Monday, December 28, 2009

Cold Night a fahr, Miles Davis and some Chili

You know why I love being a grownup? Because I can choose to sit outside by the fahr with my husband, eat dinner, then come in and putz with my blog instead of cleaning the kitchen, which I know I SHOULD do, because no one is standing over me saying "You have to clean the kitchen before you go do your blog." Which, if I did, would put me that much closer to bedtime, and you poor people would miss out on my chili and quesadilla recipes! So there you go.

I'm going to have to be seriously creative on dinner blogging tonight, because you know good and well I don't have any damned pictures.

It's cold as (insert your personal metaphor here). I'm kind of partial to "a well-digger's @$$", but you use what you like. Anyway, for here, it's cold. The temperature is dropping steadily, and it's supposed to dip into the 20s. Hey, that's COLD here. We're beach people! So I decided I was feeling kind of chili-like tonight, and I didn't feel like Wych Fowler's, so I did my own.

A brief (or maybe a long) aside, since my email just came in and my brother just sent me this. Ordinarily, I'd keep up with it myself, but I kind of hid in a hole after about April, so I lost track. Do you people realize it's a decade in the 2000s? Holy crap! A Rush of Blood to the Head and Kid A are almost a decade old??  No way!!  I have a good number of these albums. I remember hearing the new Norah Jones album on NPR, buying it, and listening to it on our sailboat. We'd take dinner ingredients down to the marina, listen to Come Away With Me, cook dinner, look at the stars, and sway with the boat wakes that came through the ICW. Now we don't have the boat anymore (fine by both of us) and we enjoy our dinners outside by the fire. But a decade? Ten whole years? This is evidently what getting old is about. I listen to these records and the ones I know bring back specific memories of places we've been, things we've done and stages of life we've experienced and, (in some cases thankfully), left behind. (Again, I claim, 2009 was kind of a woofer of a year.)

But I digress. We were talking about chili, weren't we? And tonight, we happened to be sitting outside by the fire, drinking wine, waiting for the chili to simmer, listening to Miles Davis Kind of Blue. Which I have been, off and on today. I reckon family joy, a big party, a new ukulele, and a lot of sugar finally caught up with me. I had a minor crash this morning.

Which is one reason that chili and a fahr were perfect tonight. I got to play creative in the kitchen without much chance of failure, (seriously, it's HARD to eff up chili), and still have plenty of sit by the fire and snuggle time with my Pootie Pie.

Beef and Black Bean Chili
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Black Bean Quesadillas

I've been threatened by my husband if I don't get these recipes down, so I'll put them here for posterity. He enjoyed them large. I'm going to pretend it didn't have to do with the red wine he had while he was waiting for dinner.

Beef and Black Bean Chili
Honesty, what ISN'T in this? Chili is one of those "oh, THAT looks good" kind of dishes, where everything goes in. And yes, Texans, there are BEANS in this chili. Deal.

Serves 8 dainty eaters, 6 normal eaters, 4 big eaters, and 2 people who are eating too much.

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 canned adobo chilis plus 1 tsp. sauce from can.(No, not two CANS. Two CHILIS)
1 tsp. kosher salt (or thereabouts)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (more or less)
1 lb. lean ground beef (yeah, you can use turkey, but, I'm not a fan. Just use lean ground beef.Seriously. It's better.)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 bottle beer (I prefer Negra Modelo, you pick what you like, but a dark beer works best here. What you do with the other half is your business.)
2 cans black beans
1 Tbs. Reduced Fat Sour Cream for garnish (Do NOT use that non-fat kind. I don't know what's in that stuff, but it tastes like my parents' warehouse and they sell pool and spa chemicals)

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, sautee the onion and the garlic in the olive oil until translucent (I'm going to copy that somewhere so I can just cut and paste it, as many recipes as it's in). Add the meat and toss in a GENEROUS pinch of kosher salt. Don't be stingy. Salt on the front end, not the back end. You won't have to use as much. Add the rest of the spices. Put in a few healthy grinds of black pepper. Stir occasionally until beef is browned. Add half the beer and "reserve" the other half for whatever use you see fit. Dump the can of chopped tomatoes and half of one of the cans of black beans into a food processor with the chiles. Zap it a few times until it's reasonably pureed, and dump that in the pot. Add the remaining can and a half of black beans. Simmer while you listen to Miles Davis outside by a fire and drink a glass of wine. Come back in and cook the quesadillas.

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

4 whole wheat tortillas
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly (a vegetable)
1 Tbs. olive oil, or if you insist, butter (shh!)
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2 cups mushrooms, chopped (another vegetable)
2 oz. goat cheese
2 oz. skim mozarella
butter, for cooking the quesadillas

In a medium frying pan, sautee the onions over medium low heat in the olive oil. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir a very long time, until the onions are caramelized, about 10 - 12 minutes. Don't skimp on the time. You want them dark golden brown. Remove them from the pan and turn the heat up to medium high. No, higher. No, get on in there and turn that heat up. Wait - that's too much, back off a little. That's good. Now, put in another Tbs. of olive oil and toss in the mushrooms. See what I mean? You need some heat for those. You want them good and seared. Stir them around until they're nice and browned, about 6 - 7 minutes. Add the onions and mix together. Remove that from the pan and clean it out. Put back on medium low heat and add a small pat of butter, about 1 tsp. Put in a tortilla. Spread the onion and mushroom mixture and top with half the goat cheese and half the mozarella. Top with another tortilla. Cook until brown on one side, then flip. Cook until brown on the other side and keep warm in an oven at 200F. Cook another quesadilla the same way. Slice into quarters and serve with the chili. Preferably by a fire. With your sweetie.

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