The author’s Harissa Chili, inspired by the recipe in Einat Admony’s “Balaboosta” cookbook. Photograph by Gayle L. Squires.
Having become a well-practiced apartment mover over the past few years, I’ve learned that the best way — literally and figuratively — to warm your house is to cook and then share with friends. Sure, the last few days before a move and the first few days after it are all about take-out, delivery and treating yourself to that restaurant that just opened, which you’ve been wanting to try. But once the boxes dwindle and your kitchen no longer resembles a yard sale, getting back in front of the stove just feels so good.
After my last move, my housewarming meal was a chili Shabbat dinner. The recipe is below, but here’s the gist: first, sauté ground beef and lamb in a pot so hot it sizzles. Remove the cooked meat and place it into a bowl –— how proud are you that you can now find your bowls? — and then melt down (in the same pot) the aromatics and stir in some canned tomatoes and beans. The kick comes from North African harissa chili paste and a smidge of chipotle pepper. The most important part of the recipe, of course, is inviting over a few friends — the ones who are close enough that they’re not fazed by climbing over the last lingering boxes or pouring salt out of the container because you can’t find the shaker — to devour the entire pot of chili with a bottle or two of wine.
What better way to break in new digs than by inviting friends for a warm bowl of homey goodness? Photograph by Gayle L. Squires.
This recipe is adapted from the spicy chili in Einat Admony’s “Balaboosta.” To make my life easier, I used cans where I could: canned kidney beans instead of dried; canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I also replaced merguez sausage with ground lamb because it’s easier to find.
The heat in the chili comes from the North African spice paste harissa. Since the spiciness of harissa can vary, use a light touch initially — you can always add more later. I like to serve this on top of wheat berries, but you can use brown rice, barley, farro or your favorite grain.*
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground lamb
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can of chopped peeled tomatoes
-2-3 tablespoons harissa (depending on how spicy it is)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
About 4 cups water
2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1) Sauté. Heat a large heavy-bottom pot over high heat (no oil) — it’s ready when you drop a small piece of meat in and it sizzles very loudly. If the pot isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up boiling your meat instead of sautéing. Add the beef and lamb to the hot pot and sauté until browned. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Drain off any excess liquid, but leave all the good browned bits. Remove the meat and set aside.
2) Sauté again. Heat the olive oil in the emptied pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure not to burn it. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of harissa (you can add more later), cumin, chipotle, 2 tablespoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and water.
3) Simmer. Add the beans and bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours. After the first 30 minutes, taste for spice, stirring in extra harissa if you’d like more of a kick. Check the chili periodically, and if it looks dry, add some more water.
4) Serve. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with sliced scallion.
Gayle Squires is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Her path to the culinary world is paved with tap shoes, a medical degree, business consulting and travel. She has a knack for convincing chefs to give up their secret recipes. Her blog is KosherCamembert.
Breakfast: Smoothies, smoothies, smoothies. The ingredients always contain a mixture of:
1) A milk (almond, soy, kefir)
2) Frozen fruit (berry blend, bananas, peaches)
3) A nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
I use my Magic-Bullet smoothie maker and in 1-2 minutes, my breakfast is complete. Once it’s blended, I pour the contents into a reusable bottle and toss it in my bag to drink on the subway. Each smoothie costs me less than $2.00 and contains enough vitamins, nutrients, and protein to keep me energized throughout the morning hours. My favorite combination is soy milk, frozen bananas, and peanut butter.
The best kind of Hanukkah gifts are those you can make and your friends eat. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.
Holiday food gifts are often sweet, rich, and calorie-laden. While the colder weather calls for comfort food, why not deliver it in the form of a steaming hot, one pot meal? Recipes in a jar — where the dry ingredients are attractively layered in a clear jar — are a fun and creative gift for a food lover. But instead of the usual cookie in a jar, this Hanukkah hit up your pantry and give the gift of homemade three-bean chili or Middle Eastern mujadara.
The premise is simple: Take your favorite grain recipe, separate out the dry ingredients, and layer them in a nice jar, then include a recipe for the recipient. Unlike baked goods or candies, these presents are shelf stable so there’s no pressure to eat them immediately and the recipient will have a hot meal at their fingertips whenever they like.
Bean chili is a perfect contestant for a recipe in a jar — you can use the recipe below, or adapt your favorite. Use any beans you like (though a mix of red kidney beans, white beans, and black beans has a nice effect) and add in a spice mix. This recipe produces a hearty and richly flavored vegan chili that would satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
A new book reveals that Ikea — of lingonberry jam and cheap furniture fame — has a founder with a Nazi past. [Washington Post]
A Whole Foods spokesperson denies rumors that the high-end chain is boycotting Israeli products. She noted that Whole Foods carries thousands of kosher options and hundreds of kosher-for-Passover products. [Jewish Journal]
Mark your calendars, Texans: Houston will host a Kosher chili cookoff in October. Last year’s cookoff raised $10,000 for various Jewish organizations. [Houston Chronicle] Planning a trip to San Francisco? J., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, has compiled a list of the best kosher restaurants in the Bay Area: [J. Weekly]
It’s not uncommon, while hanging out by the food table at a synagogue Kiddush, to overhear one member boasting to another about the superiority of a particular family recipe — brisket, apple cake, or other. But at some congregations, this culinary kvelling is taken to a whole other level in the form of competitive cook-offs and bake-offs, in which shul-goers cum amateur chefs vie for the top prize (and recipe bragging rights).
In the case of Manhattan’s The New Shul, that prize is the Golden Schmaltz Award. The independent congregation held the fourth round of its annual cook-off this past weekend. This year’s theme, “Sweets to the Sweetest,” focused on desserts, but the cook-off tradition began with the “Battle of the Briskets” in 2007, after one member got tired of hearing another constantly lauding his brisket recipe and was confident that his own was tastier. “Basically, he told him — in a good natured way — to ‘put your money where your mouth is,’” executive director Amy Eichenwald Golding recounted humorously.