Minus 14°C. Snow. Windy. Did I mention the minus fourteen degrees celcius already? Well, what can I say… I’m absolutely extatic about it, jumping up and down in front of the window every morning these days~! It’s W.I.N.T.E.R for the first time in… I think it’s been at least 10 years that I’ve dug out a wool sweater during “winter” time and even longer since I’ve been woken up by the neighbour being massively displeased about having to shovel the sidewalk free of snow and letting the whole street know all about it at 5:30 in the morning.
Despite the early hours, the cold, the unavoidable Rudolf’esque nose after a stroll in the snowy park, the “eggshell” walk to avoid slipping and all that jazz… I simply love it when a season lives up to it’s rep! Amongst other thing, preparing and indulging in season-appropriate food is way way more fun and satisfying when the great outdoors actually call for it – like heart and soul-warming stew that tastes much better at sub-zero outside than at the usual lukewarm 10’ish February degrees. Now, being prepared for suprise visits by mischievous (and hungry) friends is one thing – surprise visits by Serious Winter Weather however might just call for a quick-fix dinner that doesn’t require you to step out into the biting cold and taps into the usual staples instead. This “sometime” actually happened to me last week and I remembered an equally nasty – in the soggy, muddy, stormy and disgustingly 12 degree’y November-way – day a couple of years back on which I stumbled across this Tyrian recipe…
…and whipped up the proto-version of today’s (by now refined and tweaked) recipe without even shutting down the computer first. I can now tell you, this hug-in-a-bowl is perfectly capable of driving off both November gloom and unexpected bouts of Polar weather in February. Weee~! So, here we go, my remedy for Mother Nature’s Winter Mood Swings, my Tyrian Firey Slightly Fancy Veggie Chili for 4:
The Tomato & Bean Chili
1 Red Onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2 Sun-dried Tomatoes, preserved in a herby sort of olive oil and…
2 Tbsp of that same Olive Oil
A very generous Pich each of Salt and freshly cracked Pepper
1 Tbsp Concentrated Tomato Purée
A 600g-Tin of chopped San Marzano tomatoes preserved in tomato juice – you could use fresh ones and skin them yourself if you had the patience for it
200g Cannelini or Borlotti Beans
150g Kidney Beans
100g Black Beans
2 Ripe Hass Avocados
½ Lemon, Juice only
2 Tbsp Mexican Spice Blend – anything from texmex, taco, burrito or chili con carne spice blends will do, really
½ Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Ground Chipotle Chillies – if you can’t get a hold of these, very carefully season the stew with Worcestershire Sauce until you reach a punchy level of smokyness
1 Tsp Pimenton Forte or any other Hot Smoked Paprika you have on hand
Optional: 4 “Happy” Organic Eggs – I love having a poached egg with tomato’y soups and stews but I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s not essential to this recipe in any way though, so feel free to skip it~
1) Add the tomato-preserving oil to a large pot sitting on medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic.
2) Stirring occasionally, sauté the lot until the onions start to turn translucent.
3) Stir in the spices and the tomato purée, then close the lid for 3 mins.
4) Add the tinned tomatoes, juice and all, and allow the contents of your pot to simmer away on medium heat for 5 mins.
5) Meanwhile, tip the various types of beans into a sieve and give them a thorough rinse.
6) Shake and wriggle the sieve to get rid of the excess water afterwards.
7) Add the beans to the tomato and onion mixture and close the lid again for another 5 mins.
8) Have a quick taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Make sure to have a bean or two on your test-spoon – they always swallow up a lot of salt and chili-heat in my experience.
9) Almost done, just peel and pit the avocados, dice them and drizzle them with lemon juice, Give them a crack of pepper for good measure before setting them aside for a short time.
10) That’s basically all there is to do, unless you’re going with the optional sort-of poached egg~!
Optional sort-of poached eggs, kind-of Huevos Rancheros style
1) Take the pot holding the chili off the heat so the bubbling action slows down for a few blinks.
2) Use one of the eggs or the back of a ladle to press egg-shaped moulds into the surface of the chili.
3) Crack the eggs into the moulds, pop the lid back on and set the pot back onto the heat until the eggwhites have set.
The Orange & Macadamia Pesto
20g Flatleaf Parsley
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Sun-Dried Tomato
1 Small Red Chili – shop fo taste rather than heat
1 Orange, Juice and Zest
1 Tsp Sherry Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp Macadamia or Cashew Nuts
Note: when I was making this for the pictures, I ran out of macadamias half-way through and used cashews to reach the necessary amounts. It worked rather well, just make sure you use unsalted ones or skip the salt in the recipe.
Note 2: This is one of those moments where I can’t help but giggle a little at the fact that the name of the recipe, pointing towards something fancy and complicated, seems to be longer than the cooking instructions. Which in this case is:
Pop everything into a food processor and whizz it into a coarse pesto. Ta~daaaah!
Assembling the Dish
1) Ladle the chili into warm bowls or soup dishes.
2) Top each serving off with a poached egg, a spoonful of avocado dice and a drizzle of the pesto.