Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Five Bean Chili

Growing up there were two kinds of winters- Brunswick stew winters and chili winters. Every year my dad would make an insanely large batch of one or the other (really, something like 40 quarts) and freeze it in batches big enough to feed our family of eight. That way all winter long our bowls were full of something warm, nourishing, comforting, and delicious.

 

 

This winter in my house has definitely been a chili winter. We may only be a month in to the season, but we’ve eaten chili no less than five times. And while I make it in five quart batches instead of forty, it is still being devoured with gusto. In fact, it appears as though Everett is a chili fiend. He can easily put away two adult sized portions, asking for more long after Dan and I are full.

 

 

I vary the ingredients a little each time (Ev’s enthusiasm for it has lead me to include some veggies I wouldn’t normally put in chili) but the basic framework stays the same- five (or more!) varieties of beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, garlic, and lots of spice. Simmered, low and slow, for as many hours as it takes for your house to smell cozy. Served with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, and hot sauce. It may seem silly for me to sit in my coastal Carolina kitchen and complain about the cold weather but honestly, I’m frozen solid and counting my blessings that I’ve got a pot of chili simmering on the stove.

 

 

Five Bean Chili

 

1 yellow onion

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil

1 6oz can tomato paste

1 102oz can diced tomatoes

1lb ground beef (or pork, or turkey)

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 28oz can black beans

1 28oz can kidney beans

1 28oz can red beans

1 28oz can garbanzo beans

1 28oz can great northern beans

2 cups water

2 cups corn kernels

 

2 large carrots

1 red bell pepper

 

 

toppings (optional):

 

Sour cream

Hot sauce

Cilantro

Grated cheddar cheese

Chives

 

 

Mince onion and garlic and combine in Dutch oven with olive oil. Cook over medium heat until onions have begun to soften. Mix in tomato paste and stir well to coat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes while the paste browns. Add meat to the pan and stir well to combine. Add spices and cook for 4-5 minutes until the meat has browned.

 

Add the beans and their juices, one can at a time, stirring well as you add. Next add diced tomatoes, corn, and water. Stir well. Chop carrot and bell pepper and add to the pot. Allow the pot to come to a low boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

 

Cover partially with lid and simmer for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste test and adjust salt and spices as needed. Serve hot with all your favorite chili toppings.

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Solstice Yule Log

Happy Winter Solstice! Today marks the longest night of the year, the turning of the seasons, the return of the sun. Winter holidays around the world draw inspiration from the solstice, and it’s certainly an event worth celebrating.

 

 

We celebrated (a night early) with a potluck with friends, popping bottles of bubbly wine and feasting on the bounty of root vegetables. It’s one of my favorite nights of the holiday season, particularly because we always mark it with a small, low key dinner. It feels right to mark the occasion, to toast the changing of the seasons and the shifts as the earth makes its slow rotation around the sun.

 

 

This year I decided to try my hand at a fancy buche de noel, a yule log cake. A thin, almost flour-less cake layered with hazelnut mousse and rolled on itself, topped with more mousse and then decorated to look like a yule log. It’s above and beyond the effort I usually put into the appearance of cakes but Everett took a particularly long and agreeable nap yesterday, so I decided to challenge myself.

 

 

Probably because it’s mostly mousse, the end result was fantastic. Chocolatey and rich and soft and light and heavenly. And, amazingly, very easy. The hardest part of the whole process was picking holly from my yard in the rain.

 

 

All in all, it was a wonderful celebration. I’m ready to close the door on 2017, and it feels good to be turning the corner into a new season. Happy Solstice, friends!

 

 

Solstice Yule Log Cake

cake:

6 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tbsp for dusting

1 tbsp all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Butter for greasing

 

mousse:

7 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup chocolate hazelnut spread

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

topping:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Handful of pomegranate seeds

Handful slivered almonds

Fresh holly leaves

 

Heat oven to 350F.

 

Grease a 10×15″ rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Whip together the eggs and sugar on high until they have thickened and doubled in volume. This takes approximately 3-5 minutes.

 

Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt and then fold into eggs. Carefully cut and fold, making sure to fully incorporate the dry ingredients. Pour gently onto the baking sheet and spread so it reaches the edges. Take care not to deflate. Bake for 15 minutes.

 

While the cake is baking, dust a second sheet of parchment with cocoa powder. When the cake is done allow it to cool for 5 minutes and then gently peel the edges of the cake away from the parchment. Flip the cake onto the second parchment paper and then, using a knife to help separate, peel the parchment off the cake. Cover with a towel and allow to cool.

 

Scald 1 1/4 cups of cream, removing from heat before it boils. Stir in chocolate chips and hazelnut spread, along with vanilla. Stir well, until the chocolate is melted and well incorporated. Whip remaining cream until stiff. Fold the ganache into the whipped cream, stirring until fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl!

 

Remove the towel from the cake and, using the parchment to help, roll the cake tightly on itself. Allow to sit, rolled, for 5 minutes, and then unroll it. Top the cake with a thick layer (1/4″) of mousse. Again using the parchment to guide, roll the cake onto itself. Have your serving platter ready and use the parchment to roll the cake directly onto your serving platter.

 

Cut a 3-4″ piece of the cake off at an angle, and position it on the side so it resembles a log. Use a pastry knife to spread the remaining mouse thickly over the cake. Then use a fork to add bark texture, and decorate as you’d like with holly leaves, pomegranate seeds, and almond slivers. Chill for 3-4 hours.

 

Directly before serving top with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

 

 

Make this gluten free:

 

This is an easy one! Simply substitute measure for measure gluten free flour (I used King Arthur) and follow the recipe as written!

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Persimmon & Pecan Bread

When we moved onto our new street we heard rumors of the amazing persimmon tree in our neighbor’s yard– Japanese persimmons grafted onto a Carolina persimmon trunk. When the tree set fruit it was magnificent; bright orange persimmons, a shock against the crisp fall sky. To my delight I came home one day this fall to a basket full of these beauties on my kitchen counter.

 

 

 

A strong craving for freshly baked bread this weekend inspired me to adapt my classic banana bread recipe to compliment my bounty of persimmons. Brown sugar, buttermilk, raw pecans, and roasted persimmons combine to make a bread that is slightly sweet, chewy, and crisp around the edges. I’ve been eating it once slice at a time this week, toasted and smeared with a little salted butter.

 

 

There are two varieties of persimmons readily available in American grocery stores- Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu are lighter in color, a bit squat in shape, and beloved for their sweet, honeyed flavor when eaten fresh. Hachiya are darker in color, oblong in shape, and are best when eaten very ripe or roasted. All 100 counties of North Carolina are also home to a third variety of persimmon- the American persimmon. These persimmons (including the bountiful one in my neighbor’s yard) bare fruit that must be gathered from the ground when very ripe and boast a sweet, spicy flavor. Roasted persimmons have a sweet, mellow flavor that lends itself well to both dessert and savory dishes.

 

 

As we roll straight into the holidays and my desk fills higher and higher with sweets and candy, it’s nice to have a balance. Nothing beats a slice of hot buttered sweet bread with my morning cup of coffee and I’m so thankful that I have enough roasted persimmons in the freezer to see me through winter. It’s the little things, you know?

 

 

Persimmon & Pecan Bread

 

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

3 persimmons

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp salt

2 cups flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Butter to grease the pan

 

Heat oven to 425F. Chop persimmons into bite sized pieces. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until they are soft and beginning to bubble. Reduce oven temperature to 400F.

 

Mix together all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Gently smash the persimmons with a fork and mix into batter. Grease a loaf pan or 8″ skillet and pour batter into the pan, taking care to evenly distribute the persimmons. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is baked through (and a knife comes out clean).

 

Transfer to a rack to cool.

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