Spicy Beef Chili

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Tomorrow marks the first day of fall, and while every cafe and restaurant has you convinced that pumpkin spice-flavored everything is the answer to all our problems, I’m leaning in a different direction. No disrespect to squash-flavored caffeine, but I’d rather go for a warm, comforting bowl of chili to herald the changing season.

This spicy beef chili is time consuming but oh so worth it. Bonus: the heated leftovers taste even better.

Spicy beef chili

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds chuck steak, cut into 1/2-inch dice
salt and pepper
1 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed and meat broken into small pieces
1 small white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, and sour cream, for serving

1. In a large pot, heat the oil. Season the chuck with salt and pepper. Add half of the chuck and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chuck. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage to the diced chuck.

2. Add the chopped onion to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, paprika, cumin and the chuck, sausage and any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the water. Cover and sim-mer over moderately low heat for 1 hour.

3. Stir in the beans and simmer uncovered until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt. Serve the chili in deep bowls, passing the cheese, scallions, and sour cream on the side.

Maple-Bourbon Smash

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Part Canadian, part American, I came up with this drink when I was visiting Calgary. It’s the perfect cocktail to warm up with and as fall approaches, it’s time to break out the maple syrup and return to this citrusy recipe.

Maple-bourbon smash

Ingredients:

1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 orange wheel
1/2 lemon wheel
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Ice
1 1/2 ounces seltzer

1. In a glass, combine the maple syrup with the orange juice and lemon juice. Add the orange wheel and lemon wheel and lightly muddle. Add the bourbon and stir. Fill the glass with ice and top with the seltzer.

Truffled Mashed Potatoes

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Truffle oil is so misunderstood. I know, I know, it’s not even made with real truffles. Fair enough, Internet, but it’s delicious and there’s no denying it. I drank the truffle oil Kool-Aid and I’m putting it in everything: pasta, popcorn, and my favorite: mashed potatoes.

With (American) Thanksgiving right around the corner, this mascarpone-flecked dish is one of my favorite holiday sides. Just be sure to go heavy on the truffle oil. And for a decadent treat, add a few shavings of the real thing on top.

Truffled mashed potatoes

Ingredients:

3 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
whole milk
3 teaspoons truffle oil

1. Cook potatoes in pot of boiling water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel potatoes. Return potatoes to same pot. Add butter and mascarpone cheese; mash until smooth. Mix in enough milk to thin to desired consistency. Mix in truffle oil and season with salt and pepper.

Veal Marsala

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One of these days I’d like to eat my way through Italy. That hasn’t happened yet, but thankfully there are tons of Italian classics I can recreate in my kitchen. Veal marsala is one of the most common, and I make this with variations all the time. Sometimes I use chicken, sometimes I use cremini mushrooms instead of button – you get the idea. You can eat this with mashed potatoes but I prefer to serve the veal over buttered egg noodles.

Veal marsala with mushrooms

3 tablespoons butter
1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 pound veal cutlets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup beef broth
10 ounces egg fettuccine, cooked al dente and tossed with one tablespoon butter

1. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and parsley and saute, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and wipe skillet clean.

2. Pat veal dry, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil with 1 teaspoon butter in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. While fat is heating, dredge 2 or 3 pieces of veal in flour, shaking off excess, then saute until just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter with tongs and keep warm, loosely covered. Saute remaining veal in 2 more batches using remaining oil and butter.

3. Add Marsala to skillet and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half. Stir in broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture and any veal juices accumulated on platter, then season with salt and pepper if necessary. Simmer 2 minutes more and spoon over veal.

Kumquat Digestif

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I’ll be honest. The reason why I made this digestif to begin with is because it looked so pretty. Bright orange kumquats floating in a pool of vodka – in a gorgeous decanter, no less. I adapted this recipe from Sunset magazine, but with a few tweaks. Less sugar, more kumquats, and I doubled the batch.

I haven’t used this as a digestif, either. Served on the rocks or with a bit of seltzer, it makes a great before-dinner drink. Play around with the recipe as you wish; I might make it with Meyer lemons the next time around.

Kumquat Digestif

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups vodka
20 kumquats, cut in half lengthwise
7 small branches fresh thyme

1. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar with 3/4 cup water, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Stir in vodka. Pour mixture into a decanter and add kumquats (halves first) and thyme. Chill at least 3 weeks. Serve ice-cold, in shot glasses, or in a tumbler over ice.