Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts

Friday, 22 May 2015

Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

Hi there!

I had my last lectures before Easter and now only two exams are left and a dissertation to write over summer.
At the beginning it was weird, but now I am enjoying being able to work from home, since that way I can do things where I have to pop into the kitchen every few hours. Plus I can have for lunch whatever I want to have without it having to be portable or easy to prepare!

During this past week I've been having different red and green smoothies (not as creepy as it sounds!) followed by bread rolls made from my Crusty Potato Bread dough* with butter and Orange Jam.

*For making rolls, instead of shaping bread loaves, divide the dough into 6 pieces per loaf, form into rolls (like small bread loaves). Proceed as with bread. Bake at only 220°C for 21 minutes. 

My smoothie week mainly originated from me having bought a bunch of beetroots last Friday and having the stems leftover from that. They looked far to nice to throw them out so I made smoothies with them, including banana, orange and some other things, which turned out surprisingly nice!
I hadn't been looking up recipes and just threw in random leftovers. And ... well, since I am not the most experienced smoothie person sometimes these creations turn out pretty weird I have to admit.
But I think I might stay hooked onto my smoothie-part of lunch for a little while longer. Usually I just have carrot and apple with my baked goodies or carrot and apple salad.
...A difference between carrot and apple and carrot-apple-salad? Uh, yes...there is a small difference even if it might not be apparent at first sight. Believe it or not ;-)

Here in England, we still have days where it's drizzling - or pouring - outside. Then it feels chilly inside to me if there hasn't been any sun all day to warm up the house.

On days like that I tend to make the dish, which this post is about:
A chili with red wine, cocoa powder and a dash of coffee.

Sounds unhealthy? Three vices combined in one dish? Red wine, chocolate and coffee?
Well, it is not as bad as it sounds - in fact I would still think it is quite healthy ;-)
... After all the alcohol evaporates, the cocoa powder only has the good parts of the chocolate without all the sugary stuff in it and there's only a spice-sized amount of coffee.
Sooooo... I hope I have convinced you!!!

My housemate claims that this is one of her favourite dishes out of those I've made for her so far, so I hope that you might like it as well :-)

Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

approx. 40 minutes without considering the beans
+ 20 - 50 minutes for cooking the beans if using dried ones
+ 6 hours for soaking of the beans (if using dried beans)

This recipe is an adapted version of this Bean Chili with Walnuts & Chocolate by Green Kitchen Stories.

for 2 4 6 people (without rice)
2/3 cup 1 1/3 cups 2 cups uncooked, dried beans (any dark colour)
½ cup 1 cup 1 ½ cups cooking water from the beans
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 2 tbsp olive oil
½ 1 1 ½ onion(s)
1 2 3 garlic clove(s)
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp cumin, whole seeds
¼ tsp ½ tsp ¾ tsp chili flakes, to taste
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp paprika powder
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp oregano, dried
1 2 3 carrots/parsnips/medium sized potatoes
1 2 3 celery stalks
1*400g tin 2*400g tin 3*400g tin cubed tomatoes
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup (+) ½ cup (+) ¾ cup (+) red wine
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp coffee powder, ground (instant granules or normal)
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 3 tbsp cocoa powder

  • If you are using dried beans, like I did:
    • Soak the beans in plenty of water for about 6 hours. Then drain, rinse, cover with a lot of fresh water and cook. Do this either in a pressure cooker (for 16-18 minutes on the highest setting) or in a normal pot (for about 40 minutes). Do not add salt, as otherwise the beans will not soften. When straining after cooking keep some of the water.
    • You can do this while you prepare the remaining ingredients and start cooking.
  • You can also use canned beans. Then you should have about three times the volume of beans, since they triple in volume when being cooked. Strain and rinse and use fresh water instead of bean cooking water.
  • Finely chop onion and garlic.
  • Cut carrot/parsnip/potato into 1cm cubes. Cut the celery into pieces of about ½ cm in size.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté onion and garlic, as well as the spices, on low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Stir often.
  • Add the remaining cut-up vegetables and cook for another 10 minutes until these have softened slightly. Stir often.
  • Add cooked beans, tomatoes, (bean cooking) water and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes with the lid on. Stir from time to time.
  • Add red wine, coffee and cocoa powder. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Serve. For decoration you can use parsley or coriander leaves if you wish.

You could combine this dish with rice or bread, but having it on its own is delicious as well!

** In my photograph I used light-coloured beans, but I'd recommend dark-coloured beans, since they look much nicer in here!
*** Feel free to use other vegetables, such as butternut squash or sweet potato as well.

As always, I would love to hear if anyone has tried this :-)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Ines' Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate! This is after my breakfast what I definitely make the most!

As a kid I used to love cold chocolate. Ordinary one. The one where you stir kaba powder into cold milk.
I remember I sometimes took it to school. Besides, on Sundays we used to have typical German Abendbrot for dinner. That means you have sliced bread or different kinds of rolls (pretzel rolls, poppy-seed rolls, ...) and you put butter, cheese and cut sausage (such as ham or salami) and possible pickled cucumbers on them. With that my Dad and I used to share a big jug of cold kaba. The jug was brown stoneware and we used to have two special glasses we always used. We perfected that over time by mixing the drink with a handheld milk frother and later a stick blender. No that's not over the top ... ;)
Well, at some point, when my Mum introduced more healthy eating store-bought kaba powder was banned - I'm not blaming you Mum, that's just a statement ;)

These days I usually make hot chocolate, but my love for that drink hasn't ceased a bit. Maybe my degree of love for hot chocolate is slightly worrying, but since it makes me happy and doesn't have any largely unhealthy ingredients in it I guess the positive happiness effect weighs up for any overconsumption.
The only issue is that I need my Vitamix blender for this ... which is really loud. My housemates always joke about it, but I hope they forgive me for the daily noise ;)

With a high-speed blender you will get a completely smooth liquid in any case. Otherwise I suggest trying different methods as to what works best with what you have.

The recipe can be adapted in terms of spices and sweetness to your liking.

Ines' Hot Chocolate

(my Mum makes a different version)

1 cup
11 g cashew nuts
17 g dates
2 tsp cocoa
1/4 tsp honey
270 g water (boiling)
one of the following
1/4 tsp maca powder
1/2 smidgen vanilla powder
1/4 smidgen cookie spice/gingerbread spice
1 smidgen cinnamon

  • If you don't have a high speed blender.
    • Soak the nuts in water for a few hours before using, since then your blender will be able to break them up more easily. Drain before use because you want hot water in your hot chocolate. You could also use bought nut milk or milk and heat it up before using. In a high speed blender you don't need to bother with soaking anything.
    • Cut up the dates and soak them as well. Only add water until just covered. Use that water, because it will add lots of sweetness.

  • Do not use a blender that is totally closed (airtight) because mixing hot water in it will probably cause a problem due to pressure. Check if your blender is able to blend hot liquid and only do this if you are sure that you won't get soaked in boiling water because your blender is leaking.

  • The hot chocolate will be much more smooth if a good blender is used, but we also used to make it when we didn't have a high speed blender. So it definitely does work, only tastes a bit different.
  • Put all ingredients in your blender and blend until very, very smooth.

Nut Varieties

You could also use hazelnuts or almonds instead of cashew nuts. If using hazelnuts you might need a bit more sweetener, since they do not have a naturally sweet taste compared to cashew nuts and almonds. Their taste matches the cocoa very well, though!

Cold Chocolate

If you do have a high speed blender you can also make cold chocolate by using half ice cubes and half very cold water instead of the boiling water.

  • In that case you can add a 5 cm piece of frozen banana to give it a hit of banana taste.

Coconut Cold Chocolate

When you have fresh coconut water and flesh at hand (or maybe one of these packages of coconut water) then add half the water (usually one coconut has enough water for two cups) to the cold water part in the cold chocolate and add some small pieces of coconut meat to the blender as well.
This is really, really good as well!

If you have left over coconut water freeze it in an ice cube tray and do not keep it in the fridge. It goes bad really fast without you noticing until you end up feeling like maybe you shouldn't have used that anymore. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Rich & Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Hi there on Sunday night! Do you have some time to spare for cooking something nice tomorrow? Or do you have a butternut squash you don't know what to do with?
Stay with me then until the recipe is revealed ;-)

In fact I did not have a plan today for what to make for dinner....
But since my housemate went to the market today and brought home lots of things - which is great, Thanks! :-) - I just decided to go for what looked like it needed to be eaten first.
In that case it was a butternut squash.

Have you tried it before? Butternut is a quite sweet-ish sort of squash. It has much more flavour than the usual Halloween pumpkin, which doesn't taste like anything to me if I'm honest. It was even my favourite squash before my housemate brought home some green squash for the first time. Unfortunately I don't know the name of that one right now, but it really is delicious!

In this sauce though, butternut squash works just fine!
You could use Hokkaido, which is probably the most popular pumpkin in Germany. The sauce will taste quite different, though, since Hokkaido does not taste anywhere as sweet when cooked. Sweet potato, in my opinion, is kind of too sweet. Carrot alone I haven't tried yet, but carrot mixed with squash is quite good as well!

The recipe I started from I found a few years ago here on Oh She Glows.
Since then me and my Mum have changed it a couple of times and the following is the current version ;-)

Due to the nutritional yeast the sauce tastes a bit cheesy and not at like "healthy vegetables" ;-)
It is rich and creamy and is a perfect comfort food for wintery or rainy days.
There are a lot of similar recipes out there on the internet. They often describe the sauce as a "Mac'n Cheese Sauce". Since I've never tried that I cannot tell you if it does indeed taste like that. So if you try this and you know traditional English/American Mac'n Cheese then I'd love to hear what you think about that comparison!

for 3 people
450 g butternut squash, in cubes
olive oil
1tbsp butter
26 g cashew nuts
200 g water
1-2 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp mustard (vinegary & tangy, not sweet)
1 garlic clove, grated
nutmeg (best is freshly grated)
300 g pasta
250 g spinach, fresh (cut) or thawed

  • Cut up the squash. I find it easiest to cut it into rounds (or half-rounds if you're on the part where you scoop out the seeds) and then to cut the peel off the rounds instead of trying to peel the whole thing.
  • Place in a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on olive oil. Put into the oven and roast at 220°C for 40 to 60 minutes, so that it is slightly browned.
  • In the meantime make the sauce:
    • Grind cashews in a blender until they are as fine as they get. Add water and blend again.
    • Melt butter over low heat in a medium-sized pot. Have a for or whisk at hand. Pour cashew milk into the pot and add flour. Whisk until smooth. Turn heat up slightly. You want the mixture to simmer over low heat. Add in nutritional yeast, mustard, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk. Make sure that the sauce bubbles slightly and, whisking frequently, let bubble uncovered for about 7-10 minutes. Let stand until squash is roasted.
  • Heat pasta water and cut or thaw spinach.
  • When the squash is roasted, put it into the pot with the sauce. With a stick blender blend up the sauce. Alternatively you could do this is a blender or food processor. If you have neither I think it should work if you mash up the squash with a potato masher as fine as you can and then whisk the sauce. I haven't tried that though, but I'm quite confident it will work.
  • Taste and season as desired.

  • Cook pasta. Reserve some cooking water in a cup. Drain pasta. Place drained pasta along with the spinach into the pot with the sauce. Thin out with pasta water as desired. Let pasta simmer on very low heat in the sauce for about 3-5 minutes. This will let them absorb the sauce better and will let spinach wilt (if it is fresh).
  • Enjoy!

The sauce (at the stage where you've just blended it, before you add spinach) also freezes well!