Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Hot & Green Chili with Corn Bread: Guilt-and-Gluten-Free

Lean and Mean.  No Meat, No Beans, No Gluten, No Guilt. 

Perhaps it's my culinary cultural background. (Eastern European Jewish?) Or the fact that I live in a climate that’s hot (two and a half months out of the year).  Perhaps it’s because I cook in a (con)fusion of styles and thoroughly enjoy a taste of Cajun, Indian, Mexican, Caribbean, Asian, and TexMex. Whatever the reason, chiles are a staple in my kitchen. 
Hanging on my pantry door, there’s a bouquet of dried chiles, notably for a little good luck and kitchen magic. On hand and in plentiful supply, I have all manners of roasted, powdered and fresh chiles: anaheim, ancho, chipotle, jalapeno, poblano, seranno, habanero.  
Chiles. I love the sound of their names, the look of them, their color and shape.  And then there’s the flavor.  Smoky, aromatic, earthy, fruity, pungent, piquant ... and hot.  That inimitable heat from the tip of the tongue all the way down actually releases endorphins, a fact which might explain the pleasure. . . 
Chili, chilli or chiles? 
The word chilli refers to a wide variety of fruit called chile peppers or hot peppers. Technically, chile peppers are berries of the genus Capsicum that fall into two categories: hot and sweet. All have their own flavors and levels of heat.  While the seeds pack a punch, the real heat in chillis is capsaicin,the oil found in the white flesh or veins to which the seeds are attached. Fresh chillis are customarily stemmed, seeded and deveined before cooking.  
Chilli heat is indexed according to a somewhat subjective measurement, known as the Scoville scale. The number of Scoville heat units are used to the amount of capsaicin present on a scale of zero (representing the mild bell pepper) to the 100,000 to 500,000 assigned to habaneros or scotch bonnets. The jalapeno falls in the middle range of 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. 
I’ll spare you the science of measurement used in high pressure liquid chromatography, and cut to the chase with a recipe that celebrates the chile pepper in all its glory, sweet and hot, in a dish that’s not for the faint of heart(burn). 
Guilt-Free and Gluten-Free 
White Hot & Green Chili with Corn Bread 
No meat, no beans, this one’s as lean and mean as a chili can get.  And for our friends challenged with gluten-sensitive enteropathy, I’m going gluten-free with an accompanying corn bread recipe of my own invention.  
Ingredients for White Hot ‘n’ Green Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 gloves garlic
1 medium onion chopped fine
2 leeks, cut in 1 inch slices
1.5 pounds tomatillos diced 
1 yellow pepper (sweet)
1 banana pepper
3 or 4 jalapeno peppers (roasted)
3 or 4 medium hot red guajillo peppers (roasted)
2 or 3 serrano peppers
1 or 2 habanero peppers
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
Sea salt to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro
(Variation for a meat option: 1 pound pork tenderloin)
Roast chiles: heat in a skillet, to char skins
Seed and devein chiles and chop in small pieces
In an 8-quart pan, heat olive oil, add garlic and brown
Add vegetables, cook until softened
Add chicken stock, sugar, cider and seasonings
Simmer one half hour
With 1/4 cup reserved chicken stock, add flour to make
thickening, add mixture to chili
Before serving, add 1 up chopped cilantro
Serve with dollop of sour cream, shaved cheddar cheese, green onions
Gluten-Free Corn Bread
(This one’s a first for me.  With all the gluten-free discussion, I thought I’d try to see just how challenging baking is with rice and soy flours.  No biggie (though the ingredients are not inexpensive.)  Whole Foods (the grocery chain)  is well set up for gluten-free diets, offers consultants and a decent web site with loads of recipes.  I’ve taken the basic recipe from the site, then improvised, as follows.  

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cut brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Option: 2 tablespoons sweet pepper marmalade 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place butter in a 9-inch square baking pan or in a small cast iron skillet. Put the pan in the preheating oven until butter is melted. Remove from oven and tilt the pan back and forth to coat. Set aside.

Mix corn flour, corn meal, soy flour, brown rice flour, salt, brown sugar and baking soda together. Add eggs, milk, melted butter and apple sauce.   Combine with a few strokes, not over-beating. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
 (Option: for sweet pepper marmalade recipe, revisit SKC, Grilling Cheese. Any Questions?) 
Hmmm-mm.  Now that I know the way to gluten-free, I’ll have to try it more often. 
Still craving that classic Super Bowl Chili?   For my version of that manly-man,  take-no-prisoners, Texas-style dish of meat ‘n’ beans, red tomatoes and fire, please visit my Chili Afternoon, posted in a previous OS Kitchen Challenge,  December 26.  
And thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

All my flaws are fatal. Eventually.

A little exercise in self reflection?  Perhaps.  
This in response to an"Open Call" on Open Salon on the subject of 
'Fatal Flaws: Got Any?" 

  • I’m eco-unfriendy. I take long showers and leave the lights on. 
  • I take up too much closet space.  I like to shop. 
  • I buy books I know I’ll never read.
  • I daydream.
  • I’m a terrible driver. 
  • I can be accident prone on a bicycle. 
  • I like to cook and serve people.  Too much.
  • I can be disorganized. In a very methodical way. 
  • I can be opinionated. And indecisive. All at once.
  • I am not always the hero in my own story.
  • I can’t say so.  I often speak in mid-sentence. 
  • I have the hardest time saying goodbye

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why This Post Must Suck. And Who Says So on Open Salon?

Oy-yoy, what some will do to get a little attention on Open Salon.  I’m not one for baring my soul online.  But I do have a thing or two to get off my chest, titless wonder that I am.  

Proceeding at my own risk:    

First, many thanks to Caitlin Kelly for her Open Call to a BlogSturm und Drangwith her provocative submission, 15 Reasons I Don’t Read Most Blogs.   Clueless, I read her post on Saturday morning, thinking how fine and generous a piece.  Here she was, (or so I thought) a writer-to-writer offering her insight into her work and sharing her sensibility as a reader.  I took her words as helpful advice. Plausible reasons why she won’t be reading my sorry-ass blog any time soon. Nothing to get into a lather about (albeit bad form, ending a sentence with a preposition). Always room for improvement, blah, blah, bloggity-blog.    

Right? Write. Write.  

But (i-know, i-know, you don’t start a sentence with but) but really, how about that dust-up over Caitlin’s post?  Wasn’t that the best?  Such snarky, cathartic fun.  Better than Saturday Night Live, bigger than the Biggest Loser, more ruthless thanSurvivor, and scarier than American Idol. Is it possible to get voted off this show?  Can I possibly lose my password and my OS identity? Just wondering.    

I joined Open Salon just over two months ago, with the expectation to be challenged.  But I had no idea I’d be so entertained. I have a blog of my own, but it moves at a turtle’s pace on Blogger.  On Open Salon it’s post or perish in our own little Now-or-Neverland. All blog,all the time. Bring it on.  Blogging in the fast lane, here’s an audience of natural-born serial killer readers and writers.  Blogging our guts out.  

Such color and style! (i-know, i-know, use exclamation points sparingly) .  We’ve got writers of all stripes and birds of all feathers.  We have monkeys in the trees. Reigning dogs and cats, pfffft! (Oh,you know who you are.) We are home of the brave: we are writers of fighting words, like zumalicious,  biting and clawing our way to essential truths.  We have good natured cranks and cursers. We have dueling identities and dual personae.  (I’m so excited to know this and now wonder who’s who and to whom.)  We have good soulsartists and poets, hot shot photographers and wickedly good cooks.  And then of course, there’s the petting zoo, the huggers and kissers. If you can win their hearts and minds, more power to you.  If not, tomorrow’s another day, another post. (And who says youcan’t start and end a sentence with and?)      

There are those who say there’s no forum quite like this site.  I would like to see our stats.   Exactly what are our numbers, how many bloggers are we in our collective word co-op? Who cares, who’s watching, who’s tipping, and what about me, me, me?

What troubles me on Open Salon is not the company.   I love the company I keep here.  What I find disturbing is my addiction to this site.  Like an itch I have to scratch.  I’m obsessed.  Possessed.   Like an adolescent girl, lost in her own reflection, constantly checking the mirror on a bad hair day.  What is this behavior?  What keeps me up at night? Who is this twitchy, needy person I’ve become, checking email and online signs of life with such compulsion, watching and stirring the pot to see if it bubbles, counting ratings and comments, with an insatiable desire to please. Is this not unseemly, a wanton use of precious time?    

So I ask myself -- and not you (so please don’t comment)  -- exactly what am I doing here, planted in front of a screen? “Go outside and play,” the mother-in-me scolds. Why not put the same effort into reading real books, writing that no-novel in my drawer.  Or learning the banjo, tap dancing, cooking, biking, doing anything but this. Why not go to my day job and leave my online self to the devil’s work? This blogging life, living on a virtual island in my head with all of you is... killing me crazy.  

Okay folks, you’ve heard it and seen it here, and that’s about as bare naked as I’m about to get online.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to put on some clothes and a smile. And go back to work.  

And thanks for gawking by. 

(Image source: not mine, but a girl can always hope. Photo in my files, stolen somewhere from the Internet),