Today’s food highlight comes courtesy of my new friend Abby who I met during last December’s trip to Milwaukee. Her sweet potato and black bean chili was one of the hallmarks of my holiday home. I thanked her with a Christmas ornament of – surprise – a hot chili pepper!
Abby prepared this chili while I was out cross-country skiing in the wilds of Wisconsin with my good friend, and her boyfriend, Matt. I had never been skiing before and so the experience was a bit trying, but so much fun that I can’t believed I lived in snowy Chicago all my life and never learned to ski. Then again, if I had prior experience on the slopes, I possibly would have owned my own skis and would therefore not have needed the services from the helpful ski rental dude at Wheel and Sprocket:
I was ravenous by the time we were done skiing and it felt so good to go home to a hot pot of chili, a mountain of breaded green beans and a bottle of Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale. Pure bliss. Almost as blissful as wintry wonderful Wisconsin.
Diary for Tuesday, February 11, 2009
Bircher muesli. Topped with banana and natural yogurt.
The Bircher muesli trend continues. Topped with yogurt and banana and paired with a cup of decaf Monmouth coffee, this went down a treat after my swim. Concoction was same as yesterday’s:
1 cup oats
10g flax seeds
1 apple, graded
1 lemon wedge, juiced
After sitting on my duff in front of the computer all morning, I needed to get the blood flowing. So I took a two-loop park around Clissold Park. About 45 minutes. I started with a podcast, and ended with music, feeling content to wander around lost in my thoughts. It was refreshing, and a great way to work up my appetite for a delicious lunch.
Leftovers chickpeas and chard with steamed cauliflower and raita.
It never fails: at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon I always feel a bit sluggish and need to get out of the house and move around a bit. So I went back to the park for another loop. No iPod. Just me and more thoughts. I guess I have a lot on my mind!
Sweet potato and black bean chili with roasted brussels sprouts.
This chili rocks my world. Abby was kind enough to send me the recipe and even gave me permission to pass it on to you guys. A few words about this chili…
It’s got a bit of lime in there, which is delicious, but the tangy lime mixed with the sweet potato needs to balanced with some sort of cooling side dish. I served this with roasted brussels sprouts, which were good, but not quite the balance this chili needs. Abby, on the other hand, served hers with battered green beans and a yogurt dip. It was perfection. In fact, yogurt on TOP of the chili would be very nice, as would feta or goat’s cheese. Other ideas: corn on the cob, cornbread, coleslaw, or some fresh vegetables with raita. You could always go easy on the lime and pump up the other spices, or add some fresh greens. That’s the beauty with chili: it’s so malleable. Like a hot pot of gold!
Abby’s Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 to 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 28-can diced tomatoes
3 15-ounce cans black beans, (I like to get the ones that are soaked in lime juice with cut jalapeno)
1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped (if they aren’t in your black beans)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried
(I like to play around with spices..I think I threw in some herb de provence too)
Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, green pepper, garlic, and salt. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally. ( I nuke the sweet potatoes for 3-4 minutes with a damp paper towel over them..they are easier to dice).
Add the tomatoes, black beans, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cocoa, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
After dinner I was still a little hungry so I had an orange for dessert. It wasn’t exactly pretty to look at it, but it was tasty to eat.