It’s the final stretch of the holidays – NYE is imminent and the house is still littered with stocking remnants and wrapping ends. At a certain age, Christmas isn’t ruled by the loot. It becomes a family tradition in the way a holiday is meant to be enjoyed… and now, it’s on to New Year’s Eve… Bah Humbug!

I’ve spoken before about the pressures of NYE. This year, for the first time in a long while, I will be working. I’m not too upset about it – it’ll prevent me from throwing together half-hearted plans ending in an epic hangover and few poignant memories.

Incidentally: if/when you wake up with a hangover, do yourself a favor and make this for breakfast… or brunch or dinner – my Double Bacon and Maple Dill Sammie

bacOn to resolutions. I try and resist, but eventually it crosses my mind and I make some sort of promise to myself that doesn’t necessarily get broken, but will no doubt be forgotten.

This year I have one I am gunning to stick to. With the city’s ever-eroding economy and dollar, the climbing utilities and living costs, and our generation’s bleak financial future, I aim to tighten purse strings.

Saving has never been my strong suit… but it will be now. I’d like to conserve water more effectively – streamlining laundry and dishwashing practises. I want to be conscious of energy consumption – turning off lights and settling for a less than blazing lighting scheme. Most of all, I want to respect food as much as possible. Less wastage, more ingenuity.

I’m hoping to be able to share some tips and tricks in the coming months as I learn how to make this a leaner New Year. The whole world needs to return to a time when conservation was expected, not a trend.

(Note: my ultimate pet peeve as a server is when people automatically order water – whether for themselves or the whole table – and drink only a few sips. Water shouldn’t be taken for granted! Not all countries just turn on a tap and drink. Just because we can doesn’t mean we have to.)

So, Happy New Year, friends of the Harlot. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart – and tummy – and I look forward to sharing lots of new flavours and plenty of great artists to inspire.

Here’s one of my inspirations:

EM

 

STICK TO YOUR SPOON CHICKEN CHILLI

makes enough to freeze or feed 4-6

Is there any better cold weather food than chilli? It defines comfort. It’s so nice to have a pot simmering away on the stove top as the snow blusters outside. We all have our own approach to this versatile food and it’s pretty difficult to get it wrong. As easy as it is to make, I still seek out recipes to see how others are doing it.

Here, I am using a veg puree that is first roasted to achieve a caramelized and slightly sweet taste. It’s an extra step, but it gives a unique depth to the flavours and adds a thick and rich consistency. It doesn’t add any extra time to your prep – pop it in the oven and continue the browning process – it all finishes up in the same time.

I like ground chicken for this, there are so many flavours working here, you won’t miss the red meat. Similarly, you can go vegan on this with veg stock and either soy ground round or extra beans or lentils. The cooking time is set for an hour, but as long as everything is cooked, you can crack into it whenever you like. On the other hand, I like to let it blip away a few hours to really meld it all into a beautiful and rich mess. Or, pour it into a slow cooker and let it go a few hours – or a day – and develope an even deeper flavour.

As always with stews and curries, this guy will be even better over the next few days.

chill

 

INGREDIENTS

2 onions, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

500 grams ground chicken or turkey

4 celery stalks, chopped and leaves reserved (if there are any)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 heaping tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

2 x 540 mL/19 oz cans black beans, pintos and/or kidney beans, drained and well rinsed

1 – 2 chipotle chilis from a can, diced (for extra fire you can add the sauce too)

1 1/2 cup stock (beef, chicken or veg)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

796 mL/28 oz can whole tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

optional: 1-3 fresh chilis

 

Preheat oven to 375F. Toss 1 of the chopped onions, carrot and red pepper with 1 tbsp oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes, shaking once.

chilli-veg

Place a large pot with lid over high heat. Add the rest of the oil and the ground meat. Season well with salt and pepper and sauté until brown and all the liquid has evaporated – about 5 minutes. Add the remaining onion and celery (reserving leaves), continuing to sauté another 5 minutes until they start to soften. Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic, tomato paste and spices, heat through for a minute more until the tomato paste begins to caramelize. Add the beans and combine. Pour in the chipotles, stock, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar.

Meanwhile, remove the veg from the oven and puree in a blender with the tomatoes, sugar, 1 tsp salt, reserved celery leaves and fresh chilis, if using. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Pulse until mostly combined, leaving a little texture. Pour into the pot and stir. Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour – an hour and a half, adding a little water or stock if it’s sticking.

chilli-blue-pot-vert

Season to perfection. Serve with some fiery hot sauce (I like Cholula and Valentina’s), or a little shredded cheese, sliced scallions and a dollop of sour cream. Toast up some chunky bread with lots of butter or some corn chips and hibernate until the pot is empty.

chill3

Special thanks to the unwavering support of my parents and family – both here and in FLA, as well as in KC. Thanks Eleanor for the Mexican connections and also to Calgary. Ruth and John for being a second family. My friends – supremely talented artists and cheerleaders. Branch Yoga for essentially changing my life. Thanks to my lakeshore support crew and family – Emmett for your crazy pooper ways and Johnny… thank you. xo

All the best…

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