Veggie Mushroom Chili, Step-by-Step

I love a traditional, spicy chili, slow-simmered. This is a vegan-friendly version, designed to simmer in the oven while you watch a movie, chase your kids around, or finish that report you need to get written. I hope you enjoy it. Since I get requests for recipes, I’ll walk you through it. You can most definitely adjust the proportions – this makes a large Dutch oven full, which is dinner, plus lunch, for two, and several more meals’ worth for the freezer, or just enough for a big crowd for dinner.

You’ll need:

Olive or canola oil (I am using canola these days because it is produced in Canada)

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

2 large carrots

1 green and 1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno

2 cans or l large bowl of cooked beans, as you like (kidney are traditional, but we had chickpeas and black-eyed peas on hand)

2 cans diced tomatoes stewed without salt (large cans, 28oz.)

1 T/15ml each of chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika

1 chopped chipotle in adobo (or another jalapeno and a bit more smoky paprika)

1/4c/60ml red lentils (split peas will also work, but take longer to cook)

If you’re working alone, chop everything, then start. If you are working as a duo, chop the onions and garlic, and the other can stir and manage the cooking while one chops.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Turn the oven on to 350F

Add the onions and garlic:

Stir and sweat these until they start to get shiny, then add the celery:

 

 

 

 

 

You can use a machine to chop, but honestly, the time to chop each vegetable gives just about the right gap for the prior one to cook a little. Now for the carrots – these aren’t a traditional chili vegetable, perhaps, but they have the tremendous effect of adding a little sweetness to the chili, as do the onions as they sweat down more and more.

 

After the carrots, the peppers, the most tender of the vegetables, come last. Use any colour, but red and green give a great combination. Continue to cook until this mixture of vegetables (the “holy trinity plus” or a mirrepoix) have begun to soften nicely. Now you’re ready for the rest of the ingredients.

Tomatoes come first, then the beans. Stir everything well so you get a good mixture.

Canned beans are easy and fast, but they often have a lot of added salt, which most of us don’t need any more of in our modern diets. We get enough naturally. In the EAT section of this blog you can find a recipe to cook your own; they can also be prepared very nicely in a pressure cooker.

Adding a few red lentils will help it thicken and contribute to the meatier texture some people prefer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring this to a simmer over medium heat, then put it all in the oven uncovered for at least an hour. 

 

It will cook down and thicken considerably; you can let it carry on for as long as it takes until you are ready to serve. Sometimes we will make a batch of cornbread on the side, but it really didn’t need anything else. Enjoy!

I’m always grateful for the opportunity to cook together with friends or family and to have a warm, low-maintenance dinner at the ready. Freeze whatever you don’t need, and remember it’s always better on the second day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort = Grammy Food

Storm of the year! Here we are, having been tested by snow, ice and wind. Fortunately so far all is intact, we have heat and light, and we have managed to clear a path to the road.

What made us leave our walk-to-the-subway-and-avoid-the-elements existence? Who knows. But the call of this land is strong and the battle of the wind and water seems to actually strengthen our pioneer spirit. What we do know, is that the pioneers knew sustenance when they saw it. Our Grammy was a comfort food expert, and she always made us feel better by serving this: onion gravy pork chops with mashed potatoes and veg (any veg!)

Travel safely wherever you are, and honour your grandmothers. They’re worth it. And while you’re at it, learn to cook the favourite thing they make. Someday you’ll need it.

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Ignore Your Food

20121125-212410.jpg What a day! We worked a good part of the afternoon on our garden,then retired to work on our Christmas cards. For dinner, a lovely slab of local salmon, which will continue to feed us in the days to come.

We started by making a modified “Potatoes Anna”, with sage and some Old Growlet cheese interspersed. Halfway to done, we popped the salmon in the oven, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with chipotle powder. A few lightly-cooked carrots on the side, and we were satisfied.

The Slow Road to Deliciousness!

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The weather in Ontario this week hardly constitutes the kind of weather for “cold weather food”. But it’s a small sacrifice for something so delicious. We had two lovely local lamb shanks in the freezer. While those were browning in a Dutch oven on top of the stove, we chopped a carrot, a hot pepper, a leek, and a stalk of celery. When the shanks were browned we turned the oven to 350F. Then we added the veg and sautéed until they were softened a bit. After deglazing with a little beer, we added a stalk of thyme (the leaves will fall off and the stem can be fished out before serving). Other flavours included a few raisins, 3 chopped dried apricots, 6 pitted, chopped black olives, some oregano, chili powder, and ground cloves.

We poured over a pint of diced tomatoes (or half a large can), covered it, and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Then we turned the shanks, let it go for another 20 minutes. For the last 10 minutes we took the lid off, and in the meantime, made mashed potatoes. The lamb was fall-off-the-bone delicious. Happy Groundhog Day!

Purple Chicken Soup!

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After roasting a chicken the other night, we decided to make some soup with the leftovers. All was going well, until it came time to add the vegetables. There were good choices – garlic, ginger, celery, onion and mushrooms. Some tasty small pasta. Then the trouble began…I decided to use a couple of carrots that were in the fridge. One was purple. Not thinking, in they went. Before I knew it, the soup was an awesome shade between fuchsia and lilac. We’re too frugal to throw out an perfectly good pot of soup…so after eating a bowl with some homemade rye bread, we put the rest in the freezer to serve to some adventurous young visitor!

It's the Great Pumpernickel

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This weekend I tried pumpernickel from Jean Paré’s classic cookbook, “Breads”.

It turned out so well I kept looking for excuses to eat it. So lunch had to be a sandwich! Albacore tuna mixed with tomato, dill, grainy mustard and light mayo made the filling tasty enough to hold up to the robust flavour of the bread. And with the whole grain rye flour, the loaf has enough fibre to enjoy without regrets.

Friday Fish and…Frugality

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Long day! The bathroom reno revealed that we have been sitting on the upstairs toilet on a wing and a prayer. Weather made us late for an important appointment. It’s payday and we haven’t shopped but have leftovers from the last meal plan. What to do?

We cooked some long whole wheat pasta. Meanwhile, we used a tiny bit of olive oil and sautéed a shallot and half a bulb of fennel. When the pasta was nearly done, we added a can of wild-caught salmon, a diced tomato, and some red pepper pesto to the pan. Then we tipped in the cooked pasta and let it sit for 5 minutes to gain flavour.

When it was ready we stirred, served, and sprinkled with some chopped dill.

Now…off to the couch to forget the day. (Thanks East Dell, we’re sure you’ll help with that).

Spread a Little Sunshine!

20111220-085450.jpg Happy anniversary! Today we’re giving thanks and celebrating as we enter another year of marriage (31!). Breakfast is Grammy Hergett’s Sunshine Salad…to make it for two, cut the rind off a pink grapefruit and a couple of oranges, and dice the, bite-size. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar or honey and some happy memories. Let stand for a few minutes so the flavours can marry. We added a few frozen strawberries from our summer’s effort, but usually we serve it simply. If you’re also celebrating a December anniversary, congratulations, and blessed be your union.

Oven Fish and Chips with Heritage Carrots

20111114-152932.jpg What do you do when you want fish and chips but you know it’s just not the healthiest option? We made these great oven fillets and chips.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into “fries” and toss with just a little olive oil and salt. Put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Then julienne the carrots. Again, just a little oil, and a grating of ginger. Wrap these in a foil packet so they’ll steam and stay moist.

Next, in two shallow dishes (pie plates work well) prepare the dipping ingredients. In the first, a whole egg beaten with a little milk. In the second, a mix of cornmeal and whole wheat flour, some dried dill, and chili powder. Dip the fish fillets in the egg mix, then in the cornmeal mix, to coat. Put on the sheet with the “fries”.

Put the baking sheet as well as the foil packet in the oven. Bake about 15 minutes, flip the potatoes, and then leave for another 5 or 10, until fish flakes with a fork.

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