Saturday, August 7, 2010

CHILLI BEAN-LOVER RETURNS HOME FROM THE DESERT

 Now I'm not advocating feeding your baby loads of hot chilli.  But perhaps keep an open mind. During our US travels Billie embraced food with a hint of heat, with both hands.

Here's a new recipe below to try out on all the family. It's a fabulous vegetable chilli served to us by Great Grandma Eve in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Billie's first accidental chilli outing was in Chicago when we stumbled upon a fantastic buffet at Oak Park's popular Indian restaurant - Khyber Pass. Billie ate spoonfuls, and handfuls, of the palek paneer without even wincing. The popular spinach and cheese curry often contains no chilli, but this one definitely had a wee kick. 

Black beans, refried beans and chilli beans became our go-to option to keep Billie busy when we were eating out in the US. We're gonna miss this $2 healthy option offered at the many and varied Mexican restaurants we visited in Chicago, and then on our little trip through the south-west desert.

Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona border. Snapped out the window.
 But usually these Billie bean sides were without chilli. Until we got to the Taos Nachos. Billie and I took a later-than-usual dinner excursion, leaving Miles in the Taos hotel dealing with food poisoning picked up in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

 Taos is a gorgeous little arty New Mexican town that sits at the foot of several ski mountains, surrounded by desert. The buildings are all either Adobe or Faux-dobe, to keep the Native American tradition of mud-brick houses alive. Or at least the feeling of it alive.

Sidling into a bustling restaurant bar at 8.30pm with Billie strapped to me in the Ergo, I opt for the vegetarian nachos as an easy dish to share with my bean-hungry bub. Thankfully the staff notice my difficulty easing black beans out from under the fresh jalapeno, and deliver a bowl of plain beans for Billie.

But not before she has managed to consume several bits of jalapeno. Fortunately, each time her reaction is rather mild. A little spluttering and reaching for her water beaker, but then she insists on digging into more of where that came from please.

Dawn on the Amtrak between Arizona and California
Flagstaff, Arizona
I wouldn't go round sprinkling chilli in her food, but when I'm cooking a casserole of vegetarian chilli for the family meal I now know we can meet half way on the heat.

The recipe below called for two tablespoons of chilli, so I opted for just one. Miles and I enjoyed it last night with brown rice and good quality organic sour cream (ie just cream and cultures). Today we'll all enjoy it for lunch.

POST NOTE: Billie ate a bowl for lunch with rice and cheese and a bowl for dinner with sour cream stirred through to mute the chilli. This is a dish to spoon-feed to avoid rubbing in eyes, although Billie did finger feed a few of the beans (her favorite pastime).





GREAT GRANDMA EVE'S VEGETABLE CHILLI

3/4 cup olive oil
2 courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 onions, diced
4 garlic gloves, chopped finely
2 red peppers/capsicums, diced 1/4 inch
800g tinned tomatoes
1 T chilli powder, or crushed dried chillis
1 T cumin
1 T fresh or dried oregano
1 T basil (opt)
black pepper
1 t salt
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 cup fresh parsely, chopped
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (essential - tastes great)
2 T lemon juice
grated cheddar
sour cream
4 scallions/spring onions chopped for garnish

First cook the beans. If you don't have a pressure cooker, soak them for few hours or overnight in 3 cups of water each. Cook separately as chickpeas take longer kidney beans. Drain water and place in large pots with 3 cups of water each. Cook kidney beans for 1 1/4 hours or 25 mins in pressure cooker. Cook chickpeas for 2 1/2 hours or 45 mins in pressure cooker.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a fry pan and add courgette. Saute and then transfer to a large casserole. Heat 1/4 cup oil in the fry pan and add onions, garlic and red peppers. Saute and then transfer to casserole. Place over low heat and add tomatoes, chilli, cumin, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, fennel seeds and parsley. Cook uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Cook brown rice now if using. Corn chips are another option.

Now stir in beans, chickpeas, dill, lemon. Cook for another 15 minutes. Stir well, adjust seasonings. Serve with scallions, sour cream and grated cheese on the side. 

Eve served hers with guacamole, refried beans, Italian beans and corn chips. It was a bit of a Welcome to Baraboo Feast.

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