Monday, February 4, 2008

Beef Chili wtih Kidney Beans

My new favorite cookbook is The New Best Recipe from the editor's of Cook's Illustrated. It may not be for everybody, since it lacks any colorful food photos, but I love the extended explanations of the process undertaken to find all of their "best" recipes. Their directions are extremely detailed and clear and it's a great reference for those wanting to learn cooking techniques, from basic to fairly advanced.

This chili recipe came out wonderfully and was even better the next day!

Beef Chili with Kidney Beans
Recipe Courtesy of The New Best Recipe from the editor's of Cook's Illustrated

Serves 8 to 10


2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
2 limes, cut into wedges


1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining beef and cook, breaking up the chunks with the wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until the beef is tender and the chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasonsing with additional salt to taste. Serve with he lime wedges and condiments, if desired.

**I garnished with cheddar cheese, scallions, and sour cream. Delicious!

Baked Pastina Casserole

It's time for some much-needed updating! I've been doing plenty of cooking, but have found that I'm a little lazy about updating...

This dish is from Giada's Everyday Pasta cookbook. It turned out well and is definitely a nice week-night go-to meal. It was also great as left-overs!

Baked Pastina Casserole
Recipe Courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis from Everyday Pasta


1 cup pastina (or any small pasta - I used fusilli/corkscrews)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 small onion)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in small pieces, plus more for buttering the baking dish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onion is soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Add the chicken mixture to the bowl with the drained pasta, then add the canned tomatoes and their juice, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Butter an 8x8x2-inch baking dish and spread the pasta in the prepared dish. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.