Many Foods

Many Foods

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chili Adventures Part 2

          This week, in our search for the chili recipe that we can call our own we experimented by adding a couple of new flavors.  Rumor had it, that one could greatly enhance the flavor and complexity of a chili dish by adding a rich bitter flavor; common things to add include cocoa powder, dark black coffee, and very dark beer.  I didn't want to have too many things going on at once, so I opted for the addition of the cocoa powder and the coffee. 
          For the two pounds of beef, I added 1 cup black coffee (specifically a dark rich roast), and one tablespoon of cocoa powder.  Initially this change was very subtle to taste, but as I ate more of the chili, and my palate adapted to the spice and general flavors of the dish, the coffee undertone started to become much more noticeable.  While the cocoa may have also added to the richness in the chili overall, the flavor was not discernible at any point in time.  Next time I will double the cocoa powder to see the effect.  Maybe it'll enhance the flavors even more, maybe it'll be too much and become overwhelming to the dish. 
          It should be noted that the addition of these two new ingredients, did leave the chili with more of a brownish hue than it had previously.  The extra liquid from the coffee would have also caused the chili to be thinner than it had before, so to counter the effect I let some of the liquid cook off a little more and also added some extra tomato paste.  I am proud of this and am happy to have made great headway on the path of finding the chili to call our own.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Banana Bread

Last night, Allie and I were invited to a nice a shindig at a friend's house.  We were requested to bring a dessert, as well as make more of the cider from the Halloween party we had a week or so ago.  Of course the cider was a hit, just as it was last time, but the new winning recipe was the dessert we brought, some good ole' home made banana bread.

Everyone really enjoyed the banana bread, it was moist, fresh, and had really good flavor.  I started with a fairly standard banana bread recipe, and then added some of my own modifications.  I threw in aome cinnamon, a little nutmeg, and little allspice.  The thing is, I couldn't taste any of those spices in it.  The question I now I have is this: Were the spices even necessary or were they adding to the overall flavor just subtly.  Should I take the spices out, leave them in, or add even more?  Clearly some experimenting needs to be done.  The best part of the night however was when Lisa asked me what was in the banana bread:

Lisa: "So what's in the banana bread?"
Me: "cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice"
Lisa: "There's deodorant?"
Me: "No, that's Old Spice, not all spice."
And then we all laughed for a while.  It was a fun time, and I can't wait to tinker with this recipe some more.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweet and Heat Chili

As part of our adventures in the kitchen, it seems only proper that every man (and woman for that matter) should have their own signature chili.  I have tasted numerous different people's chili recipes, and they truly are unique to the individual.  So I started my quest to design my own chili. It's still a work in progress but last night saw a lot of success.  The chili is fairly traditional containing mostly meat with some veggies and beans.

I mixed some Worcestershire and Chipotle Tabasco into the meat before browning and then during I left it with some decent sized pieces.  I know there is a lot of debate on whether or not to use beans in chili, but I like beans, so I used kidney beans.  For the veggies, I sauteed them in a separate pan first and then added it to the browned meat.  I used onions and green peppers left in slightly larger strips (just a little smaller than you would have for fajitas) and a couple Serrano peppers.  To bring it all together, some crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste to thicken it up a little.  Like in most of my savory cooking, I had to add a good helping of GARLIC!!!!!   It was seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, a little cayenne, and lots of chili powder. To finish it off I also added about 1/4 c. of Splenda.  If you're not into substituting, you can always go with the real stuff instead of Splenda.

The above result looked great and tasted amazing.  It was a great balance between sweet and heat and the meat came out very savory.  I would be content to have this be my signature chili but before I do, there are a couple of flavors I would like to test out.  A little nutmeg?  Bitter cocoa even?  Only time, and lot more cooking will tell.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I've been modifying this black bean soup recipe I found for the last year now. It's a really tasty and hearty vegetarian dish, and trust me, that's something from a meat lover like me. The thing that really makes this soup win for me, is that while half of the beans in this recipe are left whole, the other half are puréed with some crushed tomatoes, and then added into the rest of the soup as a thickener. Having some corn really adds a nice sweet crunch as well. There are lots of vegetables, garlic, and it's seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and just a dash of balsamic vinegar to open up the tastes.

If you like kick like me , throw in a Serrano pepper or two, or a little Cayenne will always do the trick.

More hearty soups to come as winter approaches.

"winter is coming"


Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Halloween Party

Allie and I recently threw a Halloween party for friends.  The thing is, growing up in Chicago but living in LA, you really start to miss fall, and the feeling of autumn.  So when we threw this party, we focused less on the dress up aspect of Halloween, and more on that good fall feeling.  The foods we made remind us of fall growing up (well except for the berry pie, that's another story for later).

Nothing quite says fall and that old time Halloween feel as much as fresh apples hand dipped into home made molten cinnamon candy, commonly called Candy Apples.

Pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices always bring out the feeling of fall.  Above is a mini pumpkin cake, and below is a baby pumpkin pie with lattice crust top.

One of the most common drinks for the fall season is spiced apple cider, here it is made with butter, brown sugar, and cider, and is simmered with orange peel, whole cloves, whole allspice, and cinnamon sticks.  To kick it up we added some apple brandy and dark rum.

 Bellow are a couple of the steps in the making of this Three Berry Pie.  It is an all butter crust made in part with crushed almonds.  The filling is my own personal recipe which consists of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, along with a hint of cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice, to bring out the flavors and balance the sweet with tart.

If you would like a copy of a recipe of something you see here, send us an email with a favorite recipe of yours, and we'll send the recipe we used.