At the Meatloaf Bakery in Chicago, Cynthia Kallile has been dishing up several versions of the hearty dish since 2008. And now, she’s sharing her creations with a wider audience through The Meatloaf Bakery Cookbook: Comfort Food With a Twist (Adams Media, $19.95).

Kallile explains the structure of a basic loaf — meat (she touts a classic blend of beef, veal and pork, but also includes lamb, poultry and salmon or tuna), filler (breadcrumbs, butter crackers), binders (eggs and dairy) and flavorings (spices, vegetables).

The 66 recipes are divided among meatloaves (more than 30), sides and sauces. Though some border on too cute (loafer pops, essentially meatballs on a stick), most are convincing arguments for straying from your house favorite — from her mom’s recipe to loaves based on Thai, Cajun, pizza, Reuben-sandwich or barbecue flavors.

The recipes can be long on ingredients, but most either require quick prep (chop onion, carrots, parsley) or are small amounts of multiple herbs or condiments you have in the cupboard. And if you don’t, you could leave them out or make substitutions.

— Joe Gray

Chicago Tribune