Saturday, September 15, 2007

Three Bean and Beef Chili

I adapted this recipe from Ellie Krieger, a nutritionist who has a healthy cooking show on the Food Network.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 stalks of celery, diced (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
1 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
Salt to taste
1 (15.5-ounce) can white or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato sauce, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and cilantro and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serves about 8. We served this with diced avocado and leftover raita. it definitely needs some kind of cooling crema up against the spicy chile.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Apple Compote

We eat this for breakfast constantly, usually on top of Irish oatmeal. Cold compote transforms hot cereal into something extraordinary.

4 apples, peeled, cored, chopped into large dice
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc)
1/2 cup apple juice or cider, or cranberry juice. Fuji apple juice tastes best.
Liberal amount of ground cinammon (a pinch of allspice, cloves or nutmeg would also be great)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey, to taste -- about 1/3 cup
1 teaspoon or so of butter

Saute all ingredients except for the butter together in a large saute pan. Even though the apples are technically stewing in the juice, keep them moving and rotating constantly, until they soften, but well before they reach the stage of losing their integrity. Adjust for seasoning. Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Let cool. Makes a little less than 1 quart.

Cucumber Fennel Raita

I called my friend Leslie Satin for a consult before setting out to make up a raita recipe. She makes a wonderful coconut banana raita, so I knew she'd have good advice about how to proceed. This came out terrific -- cool and refreshing against the spice-rubbed fish.

1 cup Greek yogurt, stirred
1/2 of a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into tiny dice
1/4 cup fennel, chopped into tiny dice
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
kosher salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serves two as an accompaniment.

Fruit Crisp

The picture doesn't do this fruit crisp justice in any way. Bill's doctor recently told him that his cholesterol had to come down, so we've been overhauling our cooking and eating habits. Hard to believe this delicious homey comfort food is so packed full of nutritional goodness. It tastes like pie.

Mixture One:
2 cups fruit (we used thawed frozen peaches the first time, because that's what we had on hand, but its totally flexible. Fresh apples worked even better the following week.)
1/2 cup dried fruit -- cranberries, raisins, etc
1/4 cup juice
dash of vanilla extract
pinch of cornstarch
1/8 cup sugar

Mixture Two:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/8 cup vegetable oil (or a little more)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground flax seed (or chopped nuts would do as well)
pinch or two of flour
liberal amount of ground cinammon

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly oil a small baking dish. Combine all ingredients in Mixture One and spread evenly in the pan. Combine all of the ingredients in mixture two. It should be moist and crumbly. Spread the crisp topping over the fruit in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling up from underneath. This was better after it had had time to sit and cool off. The topping became pleasantly chewy.
Serves three. This would be terrific with ice cream, of course.