Superbowl chili?

I could care less about the Superbowl. Actually I hate all the drama and the enforced parties and get-togethers. But to be honest I’ve watched the second half of most of the past few Superbowls, and last night’s game was one of the most exciting sporting events I’ve ever seen. But I digress.

I decided to make chili yesterday because a friend is visiting town who appreciates this kind of food. I wasn’t thinking that everybody in the country was making it on the same day, of course… the supermarket was sold out of every ingredient. Fortunately I was well-stocked.

I didn’t veer too far from my recent chilis: chuck cut into 1/4″ dice, some ground beef for thickener, rendered beef fat with a bit of olive oil for the fat, my own mix of dried, ground anchos, pasillas, guajillos, pequins and african birdseye for chiles. Plus one fresh jalapeno and one fresh scotch bonnet. Mexican oregano and some roasted, ground cumin seed. Salt, and boiling water for the liquid. Onions and garlic cooked in the beef fat, plus, juice of one lime, and 6+ hours coooking.

Here you see all the ingredients, browned and sauteed, just before I’ve added the water:

One hour later:

Four hours later, after I spooned off about 2 cups of fat.

The fixings plate (not for toppings, but to have on the side… the stuff they give you at Kreuz was the inspiration. Plus Arnold Brick Oven white bread, since you can’t seem to buy Wonder Bread around here – did they stop making it?)

And the chili as it looked today, after a night in the fridge:

It’s getting another 2-3 hours tonight at very low heat. We’ll see how it fares tomorrow.

Postscript: ooohhhhh shit! Chili cooked DOWN. We’re talking molten. After a second night in the fridge to lock in the flavors, shit is gonna be sick:

Yes yes yes….

Coconut prawns and okra yogurt

OK, I may have gone crazy with this okra thing, but it’s actually a fantastic vegetable. Wholly underrated, Americans have learned to hate it because when cooked with water it loses all its texture and deflates into mush. Indians never allow water to touch okra.

Above is actually a leftovers plate from a dinner I made a couple weeks ago before the Mission Of Burma show in Williamsburg (which was great, if deafening). Both dishes are, again, from Kerala, and feature the ubiquitous kari leaves (or curry leaves – not that there is anything curry-ish about them as we understand that word). The prawns in coconut milk use a substance called kadampoli to add a sour tincture. I was unable to find it; you can substitute lemon juice, but I used tamarind instead. (Kadampoli is also known as fish tamarind, but in fact is unrelated to tamarind, all incredibly confusing.) The other dish is okra that is stir-fried in spices in oil and then folded into yogurt; meanwhile you fry some more spices in the okra-flavored oil and then fold that into the okra-yogurt mixture. It’s more-ish.

Green chile chicken and okra with two mustards

A couple of Madhur Jaffrey classics last night. The green chili chicken is a southern Indian dish from Kerala state, specifically from the Jewish community in Cochin. It was the dish served at Friday night supper, for the Sabbath. Despite the name it is not particularly spicy – the chiles lend it some bitterness. The other key ingredients are the typically Keralan kari leaves and, for sourness, tamarind that has been soaked and strained to form a paste. The chicken is braised, bone-in.

Okra with two mustards is a Bengalese dish, wonderfully piquant and tart. The two mustards are ground brown and yellow mustard seeds, which are used to form a sauce with turmeric, red chili powder, water and a couple of whole green chiles. The okra is stir-fried first in oil infused with nigella seed (kalonji), and then simmered in the sauce for ten minutes – it is crisp and intact this way. Here is the spice mixture for the okra:

I served these dishes with basmati rice, and for cooling purposes and textural contrast, cold onion and cucumber relishes.

Keang gai faa and galloping horse

Another day, another attempt at making Thai food. Su-mei Yu is a serious taskmistress. I’ve now got the approved stone mortar and pestle (9 inches in diameter) and am pounding my pastes and chilis. Note: pounding, not grinding. You must do a simple up-and-down motion, constantly scraping the sides of the mortar, for 30 minutes, in order to achieve a smooth Big Four Paste. I have to say it is much smoother than I can achieve in my food processor. I can’t imagine what my downstairs neighbors make of the rhythmic beat, however.

Keang gai faa is an older Thai dish. Similar to howling tiger – the emphasisis is on ground white peppercorn and cilantro rather than fiery green chilis or curry. Su-mei Yu translates it as “heavenly chicken stew” and this is more or less accurate.

Galloping horse, however, was the highlight of the meal (pictured above). It consists of ground pork fried with garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar and ground peanuts (I substituted ground cashews), which is then stuffed inside of fruit. Su-mei Yu recommend tangelos which, astonishingly, I was able to locate at the supermarket, but you can use figs, pineapple or persimmons. Tangelo segments are actually not easy to stuff with ground pork – Nils helped me – but getting the sweet-salty meat in the same bite as the citrusy fruit is all that matters. Each combination is topped with a cilantro leaf and a sliver of serrano chile. Unbelievable, and incredibly simple to make.

Buy Early Get Now #5: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Preorder the Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album ‘Real Emotional Trash’ (out March 4) now, and a get an instant stream along with two exclusive B-sides, an entire live show and a poster.

Visit the website to register. You start by preordering the album from a participating retailer – click the location on the map closest to you, or just order from the Matador Store – and you will get a username and password. Go back to to log in, download the stream, and get your extras on the site over the next few weeks.

On March 4 you pick up the album and poster from your local retailer or receive it in the mail. Simple and straightforward.

Howling tiger (Seur rong hai)

My first Thai dish. The cookbook is Su-mei Yu’s ‘Cracking The Coconut,’ recommended by Nils Bernstein. This is chicken with a ton of chilis. Actually this was crying tiger (7 birdseye chilis), as opposed to gently weeping tiger (3-4) or howling tiger (15-20 plus). It packed an intense punch, not just in spiciness… the roasted, ground coriander seed, roasted ground white pepper, roasted ground green pepper, cups of minced cilantro root, fish sauce, sugar and as much garlic as you could possibly imagine took care of that. However, since we’re gluttons for intensity, we also used some of the evocatively named prik dong (marinated Thai chilis in salted vinegar), which I’d been preparing over the past week, to kick it up (see picture below). Plates were cleaned – I’ll be making this one again.

Bhopali rice pilau with assorted pickles and relishes

This is the tastiest meal I’ve made since I started food blogging, even though it sounds the least exciting. The rice pilau dish from Bhopal is a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. It’s basmati rice with carrots and peas, and is astonishingly complicated to make despite that simple description. However it’s also incredibly fun, stretching over 2 hours of cooking including a lot of vigorous stir-frying. The flavors are subtle and aromatic, the result of a lot of whole spices fried in ghee, including black cardamom, cloves, black cumin seed, cinnamon stick and whole mace.

It was so more-ish that I didn’t use most of the intense pickles in the pictures (as much as I love Indian pickles). The main accompaniment was an apple yogurt relish. This uses toasted black cumin seeds, which delivers one of the more intoxicating smells known to mankind, plus grated granny smith apple, ginger, cayenne and salt in a high-quality yogurt. High-quality yogurt should look something like the picture below.

Bisteces rancheros sonorenses

It sounds like botanical latin but actually it’s a Mexican recipe for steak baked with poblano chiles, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic and red potatoes. It was supposed to be made with Anaheim chiles but I couldn’t find them. I had it with a bottle of Galician red and frozen peas. The recipe was from the doyenne of Mexican cooking who improbably enough is named Diana Kennedy. Thanks to Nils for the Mexican tipz.

Pork chop vinegar pep

Pork chops with vinegar peppers is a classic Tri-State Area Italian-American dish (maybe they have it in the rest of America – I don’t know). The key is to use the hot little cherry peppers they make in New Jersey (referenced in an earlier food post), and, according to a recipe found on Google, to cook the chops in a half-cup of the pickling liquid from the cherry pepper jar. And I think it’s right.

If you do this at home, it’s almost always gonna be better than what you get at a restaurant, where they always cook pork chops to dryness to avoid health scare type problems. Pork chops are difficult, at least modern, lean varieties: they go from undercooked and raw to overcooked and dry in about 30 seconds, and you have to identify that precise moment to take them out. That said, if you follow the recipe linked above, you’ll definitely end up with raw chops unless you have unusually thin ones (like a half-inch). Mine were an inch and required 4-5 minutes a side and then 4-5 minutes with the pepper pickling liquid and the top on. I grabbed them at more or less the right time, and they were delicious. Served with white rice (for the sauce) and brussel sprouts.

Full respect to Chris Lombardi, who gave me the idea to cook this tonight.

Pasta with shrimp and scallions

I saw Lidia Bastianich prepare this on TV and have made it a few times since. I love how she calls this a “5-minute” recipe. Sure, there may be only 5 minutes of actual cooking, but cleaning, peeling and deveining a pound of shrimp, chopping a half-cup of garlic, a bunch of scallions and a third-cup of parsley take some time. Still it’s pretty straightforward and really delicious. I used wild Florida shrimp from Grand Central Market for this one. For the pepperoncini I used hot cherry peppers from New Jersey, the kind they have at Pat’s King of Steaks. I don’t think it’s health city… half-cup of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of butter, but probably better for me than the hamburger. bleachy feeling GOOD tonight! bleachy feeling REAL GOOD!


This hamburger is about to be eaten. It took me two minutes to do so. It’s based on a recipe by James Beard. The ground beef is mixed thoroughly with half a grated onion, about 2-3 tbs heavy cream, and freshly ground pepper. It’s then cooked in butter and oil over high heat in a cast iron pan for about 5 minutes a side, so that it’s totally seared on the outside and very rare in the inside. As you can see, it’s served on a buttered English muffin. No condiments are needed – just salt and maybe a slice of onion. It’s buttery, onion-y, fatty and heavy. I ate it with a side of boiled, buttered green beans. I think now I’ll have a Tahiti cookie for dessert.


Above is the third chili that I’ve made over the holidays. I’m following the ├╝ber-purist teachings of John Thorne, who devotes a chapter to Texas Red in his book ‘Serious Pig.’ No beans, no tomatoes, no toppings. The basic ingredients are fat, fire and meat. To make the fire, I ground up various combinations of dried chilis. This edition uses about two-thirds anchos and pasillas, and about a third guajillos, pequins and a little bit of African birdseye. Breaking with the purism a bit, I also added three fresh scotch bonnets, an onion, garlic, salt, some cumin and some Mexican oregano. The meat is cubed chuck with a little bit of ground beef as a thickener, and the fat was cut off a piece of top sirloin and then rendered (I would have preferred suet, but it’s hard to find in my neighborhood.)

When this picture was taken, the chili had another 3 hours to go.

Cat Power ‘Jukebox’ final sequence

Cat Power photo by Stefano Giovannini

Today we announce the final sequence for Cat Power’s upcoming ‘Jukebox’ album, to be released on January 22. The names below indicate the best known performer of the original songs, who are not necessarily the songwriters:

1. New York (Frank Sinatra)
2. Ramblin’ (Wo)man (Hank Williams)
3. Metal Heart (Cat Power *)
4. Silver Stallion (The Highwaymen)
5. Aretha, Sing One For Me (George Jackson)
6. Lost Someone (James Brown)
7. Lord, Help The Poor And Needy (Jessie Mae Hemphill)
8. I Believe In You (Bob Dylan)
9. Song To Bobby (written by Chan Marshall and Matt Sweeney)
10. Don’t Explain (Billie Holiday)
11. Woman Left Lonely (Janis Joplin)
12. Blue (Joni Mitchell)

* original version on the ‘Moon Pix’ album
** first appearance of this song

In addition, there will be a limited-edition silver foil deluxe package with a bonus disc containing the following 5 songs:

1. I Feel (Hot Boys)
2. Naked, If I Want To (Moby Grape)
3. Breathless (Nick Cave)
4. Angelitos Negros (Roberta Flack)
5. She’s Got You (Patsy Cline)

Photo by Stefano Giovannini.

The album cover image, along with full songwriting and publishing information for the original sequence of songs can be found at the original announcement. Here is the information for the songs not on that sequence:

7. Lord, Help The Poor and Needy
Traditional, from Jessie Mae Hemphill, arranged by Chan Marshall, Public Domain

12. Blue
Written by Joni Mitchell, published by Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp./Sony ATV Tunes, LLC (ASCAP)

bonus 1. I Feel
Written by Carter, Dorsey, Gray, Thomas, Virgil, published by Chopper City Music Publishing/Money Mack Music (BMI)

bonus 2. Naked, If I Want To
Written by Jerry Miller, published by Ervenson Publishing Co. (BMI)

bonus 3. Breathless
Written by Nick Cave, published by Songs of Windswept Pacific (BMI)

bonus 4. Angelitos Negros
Written by Andres Eloy Blanco/ Manuel Alvarez Maciste, published by APRS (BMI)

bonus 5. She’s Got You
Written by Hank Cochran, published by Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI)

New Pornographers play UK and Europe Sept-Oct and late November


The New Pornographers return to Europe at the end of this month and going into early October, with new dates added since we last announced them:

Sun, Sept 30 – Paris FR – La Maroquinerie tickets
Mon, Oct 1 – Berlin DE – Mudd
Weds, Oct 3 – Oslo NO – Cosmopolite
Thurs, Oct 4 – London GB – Koko tickets
The band will be returning in November to play more places, so watch this space.

photo by photojq from flickr. Used without permission.