In which I go vegetarian…

corn cake, black beans, cotija cheese, avocado, pickled red onion

I don’t know what my problem is. Serious writers block it seems, which is annoying, since I have all sorts of things to discuss with you. Like this dinner I had TWO WEEKS AGO. I am not sure why this title is what it is, like it’s a big deal or something. I actually eat vegetarian a lot. I eat plenty of pasta that does not contain meat or meat related items, but for some reason, pasta doesn’t make me think vegetarian at all, it’s only when I make a somewhat deliberate decision to put together a complete meal that does not contain some kind of meat that I consider myself eating vegetarian. And I am not going to lie, at one point, I thought about adding bacon or chicken stock to this, and then I realized that I was actually trying to make a vegetarian meal, and so I didn’t add them.

I really like black beans. I think they are really delicious. Right now I will go ahead and say they are my favorite kind of bean, but I am pretty sure I will remember at some point that this is not true, and I will have lied to you all, but right now, I am going to say they are my favorite. I just used canned beans that I drained and cooked with onions and garlic, and then I did a quick corn pancake that came together in about five minutes, and dinner was a snap. I topped it with avocado, a little bit of sour cream, cotija cheese and some pickled red onion and it was pretty awesome. I didn’t miss meat at all.

And now, because I have writer’s block and nothing exciting to say, I will get right to the recipes. Enjoy this on your next foray into the world of the meatless. And the leftovers are great with, for instance, a poached egg

another view

Corn Cakes with Black Beans and Accoutrements (serves 4)

For the corn cakes:

adapted from Epicurious.com

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

scant 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp sugar

1 tbl unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional melted butter for brushing the griddle

1/2 large egg (so I halved the original recipe, I scrambled the egg and then just added about half of it to the batter)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup thawed frozen corn, chopped coarse

2 tbl finely chopped onion

In a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, the flour, the salt, the baking soda, the pepper, and the sugar. In another bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the butter, the egg, and the buttermilk, stir in the corn onion, and stir in the cornmeal mixture, stirring until the batter is just combined. Heat a griddle over moderately high heat until it is hot, brush it lightly with the additional butter, and working in batches drop the batter by a 1/2-cup measure onto the griddle. Cook the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, transferring them as they are cooked to a heatproof platter, and keep them warm.

For the black beans:

1-2 tbl cooking oil

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

juice of 1/2 small lime

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, add the beans and cook until heated through. Turn off heat, squeeze half a lime over the beans, and cover to keep warm until needed.

Accoutrements:

Sour cream

Diced avocado

Cotija cheese (or Monterey Jack or Cheddar)

Pickled red onion

To assemble:

Place a corn cake on each plate, and spoon black beans over. Add cheese and other accoutrements as desired. Easy!

In which I praise the egg…

The incredible edible egg.

As far as breakfast goes, I am usually over it. Don’t get me wrong, I am always hungry immediately upon waking, but I generally want to skip the breakfast food, and head right to sandwiches and the like. Pancakes are good, especially when my dad makes them into our initials like he did when we were younger, and I like syrup when I have sausage or bacon to dip in it, but 99 times out of 100, I prefer savory breakfasts to things like waffles and french toast. BLTs had been pretty much my perfect breakfast. Enter the egg.

I love the runny yolk. I like scrambled eggs, when they are made with heavy cream particularly, but my favorites are sunny side or soft-boiled. Until I discovered poached. I don’t know what took me so long, but now I can’t get enough. Behold:

poached egg on toast with sweet onions and hot soppressata

pan roasted asparagus with miso butter and a poached egg

leftover onion tart with hot soppressata and a poached egg

corn cake with black beans, cotija cheese and a poached egg

poached egg on toast with sweet capicola

poached egg with boiled kale and garlic toast

Catch my drift? Love, love, love. Adding a poached egg can make disparate leftovers a meal, adds a protein with a built-in sauce, and it looks so pretty! Most of the above are based on leftovers of one sort or another. In fact, my obsession with poached eggs stemmed from leftovers. During free week actually. It all started with the first picture. I had soppressata and melted onions, and I added toast and an egg, and ate it probably three times that week. And the floodgates were opened. I used the leftovers from my vegetarian meal, which I have not yet posted about, for the corn cake and black beans, I used the leftover onion tart I made for bookclub with an egg for breakfast the next day.

The asparagus and miso butter and the boiled kale and garlic toast were both a bit more adventurous. The asparagus dish came out of the Momofuku cookbook that I got for Christmas. The miso butter is a revelation. Fitting, coming from one of the most exciting cookbooks I have ever read. I only had it with the asparagus and egg thus far, but I can’t wait to have it with steak. It is pretty simple, really. You mix softened unsalted butter with white miso, pan fry some asparagus in butter, and add a poached egg. and it is gooood.

David Chang is my hero.

The boiled kale came about because I wanted a poached egg for dinner the other night, and I needed a vehicle for it. I had some bacon, so I thought about a frisee salad, but was immediately bored. I know they are supposed to be great, and one of these days I will make one, but frisee just makes me think of a sad excuse for lettuce, and I wasn’t interested. The blogosphere is all a flutter with talk of kale. I feel like every blog I have read in the past month or so has had a post waxing rhapsodic about kale, cooked until soft, made into soup and baked into crunchy chips (which I have made, they are good) and I thought maybe that would be a good hearty base for my poached egg dinner. Easy, no muss, no fuss, and tasty. Oh my gosh was I right.

I rinsed the kale, removed the stems and any particularly woody ribs, and tore it into pieces. I sautéed bacon, removed most of the fat, added a bit of olive oil, a couple of sliced cloves of garlic and a whole shallot, sliced thin. I let the onions and shallot soften for a minute or two, added the kale and let it wilt. When the kale had wilted, I poured in two cups of chicken stock, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. At the end, I made a last minute decision and it changed everything. I sprinkled the kale with salt and pepper, and then splashed in about a tablespoon of sherry vinegar. This was AWESOME. I toasted a piece of bread, rubbed it with a clove of garlic and some butter, piled on the kale and added the egg. The garlic toast and the sherry vinegar put this over the top. It was surprisingly good, I was so excited.

Surprise! You might like kale...

Basically what I am trying to say here, is that eggs make a lot of things better. And poaching an egg is easy. I fill a medium saucepan about half way with water. I add a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar. Plenty of sources say to do it that way, the ultimate source, Harold McGee says it is unnecessary, but I have done it both ways, and I prefer to add the vinegar. Feel free to experiment as you wish. I heat the water over medium heat until it looks about like this:

perfect for poaching...

I crack the egg into a ramekin, and then I use a wooden spoon to gently create a slow whirlpool in the water, and then slip the egg into the water. The egg takes about three minutes to poach, the white will be firm and set, and the yolk will be runny and delicious, and hopefully look just like this.

perfectly poached

But usually it looks a bit more motley. The fresher the eggs the more cohesive the white, but usually when you put the egg into the water, some of the thinner white will set right away and look kind of wispy. The fresher the egg the less of the wispy stuff there will be. I usually just spoon it right out.

So there you have it. I have been eating eggs these days. And enjoying it. Here is the recipe for the kale. Because I couldn’t consider myself a food blogger without adding to the cacophony:

Boiled Kale with Bacon (serves 2-3)

3 slices of bacon cut into lardons

1 tbl olive oil

1 large shallot, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 bunch kale (about 8 oz.)

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbl sherry vinegar (or to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

In a high sided saute pan over medium heat, brown bacon until crispy and fat has rendered. Remove bacon from pan, and discard all but two tablespoons of rendered fat. Add the olive oil to the pan with the bacon fat, and reheat over medium. Add garlic and shallots and cooked, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add kale and a pinch of salt and pepper, and let kale wilt. Add chicken stock, bring it to a boil, reduce heat and cover, letting kale simmer for 15-20 minutes, until kale is silky, but before it gets mushy. The kale will lose the bitterness, and should taste rich. Turn off heat and add sherry vinegar. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the top and serve as a side or over garlic toast with a poached egg for dinner.

In which I finally share some Easter desserts…

I am running a little behind. I am all over the map, really. I make all of this great stuff and take pictures and then they languish, untouched in my photos folder and time slips away and I never share them with you. These Easter desserts, for instance. I went home to my parents’ house Easter weekend, for dinner Saturday night, and brunch Sunday morning. Extended family was going to bring the total to 11, and I said I would make desserts. I was leaning towards lemon desserts, both because they are springy, and because my dad is particularly fond of them. Blueberry goes so nicely with lemon, but I didn’t want to be too repetitive, so while I settled on lemon blueberry bundt cakes for brunch dessert, I needed something a bit more refined for dinner dessert. In a nod to my Florida family, right in the  middle of strawberry season, I went with this.

strawberry lemon tart

The base of this tart is just a sweet press in tart dough, and the lemon cream is actually “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream” from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. I added the strawberries myself. The lemon was creamy, not so different from curd, except that it has whole eggs instead of just yolks, and about double the butter, so the color is muted and creamier, and the lemon flavor is big but not tart like curd. It was delicious, but I am not certain it was “The Most Extraordinary.” I may have to tackle this again at some point and see if anything changes. Perhaps without any additional fruit. Or at least not strawberries, as since they were sliced, they gave off quite a bit of moisture. It made the cream a little runny when it was cut into. It was okay, I just would have preferred it held up a bit better. But it was delicious. And it looked gorgeous, and it turned out that this baby was my birthday cake, which was just fine with me.

Happy Birthday to Me.

For brunch I decided on a lemon blueberry bundt cake I found on the Martha Stewart website. I wanted to do a bundt cake mostly because I actually wanted to do bundt cakes, plural. I have a silicone individual bundt cake pan that I got back when I was into buying cookware that looked interesting but that I had no plans to use for several years. Usually the tendency was directly related to sale prices. I have two pieces of silicone bakeware, and I think that is all I need. One is a miniature tart pan, which came in handy for these. Handy because when trying to make something that can be so delicate in such a tiny size it helps to be able to bend the pan to your will. But I am reserving judgment on the bundt pan. The first batch I steadied by putting a baking sheet under it, the second I did not. The first ended up brown just where the silicone pan was touching the cookie sheet. The second ended up a bit too brown over all I think. Observe:

baked and browned.

I was not actually all the that pleased with either batch. Though the recipe itself was delightful. And when I served them I put the better ones on top, filled the centers with lemon curd, sprinkled with blueberries and powdered sugar and they looked very springy indeed. And everyone liked them, especially my mom. So I suppose ultimately my mission was accomplished.

lemon blueberry bundt cakes with lemon curd

The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart with Strawberries (says it serves 8, but we got  at least 11 decent sized slices from this)

From Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 3 lemons

4 large eggs

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)

2 sticks plus 5 tbsp butter (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.

1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough, fully baked (see below)

2 containers strawberries, rinsed and sliced

Getting ready:
Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heat proof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk, which you want to do constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling, you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. The tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180 F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the lender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Place the sliced strawberries on top of the cream, as artistically as you’d like. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Sweet Tart Dough (makes enough for one 9″ tart crust)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Fully Bake the Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

For the Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake (or Cakes) recipe, see here. To make 12 individual cakes, use a scant 1/2 cup of batter for each small pan.

In which I continue to expand my horizons…

It’s been awhile. Sorry about that. Me and B&G were experiencing some creative differences last week. I was not feeling particularly creative on the cooking or writing front, and it can’t do it on its own, so therefore, no new posts.

So this is a chicken and onion curry that I found in Saveur and it is called Chicken Dopiaza, but every time I see the name I think of “Dowistrepla” so it has been, and will be, Chicken Dowistrepla in my mind. Feel free to call it what ever you want.

It's a CURRY!!

The pictures are not very clear, because this has a lot of really delicious red sauce, which totally covered the chicken (you know, now that I look at this recipe, it could totally be vegetarian if you just left out the chicken and prepared the rest the same way) so there is not really a good picture of the chicken, but there is in fact a chicken thigh in there.

This is pretty easy to put together, and involves a paste made of onions, ginger and garlic that was intriguing, and I was very excited to find other uses for a similar paste, and then as I was cooking it, it turned green, which was odd and would probably preclude its use in anything other than a very tomato-y sauce to cover up that heinous color. Stay tuned for pics. It was weird.

It starts by chopping and slicing lots of onions. Chopping for the paste and slicing to use as a more substantive part of the curry. The chopped onions, several cloves of garlic and some ginger go into the food processor and get pureed until they look like baby food and smell awesome. Then the sliced onions get sautéed and browned in a saute pan

in the pan

until they look like this

getting there

and then you take them out of the pan when they look like this.

browned

Then you are supposed to brown the onion ginger garlic paste that smelled so good. This is what transpired.

into the pan...lookin good.

And then I noticed something strange happening, and then it kept happening. And then it looked like this.

ummm...

That is no joke. I have no idea what happened. I decided that since I knew everything that had gone into this paste, and since I knew that nothing could have happened to make this poisonous or bad for me in any way, I would attribute the color discrepancy to color blindness either on my part of the part of the recipe creator, and I carried on.

Next step was to add tomato paste and spices (cumin and coriander which I ground, and turmeric and cayenne) and then suddenly and thankfully, it looked normal.

more like it.

Then I added tomatoes, chicken, yogurt and salt

the main event.

And cooked for 20 minutes or so until the chicken was cooked through. Please note that I actually halved this recipe since it is supposed to serve six and I am one. I also used chicken legs instead of cutting up a whole chicken as the recipe recommends. Since I am one. And I wanted to because they were in my freezer.

Also, the recipe says to cook the chicken through, but then to add the onions back in, and some garam masala, and cook for eight more minutes, and makes no mention of removing the chicken from the pan at this point. So actually, I just cooked my chicken for about 15 minutes before I added the onions and the garam masala. I didn’t want to over cook my chicken, that would have been the pits. It also says to add cilantro and quartered serrano chiles before you serve. I did not. I am expanding my horizons. I am not a totally new person.

I served this over basmati rice and did a quick saute of some spinach and it was delicious. And I got three servings out of this. Just like it said, but I am working on my portion control, so I suspect with normal eaters (or my usual self) it would have just been two.

dinner is served

This was mighty tasty. And good leftover. And a good step towards my enjoyment of Indian cuisine. I am even planning on making another curry this week. I am not sure what has come over me. Also this week? Something vegetarian. I am just plain loco these days. But I will also be making some Asian food, and likely some vodka sauce. I am still just me after all. Stay tuned, it might be a bumpy ride.

Chicken “Dowistrepla” (serves 6)

Adapted from Saveur

4 large sweet onions, preferably Walla Walla (I did not have Walla Walla, it wasn’t a problem, unless the onions I used cook up green unbeknownst to me.)

6 cloves garlic

1 one and a half inch piece of ginger, peeled

7 tbl canola oil

5 tbl tomato paste

1 tbl ground coriander

1 tbl ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 cup yogurt

6 whole, peeled canned tomatoes, drained and crushed

1 3-4 lb chicken cut into 6-8 pieces, skin removed (or use 6-8 chicken pieces)

salt to taste

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tbl chopped cilantro

3 serrano chiles, quartered (this gets a big fat optional in my adaptation.)

Cooked basmati rice, for serving

Roughly chop 2 onions; put into a food processor with garlic and ginger. Process to a paste; set aside. Thinly slice remaining onions; set aside.

Heat oil in an 8-qt. pot over medium-high heat; add sliced onions and cook, stirring often, until well browned, 18–20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a bowl. Add reserved onion–garlic paste to pot; cook, stirring, until golden brown (or green) 8–10 minutes. Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; cook until paste is browned, 1–2 minutes. Add yogurt, tomatoes, and chicken and season with salt; cook, stirring, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, uncover, add sautéed onions and garam masala, and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro and chiles and serve with rice

Cooking outside the box – Chicken and White Bean Chili and Skillet Corn Bread…

look at me getting artsy...

I am trying all sorts of new things these days…despite all my years of eating, and my several years of serious cooking, I have never made chili. I suspect it was because I have never been all that interested in chili. (The secrets come out on this blog my friends, I have always said there was not much in this world I wouldn’t eat, except for, until recently, curries of any kind, but what I didn’t often share was that there were many things that I would never order and would often avoid, things I didn’t gravitate towards, if you will…chili was on that list. All this is changing.)

I roasted a chicken the other night. It was Joel Robuchon’s method, it was good, and I intend to discuss it, but the pictures are god-awful, so I avoid. At any rate, I had one of the thighs for dinner, and the wings as snacks, so I had most of the chicken left. I already have some chicken pot pies in the freezer, and I am not eating pasta until Sunday (oh happy day) so chicken tetrazzini was out, so I decided on white bean and chicken chili. Of all the chilis in all the world, that is the one I am on occasion tempted to order, so I figured that would be a good place to start my chili cooking experiences. I perused the interwebs, and saw that there were many variations, but the basics were shredded chicken, white beans, cumin, and spice of some kind. With that knowledge, I decided to just go for it. My first attempt was not too shabby.

It started with some toasted chiles.

toasty

I have a lot of these little red dried chiles, and I think they came from an economy sized package that my dad picked up at the Asian supermarket. I toasted a handful, let them cool and then ground them up in my spice grinder. And then I did the same for cumin seeds. Then comes the real stuff.

onions, garlic, jalapeno...

I sautéed onions and garlic and a whole jalapeno in olive oil. I then added two teaspoons of the ground chiles, and one teaspoon of red pepper flakes that I crushed a little bit with the mortar and pestle.

bring the heat.

I stirred in a 1/4 cup flour and let it cook for a minute. I wanted to make sure the final product was more stew like than soup like. I liked the results. Next the beans. I boiled and soaked dried navy beans, drained them and added them in along with 6 cups of chicken stock.

getting there

Then I added the chicken. I am guessing it was three to four cups. I didn’t measure, and I am sorry about that. It filled the small bowl that is part of my measuring bowl set. It is larger than a cereal bowl. Like I said earlier, it was two chicken breasts, one whole leg, one drumstick, plus all the little bits you can pull off the bones of a carved chicken. If you wanted to do this without starting from a roasted chicken, I would bake two whole chicken legs and two breasts and go from there. That would probably be about right. You could also do four breasts and use all white meat. That would get you where you wanted to be too, I suspect. Any way, I shredded it with my hands and threw it in.

chicken-y

Then I brought it to a boil, let it cook for an hour or so, added 1 3/4 tsp of the ground cumin (I read in a couple of places that ground cumin doesn’t really hold up when cooked for a long time, so I played it safe and added it in with only about an hour left. I have no idea if that made one iota of difference, but it tasted good at the end) and let it cook some more. Molly was coming for dinner, so after it simmered for about two hours total, I turned the heat off and let it sit and thicken for a bit. I reheated it when she got here and it was a delight. This definitely had some heat. It was back of the mouth heat, but it wasn’t too spicy at all. I suspect if you really liked spicy you could add more, but it might unfavorably screw with the balance of flavors. I liked it this way. I served it with minced onion, sour cream, cotija cheese and avocado when we had it for dinner, and then next day, when I reheated it for lunch and a photo session, I was out of avocado, so I topped it with cotija, sour cream and pickled red onions, and it was tasty. These things almost always improve the second day.

I love those bowls, they remind me of my trip to Granada...

Cotija cheese is great. Really salty and crumbly and perfect for this, though cheddar or jack would be good too. If you have a large Latin population in your area look for cotija in the dairy section of your grocery store. It is delightful.

Chicken and White Bean Chili (serves at least 6)

1 lb dried white navy beans (cannellini would work too)

3 tbl olive oil

2 medium onions diced (about a 1/3 cup reserved for serving)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 good-sized jalapeno (including seeds), minced

2 tsp ground chiles (I have no idea how this compares to chili powder, so tread lightly if you are subbing.)

1 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon

1/4 cup flour

6 cups chicken stock

3-4 cups shredded chicken

1 3/4 tsp ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:

minced onion

avocado

grated cheese (I like cotija)

sour cream

pickled red onions

Cover beans with water and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes, turn off heat and cover. Let soak for two hours, then drain and set aside. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add onion and soften for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook another 2-3 minutes until pepper softens. Add ground chiles and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Add flour and stir to let flour cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Add drained beans and chicken stock. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add chicken, and let simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally, scraping the bottom to prevent burning. Add the ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for another hour or so. Serve right away, or better yet, turn off the heat and let the chili cool and thicken. Reheat and serve with garnishes.

delicious

I served the chili with skillet cornbread.

Cornbread with scallions

I got the recipe from Gourmet.com and modified it to include scallions because I wanted to. It is very easy. You stir together the dry ingredients, then whisk together buttermilk, eggs and the scallions, preheat a 10″ cast iron skillet in a hot oven, melt the butter in the skillet and then whisk it into the wet ingredients, combine them all, pour in the skillet and bake.

batter (that word doesn't look right...)

It was delicious, as cornbread is wont to be. Here is the recipe.

Skillet Corn Bread with Scallions (serves 8 ish)

Adapted from Gourmet.com

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)

1 tbl sugar

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups cups well-shaken buttermilk (do not use powdered)

1 bunch scallions trimmed and sliced thin (white and green parts)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Heat skillet in oven 10 minutes.Meanwhile stir together dry ingredients in small bowl. Whisk together eggs buttermilk and scallions in a medium bowl. Remove hot skillet from oven (handle will be very hot) and add butter, swirling skillet to coat bottom and side (butter may brown). Whisk hot butter into buttermilk mixture and return skillet to oven. Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture just until evenly moistened but still lumpy. Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Also, while I’m here, a quick note on pickled vegetables. I like to have pickled vegetables around because if you do something substantial like cauliflower (which I heartily recommend) they make a good snack, and things like radishes (my favorite) or onions are great garnishes. I had some radishes and I thought I would take some pictures of them

like this

and this

and then I thought I would pickle them. Since I was making the liquid anyway, I went looking for other things to pickle and was able to dig out some carrots and red onion, so I used those.

the colors are so Easter-y

The pickling liquid for this was three cups of water, 3/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1 1/2 cups sugar and a 1/4 cup plus a 1/2 tbl kosher salt. Dissolve the salt and the sugar, boil it, and pour it over your vegetables of choice. Double it if you have a lot to pickle. These keep forever.

And while I am still here, I thought I would share a predicament. I don’t have a microwave. Actually, I do have a microwave, but it is sitting, unplugged, on top of my refrigerator because I don’t have a good place to put it. I very rarely miss it. Except for today, because I have left over shrimp and grits in the fridge and I can’t think of a good way to reheat them that does not involve the microwave. Is it worth moving it? Only time will tell.