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Friday, January 27, 2012

Chili Sin Carne & Rustic Bread

I'm not going to lie: I'm not a football fan, or a watcher of sports in general. But there is something about championship games that reels me in just about every year, especially when New England's finest are on the field. It is in these moments that I get to feel like a true New England-ah, even if I get more excitement out of analyzing the debut of top-dollar commercials than the plays making (or breaking) a home-state win.

What better to go with the Game Day of Game Days than a bowl of hot and spicy chili? It's hearty texture and robust flavor can be relished by omnivores and herbivores alike with the following recipe. Though meatless, subtle accents from cocoa and beer add a depth of flavor that is hard to resist. Serve with a fresh loaf of dense and chewy bread (fret not; it's likely the most hands-off recipe you'll ever come by) and you've got yourself two healthy and delicious homemade creations to add to your Game Day spread.


Chili Sin Carne
Serves about 6-10 (depending on portion size)

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-3 tbsp hot peppers, finely chopped (I used jalapenos)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (reserve liquid)
  • 6-8 oz beer (I used a lager)
  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained
  • additional salt to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced for squeezing (optional)
Directions:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sweat onions, carrots, celery, peppers, and garlic until soft and glossy, or about 10 minutes. Add hot peppers, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, coriander, cocoa, sugar, and salt, stirring to incorporate. Add tomatoes; also add about 4 cups of liquid, including the tomato water, beer, and additional water if needed. Simmer gently, uncovered over low heat, for 45 minutes. Add beans; simmer gently for an additional 30 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Serve immediately with slices of lime or portion into pint containers. Keep in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for 2-3 months.


Rustic Bread
Makes 1 loaf (about 1 1/2 lb)
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used a 2:1 ratio of whole wheat and white AP)
  • 1/4 tsp active yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 5/8 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • extra flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran for dusting
Directions:
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and stir just until incorporated; it will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees F.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


Rebekah

Images by Rebekah Carter (2012). Chili recipe adapted from Whole Foods. Bread recipe from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery via the New York Times.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Garden Vegetable Soup

For sometime, it seemed like Old Man Winter wasn't going to pull his usual tricks this season in eastern Massachusetts. A glance out the window today proves otherwise. Warm up your body and soul with this simple and quick tomato-based soup loaded with nutritious vegetables. It's also a great way to include any summer favorites you put up, whether canned, dried, or frozen.

Garden Vegetable Soup
Makes about 9 pints

Ingredients:
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 2 tbsp minced garlic
• 2 scant cups carrots, chopped into rounds
• 2 scant cups diced potatoes (I used an unpeeled Russet)
• 2 cups green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 quarts (64 oz) chicken or vegetable stock
• 4 cups tomatoes, chopped or crushed
• 1 can tomato paste (no or low sodium)
• 2 scant cups corn kernels
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4+ tsp dijon mustard
• 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 1-2 tsp lemon juice
• salt and herbs to taste (I used dried tarragon and basil)

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, corn kernels, green beans*, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and herbs, if desired. Serve immediately or store in the fridge (about a week) or freezer (2-3 months) in pint or quart containers.

This soup can be as simple or complex as you would like. Consider additional or different veggies- whether fresh, frozen, or canned- and herbs for an individualized dish. Some particulars I had in mind were mushrooms, English peas, hearty greens like kale, collards, or even Swiss chard, reconstituted dry beans like cannellini or kidney, or winter squash.

*Unlike the original recipe, I recommend leaving out any tender green vegetables, like fresh green beans, peas, or chard, until the last five or so minutes of cooking for brighter colors and flavors.

This recipe is NOT intended for canning.


Rebekah

Image by Rebekah Carter (2012). Recipe adapted from Alton Brown's Good Eats.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Classic Marmalade


'Tis the season for quality citrus. Let the distinctive aroma and taste of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits in the form of homemade marmalade whisk you away from the cold, dark days of winter in New England to memories of warmer seasons and places. The following recipe, which utilizes the whole fruit (pith, membrane, and seeds are added for the natural pectin they yield when boiled), makes for a sweet and slightly bitter preserve to spread on bread and other baked goods, stir into plain yogurt, or brush on pork, poultry, or fish as a glaze.

Classic Marmalade
Makes about 7 half-pints

4.5 lbs of citrus fruit*, whole (I used only navel oranges)
6 cups sugar
4 cups zest poaching liquid
*Should yield roughly 2.5 cups zest and 4+ cups flesh

Instructions:

Wash/scrub all fruit. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove zest from fruit, leaving as much pith on the fruit as possible. Cut the zest into thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; longer zest "ribbons" may need to be cut in half as well. In a medium-sized pot, add zest ribbons to 6 cups of cold water; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, separate the fruit from the pith, seeds, and membrane (watch this 48-second tutorial to see how the pros do it) into two bowls. Bundle the pith, seeds, and membranes in cheesecloth, tying off tightly to ensure no pieces escape.

Drain the zest, reserving 4 cups of poaching liquid in a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron work well). Add poached zest, raw fruit, sugar, and the cheesecloth bundle to the pot and bring to a boil; cook vigorously until the marmalade reaches and sustains 220 degrees F for at least a minute (takes about 30-45 minutes). Remove the pot from heat and gently stir for a minute to help evenly distribute the zest throughout the marmalade.

Fill sterilized jars and process for five minutes in a boiling water bath canner for shelf-stability.


Rebekah

Image by Rebekah Carter (2012). Marmalade recipe adapted from Food in Jars.