Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vegetarian chili and cornbread for a crowd

This was fun. Some friends from college came out and rented a beach house in La Jolla last week. We were hanging out drinking and got to talking about how I was into cooking lately. Eventually I offered to bring over dinner on Tuesday if they would let me suffer through Lost with them.

Really this was serendipitous because I had been craving one of my very favorite recipes, Heidi Swanson's Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili, for a while, but wasn't necessarily in the mood to eat it 6 days in a row (it makes A LOT of chili). Other than the fact that it is ridiculously good, the best thing about this recipe is that almost everything in it is dirt cheap. I replenished my dried garbanzo beans, dried lentils, and had some leftover bulgar and barley from the last time. Beyond that it is basically just a couple onions, chilies, some garlic, ginger, vegetable broth (used 3 cubes for 10 cups), and a can of tomatoes. Only a couple bucks to feed 9 people! I used one serrano pepper with the seeds removed and one chipotle from a can and 3 tablespoons of pretty good chili powder. Halfway through cooking I worried it was going to burn everyone's mouths off, but when it was done it was really quite mild. Probably a good thing for mixed company but if you like chili to be hot, I would add another chipotle, or maybe only seed half of the serrano pepper.

I also made a batch of dairy-free cornbread (most calls for buttermilk apparently) to go on the side. I made 1.5x the recipe but left the oil at 1/2 cup, used only 1 tablespoon of sugar instead of the recommended 6 (!) as some people recommend in the comments, added a cap-full of apple cider vinegar for a little bite, and threw in a handful of frozen corn at the end of mixing. It was dry but tasted pretty decent and was definitely good at soaking up chili.

I have never known whether chili is supposed to be a summer food or a winter food, and maybe I don't want to know. It seems like it could be either a perfect fourth of july food or a perfect curl up by the fire on a cold winter's night food (not that I have had a fire or a cold winter's night in several several years).

Everyone seemed to enjoy it (not that I expected anyone to say they didn't it even if they didn't), and I hope it was a nice if brief break from California burritos :)

Oh, and Lost was kind of terrible.

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