In Spanish, the word chili from the Nahuatl (Uto-Aztecan language) “chīli” refers to a “chili pepper” and carne is Spanish for “meat”. A recipe dating back to the 1850s describes dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers and salt, which were pounded together and called Chile con Carne. The San Antonio Chili Stand, in operation at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, helped popularize chili by exposing Americans to its unique taste. Chili con Carne is the official dish of the state of Texas as designated by the House Concurrent Resolution Number 18 of the 65th Texas Legislature during its regular session in 1977.
Before World War II, hundreds of small, family run chili parlors (also known as “chili joints”) could be found throughout Texas. Each establishment usually had a claim to some kind of secret recipe. As early as 1904, chili parlors were opening outside of Texas, in part, due to the availability of commercial versions of chili powder, first manufactured in Texas in the late 19th century. After working at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Charles Taylor opened a chili parlor in Carlinville, Illinois, serving “Mexican Chili”. In the 1920s and 1930s chains of diner-style “chili parlors” grew up in the Midwest.
“Texas-style chili” may or may not contain beans or tomatoes and is usually made without other vegetables. Most native Texans will state that any chili with beans in it is considered “Yankee” Chili”. This was referenced in Texas Monthly Magazine. So what’s the difference between a real Texas chili recipe and the other chili recipes? What makes it authentic? Common knowledge in Texas says real chili recipes use cubed chunks of meat instead of ground beef and cutting the meat into cubes gives Texas chili a more stew-like texture than the more common ground beef recipes.
Real Texas Chili
I used all beef broth for cooking this chili instead of half chili pepper soaking liquid and half beef broth. Using the chili pepper soaking liquid made the chili too spicy for me. Texas chili is served with cornbread not tortilla chips.
2 ounces whole dried chilies (guajillo, ancho, chipotle or chile de arbol or a combination)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons bacon fat or vegetable oil
2-3 pound boneless beef chuck roast, fat trimmed
1 large onion finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups beef stock plus 2 cups chili pepper soaking liquid or 4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons masa harina (corn tortilla flour)
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Sour Cream and Cornbread, optional
Place the chilies in a Dutch Oven over medium-low heat and gently toast the chilies, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn or they’ll turn bitter.
Be sure to wear latex gloves and using a pair of kitchen scissors cut the stem tops off the toasted chilies.
Position each chili over a bowl and cut the chilies into “rings”. With your glove covered hands, sift out the rings. The seeds will fall to the bottom.
Place the chili rings in a bowl and cover them with 4 cups of very hot water and soak until soft, 30 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice.
Toast the cumin seed in the Dutch Oven and set aside.
Drain the chilies and save the soaking water.
Place the soaked chilies in the bowl of a processor and add the toasted cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid.
Purée the mixture, adding more soaking liquid if needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl), until a smooth, paste forms.
Cut the chuck roast into 1/2-inch sized cubes and use paper towels to pat the meat very dry.
In the Dutch Oven melt 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium heat and add half of the beef.
Lightly brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat is browning too quickly.
Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl and repeat with the remaining beef. Reserve.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 4 cups beef stock (or 2 cups beef stock and 2 cups chili pepper soaking water) and gradually and slowly whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps.
Stir in the reserved chili paste, oregano and the browned beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and place the pot in the oven, uncovered, for 3 hours.
After three hours remove the pot from the oven and stir in the brown sugar and vinegar.
Return the pot to the oven and cook 15 minutes more.
Remove the pot from the oven and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce.
Reheat gently and serve in individual bowls with a spoonful of sour cream on top.
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pepper; make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Add buttermilk and eggs and whisk to loosen eggs. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, then mix in cheese.
Place butter in a 9-inch heavy metal cake pan or cast iron skillet and bake until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from the oven, and tilt to coat the bottom and sides.
Pour batter into the pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let cornbread cool at least 15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Wrap completely cooled bread in plastic, and store at room temperature up to 1 day.
You may have family or friends visiting for the holidays who follow special diets. If you plan ahead and with just a few ingredients changes, many of the Thanksgiving recipes can be adapted to meet the needs of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and low carb diets. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Everyone.
Vegan Gravy (or Regular or Gluten-Free)
Kitchen Bouquet is a browning sauce that you can find in the grocery store next to the A1 and Worcestershire Sauce. It helps to add a brown color to the gravy. There are several brands of browning sauce available, but I use this one. Since 2006 this vegan sauce has been gluten-free. It is made from a base of carrots, cabbage, turnips, parsnips, celery and onion.
You can use this same recipe for everyone by make a second batch and using chicken broth in the second batch for regular diets. To make this gravy Gluten-Free, use gluten-free cornstarch to thicken the gravy. Gluten-free gravy also works for low carb dieters.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
2 heaping tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet, optional
Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Cook until the mushrooms are soft and brown, and most of their liquid is evaporated.
Stir in the flour with a whisk and reduce heat to low. Cook for another minute or two.
Slowly add the vegetable broth while whisking to reduce clumps. Then add in the salt, pepper and thyme and whisk again.
Stir in the Kitchen Bouquet, if using.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to stir until it reaches the desired thickness, about 5-10 minutes.
Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing
To make this recipe gluten-free use cornbread instead of Italian bread in the recipe. The gluten-free cornbread recipe is below.
8 cups Italian bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried poultry seasoning
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
Place the bread cubes into a very large bowl and set aside. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and the sausage.
Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula, until light brown, about 5 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl of cubed bread.
In the fat left in the pan, sauté the onions, celery and garlic until the onions are just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, sage, salt and peppers, cook 1 minute and, then, add the mixture to the cubed bread.
Add the broth to the bread mixture; stir until well combined.
Place the stuffing in a large baking dish and bake in the oven for the last hour that the turkey cooks.
This can be made several days ahead.
2 cups (264 g) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal (gluten-free)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg at room temperature, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square or round pan, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and whisk to combine well.
In separate bowl, mix the egg, butter, buttermilk and honey, and whisk to combine well.
Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top, golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely and cut up into cubes.
Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing
3 cups sourdough wheat bread (made without dairy or eggs) cut into cubes
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 leek white part only, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large rib celery finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
Chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Add chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until all moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
Add sage and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are well browned, about 5 minutes longer.
Add leek, celery, garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add parsley, and chopped pecans.
Add stock to the bread cubes and fold in the cooked vegetables until evenly mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer mixture to a greased baking dish cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake with the turkey until hot throughout, about 30 minutes.
Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and crisp on top, about 10 minutes longer.
Vegan Stuffed Squash
Serve this dish instead of turkey for your vegan or vegetarian dinners.
To make this recipe for non-vegans, add a ½ cup of cooked lean ground pork to the stuffing.
Directions for preparing the squash:
Cut a thin slice off from the top & bottom of one acorn squash (just enough to leave a flat edge, so the squash can stand up on both ends).
Cut the squash in half, horizontally, so you have two bowl shapes. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and discard.
Place the squash in a baking dish cut-side up. Brush the inside with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Roast the squash for about 30 minutes.
Combine the following:
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
1/4 cup diced, peeled pear
1/4 cup diced, peeled apple
2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
Place the filling mixture in the partially cooked squash halves. Place the filled squash in the oven and bake 20 minutes.
Easy Vegan or Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
The pumpkin filling can be used for either pie.
Pat-in-the-Pan Vegan Crust
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
Vegan Pie Filling Directions
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients.
Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan and up the sides.
A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top.
Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Pat-in-the-Pan Gluten-Free Crust
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil (or alternative oil)
5 tablespoons cold milk (or cold plant milk)
Gluten-Free Pie Crust Directions
Mix together the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
Blend oil and milk together in a separate bowl.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine.
Place dough into a 9 inch pie plate and press the dough firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
Place the pie crust in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add all the pie filling ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake for about 60 minutes.
The crust should be golden brown and the filling should still be set.
Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before loosely covering and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set overnight.
Low-Carb Pumpkin Pie
2¼ cups almond flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar substitute (1:1 with sugar)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg at room temperature, beaten
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 1:1 sugar substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix together all the crust ingredients until a dough forms.
Press the dough into 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the beaten eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla, spices and sweetener. Mix well.
Add the heavy cream until fully combined.
Pour into pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick (or knife) inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.
July has an abundance of vegetables and fruits available, so I try to incorporate as many as I can into my weekly menu. I made a few dinners last week that utilize these seasonal fruits and vegetables and I hope you like them as much as we did.
Veggie Packed Frittata
Serve with a mixed green salad and some hot biscuits.
- 1 lb parboiled potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 links pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced thin
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- Half of a small onion, thinly sliced
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
- 6 asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
- 8 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
Heat an oven broiler.
Heat oil in an ovenproof 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sliced sausage, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and onion until the vegetables are soft, 3–4 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
Stir in the sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes.
Sprinkle the cheese on top and place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until set and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil before serving.
Summer Melon Salad with Grilled BBQ Shrimp
Last week my CSA had melons aplenty. I received two Crenshaw and one yellow watermelon. So I came up with a few recipes to make. The melon salad is in this post and next week, I will share the melon soup recipe I made. When you make the salad try to use two different types of melon for contrast. I also like the balance of the tangy grilled shrimp with the sweetness of the fruit salad. I also served this salad dinner with some homemade cornbread. See the recipe for Cheddar Cornbread here.
For the salad
- 4 cups Crenshaw melon, peeled and seeds removed
- 4 cups yellow watermelon, peeled and seeds removed.
- 2 cups red grapes, halved
- 1 cup toasted pecans, toasted
For the shrimp
- 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/4 cup Peach BBQ sauce, see recipe here
- Lemon quarters for garnish
Basil Honey Dressing
- 3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a blender. Set aside in a serving bowl.
For the melon salad
In a mixing bowl combine the two types of melon with the grapes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, mix the melon and grape mixture with the toasted pecans and a little of the basil dressing. Serve additional dressing with the salad.
For the grilled shrimp
Prepare an outdoor grill for medium hot heat or heat an indoor stove-top grill.
Thread the shrimp onto skewers and brush them lightly with BBQ sauce. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill directly over the heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the skewers and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook. Remove them to a plate and serve with lemon quarters, the melon salad and cornbread.
Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Basil Pesto Spaghetti
Basil is so plentiful this time of year, so I try to think of different ways to use it in my summertime cooking. Of course, freezing basil pesto for the winter months is also another option. It is also a great addition to salad dressing and omelets, as in the recipes above.
For the eggplant
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 link pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon dried Italian bread crumbs
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
For the spaghetti
- 8 oz spaghetti
- 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, see recipe here
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut a thin slice off the top of each zucchini. With a small spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) remove most of the flesh from the zucchini without cutting into the outside. Chop the cut slice and the flesh.
Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped zucchini, chopped sausage and the garlic. Saute until the zucchini is completely cooked and has lost its moisture.
Add the onion, bell pepper and tomatoes, cook until soft. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together, about 2 tablespoons.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the cheese and fill the hollowed out zucchini shells with the mixture.
Place the stuffed zucchini in a small baking dish. (The zucchini can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated until baking time.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil. Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the zucchini shells are tender.
For the spaghetti
While the zucchini are baking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.
Return the drained pasta to the cooking pot and add the pesto with a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.
Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well and serve alongside the stuffed zucchini.