Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Crazy for Casseroles" by James Villas - David's Chicken, Ham, Artichoke and Pasta Casserole

Date I made this recipe: March 28, 2007

Crazy for Casseroles – 275 All-American Hot-Dish Classics by James Villas
Published by: The Harvard Common Press
ISBN: 1-55832-216-7
© 2003

Recipe: David’s Chicken, Ham, Artichoke, and Pasta Casserole – p. 151

People, you’re going to think I’m overly fixated on the weather in Minnesota, but if you would have suggested that I make a casserole this past Monday, I would have snorted.

You see, in typical Minnesota fashion, the weather, the past week or so, started warming up to the mid-fifties (somewhat unseasonable), then mid-sixties (a little more unseasonable), then mid-seventies (very unseasonable) until on Monday, March 26, we spiked to a record-breaking 81 degrees (ridiculously unseasonable). That’s right, 81 degrees in March. In Minnesota. I have two words: “Global. Warming.”

Well, global warming or not (my apologies, Mr. Gore), 81 degrees in March was really quite heavenly. Mind you, 45 degrees is enough to make us wear shorts in this state. At 81 degrees, we’re talking bathing suits – yee ha! (I used the collective "we" with regard to bathing suits. At minimum, this body needs a few more rounds in the tanning booth before "we" put on a bathing suit. But I digress...)

But then, as the weather in this state is wont to do, we started cruising back down to our normal altitude and temperatures and by Wednesday, the temperature was a respectable (for this time of year) 48 degrees. It also rained cats and dogs…well, maybe just dogs, and so it seemed like a good day to make a casserole.

Earlier in the winter (when one normally cooks a casserole to stay warm and comfortable) I leafed through today’s featured cookbook: Crazy for Casseroles. Now, I have no recollection of having put a piece of paper on the page I did to mark the place, but it turned out to be rather cosmic that I did as the recipe called for chicken and I had leftover chicken from the recipe the week before just waiting to be used.

And so I used it and we ate it, but people, I can’t say I was exactly crazy for this casserole. Part of it was that it tasted rather sweet to me, perhaps from the Parmesan cheese that was included, and part of it was that the veggies didn’t get as soft as they should have (I’m not a big fan of crunchy onions). I also had issues with the pasta. He called for Rigatoni but I thought a smaller pasta (or perhaps Rigatoni cut in half) would have been better.

But that’s just one woman’s opinion. My husband liked the dish and happily munched his way through a good portion of it. As for me, well, maybe my brain fried after the 81 degree weather, and I really wasn’t supposed to cook a casserole after all. Who knows?

What I do know is that other cookbooks by James Villas (and his mother, Martha Pearl) have yielded spectacular results (that will one day be chronicled in this blog) so I wouldn’t give up on the book just because of one recipe that I didn’t exactly rock my boat. We’ll just call this experiment my little “spring fling” and leave it at that.

David’s Chicken, Ham, Artichoke, and Pasta Casserole – serves 8
¼ cup olive oil
2 medium-size onion, minced
2 large celery ribs, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups milk
1 cup diced cooked ham
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 large artichoke hearts (cooked fresh or bottled,) quartered
½ cup sour cream (see Note below)
1 pound rigatoni, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 3- to 3 1/2 –quart casserole.

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over low heat, add the onions, celery, garlic and nutmeg, and stir until softened, about 7 minutes. (Note: I’d go longer just to be on the safe side.) Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir 2 minutes longer. Add the wine, increase the heat to moderate, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the milk and stir until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the ham, chicken, artichoke hearts, and sour cream and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pasta and cheese and toss until everything is well blended.

Transfer to the casserole, sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top, drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs, and bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Note: Kemps, a local producer of dairy products such as ice cream, butter, milk, etc., has earned my undying devotion by putting sour cream in a squeeze bottle. (Easy Squeeze Sour Cream) Show of hands out there: how many of you have felt as irritated as I have by having to buy a cup of sour cream only to use half of it in the recipe? This bottle eliminated all that (plus the mess of having to spoon it out) and has a decent “use by date” of May 12 so I have plenty of time to come up with a recipe using the remaining half. Thank you, Kemps!

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Kitchen Safari" - Chicken Stuffed With Almonds, Semolina, and Raisins

Date I made this recipe: March 21, 2007

Kitchen Safari – A Gourmet’s Tour of Africa by Harva Hachten
Published by: Antheneum
© 1970

Recipe: Chicken Stuffed with Almonds, Semolina and Raisins – p. 27

Well, what the heck. Last week I cooked a dish from a South American cookbook so it made sense to follow along with Mitch this week and cook something from an African Cookbook in my collection.

The dish I made is from North Africa and I was drawn to it by its use of almonds, raisins and semolina (couscous) in the stuffing. The dish was easy to make (I love recipes that indicate I should put the ingredients in a pot and forget about them for a couple of hours) and very tasty.

Of course, there were a few “boo boos,” such as neglecting to sew up or otherwise truss the bird so the stuffing would stay in, and the fact that the water never did evaporate as the instructions indicated it should, but these were all minor details.

A larger detail, however, that the author fails to note in the recipe itself, is how to steam couscous (semolina). Although she did include instructions in another section of the book, she wanted us to use a couscousier, a pan especially designed for, you guessed it, couscous.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a couscousier hanging around. I don’t have a sommelier, either, although that would be a little much considering a sommelier is a wine professional and would probably have to live in my home to be readily available to select and pour just the right wine for my dish. Basically, I don’t have anything in my kitchen ending in the French “ier.”

What I do have is a colander and it fit the bill. From the instructions I read on the internet and in other cookbooks in my collection, rinse your couscous, wrap it in cheesecloth, and place the packet in a colander that is sitting on top of a small amount of boiling water. After 25 minutes or so, your couscous should be steamed. Note that I saw recipes call for steaming 10 to 15 minutes but my couscous wasn’t anywhere close to being done.

But hey folks, once you get that couscous steamed, you'll be on your way to a wonderful North African adventure without having to leave your house. How sweet is that?

Chicken Stuffed with Almonds, Semolina and Raisins – serves 10 (but only if itty-bitty little servings!)
3 ½ ounces couscous (semolina)
7 tablespoons butter (one for the stuffing and the remaining 6 for the pot)
½ cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup chopped raisins (I used half golden raisins, half “regular” raisins)
½ teaspoon Ras el Hanout or curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 large roasting chicken or capon
Pinch ginger
1 onion, chopped
Pinch saffron, pounded with a little salt (NOTE: saffron is pretty expensive so I skipped this ingredient since it only called for a pinch)

Steam the semolina until cooked (see notes above). Toss with 1 tablespoon butter. Combine semolina with chopped almonds, raisins, Ras el Hanout (curry), and 1 teaspoon salt. Stuff this mixture into the chicken cavity, truss, and sew up opening tightly.

In a stewing pan (I used a Dutch oven) combine ginger, onion, saffron and remaining salt. Place chicken in the pan and cover halfway with water. Place on a high fire and bring to a boil. Add remaining butter. Simmer covered, over medium heat until chicken is tender, about 2 hours, uncovering the pot after the first hour.

When the chicken is tender, all the water should be evaporated, leaving only the butter and pan juices at the bottom. Increase heat a bit and brown chicken in the butter in the pan, turning carefully.

This recipe may also be used for a stuffed shoulder of lamb.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"The Art of South American Cookery" by Myra Waldo - South American Beef-Vegetable Stew

Date I made this recipe: March 10, 2007

The Art of South American Cookery by Myra Waldo
Published by: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Illustrated by John Alcorn
© 1961

Recipe: Beef-Vegetable Stew (“Locro”) – p. 97

President Bush is visiting Latin America (also known as South America). This fact is neither here nor there; I mention it only because it reminded me of a recent acquisition to my cookbook library.

I scored The Art of South American Cookery at Bonnie Slotnicks Cookbooks, my home away from home in Manhattan and the source of many a unique book for my collection.

This book caught my eye for several reasons. First, there's the cover art. Like so many books published in the 1940's and 50's, both the cover and chapter artwork were done by an illustrator, as opposed to photography which is so prevelant today. The illustrator, John Alcorn, was, according to his bio, primarily a children’s book illustrator yet a peek at his portfolio on the web shows a few cookbooks here and there. At any rate, I thought it was a pretty cover so I put it in my “to buy” pile. (By the way, my buying process is always the same at Bonnie’s: I start to my right, wind my way around the whole shop and end up with a stack of books for further consideration. After that, I get out my calculator and then (almost always) subtract books and their purchase price until I hit both my budgetary goal (a term I use loosely) and my goal for unique books that are hard to find elsewhere. Consultation with Bonnie is usually advised although she knows me well enough to know my weak points and that’s not always a good thing!)

The book also caught my eye because it was written by Myra Waldo. Myra Waldo cranked out a lot of cookbooks in her day including the apparently popular Cooking for the Freezer. If the Food Network had been around while she was writing, she would likely have been as popular as Ina Garten, Giada DeLaurentiis and Paula Deen, all of whom have written several cookbooks. Since I liked the artwork and I liked Myra the book stayed in the buying pile.

The recipe I ended up selecting, Beef-Vegetable Stew (known as “Locro” in Spanish) doesn’t exactly sound South American but when I Googled it, I found it actually dated back to colonial times and is popular in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The write-up also said that the stew tends to contain “lesser” meats such as organ meats, pig’s ears, intestines and the like. Well people, why use “lesser” meats when you can use quality meats? I mean sure, I could have stuck to tradition, but my checkbook and my stomach pretty much demanded I go for the gusto and eschew the use of a lesser meat in favor of very nice beef stew meat. I think you’ll agree after you make the recipe that this is indeed the way to go!

Although this recipe says the stew should be thick, I was very thankful that it wasn’t. "Thick" to me means "heavy" and given yet another wild “winter day” when the temperature hovered around 50 degrees, heavy wasn’t what I wanted. (If you blink around here, you miss: one week, we’re getting 12 inches of snow, the next week, it’s all melting and the temperatures are approaching a Minnesotan’s version of “bathing suit weather.” Go figure.)

So, despite the unseasonably warm weather, I made this surprisingly light stew and imagined life in sunny South America, far away from the midwestern snow belt...and people, it was blissful. This recipe almost made me want to pack a bag to go after the real deal, the original locro, but alas, 'twas not to be. Maybe next year when instead of rising temperatures and melting snow banks, we're experiencing blowing and drifting snow. That would make the trip all the more worthwhile, don't you think?!

Beef-Vegetable Stew (“Locro”) – serves 4-6
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
¾ cup chopped onions
¾ cup chopped green peppers
3 cups water
1 ½ cups cubed yellow squash
1 ½ cups cubed white potatoes
1 ½ cup cubed sweet potatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup sliced onion
2 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley (optional)

Heat the oil in a casserole or Dutch oven; brown the meat in it. Mix in the onions and green peppers until browned. Add the water, squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 ½ hours. The stew should be very thick; add a very little boiling water if necessary. Taste for seasonings and sprinkle with the parsley. Garnish with fried onions and green peppers if desired. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

"Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts" by Maida Heatter - New Orleans Chocolate Layer Cake

Date I made this recipe: March 3, 2007

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts by Maida Heatter
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
© 1978, 1980

Recipe: New Orleans Chocolate Layer Cake – p. 84

My husband turned 50 last week. Like many people turning 50, he wasn’t excited about his birthday at all. But chocolate cakes trip his trigger and so since I knew it was his birthday, I baked him a cake. And not just any cake but a scrumptious chocolate cake with a chocolate “pudding” filling and a nice, light (not!) frosting made of whipped cream and confectioner’s sugar. Yum, yum!

Except it almost wasn’t “yum, yum.” I don’t know what I was thinking when I started to make the cake, but it wasn’t until after I put the pans in the oven on Saturday morning that I realized that the cake recipe called for 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, not the one ounce bar I put in. To be sure I had indeed screwed up, I checked the wastebasket and sure enough, only one foil wrapper emerged from the wreckage.

So, I pulled out the cake pans, tossed the cake batter and started again, this time with much better results. As my dad is fond of saying, “when all else fails, read the instructions.”

Our cookbook author recommends that you make and assemble the cake the day you plan to serve it. Leave ample time, regardless of whether you make one batch or two, to put the whole thing together.

My husband just finished munching on one of the last pieces of cake left and is in a considerably happier mood than he was on his birthday. Cake, especially chocolate cake, can do that to a person. Regardless of whether or not it’s your birthday, eat cake. You’ll feel better!

New Orleans Chocolate Layer Cake – serves 12 to 14 (Note: This recipe is in three parts: the cake, the filling and the frosting)

4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
¼ pound (1 stick) sweet butter
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (large or extra-large)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water

Adjust rack to center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round layer-cake pans and line them with baking-pan liner paper or wax paper cut to fit. Butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour, invert and tap to shake out excess. Set pans aside.

Place the chocolate and butter in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat and stir frequently until melted and smooth.

When the chocolate is almost melted, stir the sour cream and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.

When the chocolate and butter are melted, transfer to the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat just to mix. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating until mixed after each addition. Mix in the sour cream and baking soda and then, on low speed, add the flour, scraping the bowl and beating only until smooth. Now, on the lowest speed, gradually add the boiling water, scraping the bowl and beating only until smooth. The mixture will be thin. Pour half of it into each of the prepared pans.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until the tops spring back lightly when gently pressed with a fingertip.

Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes. Then with a small, sharp knife, cut around each layer to release. Cover with the rack, invert, remove pan and paper lining, cover with another rack and invert again to cool right side up.

Chocolate Filling
2 cups milk
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup less 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Scald the milk in a small, uncovered, heavy saucepan over moderate heat. (Note: Maida includes directions for scalded milk later in the recipe but since I’ve rarely scaled milk before –scaling myself is another story – I’ve moved them up so you’ll know what she means: Milk is scalded “when it has a slightly wrinkled skin on top.”)

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler, cover, and place over hot water on low heat to melt. When the chocolate is melted, remove it from the hot water and set aside uncovered. Note: my mom has an actual double boiler (and boy, didn’t I wish I had that with this recipe) but I’ve never bothered to get one myself. If you do not have a double boiler, place a small amount of water in the bottom of a saucepan, then place a larger pot on top of that pot. Put the whole thing on the stove and turn the heat setting to medium to high. The water in the lower pan heats the top pan to melt the chocolate without the chocolate having to be submerged in water and thus, ruined.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small custard cup and let stand.

In the top of a large double boiler (or pot combination as described above) that is off the heat, stir together the flour and sugar.

Add your scalded milk to the four and sugar mixture, stirring well to keep the mixture smooth. Place over hot water in the bottom of a double boiler on moderate heat. Stir constantly and scrape around the bottom and sides of the pot with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a thin cream sauce. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes more.

Stir the yolks slightly in a mixing bowl. Very gradually add about half of the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly, and then add the yolks to the remaining milk. Stir well and place over hot water again. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Add the softened gelatin and stir to melt the gelatin, then stir in the chocolate, vanilla, and salt. (If you wish, the mixture may be stained but it is not essential). (Note: I didn’t strain it—who has time?!)

Place some ice and water in a large bowl and place the pan of filling into the ice water. Stir occasionally at first until cool; then stir more frequently but gently until the filling is thick enough to spread-it should be like a very thick mayonnaise-it must stiff enough not to run when it is spread on the cake.

When the filling is chilling prepare a large, flat cake plate or serving board by placing four strips of wax paper around the outer edges.

Place one layer upside down on the plate. Check to see that it is touching the paper all around.

If you have a cake-decorating turntable or lazy Susan, place the cake plate on it.

Spread the thick filling smoothly over the cake—do not spread it beyond the edges. It will be almost 1 inch thick. Then place the other layer right side up over the filling. Refrigerate.

Whipped Cream Icing
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup strained confectioners sugar
Scant 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the small bowl of the electric mixer (the bowl and beaters should be chilled). Whip the above ingredients until they are thick enough to spread. (As a safety precaution against overwhipping it is a good idea to finish the whipping with a wire whisk). (Note: I used my KitchenAid mixer and used the whisk attachment and that worked out great. I even chilled the bowl as directed – what the heck.)

Spread the cream over the sides and then over the top—it will be a thick layer. It may spread smoothly or into swirls and peaks. (Note: we chose “smoothly”).

Maida indicates the cake should be refrigerated for at least an hour or so before serving. Remember to remove the wax paper strips before doing so!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

"Hollywood du Jour" & "Chasen's" & "The Brown Derby Cookbook" - Oscar night recipes from old Hollywood

Dates I made these recipes: February 24 and 25, 2007

Hollywood du Jour – Lost Recipes of Legendary Hollywood Haunts by Betty Goodwin
Published by: Angel City Press
ISBN: 1-883318-22-X
© 1993
Recipe: Paprika Chicken from Mama Weiss Restaurant (in business from 1930-1954) – p. 32

Chasen’s – Where Hollywood Dined - Recipes and Memories by Betty Goodwin
Published by: Angel City Press
ISBN: 1-883318-23-8
© 1996
Recipe: Chili – p. 32

The Brown Derby Cookbook – prepared by the staff of The Brown Derby Restaurants (foreword by Robert H. Cobb, President, The Brown Derby Corporation)
Published by: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
© 1949

The Brown Derby Restaurant - A Hollywood Legend by Sally Wright Cobb and Mark Willems
Published by: Rizzoli New York
ISBN: 0-8478-1925-6
© 1996
Recipe: Cobb Salad – p. 22 of the original Brown Derby Cookbook and p. 17 and 18 of The Brown Derby Restaurant published in 1996.

And the Oscar goes to….

Well, not that I want to brag or anything, but…me. Okay, not me since I wasn’t nominated and have never acted beyond my 11th and 12th grade school plays, but it was no easy feat to get these recipes done and served in time for the Oscar telecast. I think that deserves a medal of some kind. (Although don’t ask me why I invest my time watching a 4, 8, 12-hour program year after year. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep before the final award was handed out, but seriously, could you blame me? And the Oscar goes to zzzzzzzzzzzzz…….)

Last week, I talked about how I tend to get all “matchy matchy” with my cookbooks and menus. I like themes. This past weekend, Academy Awards weekend, was the perfect time to pull out four Hollywood-related cookbooks.

On Saturday night, I made a Paprika Chicken from the cookbook, Hollywood du Jour. This book is fun because it provides recipes and stories about all the famous places that Hollywood’s elite used to frequent back in the day. This recipe was good but my guess is that it could have been better had I used really fresh paprika. The stuff I used came from a local spice store but it lacked that zing. The thing I really loved about this chicken recipe was the method: after browning onions in a little oil and paprika, you put the chicken in, cover, and let the chicken cook in its own fat for a half an hour. The chicken was unbelievably moist. I loved that method so much, that I used it when I made the Cobb Salad on Sunday.

On Sunday, I made two recipes, Chasen’s Chili and a Cobb Salad. Just like the participants in this year’s Oscar ceremony, I started my day darned early in order to get these recipes done by 6:00 when Barbara Walter’s special came on. (We can’t be missing “Baba,” now can we?) Make sure you allow 2 hours alone to cook the beans required in Chasen’s Chili recipe. You’ll also need time to cook the chicken, bacon and hard boil the eggs called for in The Brown Derby’s Cobb Salad.

And speaking of which, Chasen’s and The Brown Derby were THE Hollywood Hot Spots back in what I considered to be the glory years of old Hollywood (1930-1960). Actress Elizabeth Taylor so loved Chasen’s Chili that she had it sent to Rome where she was filming Cleopatra. In all honesty, I don’t know what the fuss is about but I’ve always associated Chili with Chasen’s so I made it. Same thing with the Cobb Salad and The Brown Derby.

For those of you who are fans of the TV show, I Love Lucy, you’ll recall the famous episode where Lucy, Fred and Ethel ate at The Brown Derby and Lucy, in her earnestness to meet the stars, accidentally caused a tray of food to be dumped on movie star, William Holden. That was one of my favorite episodes and so I was thrilled when I came across the cookbook several years ago. In 1996, Sally Wright Cobb, wife of founder Robert Cobb (for whom the Cobb salad was named) wrote a book about the history of this famous restaurant (the restaurant was actually in the shape of a brown derby hat). The photos alone will make you wax nostalgic for the glory days of Hollywood. Until that time, I’ll just keep working on my own version of an acceptance speech: “I’d like to thank my butcher without whom this would not be possible. A big shout out to the dairy section of my grocery store and….”

Paprika Chicken – serves 3 to 4 (from Hollywood du Jour)
2 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons shortening
2 ½ pounds chicken parts (I used two gigantic chicken breasts)
1 teaspoon paprika (try to buy the freshest paprika possible)
2 tablespoons flour
½ pint sour cream
½ cup water or chicken stock

Saute the onions in the shortening. Add paprika, salt and pepper, to taste. Add the chicken pieces and cover pot. Let it cook on a moderate flame in its own juice for about 30 minutes or until tender. Blend the flour and sour cream and add it to the pot. Add ½ cup water or chicken stock and cook for a few more minutes.

Chasen’s Chili – makes 10 cups, or six main dish servings

Okay, before we get started, let me tell you that I had to deviate from the recipe because of the unavailability of a few items. Chasen’s recommended that one use beef chuck, coarsely chopped and pork shoulder, coarsely chopped, but I had to settle for packages of ground beef and pork as that was all my store carried. I imagine most grocery stores are the same. I’m not sure if it made any difference or not, but there it is.

Similarly, Gebhardt’s chili powder and Farmer Brothers ground cumin are only available online so I substituted other brands. I am not enough of a connoisseur to know whether all chili powders are alike, but it’s possible that the use of these brands (available back in the 50’s) made all the difference because I found the chili to be bland despite the 1/3 cup of chili powder I added. It could be just my palate, but my mother’s chili had way more flavor than this recipe. Not that I want to argue with Elizabeth Taylor, but seriously, honey, I’m not sure I would have paid the big bucks to have this sent to you in Rome….

½ pound dried pinto beans
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup butter
2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Gebhardt’s chili powder (see above)
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
1 ½ teaspoons Farmer Brothers ground cumin (see above)

Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.

Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour or until tender

Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet sauté bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and sauté beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain.

Okay, let’s pause for a minute and talk about browning the beef and pork. First, the combination of a whole stick of butter with the ground beef and pork was a sight to behold. I thought the butter was overkill and didn’t think it added anything to the dish. Second, the amount of fat that resulted from the combination of these three was enormous, such that I drained the beef into a colander that I set on top of another pan. There had to be at least an inch of fat. When the directions call for “drain,” think “DRAIN!” or you will have one greasy pot of chili.

Once you DRAIN the meat, add it to the bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick – it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim off excess and serve.

NOTE: I was hoping that the flavor of this chili would improve upon age but it didn’t and that’s a tragedy because I have a ton left over. Oh well, just like the Academy Awards, not every recipe walks away a winner.

Cobb Salad – serves 4-6
½ bunch of lettuce
½ bunch watercress
1 small bunch chicory (Note: I could not locate any chicory in my grocery store)
½ head romaine
2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled
2 breast of boiled roasting chicken (Note: I used the method described in the Paprika Chicken recipe and the chicken tasted great)
6 strips crisp bacon
1 avocado
3 hard-cooked eggs
2 tablespoons chopped chives
12/ cup fine grated imported Roquefort cheese
1 cup Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing (recipe to follow)

Cut finely lettuce, watercress, chicory, and romaine and arrange in salad bowl. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, slice finely, and arrange in a strip across the salad. Dice breasts of chicken and arrange over top of chopped greens. Chop bacon finely and sprinkle over the salad. Cut avocado in small pieces and arrange around the edge of the salad. Cut avocado in small pieces and arrange over the top the chopped eggs, chopped chives and grated cheese. Just before serving mix the salad thoroughly with French Dressing.

Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing - makes 1 ½ quarts
Note: I cut this recipe in half.
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
2 ½ tablespoons of salt (whoa!)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 bead garlic, chopped
1 cup olive oil
3 cups salad oil

Blend together all ingredients except oils. Then add olive and salad oils and mix well again. Chill. Shake before serving.