Chili and cornbread muffins

To celebrate our first storm of the season, I made a large pot of chili and cornbread muffins for a dinner party last night. It’s so dreary outside today that I wish I had doubled the recipe for leftovers.

 Chili recipe courtesy of Epicurious

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (Penzeys Chili 3000)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce (I love the Trader Joes chili sauce)
  • 1 15 1/4-ounce can kidney beans (I always used dried heirloom beans from Zursun or Iacopi beans)
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until almost golden, about 8 minutes. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking beef up with fork, about 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cayenne and continue cooking 3 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, broth, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and chili sauce. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in beans. Simmer until beans are heated through and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with diced avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and salsa on the table.

Cornbread Muffins, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you’re using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for minis), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

I also made these beauties with some frozen wild huckleberries from WA but we ate them too fast to take photos. Yum!

 

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Tagine-Style Lamb Stew

This was a recipe I plucked from the NYT since I had about 3 extra pounds of lamb from an evaluation recipe last week. Not much of a lamb fan myself, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed a small bowl of it. Alex had three bowls so I think it’s safe to say that if you DO like lamb, you should try this.

Recipe courtesy of the NYT

  • 2 pounds lamb shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Cooked couscous, for serving

1. Trim excess fat from the lamb and cut into 1-inch cubes.

2. In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the lamb, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, apricot preserves and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the aroma of the spices is strong, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Do not allow the meat to brown.)

3. Add chickpeas and stock, bring just to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the lamb is very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

4. Add the raisins and continue to cook, uncovered, until they are nicely plumped, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and lemon juice, and serve with couscous.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Leftover Pot Roast Stew

I never think of myself as being a very creative cook. I am usually pretty good at following recipes (except when I space out and forget to read the preparation time like I did on Tuesday night – oops) and I try to cook a wide variety of foods. However, when it comes to knowing what and how much of what to put in a new dish, I’m not too confident and usually try to piece a few recipes together for guidance. Today I decided to make a stew out of the leftover pot roast all on my own – no cheating and looking up other recipes. It actually turned out quite well!

I softened an onion in some olive oil and added two stalks of chopped celery and two chopped carrots. When that was all soft (not brown), I stirred around a pressed clove of garlic for a few seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients. I added a pinch of salt, the leftover meat (cubed), a box of very expired diced tomatoes (oops- looks like I’m turning into my mother in that I haven’t cleaned out the pantry in a while), a chopped up potato, and half a box of beef broth. For spices, I sprinkled in some rosemary and thyme and decided to hold off on adding anything else until the flavors came together and I could taste it. After bringing it to a boil and simmering for about 40 minutes until the carrots were soft, I was delightfully surprised at how well it turned out. It’s simple but it’s hearty and delicious. I’m going to put it in the freezer and bust it out once all the fog starts to roll into San Francisco in the next few months.

Experimental Dinner Party

Last night we had four friends over for an experimental dinner party. We used recipes that we’d been wanting to try and lucky for us, everything turned out really well. This same group of friends hasn’t always been so lucky. A few years ago we tried making a roasted duck but the duck won and we ended up grabbing Delfina pizza down the street. At least it was a bittersweet ending for all involved.

Alex and I made the Barefoot Contessa Company Pot Roast which I’m already looking forward to reheating for dinner tonight and an Herbed Ricotta Dip with Spring Vegetables for an appetizer. The latter was a big winner in the last Leite’s evaluation round and I was eager to try it after reading all of the positive reviews. I made my own ricotta again and put together a colorful plate of veggies for dipping. The pot roast was easier than I expected. It just requires a lot of chopping for the vegetables and then some strong arms to rotate the roast in the pan while searing. It was done in less than 2 hours (recipe said 2.5 but I took it out of the fridge about an hour in advance so that might have been why) and produced a ton of gravy which we’ll use on some fresh pasta this week.

Mike and Wei made a “smashed potatoes” recipe from Cooks Illustrated that I’d love to try on my own sometime. Kristin and Jeremy brought over a lemon strawberry tart by David Leibowitz that we polished off in minutes. The rest of the evening was spent playing Catch Phrase which kept us laughing and crying until about 1am. Good fun all around!

Recipe Testing (Mafe’)

Update: The recipe made it through testing! It’s up on the Leite’s site here.

I am on my second round of recipe testing for Leite’s Culinaria and am happy to say that my latest dish was absolutely delightful! I made a mafe’, a West African stew with meat simmered in a sauce that is thickened with peanut butter and has a sweet-salty flavor.  Traditionally, you can use lamb, mutton, beef, or chicken but the peanut sauce is what truly defines the mafe’. I opted for lamb tonight since I knew Alex would like it (and I’m slowly becoming a fan of lamb myself after a delicious ravioli we had at Cantinetta last weekend). I added butternut squash, cabbage, parsnips, and potatoes to the stew before adding natural, smooth peanut butter to the final product. Wow. I hope this makes it to the website so that I can share the recipe with you! In the meantime, do a Google search for “lamb mafe” and let me know what you come up with.

Celebrating Freedom!

I finished my final policy paper and law exam yesterday afternoon and decided to celebrate by making a huge feast for Alex, Mark, and Sarah for dinner. I had fun scavenging through our bookshelves rediscovering old cookbooks and recipes that I hadn’t seen or made in years. With all the rain yesterday (it followed me from Seattle), I was in the mood for pork tenderloin and roasted root vegetables. My old Joy of Cooking was the perfect resource for the dinner I had in mind. I made a Pear, Walnut, and Endive Salad with Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Pan Sauce of Leeks, Orange, and Rosemary. On the side, we had roasted veggies – carrots, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes. All three courses were winners and quite simple to prepare – just watch the pork so that it doesn’t get too cooked or well-done.

Pear, Walnut, and Endive Salad (6 small servings or for 4 people who really like greens)

  • 4 belgian endives
  • 2 large bunches of watercress, tough stems trimmed
  • 1 large Comice pear or sour apple, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 12 ounces Gorgonzola

Arrange everything in a salad bowl and toss with a fresh vinaigrette of garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, shallot, mustard, and olive oil.

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin (4 servings)

  • 2 pork tenderloins (8-12 ounces each)
  • 1.5 tsp butter
  • 1.5 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Pat dry the tenderloins and season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over high heat and brown the pork well on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and cook through, turning once or twice, until the thermometer inside reads 155F (you could probably do 152-153 since it continues to cook once you remove it). Remove to a plate and cover with foil for about 5-10 minutes. Pour off almost all of the fat and continue with the pan sauce below.

Pan Sauce with Leeks, Orange, and Rosemary

  • 1 small leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 2-inch strips orange zest (or use microplane – 2 tsps zest)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp minced parsley

Over medium heat, add the leeks until they just start to soften. Add the orange juice, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the tasty bits from the pan. Add the broth, orange zest, and rosemary, stirring until the sauce is reduced by about half. You can discard the zest and rosemary but I kept it all in there. Season with salt and pepper and then add the butter – swirling, not stirring, until completely melted. Serve over the roast and sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!

Favorite chili

I have a new favorite chili recipe! Not that I consume a lot of chili or make it that regularly, but I know a good one when I eat it. And this one – well, I’ll be making it again very soon. The original recipe is here. Hot damn!

Two-Bean Chili with Vegetables (adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2001)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 7 ounces beef broth, 8 ounces leftover red wine
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 15 1/4-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained

 

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until almost golden, about 8 minutes. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking beef up with fork, about 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cayenne and continue cooking 3 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, broth, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and chili sauce. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 70 minutes. Stir in beans. Simmer until beans are heated through and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with creme fraiche, fresh diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and salsa on the top. Yum!
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Pulled Pork with the Slow Cooker

Last night I tried my luck at making pulled pork in the slow cooker. While I was excited about the recipe, I’d never made anything like it before and wasn’t even sure what proper BBQ was supposed to taste like. I’ve always wanted to take a road trip through the south to sample all sorts of Southern delicacies like BBQ, grits, fried green tomatoes, seafood creole, and an authentic bananas foster. Someday…

One ingredient on the list perplexed me. Have you ever heard of liquid smoke? Yeah, me neither. Lucky for me, it wasn’t all that difficult to find. However, it was recently listed “potentially toxic” by the European Food Safety Authority (the EU version of the FDA and probably a lot more trustworthy as they aren’t married to industry like the FDA). So maybe this dish isn’t meant to be made on a regular basis. Fair enough.

Onto the good part… Our apartment smelled as though there was a mesquite BBQ blazing in the living room all afternoon. This is reason enough to make it again. The pork was very tender and pulled apart with minimal effort. We layered the meat on one half of a toasted wheat hamburger bun and added some of the juice and BBQ sauce to the top. In this way, we were able to eat two open-face pulled pork sandwiches. Divine! And now we have enough pulled pork to make sandwiches for days. Enjoy! (the original recipe can be found on the link at the beginning of the blog.)

Makes 12 to 14 servings

  • One 5- to 6-pound boneless Boston butt pork roast or same weight of boneless country-style pork ribs
  • 1/4 cup Cheater Basic Dry Rub (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup bottled smoke
  • Barbecue sauce of your choice

1. Cut the pork butt into medium (2- to 3-inch) chunks (the ribs don’t need to be cut up).

2. Put the pieces in a large slow cooker (at least 5 quarts). Sprinkle the meat with the rub, turning the pieces to coat evenly. Add the bottled smoke.

3. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender and reaches an internal temperature of 190 F.

4. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat into strands. It should shred very easily. Serve the barbecue piled on buns with your favorite barbecue sauce.

5. To serve the barbecue later, cover and refrigerate the meat when it has cooled. Pour the meat juice into a separate container and refrigerate. Before reheating the juice, skim and discard the congealed fat layer on the top.

6. To reheat the barbecue, place it in a saucepan moistened with some of the reserved juice. Gently heat the meat on medium-low, stirring occasionally. Or, place it in a covered casserole with some of the reserved juice and heat in a 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

7. While the meat warms, combine the barbecue sauce and some of the additional reserved meat juice in a saucepan. Heat through and serve with the barbecue.

For the rub:

Makes about 2/3 cup

  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to blend.