Recipe: winter-spiced chili

I’ve got a basic but nearly foolproof chili formula: a pound of ground meat, one onion, a few garlic cloves, two 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (or a big 28 oz. one), a couple cans of beans, and hefty palmfuls of chili powder and cumin. After that, it’s all about improv, trying something new, and working with what you’ve got. I’ve been somewhat bent on cooking with beer recently, mostly because I have a 12-pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager that I’m trying to exhaust before I leave for the break. Turns out the stuff goes pretty well in a winter-themed chili that features a heady spice combination of chili, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. I added some oregano for an herbaceous lift, and the beer provided some nice caramel and citrus notes. All in all, I’m quite pleased with this latest chili rendition — I hope some form of it graces your table soon.

Cure for the Monday morning blues (recipe: pumpkin bread)

Since my biological clock has not yet shifted over to daylight savings time, I woke up Monday at two minutes to seven. It was damp, dark, and dreary outside, which made me think twice about getting out of bed; but I put the extra hour to good use by making a pumpkin quickbread. Since I have David Lebovitz’s banana cake recipe ingrained in my noggin, I used that as my launching point. I swapped canned pumpkin for the banana puree and made a few other adjustments, simplifying the recipe to include just the ingredients I deemed essential.

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Click here for the recipe…

Recipe: beef and beer chili

I’ll keep this post nice and tidy.  This “chocolate stout chili” rocks.  I’ll call mine a “beef and beer chili” since I used a can of Guinness, but it was still one kick-ass chili. Other than omitting the bouillon and substituting the beer, I left the recipe intact and followed it exactly. *This is me giving myself a pat on the back because I stink at following recipes.*  Nine times out of ten, the urge to improvise prevails.  In the effort to restrain, I discovered that elusive one time and my goodness, was it worth it.

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Continue eating “beef and beer chili”

Recipe: tofu and noodle stir-fry

Last Sunday afternoon I resolved not to eat out for lunch or dinner during the work week as part of an effort to reawaken the ascetic in me. It’s now Wednesday night and I am batting 0.857 (6/7, which includes Sunday dinner). The only miss was Tuesday night, when I caved into an offer to dine at Pierrot: boudin blanc, smoked herring, duck with bourbon sauce, leg of rabbit, fine baguette specimens specially delivered from Montreal. I withheld from taking wine, which counts for something, right? Other than that delicious misstep, I’ve subsisted on a steady supply of self-prepped meals and leftovers. This stir-fry was good for three meals, a hummus-heavy salad lasted me two, and I made a cold-weather chili tonight, the leftovers of which will comprise one more hearty supper.  It’s possible lunch tomorrow will be carrots plus hummus, but the temporary dissatisfaction will be outweighed by the belief that I am doing myself some greater good.

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Tofu and noodle stir-fry
–makes 3 servings–

1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6 oz. tofu, sliced the same size as peppers and onions
7 oz. stir-fry noodles, prepared according to instructions (I used Thai Kitchen stir-fry rice noodles)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil

Sauté garlic, onions, and peppers in oil until onions are translucent and peppers are soft, 5-7 minutes on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and rice noodles, and season to taste with any combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, even a dash of ketchup (I won’t tell).

Dinner with leftovers: spinach and goat cheese frittata

You can’t really go wrong with frittatas. They can be eaten any time of the day, at any temperature, anywhere (tableside, at a picnic, grabbed on the go). They can be made in under 20 minutes, making them ideal for a quick but substantial snack or mid-week meal. They’re invaluable for emptying your fridge and making use of unloved, wilting, on the brink of being trashed vegetables. A kitchen sink kind of frittata is not hard to imagine and, with the right amount of seasoning, would be amply satisfying. Though they may be brethren, omelets and scrambled eggs are nowhere near as versatile.  Or pretty.

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Recipe after the jump!

Recipe: pasta with spring vegetables and goat cheese

As a relative newbie to the world of cheese, I’m still unpacking and learning to harness the versatility of fresh goat cheese.  I had a 10.5 oz log of it sitting in my fridge on Sunday night, and after two days, half of it is gone.  I’ve been spreading it on toast for breakfast–it functions as a superior alternative to cream cheese, tangier and less processed.  In a similar vein, it’s wonderful as a spread for sandwiches in place of mayonnaise (again, superior I think).  And of course, you can’t go wrong with crumbles of goat cheese on your salads.  I also recently learned that it does wonders for a humble pasta dish. Simply add a hunk to a steaming, just-cooked bowl of pasta and keep stirring to break it up, and it essentially morphs into this creamy-ish cream sauce that adheres just right. If you’re not a fan of heavy cream sauces but like the illusion of a cream sauce, this is my gift to you: throw some goat cheese into your pasta. Along with a light squeeze of lemon and lots of pepper, and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Recipe after the jump!

Recipe: three-cup chicken

Last Thursday I had dinner with my housemates again (see here for my previous introduction of the roommies). L and I decided to channel our Chinese-ness and make some Asian dishes, thereby inducting the others into the wonderful world of homemade Chinese food. He made fried rice and and some peppery spare ribs, and I tried my hand at three-cup chicken and bok choy. I am sad to say my camera died just as I excitedly began to snap photos of our food. As a result, I only managed to get a shot of the chicken.

Did this dish originate in mainland China or Taiwan? I’m not sure, and I saw references to both online. I handpicked this recipe from the trusty Appetite for China, who claims it is a Taiwanese dish.  Either way, it was delicious– and this recipe is spot-on. I added some corn starch to the stewing liquid at the end to make it more saucy, so we could lather it over the rice. I think I overdid it with the sauce, but my roommates gave the dish some serious love.  The basil is a crazy/beautiful addition (oh yes, I just referenced that crappy movie).  I am definitely copping this recipe and sticking it in my back pocket.

Recipe after the jump!

Meet the roommates (recipe: tortilla de patatas)

Since the new year, my housemates and I make it a point to eat together on a regular basis.  We shoot for dinner once a week, though it is a beast of a task coordinating the schedules of six young adults.  Seven days never seemed so cluttered, and sometimes it just can’t work out.  But bless time for being such that another week is always on the horizon.  Our persistence pays off and it is always, always worth the effort.  I’m not sure how it works with the six really random people coming together, but chemistry can be a funny thing.  It might make sense in a lab but less so when it roams the social world (chem majors, and I know you’re out there, feel free to correct me :)).  All I can say is that these guys have made me a believer in spontaneous order, and sometimes stuff doesn’t need an explanation.

Pictures and recipe after the jump!