Friday, September 28, 2007

Metaphysical Club for Development ... and Turkey Chili

About 2 months ago we started a little "club" at Bill Easterly's urging to get together and stake out new and unexpected directions to take development. Last night we hosted it at our place, which meant I needed to cook something that would not have me leaning over the stove at the last minute--it needed to be all done and ready by the time people showed up. Hence turkey chili, although in fact it got significantly modified both intentionally and unintentionally--but with good results, it seems. People really liked it. This comes from Bon Appetit by way of Epicurious, and my modifications are included. (and I'll try to remember to take pictures next time).

I served it ladled over brown rice.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 jalapeno pepper chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder [the unintended substitute was Berbere powder, because I thought I had chili powder, but didn't. I used a tad less than 1/4 c of berbere since it's hotter than chili.]
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
fresh kale, washed and chopped--quantity really depends on how large your pot is. It reduces a lot, but at the beginning you will be limited by the headroom in your pot
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained

Shredded cheddar

Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and pepper; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Add washed chopped kale. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Ladle chili into bowls over rice. Pass red onion, cheddar, cilantro and yogurt separately.

Serves 8.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fabulous and Easy Short Ribs

I am a huge short rib fan -- the tender meat and infused flavor never fail to rock my world. Our food friends, Joe and Molly (and their soon to be foodie son, Gabe) were visiting this weekend. Mollly innocently suggested that she had seen a fabulous-looking short rip recipe (with gorgonzola polenta) in the recent Bon Appetit. I was immediately sold. The recipe, it turns out, was super easy, and produced amazing flavor. While the recipe calls for the short ribs to be marinated overnight in the herbs, I didn't have time, and instead chopped the herbs with a tbsp of kosher salt to release their flavor and created a rub. I immediately browned the the herb rubbed short ribs, dumped in a bottle of $10 cabernet, let it boil, and then put it in the oven. I didn't touch it again for two hours. The result was fabulous. I highly recommend. The gorgonzola polenta was good too, not too over powering for the subtle and rich flavor of the meat. I also nixed the sauce -- it turned out too greasey with the fat from the short ribs and the roux. It also tasted too salty and would have overpowered the meat.

8 to 9 pounds meaty beef short ribs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup (about) vegetable oil
2 750-ml bottles Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all purpose flour


Planning tip:
With its various elements, this dish lends itself well to team cooking. Seasoning the meat ahead, making the gremolata, browning the ribs, and deglazing the pan are separate steps that allow everyone to take turns. But if you'd prefer to work ahead, the short ribs will taste just as good a day later. Either way, you're golden.

Arrange ribs in single layer in 15x10x2- inch glass baking dish. Mix rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle all over ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ribs to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch, adding more oil to pot by tablespoonfuls as needed. Transfer ribs to large bowl. Pour off drippings from pot; discard. Add wine to pot and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot; bring to boil. Cover; transfer to oven and braise until meat is very tender and almost falling off bones, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Bring to simmer before continuing. Using slotted spoon, transfer ribs to large bowl; cover tightly to keep warm. Skim any fat from top of braising liquid. Boil liquid until reduced to 2 generous cups, about 20 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour with fork in small bowl until well blended. Whisk butter mixture into reduced braising liquid. Whisk over medium-high heat until sauce thickens very slightly, about 2 minutes.

Divide Gorgonzola Polenta among plates. Top with ribs and sauce. Makes 8 servings

Gorgonzola Polenta:

5 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)*
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/3 cup whipping cream

Bring 5 cups chicken broth to boil in heavy 4-quart saucepan. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly. Return mixture to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until polenta is tender, stirring frequently and adding more chicken broth by 1/4 cupfuls if polenta is too thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Gorgonzola and cream; stir until cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Sold at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Italian markets. If unavailable, substitute an equal amount of regular yellow cornmeal and cook about half as long.

Planning tip:
Polenta sets up quite quickly and becomes firmer after cooking, so plan on making it as close to serving time as you can manage.
Makes 8 servings

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blueberry scones with spelt flour

This is a very belated post on blueberry scones. It comes from Cook's Illustrated--and according to my in-laws, the best ever scones they've had. The tricks involved are freezing the butter and grating it (instead of mixing in cutting in cold butter) before folding into the flour, as well as essentially rolling the blueberries in (like a jelly roll). It also worked well when I substituted spelt flour for half of the flour required. I'd have to transcribe my notes to get this recipe online, but if anyone is interested, I'd be very happy to share ...