Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chili for the Cold Weather

Ok, so today it is not so cold; actually it is quite hot with temps reaching the low 80's. So you are asking yourself, what the heck is he writing about Chili for? Well over the weekend we had our first rain. Oh how great it was! As soon as the temperature dropped our inclination was to get something warm on the stove. Angie mentioned chili and I thought it was a great idea. Simple and delicious, such comfort food! So I got started on my way.

At the risk of somebody stealing my recipe, and finding it on the local menu at some joint, which I will mention has been something similar to what has happened to me recently, I will indeed post this recipe. I would like to share this with those who will appreciate this at home!

This is a really great and simple recipe for a good chili! Sorry, I do not have any pics!

1 pack ground beef, good quality
2 onions diced
8 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 ½ - 2 cups shredded carrots
12 tomatoes, cut 1/2" dice
16 oz tomato puree, (I use an imported Italian brand that is fabulous! So something good quality!)
1 can kidney beans or 1/2 bag beans, soaked overnight
1 can white navy beans or 1/2 bag beans, soaked overnight
1 bottle dark beer
1 jalapeno

2 T fresh chopped thyme

all the following to taste (start small and add more as you go to taste)
sugar or honey, about 1/4 cup max
garlic salt
grandmas chili powder, gives color and flavor
hot paprika
onion powder

chicken stock
top with fresh cheddar and red onions

Saute onions, garlic, peppers, carrots in olive oil. Remove and set aside. Saute in same pan beef, seasoning along the way with the seasonings. Once cooked, drain all oil out of pan and out of beef. Add pan to high heat and add beer to deglaze pan. Add the beef and onion mix back to pan. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 2-3 hours over simmer, adjusting consistency with tomato puree or chicken stock. Serve with fresh cornbread topped with crème fraiche and chives!

So delicious and simple. It will thicken quite a bit if done correctly, the tomato puree I use is very high quality, so look for something with some flavor. This chili is a bit sweet, a bit spicy but very good! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Cookbooks

So it has been quite some time since I have found a really good cookbook that I have gotten excited about. Releasing this month is what appears to be lining up as something worth talking about, and definitely something to get excited over.

Below are a list of the cookbooks that I have already pre-ordered and cannot wait to receive. Finally some new material to inspire me!

1) Alinea Cookbook

Famed Chef Grant Aschatz releases his first ever cookbook and look inside the famed Alinea Restaurant of Chicago. Grant is known for his revolutionary approach to food and the manipulation of food and flavors. He pairs uncommon flavors in uncommon ways giving his diners new food memories along the way. An example of his style is the reversal of classic combinations, such as a piece of crunchy bacon and soft pineapple. Grant instead reverses the textural role each plays by pureeing pineapple, adding a modified food starch, drying it paper thin and wrapping it around a piece of softened bacon fat thickened to a marshmallow like texture with tapioca maltodextrin. He then pops the bite size pieces in a dehydrator to further enhance the crisp of the pineapple! This book is going to provide some excellent insight to textural manipulation for sure! Only the strong need purchase, as the recipes are definitely lengthy and the ingredients difficult to find. I special ordered a limited edition copy personally signed by the team of Chefs which will come with a special jacket not available in stores. It also came with full access to a discussion forum on technique and recipes months ago! Check it out if you dare.

2) Under Pressure

Finally after many years another Thomas Keller invention. Yes! Just when I think I have exhausted the possibilities of the French Laundry and Bouchon cookbooks I will set them aside for a month, come back to them and find something brilliant which I overlooked previously. I have been waiting for something new from Keller for many years and later this month it finally arrives. This book focuses on the cooking technique "sous vide", a French term literally translating to under pressure. It is a method by which food is vacuum sealed to remove oxygen, and cooked in a water bath at very low and extremely controlled temperatures for lenghty periods of time, up to 48 hours! Removal of oxygen and the slow cooking enables the products to retain their own juices and nutrients rather than leaking them out and losing them. The result in flavor is incredible! Particular proteins like meats benefit tremendously due to the low cooking temperatures which allows the protein strands to stay in tact rather than break and release their juicy goodness! Due out later this month!

3) Fat Duck

Heston Blumenthal owns a little place in London called "The Fat Duck". The little place also fights every year for the #1 restaurant in the world spot with the infamous El Bulli of Rosas Spain. This is the most pricey of the books costing a whopping $150+! Heston has almost solely transformed the culinary world into kitchen laboratories, looking more like science labs than kitchens. He brought cooking with liquid nitrogen to the table, instantly making ice cream table side; deep freezing eggs and bacon until a crispy texture appears, and more out of this world type gimmicks! His cookbook is rumored to be the same exact recipes as the restaurant uses, which translates to me as being almost impossible to duplicate in a home kitchen. I mean with the equipment the recipes will call for, it would be much cheaper to actually hop a plane and spend a week eating in his famed restaurant. But I am sure there will be some great ideas in there that I can put to excellent use, and cannot wait to receive it!

4) On The Line

Eric Repeirt is the famed Chef of Le Bernadain, 3 star Michelin rated New York Restaurant with a great history. This Fall he releases his cookbook "On The Line" and I am not sure what this will offer in terms of recipes. If I am correct in my assumptions, it will not fall short of excellent due to his reputation in the kitchen. He is known for being brilliant and creative, along with extremely meticulous with his preparations! There should be some worthy recipes for inspiration in this book, so pick it up! Definitely something to add to your Christmas list if nothing else! Its on mine! Hint Hint!

5) The Complete Robuchon

Need I say more? The title pretty much says it all. Joel Robuchon, Famed French Culinary God? Holder of more Michelin stars than any other Chef, all restaurants combined. Anyone heard of him? Well he owns many restaurants around the world, 12 to be exact, just google his name. Tokyo? Japan? Paris? Las Vegas? Where else? His avant garde approach is extremely modern to French classic preparations and this book should lend a hand in inspiring a modern way of thinking. This cookbook assures us some classical French dishes from the famed Chef that I believe will follow through. I hope I am correct because I am looking forward to receiving my copy soon! A steal at $25 apx online!

6) Dessert Four Play

Johnny Iuzzini is the Pastry Chef of Jean Georges in New York, oh yeah it also has 3 Michelin stars. Does anyone listen to those French "star givers"? I wonder, but it has to mean something, I mean there are only 4 in the entire city of New York with 3 stars. Perhaps the Chefs are buddies of the French... Either way, Johnny's creations in the pastry kitchen are well known world wide! He is cutting edge in his use of technique and flavor combinations.

If I may steal a quote from Harold McGee, “The first time I tasted Johnny’s creations, the profusion of delicious flavors in familiar and unfamiliar forms was like nothing I'd ever experienced in a dessert course. In this long-awaited book, Johnny shares the thinking, the cutting-edge techniques, and the flexible recipes that make his approach to the end of the meal so fresh and engaging.” —Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking

This book due out December 30th is a steal for the price and something you should run to grab, a good pastry book is hard to come by and something to cherish!

Well I hope you all enjoy the above if you choose to follow through! I will add, there are a long list of others hitting the shelves this Fall, so keep your eyes posted for anything that keeps your attention!