Monday, November 9, 2009

Because I'm a Moron

I haven't been writing much in the "blogosphere" (I really hate that word) lately because I signed up to write a 50,o00 word "novel" (and I use the word loosely, very very loosely) in one month with NaNoWriMo. So far, it's week 2 and I have 7,000 words. Not enough, obviously. I should have at least 12,000 if I ever hope to finish. The good news is that I work well under pressure. The good news for my family is that because I have been fairly preoccupied I've been hammering out tried and true recipes - things I don't even have to think about to make for dinner. The good news for YOU, dear readers, is that one of those recipes is turkey chili which I made a couple weeks ago to feed some Halloween revelers, and which I made recently for my sister and her kids, all of whom are suffering from the dreaded H1N1. (is it just me, or does H1N1 remind anyone else of the word heinie?- is that how you even spell heinie? Smith thinks its hynie -- my spell check has no idea - ok, clearly I am sleep deprived. This is what attempting to write a novel in 30 days does to you. Ok. Moving on.)

So, turkey chili. Very easy, very delicious, and my favorite kind of recipe because you just dump into it all sorts of things you have hanging about your refrigerator. I made it two slightly different ways: in one I used a link of turkey kielbasa and in the other, because Whole Foods was out of turkey kielbasa, I used this Tuscan sausage they made. I liked the kielbasa better.

Serves 4-6 - (easily doubled)

3 TLBSP of olive oil
1 onion diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 carrot diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic either pressed or sliced (you decide!)
1 -2 TLBSP of taco seasoning (either buy a packet or make your own - click here for my recipe)
1/4 lb of ground dark meat or thigh meat turkey (* see note below)
1/4 lb of ground white meat or breast turkey
1 or 2 links of turkey kielbasa or any other type of turkey sausage you think would work (some sliced chrorizo would be awesome - though too spicy for my kids)
1 can of beans drained and rinsed - I like black beans, pinto, or white beans
1 14ounce can of whole tomatoes
1TLBSP of tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste throughout
Cilantro or parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)
jalapenos (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Heat a dutch oven over medium high flame and swirl in 2 TLBS of olive oil then add onions. Cook onions until almost translucent, add celery and carrots and let cook for a bit - until they soften some (10 min or so) stirring so they don't burn or stick. Sprinkle some of the taco seasoning over everything and cook another minute or so.

Take everything out of dutch oven and reserve, swirl in your last TLBSP of oil then when oil is hot, add all the ground turkey and cook over medium heat. While this is cooking you can either saute the whole sausage in another pan with a little water and oil then slice it when it's browned and add to chili after you add the beans, OR, remove sausage casing and add it to the ground meat RIGHT NOW. Either ways is yummy.

When the turkey is almost cooked (don't cook it completely through or it will be tough later) add the beans, tomatoes with the juices, the tomato paste and the rest of the taco seasoning. Put the vegetables back in the pot. Give it a taste and see if it needs salt and pepper - add to taste. If you sauteed the sausage, add it now.

Let all this simmer down until you like the way it looks. If you want a thicker chili add another can of beans and adjust the seasoning.

* You can also use leftover turkey (THANKSGIVING ALERT!) - just chunk it up and toss it in after the vegetables have cooked a bit - you don't have to remove the vegetables. Add the tomatoes right away. I've also thrown in some baby spinach, or a frozen pack of peas, or some chopped kale or swiss chard which you can saute with the vegetables.

To serve, put it in a bowl with a little sour cream, jalapenos and chopped cilantro sprinkled on top. Or, if you prefer to tell your kids it's a taco, warm some taco shells and plonk the chili in - the kids will eat it up.

This is easy and filling and something even a moron like me who agrees to write a novel in one month (ONE MONTH!) can pull off . I've been a little shouty in the this post, I can't help it, I'm SLEEP DEPRIVED.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Melissa - This One's For You!

We had an excellent Halloween this year. Which is especially wonderful because Halloween for us almost always goes sour: trick or treating plans don't work out, or the "you need a coat/I don't need a coat" fight goes nuclear, or the costume (despite a certain amount of parental nagging) isn't what it was imagined it would be. There are ALWAYS tears. But not this year - this year I took it all in hand and invited the parents and kids my kids had plans with. We had wings (which I made, but which didn't have nearly enough kick, so I'll save that recipe for later) and cheesy bread Mark and Barry brought, and a very yummy guacamole/salsa thing from Laura. She even went the extra step of creating a spider's web out of her dip. It was very cute, and I wish I'd taken a picture. So we ate, and drank red wine or Guinness (the kids had apple cider mixed with ginger ale) and we hung out so long it began to rain before we got out the door, so I had to race back for umbrellas and coats, and then everyone was back inside of an hour, but no one cared, and in fact parents were happy because that meant less candy, and the kids sat on the floor and traded for their favorites, and the grown ups had more red wine or Guinness and talked about Scientology and how creepy Tom Cruise is and Melissa said, I loved your Cauliflower soup recipe, but I kept looking for the actual recipe and it wasn't there. And indeed it wasn't, because I got a little lazy that day, and never actually wrote out the recipe, so here it is, because Melissa got one of those nifty hand blenders and she's itching to use it and this is the perfect recipe with which to try out a new hand blender.

Potato, Leek and Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into pieces that are about the same size
Olive oil
Sea salt
1 leek, or one small onion, or some scallions or a couple of shallots, chopped
3 potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces
2 fresh sage leaves
Leaves from 3 thyme stalks
3 to 4 cups of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste (I use sea salt, always)
1 lemon, cut in half

Set your oven to 450 degrees. Toss your cauliflower with a spin of olive oil and sever good sized pinches of sea salt, then layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast until golden bu still crispy, about 10 - 15 min. (You'll have to eyeball this because I don't remember how long I cooked this - 15 min sounds right)

Meanwhile, heat up a large dutch oven or stock pot on your range and then swirl in some more olive oil, (about 1 tblsp of olive oil and half a tblsp of unsalted butter) Toss in the leeks and the sage and cook until soft. Season with a small pinch of salt and a good amount of pepper (if your family likes pepper). Add the potatoes and thyme and cook for a minute or two. Add your chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender - about 10 minutes. By this time your cauliflower should be done, so toss that into the stock pot, and squeeze 1/2 of a lemon into the soup. If you plan to puree this soup, take it off the heat and let it rest a bit. Obviously letting it cool makes it safer to puree, but I always let soup rest because Lydia Bastianich (See Lydia's Italian-American Table) says to let soup rest and I always do as Lydia asks.

Once you're pureed your soup, taste it and adjust seasonings. You may need more salt, or more pepper or another squeeze of lemon juice.

This is very yummy soup - feel free to leave it unblended, or to roast broccoli instead of the cauliflower, or to toss in some already roasted chicken, or a nice sliced pre-cooked turkey kielbasa.