled the kitchen with the molasses sweet smell.
In the meantime, I made this dish, meatloaf wrapped in puff pastry, for the latest Retro Recipe Challenge, this month Food of Love. The idea is that you cook a recipe that is no newer than 1980. As I love retro cookbooks and have a huge glut of them, this is no problem at all. Sure, it may seem about as romantic as Boston Baked Beans, but Paul loves Meatloaf and what more romantic way to celebrate love, than to cook your loved one food that they love?
I got the recipe from More Retro Diner (strictly published in current millennium but it is recipes from the 50s so hopefully this will count...) but I smartened things up a bit with a mushroom saute layer on the top (sort of like a Meatloaf Wellington in that case) and the puff pastry coat. It was very delicious and very cosy tasting.
Pack of Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed, about 450g
500g Minced Beef
150g Pork Mince
1 stick Celery, finely chopped
Half a Carrot, finely chopped
Half a Red Pepper (or whatever colour pepper you have)
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely crushed (ha, you thought I was going to say chopped!)
1 Egg
100g Breadcrumbs from any denomination of bread
1 Tablespoon Passata or Puree or Ketchup
Dash Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoon Chopped Thyme
2-3 Hard Boiled Eggs
For the Mushroom Paste (optional):
150g Mushrooms, finely chopped
1 Spring Onion, chopped
2 Teaspoons Truffle Paste
Preheat Oven to 180c.
To make the meatloaf, saute the onion, garlic, carrot, pepper and celery until soft. Leave to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the two minced meats, egg, breadcrumbs, tomato paste and herbs. Stir in the sauteed vegetables and mix well.
Pour half the mixture into a large loaf tin, lay the peeled hard boiled eggs on top and cover with the remaining mixture. Bake for about an hour or until the juices run clear when you insert a skewer. Leave to cool.
You may find that the meat leaches out a lot of juices. If these do not get absorbed back into the meat, pour them away.
Whilst the meatloaf is cooling, make the mushroom paste. Simply sweat down the spring onion with the mushrooms, some butter and seasoning for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool for a minute or two, then stir in the truffle paste.
Once the meatloaf has cooled, roll out the puff pastry until it looks like it will wrap comfortably around the meatloaf, it should be about 1/2" thick. Spread the mushroom paste over the centre of the pastry in a rectangle roughly the same size as the meatloaf.
Carefully place the meatloaf on top of the mushroom paste and fold the pastry up and around, forming a neat parcel. Seal the edges with some water.
Brush with egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into thick slices and serving with mashed potatoes, ketchup and peas!

Imagine my surprise this morning when our alarm goes off at 6.15am and Paul says to me "do you want to know what your anniversary present is" and I mumble incoherently, "tell me later." I am not a morning person.
"Well, I'm telling you anyway. I've phoned you boss, we both have today off work and we're going to the Barn Brasserie for lunch!"
Suddenly I'm not sleepy anymore! After profuse kisses, I loves yous and thank yous, we fell asleep until 10.30am and wake up feeling groggy. Not to worry. We're eating out today and I have the best husband in the world!
So, apologise for the brief post. It's our anniversary and the cable on my laptop isn't charging so I am working on 50% power with this post to upload and pictures to primp before it dies.
In the meantime, here are some pictures from the meal, more on that (and the ham hocks!) tomorrow...
My Starter: Smoked Cods Roe with Toast

My Main Course: Oyster Mushroom and Spinach Risotto Cake

And Dessert, the best course of all: Coconut Creme Brulee!


Saffron said...

Congratulations Freya!!
I wish you both all the best!

wheresmymind said...

Awww...what a sneekay monkay you've got there! What a great surprise getting the day off!!

charlotte said...

Awwww, what a fabulous surprise and what a lovely hubby you have! You must have been in seventh heaven. Congratulations to the both of you.

Love your new banner, by the way.

Linda said...

indeed. and that coconut cremem brulee!!! amazing. that's my mother's favorite, and one of mine as well :)

Kathryn said...

Congratulations!!! Your post is really sweet. Now, you need to tell us more about how you met:). I am nosily awaiting the story.

In the meantime, hope you had a lovely romantic day and please tell us all about it!

Kathryn x

Susan said...

Awww, is that a ketchup heart? Who needs anything more? Well, except for the creme brulee! :)

Happy Anniversary to you both!

Kristen said...

Happy Anniversary to you! You do have an awesome hubby. That is a GREAT gift!

Kathryn said...

Forgot to say - checked out the menu of the brasserie. I'd have had the same starter as you, then sea bass, then chocolate torte. Mmm.

Kathryn x

Julia said...

Oh how lovely! Happy anniversary, hope you had a wonderful time x

Freya said...

Hi to everyone! My computer is now working, or rather I've pinched a the cable from my boss so I am back to the blog!
Thanks for all of your kind comments ! We had a wonderful time and yes Jeff, he is a sneaky Monkay!
Kathryn, you are the nosiest person I've ever met...just kidding! I was tempted by the chocolate torte but the Creme Brule won out in the end!
Linda, I think the brule is my new favourite too!
Charlotte, thanks about the banner. I wanted to freshen the site up a bit and I think this has done the trick!
Saffron, hope you're feeling better now! You haven't had a great start to the year! x
Susan, yes it is a ketchup heart. I was going to fill it with peas but liked it as it was!!
Kristen, he is an awesome hubby!
Julia, thanks! We did have a lovely time!
Love, Freya x

Shaun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaun said...

Freya and Paul - How gorgeous. Not only is there special food, but there is a special day off to celebrate your love. Happy anniversary!
P.S. Did you get the recipe for the coconut creme brulee?