February 2012 archive

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa & Soupapalooza


Back before I started food blogging, I would try recipes from different cooking magazines and cookbooks.  I’d come across a gem of a recipe and then promptly forget about it.  So I started a list on my computer of all the recipes that Marcus and I have tried and loved.  When I started blogging, this blog became that list.

I still have the list and every once in a while I come across a recipe and think “I can’t believe I haven’t posted that on the blog yet”.  Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa is one of those recipes.  I’ve been making it for years.

Friday rolled around and I knew we would need a meat-free dinner that was easy and a sure thing.  I had baked goods to make as bribes for our community garden orchard planting volunteers.  And Marcus and I have been constantly covered in plaster dust as we frantically try to get our front bedroom finished.  The last thing I wanted to do was fuss around with dinner.  That’s when I remembered this chili.

I love this chili.  The earthiness of the beans, the sweetness of the red pepper, the chewiness of the barley – all of it combines to make a soup that is more than the sum of its parts.  Make sure to add the garnishes.  The cilantro, avocado & lime juice add a lot to this chili.

I made a few small changes to this recipe.  I’m not a fan of canola oil so I used olive oil instead.  I also usually have veggie stock in my freezer so I used that.  I’ve made it before with canned stock and it’s still delicious.  I also don’t countenance with the idea of baked chips.  If I’m going to eat a tortilla chip, I’d rather eat fewer chips than eat a piece of cardboard that’s masquerading as a tortilla chip.

If you’re really short on time, instead of making the avocado salsa just add extra cilantro and plain chopped avocado to the soup.

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset


Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light
6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano (Use Mexican oregano if you have it)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
6 lime wedges
tortilla chips for garnish
Avocado Salsa (see below)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and red bell pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic and green chilis.  Cook one minute

Stir in barley, black beans, tomatoes, and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is tender.  Stir in cilantro.

Garnish with sour cream, lime wedges, chips and avocado salsa.

Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light
Yield: 1 cup (serving size 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup finely chopped avocado
1/3 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno (seed if you want to keep the heat down)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and gently mix. Serve immediately.



Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Hello Lovers!


I’ve been spending the last month trying to figure out how to write a post that explains where I’ve been, how I got there and how I’m attempting to crawl out of the general crappiness of it all.  And you know what?  I can’t.  I just can’t do it right now.

Everything I write just ends up sounding muddled and mixed up because to be honest, that’s my head right now.  So rather than waiting until that day when it all does make sense to me and I can articulate that to you all, that post is going to have to wait for another day, week, month, year, whatever.  Instead, I’m sorry I disappeared.  Let’s cook some shit, shall we?

A couple of years ago, I was in Asheville and had a chocolate truffle with olive oil in it.  It planted a seed in my brain.  When I was looking for a dessert to make for our anniversary this past November, I went searching for something that combined chocolate and olive oil.   Chocolate mousse with olive oil?  Sign me up.

I like this better than chocolate mousse with heavy cream.  Rather than diluting the chocolate with the cream, the olive oil gives it unctuousness galore with a heavy duty chocolate punch.  In choosing an olive oil for this, I wouldn’t pick one with an overly grassy or bitter taste.

I’ve made this several times now.  I’ve subbed in generic triple sec and even orange juice for the Cointreau.  I’ve made this with the brewed espresso, double strength coffee or with one tablespoon of espresso powder added to hot water.  I’ve made it with premium olive oil and my everyday olive oil. It’s been amazing every time.

Just a note – this recipe does include raw eggs which have the potential to carry Salmonella.  I live on the edge and eat raw cookie dough, cake batter and this mousse with reckless abandon but I do use fresh, local eggs to lower the risk.  If this makes you too nervous, pasteurized raw eggs can be found at a lot of grocery stores.

Tonight for Valentine’s Day, Marcus and I will be preparing a lovely dinner.  We’ll be serving this mousse.  And we’ll be patching the walls in our front bedroom.  May your Valentine’s Day be as full of love (and lack the sweat equity) as those walls.  Happy Valentine’s day everyone.

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from The James Beard Foundation
8 servings (if you have lots of restraint. I don’t)

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup powdered sugar (sift this after measuring if it’s really lumpy)
1/4 cup brewed espresso
2 tablespoons liqueur, such as Cointreau
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler over low heat or alternatively, melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave on low power. Let cool.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and powdered sugar until smooth and lemon yellow in color.  Turn mixer down to low and add the coffee and liqueur.  Add melted chocolate and whisk until well mixed.  Add olive oil, a quarter cup at a time, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and almost stiff. Snicker with loved one over the phrase “beat until stiff” and gently fold the chocolate mixture into the beaten egg whites until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon the mousse into serving bowls (I use individual martini glasses), cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.  Serve cold.