Super Bowl Special: Chili Con Carne

ChiliOK. You and your friends are gathered around the TV riveted on the Super Bowl. Chips and salsa have been passed about, but now it’s half time and the call is for something more stick-to-your ribs satisfying. Chili!


1 T cumin seeds

2 medium (roughly 3 by 5 inches) chiles ancho

2 T pure chile powder

2 t ground Mexican oregano

4 strips applewood smoked bacon

2 ½ lbs. well marbled beef chuck cut into ½ inch cubes


1 medium white onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 14-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes (preferable D.O.P.)**

1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

1 t sugar

1 t masa harina

1 14-oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained


1. Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool. Pulverize in a small grinder (such as a coffee grinder used only for spices).*

2. In the same skillet, toast chiles ancho until crisp. Turn over but be careful not to burn. Tear into pieces. discarding stem and seeds, and place in a bowl. Cover with 2 ½ cups hot water. Set aside.

3. Mix chile powder and oregano together. Add enough water to form a light paste. Set aside.

4. Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Pour bacon fat in a separate container and set aside. When bacon cools, crumble it into small pieces and set aside.

5. Increase heat to medium high and add one tablespoon bacon fat back into pan. Work in batches to brown the beef. Don’t crowd or you will steam the beef. Brown on all sides and lightly salt as you cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

6. Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to pan. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add chile and oregano paste and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Put onions and garlic, beef, bacon and tomatoes (breaking them up with your fingers) into a 6-quart Dutch oven.

8. Pulse ancho chile water in a food processor a few times. (There will still be pieces of chile in the liquid.) Strain into pot and add lime juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 ½ hours. Then uncover and maintain a bare simmer for another half hour.

9. Mix the masa harina in a small amount of water to make a slurry. Stir into the chili to thicken it. Mix in the kidney beans. Add salt and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with any or all of the following garnishes on the side:

grated sharp cheddar

chopped red onion

sour cream

sliced scallions

diced fresh tomatoes

chopped fresh cilantro

*Ground cumin comes in a spice bottle, of course, but if you toast and grind your own, you will be transported to spice heaven by the aroma and fresh taste.

**D.O.P. refers to tomatoes that have been processed in the same place they were grown.

Photographer Bill Brady


Pineapple Upside-down Cake

pineapple upside cake 2

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

All those upside-down cakes of yore topped with canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherries adorning the centers will seem like a bad memory after you’ve tasted this fresh pineapple version.  Select a pineapple that is fragrant and has a little give when pressed. The subtle tang of the buttermilk and tender crumb are irresistible.    The glistening caramel gives the cake a glorious finish. A dash of dark rum on the finished cake is a delightful touch.

Needed: a 9-inch silicone cake pan, rimmed baking sheet, wide-bottomed light-colored saucepan (such as stainless steel).


1 cup sugar

1 large ripe pineapple

For the Cake:

1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ t pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

Procedure— Caramel:

1. To a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan, add 1 cup sugar.  Don’t use a dark-colored pan as you won’t be able to see the color of the caramel change.

2. Over medium heat let the sugar melt swirling pan but not stirring it.

3. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove it from the heat and pour immediately into the silicone pan. Carefully swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Set aside on a rimmed baking sheet. (This can be done well ahead.)

The Pineapple:

1. Cut the top off the pineapple and a slice from the bottom so the pineapple will sit upright. Quarter the pineapple.

2. Core, peel and slice into ¼” slices.

3. Arrange the slices on top of the hardened caramel, overlapping them with the flat edges pointing upward.  Remember that this will be the top of the cake.

The Cake Batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light.

2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition for 15 seconds.

3.  Add the vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears.

6. Add the buttermilk and mix again.

7. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and again, mix just until the flour disappears.

8. Scoop large dollops of the batter over the pineapple taking care not to disturb the arrangement of the slices.  Smooth out the batter.

9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (about 50 minutes).

10. Run a knife between the cake and edge of the pan.  Set a serving platter on top of the pan and invert.  Carefully lift off the cake pan.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Adapted from a recipe by Margery K. Friedman

White House Chef Prepares Toad-in-the-Hole

toad 3Is there anyone who is not familiar with this dish?  On the Martha Stewart Show, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass prepared “eggs in the hole.”  True it was with a bunch of kids, but, nevertheless, toads have made it to the White House!

How can you go wrong with an egg, good bread and butter?  Here, then, is the simplest cooked breakfast of them all–the well known (as it turns out) toad-in-the-hole.  My family prepared toad-in-the-hole countless times for a quick morning meal.  In researching the recipe, I discovered its considerable popularity, but I think mine is the most basic of all.  My take on the recipe is to make as little effort as possible while turning out a delicious breakfast.

toad 1

Break egg into hole.

It goes by many names: bullseye, pirate’s eggs, one-eyed jacks, hole-in-one, egg boat, eggs –in-a-frame, eggs in a basket, frogs on a log, one-eyed pirate, bunny in a basket and powder puff eggs.  Then there is the scene in the movie “Moon Over Miami” (1941) with Betty Grable, Don Ameche and Robert Cummings featuring Betty standing over a stove making “gas house eggs”.  More recently, Martin Crane  made “eggs in a nest”  for Frasier, title character of the popular sitcom.


1 T butter, divided

One slice bread

One egg

Salt and pepper


Place 2 t butter in a non-stick skillet.  Gently tear a hole in the center of a piece of bread with your fingers.  (No need to dirty a knife or cookie cutter as some recipes call for.)  Place bread on melted butter.  When it begins to toast slightly, turn it over, place one teaspoon butter in hole and break egg into it.  Salt and pepper egg.

toads 2

Flip toad over.

As white of egg firms up, carefully turn bread to other side and fry another minute.  Remove to plate while yolk is still runny.  Don’t forget to fry the “hole”, too.  You’ll probably want to make two per person.

Elder Statesman II

Elder Statesman II

This combination of three of my favorite cocktail ingredients miraculously blends together to perfection. Hendrick’s Gin, in addition to the traditional juniper infusion, uses Bulgarian rose and cucumber to add flavor.  Its distinctive character is lighter, sweeter and more floral than more traditional gins.Elder Statesman iI ingredients

St. Germain is a sweet liqueur crafted in the artisanal French style from elderberry flowers. Elements of peach, orange, grapefruit, and pear can be detected.  A heady lychee aroma pervades with grapefruit and other citrus undertones.

Aperol, an aperitif/liqueur from Italy, combines the aromas of tangerine and rhubarb with just enough herbal bitterness for balance.


1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin

1 ½ oz. St. Germain  (elderflower liqueur)

1 oz. Aperol

One dash Angostura bitters

Tonic water

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Stir in first four ingredients. Top with tonic water.  Savor. Take comfort in the fact that you are warding off malaria.

You must use Hendrick’s Gin.

Cocktail photo by Bill Brady

Ingredients photo by Michael Kirigin

Classic Bagels and Lox

bagels and loxWhen asked on a flight, what she would most love to eat at that moment, the late Beverly Sills replied, “Cream cheese and lox on a poppy seed bagel.”  Bagels and lox qualifies perfectly as one of the proverbial “marriages made in heaven.”  I don’t know who first came up with the combination of smoked salmon, cream cheese and sliced onion on a bagel, but that person should be sainted.  Kind of a mixed metaphor since the word “lox” is derived from the Yiddish word for salmon.  At any rate, the sweet, salty, briny flavor of smoked salmon, whether it be Scottish, Nordic or Nova Lox couldn’t be better served.

I like thinly sliced red onion. A few capers are optional. The quality of the bagel is important. Personally, I have suffered withdrawal symptoms since the famous H&H Bagels of NYC closed.  You just have to seek out the best you can find.  They should not taste like bread.  They should be plump and chewy and have a slightly moist sponginess.  My favorite is the onion bagel with poppy seed running a close second.  I think the bagel should be toasted but this is controversial.

When my husband and I drive into Manhattan, we make a Zabar’s run and pick up all these fixin’s and that, not surprisingly, becomes the evening’s dinner.

Photographer Bill Brady

Grapefruit Salad

grapefruit saladWhat?  Another grapefruit recipe?  Yep!  While I’m in the grapefruit mode, I just have to add a tangy grapefruit salad.  A lovely departure from a mixed salad, this combination of tart grapefruit, sweet gooseberries, fragrant walnuts and zesty pea shoots lightly bathed in a creamy vinaigrette will hit the spot.

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 cups rinsed and dried pea shoots

1 half pint cape gooseberries*

¼ cup lightly toasted walnuts

1 grapefruit cut into segments

Citrusy vinaigrette dressing


Gently toss ingredients together with vinaigrette just before serving.

cape-gooseberry* Cape gooseberries look like tiny tomatillos, swaddled in tissue leaves. They are deep yellow, slightly sweet and tart.  Look for them in farm and produce markets.

Citrusy  Vinaigrette Dressing


1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 t Dijon mustard

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 T good extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil*

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Place chopped shallot in a bowl.  Stir in mustard and lemon juice.  Slowly whisk in the two oils until a creamy emulsion is attained.  Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

The dressing can be enlivened with herbs to suit your taste, fresh or dried.  Remember 1 teaspoon of a dried herb equals 1 tablespoon of the fresh.  Tarragon, with its faint licorice flavor, is one of my favorites.  You might consider basil,, savory, chervil or marjoram.

*Peanut oil or canola oil mellows the rich olive oil and allows the other flavors to come through.

Candied Grapefruit Peels


Glistening candied grapefruit peels

Making your own candied grapefruit peel will produce a candy more stunning then you can imagine. I find them irresistible to snack on, although they have other uses as well.  They can be chopped and added to scones, muffins and dessert recipes. Dipping them in chocolate creates a fine delicacy.  Once candied, they will last for months.  If you are a grapefruit fan you will find the sweet bitter flavor punch they pack addictive. More

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