Monthly Archives: November 2009

B+: White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

There are those truly great meals that every now and then we are lucky enough to experience. They can be utterly rich and decadent, an indulgence of the highest kind, or sometimes they are a perfect expression of simple yet delicious ingredients allowed to stand on their own.

And then there is the reality of life that often sets in and stands firmly in the way of the aforementioned bliss. Schedules, budgets, emotions, families, friends, work, pets, kids. All these things can slowly creep their way in, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of food and eating as another box to check on the never-ending list of “Life’s To-Do”.

Determined to find a middle ground, I have been looking for simple, affordable, and tasty dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less and satisfy a crowd. This Chili fits that bill to a T. It’s not out-of-this-world spectacular. You won’t fall asleep wishing for more. But it’s pretty damn good and with the addition of the Toppings Bar, quite fun.

Serves 8-10. Freezes beautifully too for a quick supper in a pinch.

Serve with Crusty Bread, cold, salted butter, and a slightly sweet white wine such as a Gewürztraminer or Semillon.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound diced, cooked chicken meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 (18.75 ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans
  • 2 ears fresh corn or 1 can corn kernels (handy option in the winter)
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced


  1. Heat oil, and cook onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Stir in broth, tomatillos, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add corn, chicken, and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with a Toppings Bar for people to choose from: limes, cilantro, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Adapted from

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Filed under Cheap Eats, Soups

Shockingly good: Baja fish tacos with white sauce, mozzarella, and cilantro

(3/17/2012 Update: If you like these…see here for some great pix and more fish taco fun.)

There are certain foods that I constantly order at restaurants because:

a) I love them.
b) I’ve always imagined they would be hard to make.
c) I’m afraid if I did make them, they wouldn’t be as good as the restaurant variety.

Fish tacos are one of these such items. Stupidly simple and shockingly good, I fell in love with them when we traveled to Sayulita, Mexico for the first time. The combination of the earthy corn tortilla, buttery battered and fried fish, tangy white sauce, and crisp cabbage was so exquisite I quickly found myself eating nothing but fish tacos for every meal. Since returning to Seattle I’ve been on the hunt for a great fish taco. Luckily, I found it at our new local mexican eatery, Huarachitas Mexican Taqueria.  A darling restaurant, with fabulous food, it is absolutely worth checking out.

That said, after going there multiple times in one month (I refuse to disclose just how many), Matt put his foot down that we needed to go to other restaurants. And so…determined to keep up my fish taco quota, I decided to try and make them.

The results were, dare I say, even better than Huarachitas. These are particularly fun to make for a dinner party where you can allow people to assemble exactly the combination that they like. I served these with champagne, and a nachos appetizer, (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love champagne and nachos). It was, admittedly, slightly overkill so you could likely serve these without the nacho beginnings and simply cold mugs of beer.

Baja Fish Tacos

Serves 4 (hungry people)

Step 1: Tortillas

True diehards make their own tortillas. This has always felt to me like a poor use of time so you can just buy them at the grocery store. Even better is if there is a little Mexican grocer  or restaurant around you who will let you buy them directly from them. I prefer corn but flour is fine too. When it’s time to eat you can either heat the tortillas up via a hot, dry pan or by microwaving the stack of tortillas between damp paper towels for 30 seconds.

Step 2: The White Sauce & Toppings

This is where the real magic takes place. The white sauce, or crema, is sinfully delicious.

White Sauce:

  • Fresh lime juice to taste (I like about 2 TB)
  • ½ cup yogurt or sour cream
  • ½ mayonnaise
  • 1 TB Sriracha hot sauce (or something similar)
  • ½ teaspoon – crushed oregano
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon – dried, crushed dill
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cayenne chile
  • ground white pepper to taste

Combine the first three ingredients, aiming for a slightly runny consistency.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.


1/2 bundle cilantro

2 cups red cabbage

1 cup mozzarella

1 lime

Coarsely chop cilantro and set aside in small bowl for toppings. Dice mozzarella or queso fresco and set aside in separate bowl. Cut up the cabbage.  Slice as thinly as possible so the strands still stay together. Set aside in bowl. Quarter the limes and serve one wedge with each plate.

Step 3: The Fish

Cod works well, although you can use whatever white fish you prefer. Since it’s going to be battered and fried this is a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever is on sale.

2 LB White Fish washed, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch strips


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 can beer, not dark

Combine flour and salt, then add beer.  It should be relatively thick, which was nice since the batter actually stayed on the fish when we fried it.

Fill large saucepan with vegetable oil or lard. You want enough that the fish can be submerged in it. Get it nice and hot and cook the fish in batches, being certain not to crowd the pan as you want the oil to stay hot.

Turn the fish after about a minute.  Look for the color to decide when to remove.  As soon as it’s golden, you’re good to go.  Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to drain.

Serve immediately with tortillas, white sauce, and toppings.  Enjoy.


Filed under Seafood, Uncategorized

Simply Delicious

There are nights when I want nothing more than to pad around my kitchen, sipping a glass of red wine, listening to Patty Griffin, and cooking delicious, decadent, and utterly indulgent foods for hours.

Tonight was not one of those nights (well, except for the red wine part).

Home from the barn having had a good ride, but also feeling a bit geriatric and sore from my session with the trainer at the gym earlier in the week (what on earth was I thinking) I kept standing in front of the refrigerator hoping that something magical and totally appealing would appear.

It did not.

And so, once my pity party had passed, I got to work on pulling together something that would  be quick, relatively healthy, hearty, and require minimal clean-up.

Gemelli Pasta tossed with olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and Gruyère cheese

Serves 1.

Measure out 2/3 of a cup dry gemelli pasta. This will look like a sad, pitiful amount when dry, but once cooked it mysteriously becomes enough.

Bring small pot of water to a boil, toss in gemelli and cook about 7-9 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, chop up sun-dried tomatoes. I prefer the kind that are packed in oil and so tossed a bit of the oil from the tomatoes into the bottom of my bowl.

Once gemelli is done, drain, and pour into the bowl waiting with the tomatoes and oil. Generously grate Gruyère cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.


Filed under Pasta, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Caesar Salad Dressing

I adore Caesar Salad; but I’m also extremely picky about it. So many places seem to butcher it, resulting in a boring, bland, watery dressing, or perhaps they go the route of overly thick and too heavily seasoned. Either way, it’s bad.

I’ve been on the hunt for the past few years for the perfect Caesar dressing…and I think I’ve found it.

Try it out and feel free to let me know what you think.

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks (you can coddle the eggs before you separate them if you’re concerned about the raw egg factor. I don’t bother personally)

1 TB + 2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 medium garlic cloves (about 2 tsp, although you can do more or less pending on your affinity for garlic, and if you’ll have to be around company later)

4 anchovy fillets (seldom am I organized enough to have these handy, so I just use anchovy paste that you can buy in a tube at the grocery store. If you go this route, use about 1 tsp)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

In a blender or food processor combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, garlic, and anchovy fillets. Pulse until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil until the dressing thickens to desired consistency.

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Filed under Salads, Uncategorized

Good, cheap, and fast

We live in one of those “transitional neighborhoods”. Somehow, when other people talk about their experiences in similar cities, they make it sound exciting, adventurous, chic even. However, the reality is that living in a tremendously diverse neighborhood that struggles with poverty, drug use, gang activity, and the tensions of different socioeconomic groups living next door to each other can be a struggle.

The benefits are of course the wonders of walking around and hearing five different languages being spoken; of not looking like everybody else; of not feeling like you’re living some homogenized plastic life; and of course, there is the food. All sorts of different cuisines and traditions, melding together, to create the ultimate proverbial smorgasbord.

One favorite spot in the ‘hood is our local Italian hole in the wall, Vinces. Complete with fake brick paneling, individually wrapped bread sticks, and a hostess who seems to have been there since they opened in 1957 it is the perfect spot to disappear to for an oversized and underpriced plate of pasta.

My favorite, is by far, the Carbonara. Pasta, cream, egg, cheese, pancetta. What’s not to love?

Determined one night to make my own, I found just the recipe. Good, cheap, and fast it is the perfect weeknight dish when you’re feeling like something delicious yet not overly complicated.

Bucatini Carbonara

6 ounces bucatini or perciatelli (I can never find this, so just use angel hair which is great).

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 shallot, very finely chopped

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

4 large egg yolks


2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley

Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered, 7 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and the egg yolks. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.

Serve with your favorite Montepulciano for the perfect pairing.

Compliments of Food and Wine

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Filed under Cheap Eats, Pasta, Uncategorized

The art of elegance

The art of making soup, like living life, is an imperfect science.

Despite following all the instructions and trying to do everything right, you are never quite sure what the outcome will be. Perhaps the lesson here is to allow life’s mysteries and adventures to appear and explore each one. Whether that is in the kitchen or in each day-to-day, there is both madness and magic to letting go and seeing what happens.

On this gray, Sunday I am enjoying a quiet day at home with the dogs, a glass of wine, and my thoughts. In the spirit of ‘come what may’ I decided to whip up my Mom’s famous ‘Elegant Fish Chowder’.

Elegant Fish Chowder

I particularly like making this ahead of time,  letting it sit a day or two for the flavors “to mingle”, (mingling being a good soup principle and all) then serving it with a crusty loaf of French Bread , and a big, beautiful Caesar Salad.

2-3 lbs Fish fillets
1 1/2 cups cold water
Bay leaf
3 cups diced potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups scalded milk
1 cup cream
1 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

In 2 Gal pot, heat fish and bay leaf in water, uncovered, to simmering.

Simmer 5 mins (till fish flakes).  Remove fish, discard any skin.

Add potatoes and salt to simmering water. Cook till tender.

Meanwhile (don’t you love the “meanwhiles” ?)…………….

Saute onions and celery in butter till tender.

Stir in flour. Saute 1-2 mins more.

Combine vegs w/ stock and potatoes.

Saute 8 mins till thickening starts. Remove bay leaf.

Combine scalded milk and creams.  Add slowly to stock pot. DO NOT BOIL.

Add fish, S/P  to taste, and parsley.


Filed under Soups