Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ubergrun Chili

One thing I love about the German language (and subsequently the English language, though we don't do it nearly so much these days) is that new words are incorporated all the time just by smashing some together that already exist. Here I've used the adjective "ubergrun" to mean "intensely green," referring to the fact that five out of the seven whole food ingredients in this chili are of that persuasion.

While fighting off the cat in order to lick my bowl clean, I was uberpissed to learn from my husband- the Orlando Weekly's calendar editor and social butterfly extraordinaire- that there will be a chili cook-off this weekend. Why pissed? Because just when I finally invent a chili I'm proud of, and just when a chili cook-off finally happens in my neck of the woods... we won't be in town. On Friday, we hop a plane to Colorado and pay an off-season visit to some of the farms at which we've applied to intern. (That, or sit around in the airport all weekend waiting for a plane that's been delayed by an uberblizzard up in Denver.)

Joking aside, I'm ecstatic about this trip! If you'd like to read about the places we'll be touring, please pop on over to Doveland Farm and peruse some of my husband's recent posts.

I know, I know... enough with the blog plugging already. Bring on the uberdelicious chili recipe!

Ubergrun, Uberdelicious, Geez-I'd-Better-Stop-Saying-Uber-Before-I-Offend-a-Real-German Chili


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced large
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 Anaheim chile pepper, diced small
2 large cloves of garlic (or 3-4 non-ubercloves as pictured... gah, there's just so many appropriate places to say uber!), chopped
3 tsp. dried cumin
1 3/4 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt 'n' pepper to taste
1 1/4 c. black beans, cooked
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
3 medium to large green tomatoes, diced (approximately... I used two big ones from the farmer's market and five little ones my mom gave me from her garden)
2 tsp. orange blossom honey


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high. Add the onion, celery, chile, garlic, and cumin. Saute 2 minutes.

Add the broccoli florets and saute a few minutes more, until the onion is translucent and the broccoli is tender.

Add the cilantro, salt, and pepper; seasoning to your preference as if you intend to eat it as is. (Yes, there are still some ingredients to add, but when the water contained in the vegetables evaporates, you will be left with perfectly salted chili). Saute one minute more, then stir in the black beans.

Pour in the sherry vinegar and deglaze the pan.

Stir in the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan. Simmer 40 minutes. Add the honey and taste one more time to see if you need any more salt. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes more. Serves 3-4 (number of servings can be augmented to a solid 4 if you ladle it over rice, potatoes, cornbread, meat, etc.)

Don't get me wrong, the flavor of this chili was amazing; but in case you hadn't noticed, it's quite mild. I got an ubercramp in my wrist from shaking hot sauce into my portion. If I were to enter it in the cook-off, I would add a couple jalapenos for heat.

Okay, gonna stop saying uber now...

Dang, just said it again.

Okay... NOW!

Addendum: Huh, looking back on this, I'm not sure what all I'm counting as a "whole food" ingredient here... I didn't count my black beans because they came from a can, but there were no salt or preservatives added, so... meh? What do you guys count as whole food?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Renaissance Cook Challenge: A Three-Course Meal Inspired by Three Dynamite Ladies

Last night I completed my own entry for the Renaissance Cook Challenge. I had originally planned to base each course of the meal on a cherished piece from my own wardrobe, but then thought hey, why not spread a little love and plug some dynamite style bloggers instead?

The appetizer course was based on this post by Jessica Schroeder of What I Wore. Jessica's style appeals to me because, well... she IS me. She's in her mid-twenties (check), loves vintage clothing (check), believes that personal style should not be wholly governed by trends (check- check), and believes that one need not be uber-wealthy to be uber-classy (check-check-double-check). She suggested I invent "something spicy" based on the outfit pictured. I was happy to oblige, as it's one of my favorite combos of hers.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Inspired by Jessica Schroeder


1 large tomato, cut in half
2 thick slices of onion
Salt, black pepper, and dried cayenne pepper to taste
1 head garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 c. cilantro leaves
Splash sherry vinegar


Heat the oven to 425.

Season the tomato halves and onion slices with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Peel the outer layer of skin from the garlic, leaving the cloves attached to the head. Arrange the tomato, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil over. Roast 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool. Transfer the tomato and onion to a food processor or paddle blender. Add the pulp from the garlic cloves, discarding the skin. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and vinegar.

Pulse on medium speed about 3-5 times, or until the salsa has reached its desired chunkiness. Scrape the salsa into a container with a lid, seal tightly, and chill. I made mine a day in advance so that the flavors would have plenty of time to get to know one another, but a couple hours' chilling time would suffice. Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

My entree took its color cues from this "costume of the day" posted by Kelly Framel, aka The Glamourai. When she's not working her day job as a stylist, Kelly breathes new life into vintage jewelry, which you can find for sale at Shrimpton Couture and The Glamporium. She did not have any special requests as far as what dish I made in honor of her, so I picked an outfit I loved and carried on with the Southwest-ish culinary theme.

Pork Loin Spirals With Corn and Black Beans
Inspired by Kelly Framel


1 c. black beans, cooked
1 c. corn, fresh shucked or thawed frozen
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra to baste
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar, plus extra to de-glaze
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt, plus extra to season the meat
1/4 tsp. pepper, plus extra to season the meat
6 large garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 2 lemons, grated or minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 inches fresh ginger, grated
2 pork tenderloin fillets, weighing about 1 1/4 lbs each
1/2 c. Manchego cheese, diced small


Mix all ingredients except the pork loin and Manchego in a container with a lid. Store in the fridge to marinate for 8-48 hours, stirring periodically.

Around the same time you assemble the filling, cut into each pork loin lengthwise. Stop at least 1/4" short of cutting it in half. Make another incision from the center moving outward. Again, do not cut all the way through. Unfold. Each loin should now be about 4 times its original width.

Spread the meat on a hearty surface that can take a good pounding. Cover it in plastic wrap and bang it with a mallet until it's good and flat. Season with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge until ready to cook.

Heat the oven to 400.

Saute the marinated filling over medium heat until the garlic grows soft and flavors the other components. Deglaze with additional sherry vinegar if necessary. This will take about 5-7 minutes, but if you were a chickenless cook, you would taste as you go ;)

Spread the pork flat in an oiled baking pan. Allow the filling to cool a few minutes, then divide it evenly between the two fillets and spread it over, leaving a border of 3/4" to 1". Sprinkle on the cheese. Roll the loins up lengthwise and secure with 6 or more pieces of kitchen twine each. Baste each loin with a bit of olive oil. Roast about 1 hour. Remove the twine and cut into rounds from top to bottom. Serves 6-8.

Dessert was inspired by this frock posted by Fleur de Guerre of Diary of a Vintage Girl. She, like Kelly, gave me free reign to choose from her oodles of fabulous photos. I imagine this one wouldn't have been her first pick; she's a self-described "part-time pinup girl and full-time Forties enthusiast," and this look is more 50s. But I'm sure she'll approve of the azure after-dinner cocktails I served in her honor.

Blue Hawaiian Pina Coladas
Inspired by Fleur de Guerre

Ingredients (Alcoholic Version)

4 oz. rum
2 oz. blue curacao
6 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. fresh pineapple chunks
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar or simple syrup
10 ice cubes

Ingredients (Kid-Friendly Version)

6 oz. whole milk
6 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. fresh pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp. sugar or simple syrup
A few drops blue food coloring
10 ice cubes


Place all ingredients in a blender and run on high until smooth. Serves 4 (or 2 double-tall as pictured).

Thanks to everyone who participated in this challenge! If you haven't participated yet and you live on my side of the globe, it's not too late. Your time isn't up until the day is over...

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cake Enthusiast Dave Spencer Takes the Renaissance Cook Challenge

If you have been reading along with me for awhile, you may remember Dave Spencer as one of my Chickenless Cooks of the Week (a feature I have since discontinued, as it seemed to spotlight fantastic accomplishments without inspiring the "real" people who read my blog). Dave has stepped up to my Renaissance Cook Challenge by posting this hilarious podcast, starring his adorable family of superheroes! I could not be more tickled.

Remember, the deadline for this challenge is Tuesday the 26th- less than a week away. So what's YOUR other hobby? Remember to leave a comment or write so I don't accidentally miss your post.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Sweet Lentils Three Ways

From top: Curry Spiced Lentil Salad With Coconut, Lentil Cookies, Sweet 'n' Sour Lentil Stew With Poached Kumquats

In less than two weeks' time, I served uncommonly sweet lentils three ways... four if you want to count the Pineapple Crisp (I don't, given that it was a quick fix for Lentil Cookies gone awry). And the kicker is, I didn't realize I'd done it until this morning as I was reading back over my posts. Great inspiration if you happen to be as short on funds as I am, huh? Who needs three different sources of protein to keep meals interesting?

I pondered the phenomenon and came up with the following advice for repeating a culinary theme several times within a short duration.

1) If two ingredients pair commonly, such as lentils and rice, banish one of them for at least two out of three dishes.

2) Consider that you have a wide range of different courses to work with... appetizer, entree, dessert... One doesn't often put lentils in cookies, but hey, it worked (kinda).

3) Think different times of day. For example, I had my salad for lunch and my stew for dinner.

4) Alter your serving temperatures. The central ingredient should be flexible enough to eat hot, chilled, or at room temp.

5) Attempt different textures in each dish. Lentils are easy to mask, transitioning stealthily from a crunchy salad to a chewy cookie to a smooth stew; but you can even do this with a not-so-subtle ingredient like pork. Serve it grilled one night; braised, shredded, and wrapped in tortillas the next.

Have you ever repeated a culinary theme subconsciously? If so, what kept said theme so fresh?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Technology Doesn't Love Me

As of today, The Chickenless Kitchen has 50 followers, which I am super psyched about!! I feel lucky to have so many readers who share my weird sense of humor and yet-weirder taste. Thank you all for visiting, and I look forward to sharing much more with you in the future.

While I'm on the subject of followers and such...

Technology doesn't love me as much as you guys apparently do (look at my blog template- just LOOK at it), but despite my dinosauristic tendencies, I have gotten around to some social networking recently:

1) You may now become a fan of The Chickenless Kitchen on Facebook

2) You may now follow @Chickenless on Twitter

3) You may now bookmark my recipes on Delicious by clicking the nifty icon that appears at the end

Last but ABSOLUTELY not least, thanks again to Cajun Chef Ryan, who recently granted me the privilege of a guest post on his tasty-tastic blog!

Now if I could pick all your brains for just a moment... What do you like about The Chickenless Kitchen so far? What could I improve? Please feel free to leave a comment or write Again, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to visit my little blog!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Got Leftover Kumquats?

If not, that's all right- this recipe begs for substitutions. Try using different types of onions, different types of rice, a different lager, fennel in place of celery, or orange slices with their juice in place of kumquats with their poaching liquid.

Sweet 'n' Sour Lentil Stew With Poached Kumquats


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced large
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dried cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp. salt, divided
2 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. Yuengling Lager
1 c. preserved tomatoes, diced (I really have got to get Pomi to advertise with me)
2 tsp. tomato paste
3/4 c. lentils, cooked
3/4 c. rice, cooked
1/2 of a poblano pepper; roasted, peeled, and chopped
2 Tbsp. kumquat poaching liquid
Juice of 1/4 lemon


In a stew pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Saute until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.

Add the cilantro and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Saute one minute more.

Add the broth, beer, preserved tomatoes, and tomato paste. De-glaze the pot. Bring contents to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer over medium-low for 15 minutes.

Add the lentils, rice, poblano pepper, kumquats, poaching liquid, and remaining salt. Simmer 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serves 4.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kumquat Shortcake

Last night, friends treated my husband and me to a smashing roast chicken dinner (thanks again, Paul and Alice!) I volunteered to bring dessert. In recent weeks, I've had a hankering for something fruity and chile-influenced, which led me to poach these kumquats with a poblano pepper and serve them over a Sara Lee pound cake.

Oh, all right, you caught me.

The Sara Lee pound cake was a last-minute save. Anti-corporate control freak that I am, I made a batch of biscuits; but for some reason they came out tasting like bitterness incarnate. Will have to play around with that recipe for a bit and post it at a later date.

These kumquats, on the other hand, are to die for. Their tart-and-sweet flavor meshed excellently with the cinnamon, cloves, and chile.

Poached Kumquats With Poblano


2 pints kumquats
1/2 a poblano pepper
2 c. water
2/3 c. orange blossom honey
2/3 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves


Heat your broiler to the highest setting. Meanwhile, cut the kumquats into thirds horizontally (yes, you have to de-seed them, which is a pain; but it's not necessary to peel them.)

Place the pepper skin-side-up on an oiled baking sheet. Broil about five minutes, or until the skin is wrinkly and partially black on top. Remove and let cool. Peel off the skin.

Combine the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the kumquats and poblano, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Fish out the poblano, drain so that the poaching liquid runs back into the pan, and chop. Store the chopped poblano in a small container with a couple spoonfuls of poaching liquid to cover. Store the kumquats separately in the rest of the liquid. To serve, spoon the kumquats over any of the following (or something else that I haven't thought of):

Ice Cream
Sweet Cornbread
Corn Pudding
Bread Pudding
Fruit Salad

Garnish with the chopped poblano. (Optional: Beat 2 Tbsp. of poaching liquid from the kumquats with 1 c. heavy whipping cream.) Serves 4-5.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

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