Ch ch ch ch ch ch CHILI
I love chili. It's incredibly diverse, you can add just about any meat, bean or vegetable, make it spicy (or not...but where's the fun in that?), and it has lots of health benefits.
why I eat chili and why YOU should too!
Texas was the first to 'discover' and take credit for chili, but undeniably it has Mexican roots. You may know this traditionally as chili con carne, which includes beef, pork, chiles, garlic, onion, oregano and cumin. New Mexican chile verde also leaves out the beans. Thick, juicy chunks of pork shoulder is the backbone of this chili with a tart tomatillo sauce. However, you will find that many chili's do incorporate beans and often many varieties of beans like pinto, black, garbanzo, and kidney.
In the 1880's, San Antonio was the first to have chili stands where women, a.k.a 'chili queens', sold bowls o'red for a mere 10 cents, including bread and water as accompaniments. The dish was a hit and eventually made it's way north to Chicago at the World Fair in 1893. Some would even say this dish was responsible for keeping many alive during the Great Depression due to the low cost and free crackers. The times have certainly changed since then, but it still remains true to be a low cost dish for many.
No longer are chili joints and competitions found only in Texas. In fact, we have many competitions fast approaching right here in Minnesota where you can either taste or participate or both.
Chili Cook-off's in 2018 around the state
January 17th: Crosslake Chamber Chili Cook-off, Baxter, MN
January 27th: Owatonna's Chili Cook-off, Owatonna, MN
February 9th & 10th: Chilly Open, Wayzata, MN
February 22nd is National Chili Day
And if you're the adventurous type, check out this website from the World Championship Chili Cook-off to find competitions nationally.
three sister's chili
Throughout the year, I eat and prepare chili. It changes seasonally at my home and varies drastically based on what's in my pantry/fridge. This week, I thought I would continue on the cinnamon trend I started (from the monthly newsletter) and pull ingredients that were around and available. I always have beans on hand, and that with the combination of corn and squash make this the 'three sister's' chili.
-Three sisters, culinarily speaking, are the three main agricultural crops of many Native Americans in North American. They include winter squash, corn, and beans, and are all grown together as companions. Each crop is planted close so that each may benefit from one another.
corn is for structure
beans are for nitrogen fixing
squash is for weed prevention
ok, ok, here's the recipe
Prepares 24 cups
2 lbs butternut squash, cubed
7 cloves garlic, roasted and pureed*
3 tablespoons oil
3 - 32oz jars (96oz total) tomatoes, diced and pureed
3 hot pickled Hungarian peppers, pureed*
2 medium onions, diced
1 lb carrots, sliced into rounds (~9 medium)
5 cups cooked black beans
2 cups corn
1 1/2 tablespoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon pepper, more to taste
2 tablespoons coriander, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cumin
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro to garnish, chopped
*option to puree or chop
1. In a 425F oven, roast butternut with 2 tablespoons oil and cook for 30 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil and sauté onion and carrot. After ~6-8 minutes when carrot begins to soften, add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
3. Add butternut and simmer on stove until it's reached your desired consistency. The longer you let it simmer, the more flavor will develop. Let it stew and grow if you want something magical in your mouth without regret. Garnish with Greek yogurt and cilantro.
Having extra chili on hand is never a bad thing. You can always freeze it and enjoy it weeks or months later when you're lazy. Or give to your guests: they'll love you forever.
It was a dal kinda day
After eating the truly spicy and delicious curry at White Horse, a downtown St. Cloud restaurant, I felt the overwhelming urge to make Indian food on my own. Plus, as Minnesota descends into the winter months, there's a biting chill in the air that can really only be remedied by hot, savory, spicy food.
Indian seemed like a swell idea.
When I think of Indian food, I think of chutney, sambar, curry and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin. I think of rice, lentils, coconut, mustard seed, biryani, lamb, samosas, roti and other flatbreads.
Oh, yes, & perhaps my very favorite, dal.
Many foods come to mind when I think of Indian cuisine; it's an enormous country with a broad range of diverse soils, climates, and cultures. It makes sense that sooo many flavors, dishes, and cooking methods have come to represent this ever-changing, always-dynamic subcontinent.
Dal (also spelled daal, dail, dhal)
It's one of those foods with two meanings:
1. dried, split pulses (i.e. lentils, peas, and beans)
2. soups prepared from these pulses
But no matter what, pulses are the star. You can assume that when you read/hear the work dal that pulses are the key ingredient, though may not necessarily be in soup form.
Traditionally, dals are eaten with rice or flatbread like chapati, roti, or naan. They're high in fiber (from the lentils, beans, peas), and are a fantastic and affordable source of healthy plant-based protein, as well as being high in B vitamins, thiamine and folic acid, and minerals, iron and zinc.
In this particular recipe, I chose to substitute acorn squash for rice (starch for starch) and use cauliflower as the star vegetable. The cauliflower florets make a lovely addition to this dish with a slightly crisp texture from the oven that balances the sweetness from the squash. Since I didn't use rice, but rather squash, I was able to avoid adding coconut milk to ensure a natural sweet flavor without the added fat.
1 cup split yellow lentils
2 tablespoons mustard oil (or vegetable oil)
3 chilis, kept whole
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp mustard seed
1 yellow onion, small dice
3 cups squash, raw, cut into 1” cubes (I chose acorn)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
3 cups water or broth
½ cup raw, unsweetened coconut
4 cups cauliflower
1 tsp turmeric
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup yogurt
8 sprigs cilantro
Currently, I am in a place of transition, and am moving to Duluth, MN, leaving Chicago. A couple weeks ago, my father drove down from Sauk Rapids along with my mum and uncle. The move went great, but it left me kitchenless and reliant on friends. Truly I am thankful for their friendship and hospitality (Chris, Amy, Lynsey and Brian). As one last girls night with some of my closest Chicagoan friends, I asked to share one last meal. With the gloomy weather and chill in the air, I decided to express myself through a Brazilian fish stew (Moqueca Capixaba).
Six years ago, I moved to Chicago from a 3-month journey, primarily exploring Brazil. One of the worst snow storms hit the city as I arrived to the states, leaving me stranded. I knew I needed a new scene where I could grow professionally in both passions, food and nutrition, so I decided to stay. Soon I found a cheap apartment in Uptown, northern Chicago, and made it home. To bring this story full circle, I found it fitting to prepare a dish from my travels, which brought me to Chicago.
Moqueca Capixaba is a traditional fish stew from Bahia, Brazil with fish (cod, sea bass, shrimp), tomatoes, lime, peppers and coconut. Traditionally, it is cooked in a claypot, but was originally made in banana leaves many years ago. Slowly the stew evolved as the Spanish and Portuguese colonized Bahia, who later introduced the garlic, onions and cilantro.
Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca Capixaba)
1.5 lbs fish (cod, sea bass, shrimp) - cleaned and cut into 1" cubes if using filets
32 oz. tomatoes crushed or 5 fresh tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
32 oz. coconut water
1 large onion, cut into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil is fine)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 fresno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 limes, 1 juiced & 1 cut into wedges for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cilantro, fresh for garnish
2 green onions sliced for garnish
Serve with cooked rice
I chose to cook my rice in coconut water with diced yellow onion. When the rice was cooked, I mixed in cilantro before serving.
1. In a large, heated pot, sautéed your onion in coconut oil. Once translucent, add garlic, bell and hot peppers, and spices.
2. Add the coconut water, tomatoes, tomato paste, and juice of one lime to the pot. Mix well and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
3. Adjust the heat to a simmer and add the fish. Larger cuts of fish will take longer (cod, sea bass) and will need 20-30 minutes while smaller crustaceans (shrimp) only require 5-8 minutes depending on size.
4. Assemble the garnish plate and cook rice (optional) on the side.
Note: you may substitute the coconut water with coconut milk for a richer flavor, add different hot peppers or adjust the consistency. If you prefer a thinner stew, add less liquid/coconut water and if you prefer a thicker stew, adjust and add more.
Recipes are guidelines, and you're the cook! Make it your own and adjust as you desire
Still hungry? Check out carrot, parsnip cake to serve for dessert.