Week Forty Nine

Although the clocks don’t go back until the end of the month, it does feel as if the nights are drawing in and despite the unseasonably mild weather we’re enjoying this week I think that the autumnal chill is heading our way! On the upside we can start getting cosy, I’m already enjoying rediscovering my winter wardrobe (plus buying a few new things to update it!) and, of course, I’ve been enjoying planning some comforting dishes for MenuMistress. One dish I have been thinking of is chilli, what better dish to warm us up on an autumnal evening than a comforting bowl of chilli? Excuse the pun, but this dish is without doubt designed to chase away any ‘chills’! I wanted to share a ‘proper’ American style chilli – the kind you can imagine cowboys eating around a campfire on a cold night under the stars – so I returned to a favourite American cookbook of mine, ‘Five Marys’ Ranch Raised’ by Mary Heffernan. Her ‘Cowboy Chilli’ is the real deal, particularly when served with cornbread. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it makes a large portion (enough for 6-8), so there are leftovers which can be frozen for another day or, even better, used to make another authentic American recipe – ‘Chilli Mac & Cheese’. So, unusually this week, both Menu One, ‘Cowboy Chilli with Cornbread & Honey Butter’ and Menu Two, ‘Leftover Chilli Mac & Cheese’, are from the same cookbook. As both of these menus are rather meaty and on the heavy side, I thought that I would also share a vegetarian recipe. Menu Three is ‘New Potato, Chard and Coconut Curry’, the potatoes in this curry make it a substantial midweek meal, and of course, the spices make it very tasty and warming!…

Hopefully, these recipes will bring some warmth to your week, and help make you and your family feel a little ‘cosier’!…See you next week for my ‘Tuesday Treat’…

Also…I’ve been settling into the autumn with some old, favourite tunes; Music to Cook to…MenuMusic Fifteen is a mix of retro funk. When I was a ‘young, bright thing’ back in the 90’s these were some of my favourite tracks, they still sound fresh today and are perfect to cook along to!…(Listen to them here!)

Menu One

Cowboy Chilli (Serves 6-8)

This Chilli is the real deal, a proper American chilli from a favourite cookbook of mine, ‘Five Marys Ranch Raised’ by Mary Heffernan. I recommend you serve it with ‘Cornbread & Honey Butter’ (recipe below) plus toppings of sour cream, grated cheddar and sliced spring onions…and perhaps some guacamole! The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it makes a large portion (enough for 6-8), so there are leftovers which can be frozen for another day or, even better, used to make another authentic American recipe – ‘Chilli Mac and Cheese’ (recipe below!)…

(I use a mild chilli powder as I prefer a milder flavour, but if you like more heat use a hotter chilli powder!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

900g beef mince

25g chilli powder (see note above)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon cayenne

400g tin pinto beans, rinsed and drained

800g passata

400g tin chopped tomatoes

Sea salt and black pepper

To Serve:

Mild cheddar cheese, grated

Sour cream

A few spring onions, sliced

Cornbread with Honey Butter (recipe below)

Guacamole (recipe below)

  1. In a large casserole pot heat the oil. Add the onion, peppers and a pinch of salt, cook over a medium heat, stirring until the vegetables soften and start to brown – about 8 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the beef and cook stirring until it is just browned – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add all the spices, plus a teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir until well combined.
  4. Add the beans, passata and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the temperature to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the chilli is thick and rich – about 1 hour (if it gets too thick you can add a little water).
  5. Serve bowlfuls of chilli topped with sour cream, grated cheddar and spring onions plus cornbread and/or guacamole on the side (recipes below).

Cornbread with Honey Butter

This is the best!… It is great served with ‘Cowboy Chilli’ (recipe above), but in all honesty it’s a good stand-alone dish…cornbread with honey butter for breakfast is a great start to the day – believe me!…

For the Honey Butter

110g unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon sea salt

For the Cornbread

150g polenta/cornmeal

110g plain flour (gluten free if required)

50g sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

200ml whole milk

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

*9-10 inch round baking dish/tin, greased.

  1. To make the honey butter, put the butter, honey and salt in a small bowl and smash together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for a least 30 minutes before using.
  2. To make the cornbread, in a large bowl, mix  together the polenta, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter, add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Stir until just combined and pour into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake the cornbread in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean – about 17 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving with the honey butter.

Easy Guacamole

I’ve tried a few recipes for guacamole over the years, some have the addition of garlic and tomatoes, but I always return to this easy recipe from Sally Clarke – the flavours are simple so don’t overpower the avocado.

3 ripe avocados, peeled
Juice of 3 large limes
1-2 small chillies, very finely chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves

  1. With a fork, mash the avocados in a bowl until almost smooth – a few lumps are fine.
  2. Stir in the lime juice and add the chillies and salt. Stir in the coriander and adjust to taste by adding more chillies, lime juice or salt.

Menu Two

Leftover Chilli Mac & Cheese (Serves 4-6)

Another favourite recipe from Mary Heffernan’s cookbook ‘Five Mary’s Ranch Raised’. It’s worth making the ‘Cowboy Chilli’ (recipe above) just so that you have the leftovers to make this recipe! It’s a real crowd-pleaser, feel free to add some sautéed mushrooms, peas or blanched broccoli into the mac and cheese before baking if you want a more veggie-based version.

450g macaroni or penne pasta (gluten free if required)

75g unsalted butter

40g plain flour (gluten free if required)

700ml whole milk

225g mild cheddar

About 900g leftover ‘Cowboy Chilli’, warmed (recipe above)

Sea salt and black pepper

*9×13 inch (or similar size) baking dish, greased

  1. Cook the macaroni or penne according to the packet instructions until just al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven, so it is best to have it slightly underdone). Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a medium-low heat. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes until it is slightly thickened, then slowly add the cheese, whisking until smooth. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce, stir until well combined.
  4. Spread the warm chilli in an even layer over the baking dish, then top with the mac and cheese. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned around the edges. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Menu Three

New Potato, Chard & Coconut Curry (Serves 4)

This curry has a lovely soothing, spiced coconut sauce – it’s a real comfort food dish, a perfect dish to restore you and yours midweek! The recipe is from Meera Sodha’s fantastic cookbook ‘East’.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cloves garlic

2.5cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 green chillies, roughly chopped

30g desiccated coconut

400ml tin coconut milk

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

600g new potatoes, halved lengthways (there is no need to peel them)

1½ teaspoons garam marsala

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

200g rainbow chard, stems chopped and leaves shredded

250g frozen peas, defrosted

Basmati rice and chutneys to serve.

  1. Put the cumin, garlic, ginger, chillies and desiccated coconut in a blender with just enough coconut milk to blitz everything to a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the coconut milk, mix gently to form a sauce like consistency – only lightly pulse the mixture otherwise is might split!
  2. In a frying pan with a lid, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the potatoes cut side down and fry for around 15 minutes until they are lightly golden brown and the onions are soft, dark and sticky.
  3. Stir in the garam marsala, turmeric and salt, then add the coconut sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chard stems, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Finally add the chard leaves and peas, cover again and cook for 5-10 minutes until the chard stems, peas and potatoes are tender and the leaves have wilted.
  5. Serve with basmati rice and some chutneys on the side.

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