Thursday, February 25, 2010


When I was younger, I didn't like chili.  I liked the ingredients that went into chili, but put 'em together, I wasn't a fan.  I don't remember the first time I tried it again as an adult, all I know is that I like it now.  Usually when I make chili I just throw things together, which means no two batches will taste the same.  I've had good luck in that none have been bad, but sometimes you want to get back to a standard version.  The last time I made chili, I actually wrote down ingredients and measured things out.  As it turned out, this was our favorite one yet! 

I love to add corn and black beans to chili.  Kevin and I really enjoy the slightly sweet pop that corn brings to the dish.  I don't know if celery and carrots are traditional ingredients in chili, but I've started adding mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots) to just about any soup, stew, black beans (for beans and rice), etc. because the combo adds a nice flavor.  Plus, it's hard to resist the smell of mirepoix cooking on the stove, it's so intoxicating.

Original Recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings

1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken or sausage)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Salt & Pepper
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 can/bottle of beer OR 1 14.5 oz can low sodium beef or chicken broth
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped*
1 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes w/ chilies, drained
4 oz can of chilies (optional if you want more heat)

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15.25 oz no salt added corn, drained OR 1.5 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 red pepper, chopped

In a stock pot or dutch oven, cook and drain the ground meat, set meat aside.  In the same pot, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, carrots, celery.  Once they soften a bit, add the garlic until it becomes fragrant, then clear a space and add the tomato paste.  Let the tomato paste cook a bit until it darkens in color (at least one minute to bring out the flavor).  Stir in the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and cilantro.  Add the beer or broth, the chopped, whole tomatoes with juice, the Rotel, (chilies if using) and the cooked meat into the pot.  Mix everything together and gently simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until the liquid has reduced.  The simmering time will vary depending on the consistency you like.  Stir in the beans, corn and red pepper and cook for 10 minutes to warm everything through.  Taste and season accordingly.

*Chopping whole canned tomatoes:  With your kitchen shears, cut the whole tomatoes while they are still in the can.  It's a whole lot faster and cleaner than taking them out and chopping them on a cutting board.  An alternative is to pour the contents of the can into the chili pot and smash the tomatoes apart with a potato masher, but beware of the squirting tomatoes.  Or you could always crush them with your hands.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chance to Win $2000 in Gift Cards

I was lucky enough to win a pair of tickets to the 2009 Food and Wine Celebration (a benefit for Veggie U at the Culinary Vegetable Institute).  You can read about my experience here and here.  I saw how incredible the facilities are and learned about some of the programs while I was there.  A local foodie is asking for our help to save the Veggie U program in schools in the Cleveland area.  Not only will your donation go to an excellent cause, but you'll be entered for a chance to win almost $2000 worth of gift cards for every $5 you donate.  See below for all the details.  To be entered into the drawing, you only have until February 13 to donate.  Please call (419) 499-7500 (don't forget to mention Cleveland Foodie to be entered into the drawing) to donate, and thank you in advance for your help.

The following text is taken directly from Michelle's post at Cleveland Foodie:

After writing this blog for nearly four years, I think I can safely make some assumptions about you, my readers. Assumption one: you like food. Two: you like food prepared by one of our many talented chefs. Three: You’re pro Cleveland and will always support local when able. Four: You care about this community and supporting others when in need. Five: You have $5.
(and I’m willing to bet you’d happily exchange that $5 for free dinner out the rest of the year.)

After meeting Farmer Lee Jones, I learned about the Veggie U initiative, a national program that promotes the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease, and attaining an understanding of sustainable agriculture. The program is embraced and loved by teachers and students alike. Locally, 150 schools in the Cleveland Metro School District have been using the 4th grade Veggie U science program. Unfortunately, they don’t have any funding to continue as $200 per classroom is needed to fund the kits.

On the way home from that initial meeting and fabulous dinner, we had an idea to try to help these students and teachers. Would you be willing to donate a minimum of $5 to help this cause? That’s your morning Starbucks. If we all help and spread the word, we have an opportunity to make a difference here. And if you’ve watched the news lately, you know Cleveland students can use a little bit of good news.

If you donate $5 to Veggie U, you will automatically be entered to win more than $1,900 worth of gift cards to all your favorite eateries and shops. Want to increase your odds? Donate $10, $25, $50 or more (I promise you won’t miss $25). For every $5 you donate, you will earn another entry into the drawing. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You have until February 13 to donate and be entered. It’s easy – just call 419.499.7500; you must reference Cleveland Foodie (a winner will be picked using 
As soon as we worked out all the details with Veggie U, I reached out to the chefs and owners to share the idea and ask for support. Almost immediately I started to hear back. The backing of our food community and willingness to work together to help all sorts of causes beyond this is inspiring, admirable and personally greatly appreciated by myself. Thank you to everyone for your generosity and willingness to pitch in.

One incredibly lucky diner will spend the year eating and drinking their way throughout Cleveland: 
Western Reserve Wine / $50 gift card
Tartine / $50 gift card
Momocho / $50 gift card (Eric Williams also generously donated an additional $200 to fund one classroom)
Lola / $50 gift card
The Greenhouse Tavern / $50 gift card
Heinen’s / $100 gift card
Blue Canyon / $50 gift card
The Flying Fig / $100 gift card
Fire / $50 gift card
Erie Island Coffee / $50 gift card
Fahrenheit / $50 gift card
Miles Farmers Market / $50 gift card
Jekyll’s Kitchen / $50 gift card
Moxie / $200 gift card!!
Touch Supper Club / $50 gift card
Parallax / $50 gift card
L’Albatros / $50 gift card
Chinato / $50 gift card
Crop Bistro / $50 gift card
North End / $50 gift card
Hyde Park / $50 gift card
AMP 150 / $100 gift card
Muse (The Ritz-Carlton) / Farmer’s Market dinner for two
The Chocolate Bar / $50 gift card
Michaelangelo’s / $50 gift card
John Q’s Steakhouse / $50 gift card
Melange / $50 gift card
Bistro on Lincoln Park / $50 gift card 

And to top it all off, the winner will receive one ticket to their choice of upcoming dinners at The Culinary Vegetable Institute (you’re in for a real treat here) and The Chefs Garden will send you one of their e-commerce family boxes.

To kick it off, Jamie and I will donate $100 (we will not be counted for the drawing). Would you also consider making a pledge? I know times are tough for many, and if you can’t, it’s completely understandable. But if you’re able to give something back and if you’re a follower of this blog I can only assume it’s a greater cause that matters to you, please call. Let’s follow the lead of our chefs and local owners and show what the Cleveland food community can accomplish when we work together.
Thank You.

Update: Just learned that The Culinary Vegetable Institute will give a copy of the 2009 official cookbook of the Food & Wine Celebration to the first 40 people that donate $50 or more.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New York Times No Knead Bread

Last January the New York Times published a No Knead Bread recipe that everyone went crazy over.  Strike that!  Now that I'm checking the link, it was published way back in November 2006.  My time line is way off, I could have sworn it was just last year when people were talking about it all over the internet.  Wow.  Anyway, I didn't make the recipe when I first heard about it because I didn't have a dutch oven or any other covered cooking vessel that was large enough.  When I received a dutch oven for Christmas I didn't waste any time making this bread and have made it multiple times since.

I don't have much experience with yeast other than in the bread machine and pizza dough.  I can see why people are so enamored with this recipe because it's ridiculously easy and delicious, you just have to wait for the dough to develop.  It's taste like artisan bread you would get from a good bakery.  After it's cooled completely, and you finally cut into it, and have a taste, you'll find the crust to be crispy and the inside chewy.  It's absolutely addicting.

Couple of things to note: 
  1. When you're transferring the dough out of the bowl, notice the beautiful dough web.  It looks like it's straight out of an episode of Baking with Julia
  2. When you get to the step when you're putting the dough on a floured towel, flour it VERY liberally.  When I first made it, the dough "ate" through the flour and made the towel damp, creating a sticky mess.  I tried scraping off as much dough as I could, but I still had to send the towel through the wash twice.
  3. This bread "sings" after you take it out of the oven.  It crackles noisily as it cools down.
  4. This recipe is endlessly adaptable.  I look forward to experimenting with different flours and flavor combinations like roasted garlic and herb or cinnamon and raisin.

These are the bubbles you'll see after you've waited patiently and the dough is ready.

Look at this lacy goodness!

Seriously, this is bread making for dummies, you really can't mess it up because the hands on work is so minimal.

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery via Mark Bittman at New York Times
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. 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.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.