I get really excited about composing a great meal spontaneously, using only what I have on hand. This recipe came together on a recent Sunday afternoon while I was perusing the pantry and mulling over what I could design for dinner in under 30 minutes. I liken that sort of culinary exploration to a fashionista who creates new clothing combinations with basic items that they already have in their closet. It may appear to have a unique flavor or appearance, but it’s assembled by challenging yourself to work with what you’ve got.
“We see the beauty within and cannot say no” ~ Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Burrata cheese has a beautiful essence about it. It is a fresh Italian cheese made from water buffalo and/or cows milk mozzarella and has a center filled with a rich and silky cream. It is also my latest culinary obsession. It’s common knowledge among my family and friends that I love cheese, all types of cheese but Burrata has a metamorphic quality that I find very provocative. I cannot say no.
So how is it that I have been baking (cakes, cookies, quick breads) and writing recipes for the better part of 25 years and I’ve not had more than one or two attempts at working with yeast breads? I was intimidated, plain and simple. Turns out it’s not that scary. After watching the James Beard Award winning Nancy Silverton’s episode of The Chef’s Table on Netflix I was instantly inspired to dive into the yeast bread game.
Here are a couple of interesting facts regarding the types of yeast to keep in mind before you get started:
Active Dry Yeast – This is a dormant form of yeast. It needs to be rehydrated prior to use. Ideally, the yeast is dissolved in warm water that is approximately 110 degrees F. Tip: a pinch of sugar helps with the activation of the yeast. Look for the yeast/water/sugar mixture to bubble and foam after a few minutes. I used active dry yeast in both of the recipes presented in this blog post.
Instant Yeast: There is no need to dissolve in water prior to use in a recipe. The yeast granules are smaller that those in active dry yeast.
Both varieties of yeast can be frozen in a covered container. The yeast can be used right from the freezer, there is no need to bring it to room temperature prior to incorporating it. I bought the yeast used in my recipes in packets but it is available in bulk at many grocers, big box stores and online at amazon.com.
Super Bowl Sunday is just a few days away! The ease of preparation as well as the versatility of chili as a vehicle for comfort food makes it a perfect addition to the game day menu. There are not many recipes where personal preference can dictate the final product the way chili does. Are you a traditionalist? Do you prefer red or white chili? Chunky tomatoes or smooth? Beans or no beans? Spicy or mild? Heat from cayenne or chipotle seasoning? The options for additional ingredients including the meat, pork or protein are vast. Our family and friends enjoy things a little higher on the spice scale but this recipe can be adjusted to your taste. I suggest a good, long simmer as the flavors become brighter with time.
• 2 lbs ground beef (not lean) or ground sirloin
• 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 4 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 tablespoons cumin
• Pinch of cayenne pepper (I am generous with this but I suggest starting small depending on your food audience)
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 2 large cans crushed tomatoes ( I use the 28 ounce cans of San Marzano or Cento)
• 2 14 ounce cans of red gold chili ready diced tomatoes
• 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, any brand
*Season with salt to taste
• Brown beef and onion until meat is no longer pink.
• Add garlic cloves and all of the spices. Stir just until fragrant.
• Add all of the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, stir well.
• Simmer all afternoon! Keep the spices at the ready, continue to taste as you go. Season as it cooks. I generally end up adding more chili powder and cumin but I use the above as a starting point. .
Optional toppings: Chopped onions, sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, guacamole, sliced jalapeno peppers
The day after: I love to use leftover chili as a topping for fried or scrambled eggs, chili nachos, or spread a thin layer in the center of a cheese quesadilla before popping it in the pan. Let creativity be your guide.
This makes a large pot of chili, cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.