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Blog

Baby It's Cold Outside

Suzanne Pollak

Courtesy of Radio Boston

Courtesy of Radio Boston

In the Spring, springing and farmers markets occur at least three times a week teaming with tender young vegetable and zucchini blossoms crying to be stuffed, nobody is thinking about their pantry. However, when the last three consecutive Monday’s has dumped 72 inches of snow on our heads, and ordering in is not a possibility let alone going out, you throw open the pantry door praying it is stocked and ready. Is it?

The fall is the ideal time to whip that pantry into shape, but it's not too late at the end of February. Winter is still here. Buy boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They will provide the mainstay of your winter diet. Buy pasta in all sorts of different shapes (fettuccine, shells, bow ties, angel hair), cans of tuna, cannellini and kidney beans, all variations of tomatoes (crushed, whole, diced, pureed) and jars of capers, green peppercorns, pimentos, preserved lemons and bottles of rum, vodka and bourbon to nip at while keeping winters chill at bay.


RUM TODDY

INGREDIENTS

3 ounces dark rum

4 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

A piece of lemon rind

1 dash of freshly grated nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

6-8 ounces boiling water

 

1.  To a large heavy duty cup or glass, add rum, honey, lemon juice, lemon rind, and nutmeg.  Stand cinnamon stick upright in the cup.

2.  Pour the boiling water and stir well to blend.  Adjust honey to suit your sweetness and adjust lemon juice to suit your taste.

3.  Sip slowly and enjoy.


CHILI

from the New York Times January 28, 2015

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1  1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

4 pounds beef chuck roast or steak

1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra as needed 

1 large yellow or white onion, chopped, plus extra for serving

6 large garlic cloves, minced

4 to 7 large fresh green jalapeños (depending on how much heat) stemmed, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons masa harina or 1 corn tortilla torn into pieces (optional)

2 tablespoons ground pure chile powder, such as pasilla, Chimayo or ancho

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 - 12 ounce bottle Negra Modelo beer

1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, or 3 - 10 ounce cans Ro-Tel canned tomatoes with green chiles

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

3 whole dried large red chiles, such as New Mexico

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Fritos or warmed flour tortillas, for serving

1.  In a small heavy skillet, toast cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant.  In a mortar and pestle, or in a coffee grinder, grind to a powder and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, roughly cut beef into 2-inch cubes, or slice it against the grain into pieces about 1/4-inch thick by 1  1/2-inches square. Sprinkle with salt.

3.  In a large, heavy pot over high heat, heat oil until simmering.  Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, brown the meat, turning occasionally until crusty.  Adjust the heat to prevent scorching.  As it is cooked, remove the meat to drain on paper towels.  Add more oil as needed for browning, but do not clean out the pot.

4.  To the empty but crusty pot, add onion, garlic, jalapeños, masa harina or tortilla (if using), chile powder, cumin-coriander powder, and oregano.  Cook, stirring, until onion has softened, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add meat, beer, tomatoes, chocolate, whole dried chiles and 1 quart water.  Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for about 1  1/2 hours, or until meat is fork-tender.  Remove the dried chiles.  Taste and add salt if necessary.

5.  Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate.  (The chili tastes best one or two days after it is made.)  Reheat over low heat, if necessary, and serve in bowls, sprinkled with chopped onion and cilantro.  Add Fritos for crunch or dip tortillas into the spicy gravy.


PENNE ALLA VODKA

SERVES 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS

Kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 pound penne pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 - 32 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

1/4 cup vodka

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Finely chopped parsley, to garnish

 

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add penne and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 11 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and vodka and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir until smooth.

2.  Drain pasta and transfer to pan with sauce.  Toss pasta with sauce until evenly coated.

3.  Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.