There has been an enormous amount of domesticity happening over here. There art projects in production, pumpkin carving tools being purchased and holiday party planning has commenced. This time of year, it just can’t be helped. It’s all part of the ritual of the season and for me that ritual comes with lots of comfort food.
Nigel left for work today just as the crock pot and I were getting down with some chicken chili. It took all of about 10 minutes to prepare which left me with a free afternoon. I was contemplating a run when I caught a glimpse of Chef BF’s cookbook collection. I pass these books, propped in various spots around the house, every day but I’ve never spent any quality time perusing them. Perhaps I was looking for a way out of a run but today I decided to hunker down with the best of them.
I now know exactly which shelf to hit when I’m ready to make a black truffle tagliatelle but I’m particularly looking forward to a pot of Potato Leek Soup (a la Bouchon) and the Slow Roasted Pork Belly with fennel and rosemary (from Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient). As for the Modernist Cuisine series, the photography is spectacular but this approach to the kitchen isn’t really speed. These books were written by a team of scientists set out to reinvent the art of cooking through science and technology. It’s molecular gastronomy on crack. I think I’ll leave the gel beads and hydrocolloids to the resident chef.
What is my speed? A less mulecular crock of comfort. There is nothing overly clever about this recipe. It’s just a good, ole, cumin-spiced, black bean, corn and jalapeno popping chili.
You can make this one on the stove-top if you’d like but I strongly suggest that you take advantage of your crock pot. This chili crocks and cranks the smell of home/fall/family into every corner of the house for hours.
1 red onion, chopped
2 finely chopped jalapenos (seeds removed from one of them)
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups corn kernels
1 red pepper finely chopped
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (check the spice level- I used mild)
1 packet taco seasoning (I make my own taco seasoning, see recipe below)
1 tbsp chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
¾ C chopped green onions
¼ cup minced basil leave
Combine beans, onion, peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning. Place chicken on top and cover with a thin layer of the sauce and beans.
Cook on high for 6 hours. About a half an hour before serving, remove chicken and shred in a separate bowl. Return shredded chicken into the slow cooker and stir in to combine with beans etc. Cover and place slow cooker on “warm” setting for 30 minutes.
Add chopped green onions as garnish.
HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING
(this recipe makes the equivalent of one, store-bought, seasoning packet)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.
[photo credit: Erin Kunkel Photography]
Apples may be able to keep the doc on the sidelines but this time of year it’s pretty tough to keep me away. I lamented my affection for autumn and New England apple farms in my last post. While they are few and far between in California Nigel and I set out to find ourselves a Bay Area orchard.
At the suggestion of a friend we made our way to Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. What started with an epic downpour quickly turned into a gorgeous, October day. Not only did we find a perfect apple farm (slash B&B, slash cooking school, run by the original owners of The French Laundry slash Nigel’s former employer) we made a couple of fun stops en route and discovered a very special corner of wine country.
We only had a day in Anderson Valley but are planning a trip back for a weekend at the orchard’s inn.
It sounds like heaven, really. A hike in the redwoods, more time with that library
a cooking class and some local wines.
Suddenly, I’m not missing those New England weekends at all.