Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The gut warming chili con carne

Winter is upon us. And here, in the Great White North, living in our igloos and going to work riding the public metropolitan dog sled to the nearest maple syrup factory in a cool -30C degrees (-22F)  temperature, sometimes you just need a little something to warm your innards. Something that's hot AND spicy. And there's nothing quite like a good hearty chili as a square meal to fill you up with warmth and melt away those snotsicles. So, this week for my lunches I made a big-ass chili con carne. And boy is it a big batch! A word of advice: if you want, you can cut this recipe in half, otherwise you will end up having to freeze half of it for later.


  • 2 lbs of extra lean ground beef
  • 2x 430ml containers of PC Original Salsa. (This one is good because is liquid)
  • ~1300ml of diced tomatoes (1 large and 1 medium can)
  • 540ml can of pinto beans, drained
  • 540ml can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 small or 1 large onion (regular or spanish onion)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large or 2 regular cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of chili powder

To make a chili, it's the easiest thing ever. First, brown the ground beef with the garlic and onions by themselves. So chop up that garlic finely and those onions as well. We're going to cook those in oil first, then add the beef.

While you're at it, might as well chop the green pepper too!

In a large skillet, add about 1-2 tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil, set the heat to medium and when the skillet is nice and hot, dump the chopped garlic and onions in there and cook them until tender and transparent.

Once your onions are cooked, add the ground beef and cook until the meat is all brown, while mixing it with the garlic and onions.

Once the meat is cooked, transfer everything into a large pot.(and I mean very fucking large, hell a giant steel pot would be perfect) And set it on the heat where the pan was, still at medium heat, and add the green peppers.

Open up the jars of salsa and the cans of diced tomatoes and add to the mix, juice and all. Mix well.

Next, add the beans! Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot!

Finally add all the spices, sugar and chili powder and mix well. At this point, I'm gonna let you in on my secret ingredient. Add a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa and I guarantee your chili will taste amazing!

When everything has been added, make sure you mix well and lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 1 hour 30 min, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick at the bottom or anything like that.

After that, serve in a bowl, top with the Mexicana shredded cheese and a few pieces of baguette bread with some butter and you're done! Now you can warm up to the heat and the spices and feel it in your gut and be ready to fight the great Canadian winter!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Vin & fromages

I haven't cooked in three weeks. Shame on me! I've been making myself lame-o sandwiches for lunch the past two weeks and I'm seriously sick of it. Even though I work downtown now and have access to a million amazing restaurant, I just don't have the budget to eat out every single day. Plus, it's not like restaurants are really careful about what ingredients they use, as long as it's tasty. So it's not necessarily as healthy as a home cooked meal where you carefully use, say, margarine instead of butter, or fat-free Greek yogourt instead of sour cream, etc. Anyway, I've just been very busy the past few weeks due to a bunch of events happening like office parties and get togethers with friends. I miss cooking myself a nice meal. It's a stress reliever for me and I also feel so much more at home and comfortable when my whole apartment smells all nice.

But tonight, I treated myself to something VERY special. My flat neighbour is French - European. Him and his girlfriend went to France to visit some of his family and travel around his country and do some sightseeing. He stayed there for two weeks and brought back some goodies when he flew back to Canada. This weekend, he knocked on my door and handed me a plate with a sample of fine stinky French cheeses that he brought back. I was so surprised and happy! I freakin' LOVE cheese. He told me to get myself some nice wine and savour them. Tonight, that is exactly what I did.

After work, I walked to a big SAQ downtown. It's located on De Maisonneuve just a block east from The Bay. I asked the clerk there for something to accompany some fine strong cheeses. At first I wanted to have port wine with it. A coworker, who's a big wine connoisseur, recommended Otima and the clerk recommended the exact same thing. But, she said that instead of port wine, I should go with a white wine that compliments strong cheeses instead. She recommended a wine from the Domaine de Bellivière called Les Rosiers. It's a Jasnière of Apellation d'Origine Contrôlée from the Loires Valley in France. It was fairly priced so I decided to give it a shot, even though I don't usually like white wine. Who knows, it might be useful if I have any guests over this weekend.

When I got home I stuffed the bottle in my fridge next to the cheese. The cheese had been there for two days and it was stinking it up something fierce. I took the cheese out and let it rest on the counter for an hour as per recommended by my neighbour. When the wine was chilled and the cheese had rested long enough, I poured myself a glass and sat down to taste those cheeses. I was not disappointed.

This is just a small sampler. There is some strong cheddar in there, Camembert and brie I think and Roquefort (blue cheese). Some I forgot what they were called. The cheese had flavour. I mean the taste was there. It was unique and beautiful and just pure cheesy bliss. I don't know how to describe it, but the flavour was just so present, it made every other cheese I ever had taste bland. It's quite the experience. But, the most intense, by far, was the Roquefort. It was so creamy and the taste was so intense. Even way too intense for me and I love blue cheese. Every bite I took, I had to take a sip of wine. Oh and I forgot about the wine. It was one of the best white wine I had and it really went well with the cheese. The taste was very soft and fruity and not too acid. I liked it a lot and accompanied the cheese superbly! If ever you are doing a dégustation de Vin & Fromage (wine and cheese tasting) I would highly recommend this wine as per my experience!