Veggie Curry Chili

Let us consider chili. What makes chili chili? Is it just the presence of chiles or chile powder? Is it the combination of that with… certain specific other ingredients? I know there are purists who refuse to admit beans to the party, but first of all I think beans are key to chili, and second of all those people don’t seem very fun to hang out with.

The reason I’m asking is that this is chili, or “chili,” but it’s got a bunch of curry powder in it too, which doesn’t just add a flavour dimension, it changes it completely. This might just be a curried beans and potatoes dish, unless there’s a particular chili rule that admits it.

The recipe comes from Vegan Yack Attack which… teeheehee! And yes indeed, this is a vegan chili (or a vegan whatever-it-is). The only real change I made was to use a chipotle in place of the optional fresh jalapeno she recommended – first off, I always have them around, and second, you’ve got the smokiness of the paprika meeting up with the smokiness of the chipotle, and who am I to complain about that? I also had to DIY the tomatoes with green chiles – I see a can of that every time I go to the supermarket, and that day? Nope. So I did a can of the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and then a little can of green chiles. Might have added more green chile action into the game than there otherwise would have been, but I don’t think the dish was the worse for it.

This recipe does something interesting in that it uses the slow-cooker, on high, before you close it all in, to kind of start off the cooking like you might in a pan. Never seen that before. I think if the idea was to sweat the onions etc., an actual pan probably would have worked better.

Veggie Curry Chili

Ingredients
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle, minced (and seeded if you’re not feeling tough today)
4 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 14-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, OR 1 14-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes + 1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 14-oz can black beans
1 14-oz can pinto beans
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lime

Method
Turn your slow-cooker on to high. Yes, before anything goes in it.
Add the potatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic, chipotle, curry powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika into the slow-cooker, and stir to coat everything with the spices.
Stir in the tomatoes, green chiles, beans, and bay leaves.
Now, cook – either keep it on high for 3-4 hours, or turn it down to low and let it go for 6 hours.
When it’s done. stir in the lime juice just before serving.

This inspired the statement “all chili should have potatoes in it,” which is an interesting idea to which I’ll need to give further thought.

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Olive Hummus

Last weekend, I went on a little ski trip with some friends, and as you can imagine, whenever we weren’t skiing, we were eating (and drinking). At the end of the weekend, we were packing up all the leftover odds and ends of snack foods, and there was a box of pita chips that were in need of a good home. So I took them with me, and when I got home, I decided they needed something to dip them in. Hence, this hummus.

Now. This is olive hummus. It tastes olivey. If you don’t like olives, don’t think the flavour might be kind of not-really-strong and it’ll be fine – if you don’t like olives, this is not your hummus. Lucky for me, I do like olives. Dan Bern does too.

Olive Hummus

Ingredients
1 14-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp tahini
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup green (manzanilla) olives
1/4 tsp cayenne

Method
Put everything but the water into a food processor and process until smooth.
Drizzle the water in with the processor still running until you get a nice consistency. You might need a little more than 1/4 cup, or maybe not.

I also put it in a sandwich today. Top notch. Recommended.

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IPA-Brined Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

So, this recipe came from The Beeroness, who uses beer in all of her recipes. Because of that, the type of beer used is relevant. If you don’t have an IPA on hand, either go buy some for the recipe (and drink the rest), or wait until the stars align and you do have some on hand. She makes a point of using the right kind of flavours for the recipe in question, so I wasn’t about to mess with that. Plus, we had a really good and interesting IPA in the fridge that day – if you don’t like rude words, cover your ears – Flying Dog Brewery’s “Raging Bitch.” Obviously you don’t have to use that very same kind, but an IPA of some kind, because you’re going to get that hoppiness coming in just a little in the flavour of the chicken. There are other things going on too, of course – stock, and that manna from heaven which is smoked paprika, on which more later – so it’s not a one-note flute here. But it adds something special.

However, a word about the sauce. I was excited about the sauce (it has roasted red peppers! and it’s creamy! and it has a wee hint of beer!), and I wouldn’t say it was bad at all, but it did seem kind of unnecessary. The chicken is so flavourful on its own that it doesn’t really need the sauce. The components of the sauce do still go well with the chicken – I made a sandwich with the leftover chicken on a bagel with cream cheese and roasted red peppers, just without blending up the peppers and cheese together, and it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.

I also halved the recipe – 3 lbs of chicken is way more than we needed!

IPA-Brined Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients

for the chicken
1/2 cup IPA
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 lb skin-on, bone-in chicken (I used thighs)
1/2 tbs smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne
1/2 tbsp olive oil

for the sauce
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp IPA
1/2 a roasted red pepper
1/8 tsp salt

rice, for serving

Method

for the chicken
Stir together the beer, stock, and salt in a large bowl.
Pop the chicken in.
Cover and refrigerate for 3-6 hours.
Take out the chicken, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Throw out the marinade.
In a separate bowl or container, combine the 2 paprikas, onion powder, nutmeg, and cayenne.
Rub the spice mix all over the chicken so that it is evenly coated on all sides.
In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Also preheat the oven to 425.
Brown the chicken, starting with the skin side down, for 4 minutes a side or until, you know, browned.
Pop the entire skillet into the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through (with mine, one thigh was cooked just fine, another was not, and the third we cannot know since it got reheated as leftovers and was fine then).

Now would be a good time to put the rice on.

for the sauce
Put all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor and let ‘er rip until smooth, or smooth enough.

Serve with the sauce over the chicken and the rice.

Now, can we talk about the smoked paprika? I finally broke down and bought some because this recipe required both the kind I already had and the smoked kind. And everyone all over the internet has been singing its praises, and I knew it was probably really good, or whatever, but I couldn’t quite get my head around spending extra money to get a different version of a spice I already had. But this time I did. Now I have an answer for the question I saw in the front of a magazine, where all the staffers were asked what their latest big splurge was, and they all said shoes, or bags, or a vacation… and for me, it was spending upwards of $4 on a small canister of smoked paprika.

Which, by the way? Completely worth it. SO GOOD. Dear internet, I get what you were talking about now.

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Chicken Curry Soup

This is a good little winter warmer. I don’t know if it’s cold where you are, but if it is, it’ll do the trick, or if you have a cold. Or if you just like a sweet-spicy curry flavour in a nice bowl of soup. It is supposed to be kind of spicy; I guess my curry powder isn’t exceptionally hot, because it didn’t have much kick unless I chucked some cayenne in at the end, which I did.

The recipe comes from Will Cook for Friends, which also describes my life, except perhaps not in the same way it does for her. For me it’s more like “will work for food” – as in, will work in exchange for food. I’ll cook in exchange for someone being my friend. Who wants to be friends? I’ll make you chicken curry soup!

Chicken Curry Soup

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 – 2 lbs chicken breast on the bone
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2″ piece of ginger, grated
1/4 cup honey
4 cups chicken stock (I actually used vegetable stock because that’s what I had on hand)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
extra cayenne if needed
rice to serve

Method
Heat the oil in a big soup pot over medium-high heat.
Mix together the cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a small bowl.
Rub all over the chicken.
Sear the chicken in the pot for 4 minutes per side.
Remove and set aside for now; it isn’t cooked through yet but it will be later.
Saute the onion in the same pot for 3 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder, and cook another minute.
Pour in the honey and stock, and also add the chicken back in.
Bring up to a boil.
Cover and turn down to a simmer.
Put the rice on to cook.
Simmer for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken and shred it off the bones with 2 forks.
Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, and taste to see if it needs some cayenne.
Serve over the rice, which should now be ready.

So, yes: I chopped cilantro for this thing. And it didn’t hurt as much as it usually does! Maybe I’m getting better – eating it is hardly an issue, although I’d always prefer something else, and the real pain came when it was being chopped because that releases all the aromatics, which went into my nose and made my sinuses want to kill themselves. Whereas this time it just stung a little. So. We’ll see.

Also, the original recipe called for cashews to garnish it with. That sounds nice. I didn’t have any, but I think you should try that.

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Chicken “Pot Pie” with Cheddar Bacon Biscuit Topping

Ok, I have to stop before I even start here to say that I don’t think this is a pot pie. I have very strict rules about pot pies. I don’t hold with the kind that they just have sort of a pastry hat. That is not a pie, pot or otherwise. A pie has a crust that goes all the way around. Then the bottom part gets a little soggy and soaks up juices and is just marvellous. So this, to me, is not a pot pie. But the fact that the topping is a biscuit with cheddar, bacon, and chives in it convinced me I should make it anyway.

The recipe comes from Chocolate Moosey, and I didn’t really change much, although it’s not going to read like her recipe because hers gives you the measurements of each thing, which is really helpful and precise but they don’t sell potatoes by the cup and I have no idea how much bacon goes into 2 tablespoons. So I either experimented or eyeballed or guessed, depending, and this is the result of that. The amounts are probably roughly similar to the original!

The only other change I made was that when I made the biscuits, they were absolutely unquestionably too wet to roll out (found my rolling pin, by the way… crisis averted), so I decided to treat it like making chicken and dumplings and just drop scoops of dough onto the bubbling hot filling. This worked out fine although rolling would have undoubtedly made them flakier. If you’re able to roll them, I recommend doing so, but if you can’t, it’s fine.

Chicken “Pot Pie” with Cheddar Bacon Biscuit Topping

Ingredients

for the filling
1 large chicken breast, or a half chicken if you like to mix it up a bit
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut up
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 carrots, chopped
2 cups chicken stock (I actually used veggie because I had made stock recently and had a lot to use up)
1 small to medium potato, peeled and cubed (I used a too-big potato and had about twice what I needed, not that I am complaining, but let’s get this right)
1/2 cup peas (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp milk

for the biscuits
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tbsp chives, snipped
1/2 cup cream (I used milk because that’s what I had on hand, but at least it was whole milk)

Method

for the filling
Fill a big pot with water and bring to a boil.
Put the chicken in and cover.
Cook for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through. Take it out and set it aside to cool.
Rinse out the chicken pot, it’s going to have its second wind. Melt the butter in it over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.
Whisk in the flour (I know it’s hard to whisk when there are vegetables in there already… do your best).
Whisk in the stock in a slow stream.
Bring to a boil.
Stir in the potatoes and peas.
Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often to keep the potatoes from sticking.
At some point, shred the chicken with 2 forks.
Preheat oven to 425.
Stir in that shredded chicken and the milk.
Pour into a casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes.

for the biscuit topping
Whisk together the flour and baking powder.
Stir in the bacon, cheese, chives, and milk (or cream).
If you can roll the dough, roll it out on a floured surface and use a glass or a cutter to cut 2.5″ rounds out.
If you were able to cut biscuits out, arrange them over the top of the still-hot filling. If you weren’t, just drop scoops of the dough over the filling to try and cover it as much as possible.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden-brown.
Let it cool a bit before eating.

It’s cold out and the Olympics are on. This would be appropriate to eat while you vegetate in front of the tv watching feats of athletic endeavour – nothing quite like being the exact opposite of the people you’re watching.

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Lentil Cassoulet

I felt really ambitious tackling this one. It’s got about a million ingredients, and it’s French. I mean, it’s peasant French, because peasants always know how to eat (due to having to make do; I mean, I’m not saying peasants have a ton of food, I am not Marie Antoinette) and because I don’t have the wherewithal, either financial or talent-wise, to make fancy French food. But it’s got so many moving parts to the recipe that I still felt pretty pleased with myself when it turned out well. The only thing was that I had opted for this massive recipe because I thought we had friends coming over, and then it turned out they weren’t, so I’ve been eating leftover cassoulet for at least one meal every day since. Not that I’m complaining. The leftovers are good.

The recipe came from Oui Chef Network, and he makes it very clear that it’s not a real cassoulet since it lacks various key ingredients like duck confit, and it should take way longer, and it’s got lentils instead of tarbais beans, and you know what? I can’t do that. I can’t do that, and I can’t afford to do that. So it’s fine. Any French people want to take umbrage, go right ahead.

I only really made a change in the slab bacon, since I couldn’t get any at the store. I just got a brick of thick-cut bacon and used it like that and then cut it up; some of it stayed together when it was time to cut it into lardons, and some of it separated into its constituent slices, and both are just fine.

Cassoulet

Ingredients
1 lb smoked slab bacon, or some kind of bacon, anyway
1 bay leaf
2 onions, one diced, the other just peeled
2 cloves
2 cups lentils
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tbsp thyme, pulled off the stalks
1 lb linguica, sliced on the diagonal
2 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 chicken breast, cubed
2 cups panko
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp chives, snipped
pinch cayenne
1 14-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

Method
Put the bacon in a pot with 8 cups water and bring to a boil.
Nail the bay leaf to the whole onion using the cloves. Sidebar: this is also the method used in the improved version of a hot toddy that I invented, where you nail slices of ginger to a lemon slice with cloves. Cloves! They’re the nails of the spice world.
Put the improved onion in the pot and turn it down to a simmer.
Let it go for an hour, flipping the bacon occasionally.
Take out both the onion and the bacon (chuck the onion, keep the bacon… obviously) but keep the water. Think about it. This is basically the best water ever.
Put the lentils in the awesome water and simmer for 20 minutes or until just barely tender.
Scoop out the lentils and set aside in a large bowl – keep the water again, you’re going to use every part of this buffalo.
Add the chicken, diced onion, carrots, celery, and cayenne to a big skillet and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Toss in the garlic, sage, and thyme, and saute another minute.
Remove to the bowl with the lentils.
Preheat oven to 375.
Dice the bacon.
Add these pieces, these lardon-esques, to the pan along with the Italian sausage, and cook over medium heat until the sausage is browned, breaking it up as you go.
Add the meat to the bowl with all the other goodies.
At this point, unless you own a very large bowl, you may as well do the rest of the steps in the baking dish you’re ultimately going to cook it in – which for me was a roasting pan.
Stir in the linguica, chickpeas, and tomatoes, and pour over the awesome water you’ve been keeping aside.
Spread it all out evenly throughout the pan.
Mix the melted butter with the panko.
Spread the panko mixture evenly over the top.
Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes.
Festoon with the parsley and chives.

The liquid will get mostly absorbed, but when you’re eating it that day, it’ll be like a soup with way more contents than liquid. The remaining liquid will absorb in the leftovers, though, so it’s tough to nail down exactly what this is.

Also, when Matt asked what was in it and I told him, I got to the chickpeas and he said “of course there are chickpeas. You looove chickpeas,” which isn’t wrong, but I guess I kind of have been on a chickpea kick…pea (I’m sorry) lately, and they’ve been in a lot of things I’ve made. Perhaps you won’t see quite as many on this blog for a little bit.

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Caprese Orzo

It’s winter. Oh, sure, we might be having the annual January thaw, but trust me, it’s still winter. This is not wintry food. This is summery food, and in the original (at Simply Life), it’s a pasta salad. I opted not to cool it down, although I did eat cold leftovers for lunch the next day. Good both ways.

Aside from not making it a cold salad, the only other thing I changed was to use a regular ball of mozzarella rather than bocconcini, primarily because the store let me down on the mini-ball front. If they’d had them, I’d have used them.

Caprese Orzo

Ingredients
3/4 cup orzo
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 cup (1/2 a container) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/3 cup basil leaves, torn up
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Method
Cook the orzo according to package directions.
When it’s done, drain it and throw it into a bowl with all the rest of the ingredients.
Toss to combine.

So how’s about a little mouthful of summer in the middle of winter?

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Slow-Cooker Asian Carnitas

For Christmas, I got a “big” (or rather, normal-sized) slow-cooker, since our existing one came from the drugstore and holds about the contents of a can of soup. I needed, naturally, to try out the new, full-sized version as soon as possible. So far, this is the best thing I’ve made in it!

The recipe comes from Off the (Meat) Hook, and I didn’t change a thing but to skip out on the cilantro, because ugh. Expect to see a lot more not-cut-down slow-cooker recipes from me!

Slow-Cooker Asian Carnitas

Ingredients
2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of fat to the extent that it’s possible or not too difficult, cut into big chunks
1 cup orange juice
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
6 cloves garlic, minced
3″ piece of ginger, grated
buns
spoonful of mayo
a couple squirts of sriracha

Method
Place the pork, orange juice, soy sauce, honey, mustard, garlic, and ginger into the slow-cooker and cook for 4 hours on high.
Take the pieces out at the end of that time and shred them with 2 forks.
Stir in a few spoonfuls of the juices as well, to keep it moist.
In a separate bowl, stir together the mayo and sriracha.
Toast the buns (teehee!).
Assemble and enjoy!

Sidebar, anyone else find grating ginger to be a huge pain and create your life’s work to clean out the grater afterwards? Also, if you like swearing, the part where a squirt of ginger juice gets in your eye is very good for that.

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Christmas: Smoked Salmon Endive Cups

Oh. Now we’re getting fancy. Don’t get the wrong idea, we don’t do some kind of swanky Christmas where everyone dresses up – but what’s wrong with bringing a swanky appetizer even to a regular family gathering? Nothing, especially if you’ve just approximated awesome bagels minus the bagel.

This recipe comes from Set the Table, and the only change I made was to use the substitution she herself suggested, swapping sour cream out for Greek yogurt. She suggests it as a way to lighten up the filling. I did it because I couldn’t find sour cream – at least not in a rational size and not the jumbo economy size tubs. We are not huge consumers of sour cream (although I suppose I could have used it up by baking with it), so buying more than a little would’ve been a waste.

Smoked Salmon Endive Cups

Ingredients
8 oz smoked salmon – if you go to a fish shop for your salmon, you can ask for the “ends” or trimmings, which are just as good but are cut off to make the pretty package of smoked salmon, so those are even easier to cut up since they’re already kind of cut up
2-3 stalks green onions, plus more to garnish
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
salt and pepper
1 head endive

Method
Mix together everything but the endive leaves.
Scoop about 2 tsp of that delicious mixture into each endive leaf, if you don’t just eat it all first (a very real possibility).
Garnish with a sprinkle more of green onions.

If, like me, you’re making it ahead of time, don’t put the filling into the endive leaves until it’s about time to eat – otherwise they’ll get soggy.

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Christmas: Nutella Cookies

I brought these little pups down to Christmas as well. Part of what I like about them is that they are little dudes – and at Christmas, you’ve just eaten a big dinner and there’s probably pie and a zillion other cookies and whatnot. You don’t want something that’s going to rule out eating other stuff, and these don’t.

The recipe comes from Cannella Vita, which is one of those blogs that will make you reconsider your life. It’s written by a high school student, for starters. She makes amazing food and takes fantastic pictures of it, and she isn’t even old enough to vote yet. When I was her age, I was impressed with myself for making boxed brownies and decent grilled cheeses. Of course, when I was her age, she was 3 years old, so I sure had her beat at that point in time!

I didn’t change a thing about the recipe, partly because it’s perfect as it is, partly because I didn’t have to substitute anything due to poor planning on my part, and partly because there’s very little there to change. It’s a super easy, super quick recipe.

Nutella Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup Nutella
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp flour
coarse salt

Method
Preheat oven to 350.
Stir together the Nutella, sugar, egg, and flour until combined.
Cover the bowl and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Then, take it out and put 1″ balls of dough spaced nicely apart on a lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes or until more or less set.
Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet.
While they cool, sprinkle with salt grains.
Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

So easy! Mix everything together, you don’t even need a mixer, and it neither freezes nor bakes for very long. Perfect when you have a lot to do – see, you can always fit these in!

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