Thursday, January 24, 2008

baby it's cold outside

Those of you who live closer to the equator than we do must have an interesting impression of what we go through every winter here in Montreal. Although those cliché ideas of igloos and head-to-toe snow gear may get old, it isn't too far from the truth, especially this winter. We've had tons of snow, plenty of -25 degree days and barely any days of sunshine, but we never fail to find a way to stay warm.

Tonight, we enjoyed some spicy, hot chili, courtesy of my lovely wife. Dina's chili is made with ground beef and a tomato base, but without the beans you typically find in chili con carne.

Dina-style chili

1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds medium ground beef
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
two large cans ground tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth

In a large pot, cook the onions in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened. Add the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground meat and cook it over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up any lumps, for 10 minutes, or until it is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and broth, bringing the mixture to a boil. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

We topped it all off with grated cheddar cheese, diced shallots, sour cream and chopped parsley. A combination that made the winter just a little more tolerable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

picking up the ball

So we're 15 days into the new year and we haven't posted a single post.

Shame on us.

I know, I know, you've heard it all before...'we've been busy', 'so much going on'...yada yada yada. The truth is that we dropped the ball and have had a heck of a hard time picking it up again. There really has been so much happening that we don't even know where to begin.

The good news is that the condo is officially sold.

The bad news is that we need to leave sooner than we anticipated...and this is why our lives seem to have turned upside down overnight. We're trying our best to stay as cool as a cucumber but the truth is, there is nothing cool about having to move back in with your parents until the house is ready.

Yes, you read that right.

I think during those couple of weeks, this blog will either take advantage of the writers strike or all you loyal readers will become experts on Indian food!

So this past weekend, we started packing up the little things and it dawned on us that the majority of our freezer goods will need to be consumed before the big move. I knew I had a package of chicken legs in there and decided on the recipe below.

Chicken with olives, caramelized onions, and sage
Bon Appétit | December

2 3 1/2- to 3 3/4-pound chickens, each cut into quarters, backbones removed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric or saffron
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound white onions, thinly sliced
1 pound red onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 750-ml bottle dry white wine, divided
9 large fresh sage leaves
8 large shallots, peeled
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves

3 cups assorted brine-cured Mediterranean olives (such as Kalamata and picholine)

Rinse chicken; pat dry. Arrange on foil. Mix cumin, salt, paprika, and turmeric in bowl. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken. Let stand while preparing onions. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all onions. Sauté until pale golden, about 30 minutes. Mix in honey. Sauté until onions are deep brown, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Tilt skillet, pushing onions toward top and allowing oil to pool at bottom. Using slotted spoon, spread onions evenly in large roasting pan. Reserve skillet with oil.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Heat oil reserved in skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown chicken, about 5 minutes per side. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in single layer atop onions in roasting pan. Remove skillet from heat.

Add 1/2 cup wine to hot skillet. Let stand until bubbling stops. Add remaining wine. Place skillet over medium-high heat; boil until reduced to 2 cups, scraping up bits, about 9 minutes. Tuck sage, shallots, garlic, and bay leaves among chicken quarters. Sprinkle with pepper. Spoon wine mixture over.

Cover pan tightly with foil and bake chicken 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle olives over chicken. Baste with juices. Return to oven, uncovered, and continue baking until chicken is tender, basting 2 more times, about 35 minutes.

Transfer chicken, vegetables, and olives to platter. Serve with pan juices over a rice pilaf.

This is a terrific little recipe. I also added a few pepperoncini's as I had them on hand; we enjoy the spiciness it adds to dishes. The whole dish was super flavorful and the brininess from the olives added an unexpected complex flavor. It reminded us of sitting in a terrace in the narrow alleyways of Spain. I'm not sure if it was the saffron or the paprika that caused us a trip down memory lane but it sure was a nice getaway.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

drinking in the new year

As the 30s creep up on us, we've become less and less interested in sitting in a stuffy restaurant poring over an overpriced menu on New Year's eve. We would much rather stay in, whip up a fresh batch of hors d'oeuvres and eat/drink the night away. Which is exactly what we did.

I started the night with my version of a mojito. This one was a pinito:

Pineapple Mojito

2-3 sprigs of mint, torn by hand
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup of ice cubes
2 oz of dark rum
2 oz of vodka
1 cup pineapple juice
1 slice of blood orange

In a martini shaker, muddle the mint with the sugar and lime juice using a small wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Add the ice, rum, vodka, and pineapple juice and shake vigorously for about 20-30 seconds. Pour into two martini glasses and garnish with blood orange slices. Enjoy with moderation.

More details on our New Year's festivities to come...

christmas wrap-up

We hope everyone had a good time this holiday season with lots of food, wine, and laughter!