Tag Archive for winter

Winter Blizzard Chili for Everyone

There is really nothing better in a crazy winter storm than a bowl of phenomenal chili. I concocted this version based on a venison recipe by Hank Shaw. If you are not a vegetarian, his version is really scrumptious and I think you might like it. I mean, it has slab bacon in it so there’s that. But for me a truly lovely thing about a bowl of chili is sitting around with a ton of friends and digging in. Because I know so many vegetarians, vegans and gluten free eaters, I like to make big batches of things that everyone can partake in. This spicy treat does the trick. And you know what Hank offered in his that sold me?

It’s the coffee.

(A rich decaf works just as well as full tilt if your crowd is caffeine free as well) The rich and earthy taste of this chili grounds the heat of the peppers and it’s just a damn joy. This recipe has some time notes so read it through first before attempting.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1c kidney beans, soaked overnight
1c cannellini beans, soaked overnight
4 dried chipotle peppers
1 dried ancho chile
1 medium sweet potato
2 large onions, diced
1 diced shallot
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon caraway, ground
5 all spice pods, ground
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cumin, ground
1 tablespoon coriander, ground
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 small can tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or one small can
1 cup of delicious coffee
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2c vegetable broth
2 tablespoons salt (you can use smoked salt here or chocolate salt if you have either. otherwise use seas salt or pink Himalayan. The pink is saltier so maybe start with 1 T and add to taste)
Cilantro to garnish
Get your beans and soak them in filtered water overnight. Alternately, use organic from a can in a pinch. I myself am in an Eden Foods boycott, but Westbrae carries great food. Pour 1c boiling water over the dried chiles and let them puff up (about an hour). Seed the chiles toss in the blender with their soaking water and the coffee.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a heavy lidded pot or Dutch oven, heat your olive oil. Add onion and shallots to the pot and cook until soft, stirring often. Now add your vampiric repellant garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Cut your sweet potato in half, then long quarters and slice thin. Add the quarter moons to the mix. Cook another 2 minutes and add your apple cider vinegar. Now add the beans, paprika, cumin, caraway, allspice, coriander and salt all together and stir to bring it all together like a show tune. You probably want to let all of this hang out for a few minutes to become family.

Add your blended chile mix and tomato paste, then the chopped tomatoes, maple syrup and cover everything with your vegetable broth. Bring it all home and then put the heavy lid on.
Pop it in the oven for 2 hours. Hank says you want to check to see if you need more salt and broth (I haven’t yet, but you never know), and to see how the beans are doing. If you have the jalapeño, this is its time to shine. Dice it and add it in. THEN WASH YOUR HANDS REALLY GOOD. And don’t rub your eyes or any other delicate areas on yourself or anyone you like a lot.

Pop it back in the oven for 30 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with your grain of choice, or bread, or chips and top with cilantro. Or if you are stuck in a storm and only have arugula like in this photo, use that.

ENJOY my little blizzard Amazons!

Also yummy with wild rice chips

Old School Potato Leek Soup

One of the things I love about winter is the angle of the light. It’s not good for driving and it flees from the low perch too quickly each day, but the way it hitches sideways, a smirking dandy with a walking cane. Handsome, and a little bit lazy. I grew up on the east coast before we were melting the ice caps so rapidly and my life revolved in four real seasons. Year in and year out. Roughly every three months, something changed, and with winter, along with the light, I loved the frost.

Weirdly, here in San Francisco, there’s been frost on the ground every morning for a week straight. That’s more mornings than the rest of the 14 years I’ve lived here all together. In addition to providing shiny surfaces for a sunrise to ping around on, it makes a lady want stews and soups. And this old soup is one of my very favorites. I had a few potatoes and leeks left over from Hanukkah and whipped this up in no time.

The first thing I did was pull all the ends of squashes and celery and onions and garlic out from the freezer and make a vegetable broth. This one was sweet from the squash and so my soup turned out extra comforting.

For the broth, I keep a ziplock bag of all the ends of my vegetables to go in as I cook during the week: ends of scallions, squash hats, onion skins, broccoli stalks, cauliflower cores, kale spines… all of it. By the weekend the bag is full and I add 8 cups of water and bring it all to a boil then reduce and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Voila. Broth.

4-6 leeks, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 yellow potatoes
1t celery salt
1t fresh ground black pepper
2T olive oil
6c vegetable broth or water
2T half and half (optional)
cilantro or parsley to garnish

I like to prep everything before I start. I slice the leeks into coin and soak them in a bowl to get the grit and dirt out.  I peel my potatoes (I used yukon golds here, but I actually think the humble russet works better in this soup. It comes apart easier.) and slice them into quarters, then into 1/4 inch discs. The onion gets taken care of.

In a heavy bottomed pot I throw in the olive oil, and heat it up. Then go the leeks and the onions for about 5-7 minutes, until soft. Then I put in the potatoes, the salt and the pepper. I like mine to have kick. when everything is good and soft, add your broth or water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and let cook for an hour. You can mash up your potatoes or let them fall apart. I like to leave some hearty chunks in mine. If you like, near the end of cooking stir in the half and half. Then you’re ready for your warm soup!!

Some options: do it with sweet potatoes. Swap the half and half for a hunk of coconut butter to keep it vegan. Take out the onion and use extra leeks. Add garlic. Add a dried chipotle pepper for a smokey taste. You could use a turnip too if you like.

What’s so great about a bean, anyhow? Plus, a recipe.

IMG_4744

Just because the little bite sized superheroes might leave a bit of a scented side-effect doesn’t mean a person should throw these babies out with the bathwater. Of course, to throw out the COOKING water will cut down vastly on the old gas. You lose a bit of minerals that way, but it will help you out at the beginning stages of romance. Another trick to cutting down on the farts is to cut off a 2 square inch hunk of kombu seaweed and cook it with the beans. Now, if I’m making beans as the main course and not cooking them off as an ingredient in a stew, I really like to save the pot liquor, so I go with the kombu. I think the liquid has a ton of flavor and I often cook my beans with a bunch of goods in the broth itself. Some people also swear by the herb Epazote as a cooking enzyme aid.

But let’s get past the farting, shall we?

In general, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants the suckers have to guard your cells against attack. Black beans, adzuki, Anasazi, kidney beans, and red beans all do a great job as warriors of this order. Beans are also a great source of fiber, which keeps everything moving in our digestive systems. Keeping up with digestive health impacts the entire body from mood to energy level. Beans prevent constipation, keep the path clear for a steady production of Serotonin in the gut, and improve the steadiness of blood sugar levels (especially important for those suffering from diabetes). A diet rich in fiber also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the system (LDL). This keeps our hearts safer as we age, cutting down on the fat gathering in our vessels and making it easier for us to maintain a health blood pressure for delivering nutrients throughout our bodies.

And that’s not all: Beans contain chemicals called isoflavones that have been rumored to reduce the risk of heart disease, ease the myriad symptoms of menopause and improve the strength of your bones.

PLUS, beans are a powerhouse source of vegetarian protein. Sometimes you’ll hear someone scoff at a bean, bad mouthing it for being an incomplete protein, but that’s where ancient food wisdom comes in. Beans have been served with rice in so many cultures FOREVER: bowls of rice with adzuki beans all over Asia, basmati and mung beans, red beans and rice in South America and on and on. We humans have done a pretty good job historically of being able to hear what our bodies have wanted. Then industrial chemicals came along and kind blew static into the conversation. When we made choices to combine different beans and rices over the years, what we did scientifically was to join two different proteins to create a perfect one. The essential amino acids that either dish lacks alone, come together as a perfect team.

From Flickr user monkeycat62

I do my best to always use dried beans. I am somewhat obsessed with Rancho Gordo beans in particular. Not so much because I’m an irritating foodie, although I certainly have my moments, but more out of urges stemming from my Libra rising. Easily swayed and emotionally moved by physical beauty, this ends up working out way better for me in the kitchen than it ever did in the world of dating. The Heirloom beans from this outfit are such a gorgeous array of colors and shapes, it’s easy to see how artists were drawn make portraits from them. Anyhow, I either soak them overnight rendering a quicker cooking time, or if I have all day I actually love to do a long slow cook to infuse them with flavor. Canned beans tend to fall apart and also they, well, come in cans generally lined with toxic BPA. Eden brand organics DO NOT use that lining so I do keep a couple cans of that on hand for quick situations.

So, how about a nice recipe? You can mess with it until the Super Bowl and perfect your own version to do a healthy dazzle for your guests.

Spicy 3 Bean Stew

1c kidney beans                                                    1 large yellow onion
1c pinto beans                                                      1 sweet potato
1c giant lima beans                                               1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced                                         ½ t cinnamon
2T olive oil                                                          4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced                                                    1t ground chipotle
1T ground cumin                                                   1T dried oregano
2 in hunk of kombu                                               handful fresh cilantro
5c vegetable broth                                                salt to taste
1t chile powder (New Mexico if you can find it)          1 splash cider vinegar
2 lbs self-canned tomatoes from this summer OR 20 oz + 14oz Eden brand cans stewed tomatoes (BPA free cans)

Rinse and soak all your beans the night before. Start your beans cooking in water with the kombu about an hour before everything else in the pot happens. Skim any foam from the top.

Meanwhile, get a heavy bottomed pot, and sauté your chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add your bell pepper, carrots and all your spices and let everything cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. Add your cider vinegar to soften and stew it all. Add in your tomatoes, your cubed sweet potato. Strain your beans and dump in to the veggies with your vegetable stock. Cook everything in the pot, covered for about another hour and taste as you go. Salt to taste as you go. If the stew is too spicy or too thick, go ahead and add in more vegetable broth.

Top with diced fresh cilantro and enjoy. Other toppings: shredded cheese, a dollop of crème fraiche, apple chutney, sour cream, diced scallions, arugula pesto.

 

Latke Compendium Part 2: The Fixins

Of course you can buy applesauce, sour cream and all manner of foodie upgrades to these, but fuck it.

Let’s make stuff.

It’s super easy, it inspires your pals to make their stuff too, it gives money to small farmers instead of lining the pockets of corporations, and it tastes better. Plus you don’t have to read any labels. You know just what’s in all of this. Really. After all, this is a celebration of miracles. Let us honor that with some time spent, some intention and love into our food, and a gathering of friends to go to town.

APPLESAUCE: A note on apples: Some people like to mix it up. Some people like a sweeter apple like a fuji, a Gravenstein or a honey crisp. I find that for applesauce what’s most important to me is that the apples are crisp and sturdy. This means they have a lot of juice in them, and even though I make my sauce with cider or apple juice, I still want the most robust taste. I like mine a little tart, but I take care of that with some lemon. In the photographs I made my sauce with pink pearl apples because at the time I just wanted applesauce that looked like an extra dish at a tea party for Rainbow Brite. Pink, yo. 

This recipe is enough for the whole latke party, plus left overs for breakfast yogurt or over your pecan pie or just as dessert.

8 medium apples, peeled and cored
1 quart apple cider
Juice of one lemon
1t cinnamon

Place all your apple slices in a pot and cover with apple cider. Add cinnamon and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Turn down the flame to a simmer and cook the apples down until they soften, about 30 minutes. Use a large whisk until the apples simply fall apart from the heat and become the best applesauce you’ve ever tasted. So easy. So good.

For variations: you can also throw pears in for sweetness or just something different. The zest of a satsuma is a pleasure in this applesauce. You can also add cloves. One time just to haul off and get fancy, I cooked a few sprigs of rosemary in some coconut oil at the beginning, then after about ten minutes, I fished out the twigs and made the sauce in the infused coconut oil. Delicious, but not the most traditional thing going.

Stay tuned because tomorrow we make all the creams. YES.