Swing State Chili

We had the best time making GOTV calls to swing states for President Obama’s reelection campaign. And as we anxiously awaited the results, we figured we had to celebrate our faith in those swing states (it worked!) by making and eating a beloved recipe from the most pivotal state: Ohio. Knowing about this unusual way of eating chili (on spaghetti?!) is one thing. Eating it another. Eating it is better. Recommend! (Especially with our favorite hot sauce, Crystal.)


Cincinnati Chili (Saveur)


Redolent of warm spices, deeply flavored Cincinnati-style chili, whether prepared two-way (chili over spaghetti), three-way (with cheese), four-way (with onions), or five-way (with a finishing flourish of kidney beans), is an enduring American classic.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,to taste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsedunder hot water and drained
  • 4 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and half of the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–6 minutes. Add beef, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, oregano, nutmeg, celery seed, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes. Tilt skillet and spoon out and discard any accumulated fat. Add tomato sauce, cocoa powder, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until somewhat thick, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes; drain. Put beans into a small pot and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. Divide spaghetti between 4 large bowls. Top with chili, cheese, remaining onions, and beans. Serve hot, with oyster crackers on the side.



Stop what you’re doing and make this right now. (I may have said this before, but now I really mean it.)

There’s nothing better than coming home to find a new issue of Bon Appétit. Except when you come home and make something hidden in the pages that blows your mind. In this case, it was the grilled avocado toast that was described in the editor’s letter. Between the picture and Adam Rapoport’s description of this impromptu dish, I knew I had to make it right away. Here’s my take:


Grilled Avocado Toast (or Grill-panned Avocado Toast)

  • Fire up the barbie/grill pan
  • Drizzle rustic bread slices (I used pain au levain) with olive oil
  • Grill bread til charred
  • Rub with cut garlic
  • Top hot bread with avocado (I used half an avocado per serving, which is kind of a lot)
  • Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and sea salt
  • Drizzle with more olive oil
  • Devour and moan about how delicious this is
  • Tweet to editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit about how his editor’s letter changed your life (see below)
  • Eat three times in one week
  • Tell everyone you know about this.


Steak for V Day

Served my man a big ol’ steak for dinner on Valentine’s Day. A cauliflower steak! And he loved it. So did I. The toughest part was actually cutting the cauliflower into steaks. I managed to cut two steaks, but the rest of the broken-up cauliflower tasted just as good with the sauce and tapenade. Yum!

And we obviously had to have a side dish (although I wasn’t about to put it on the same plate as my beautiful cauliflower presentation). Went with another from new favorite cookbook, Plenty: Green couscous. Another winner.


Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce (Bon Appetit)


  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered


  • Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact. Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface. Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four 1/2″ “steaks” from center of cauliflower (some florets will break loose; reserve). Finely chop enough loose florets to measure 1/2 cup. Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 Tbsp. oil, parsley, and lemon juice. Season relish with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 Tbsp. oil to pan between batches. Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet. Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, one cut side down. Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower. Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.
  • Transfer garlic, tomatoes, and 1/2 Tbsp. oil to a blender; purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide tomato sauce among plates. Place 1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Green couscous (from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Since I’m not typing up the intros to these recipes, I should mention that he suggests adding feta cheese to this. I did. That’s the white stuff in the pic. It was worth it. (Thanks, sister!) Oh, and a friendly tip — be careful about your green chile. Some are pretty dang hot and will make your face numb. Just a warning.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3/4 cup boiling water or vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp group cumin

Herb paste

  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 fresh green chile, finely sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup arugula leaves, chopped

Place the couscous in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water or stock. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until golden and completely soft. Add the salt and cumin and mix well. Leave to cool slightly.

To make the herb paste, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Add the herb paste to the couscous and mix everything together well with a fork to fluff it up. Now add the cooked onion, the pistachios, green onions, green chile and arugula and gently mix. Serve at room temperature.


I’ve been enjoying a new vegetable cookbook, Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. It has lots of intriguing recipes from around the world. Unfortunately, we weren’t wild about the first one that we tried. Not fans of the greek yogurt/tahini sauce at all. The spices, lime, chile, and cilantro were good, but I don’t plan on making this again. Spoiler alert: there are better recipes from this book already posted on this here blog!


Roasted butternut squash with sweet spices, lime, and green chile (from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Serves 4-6

  • 2 limes
  • Maldon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 green chile, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup picked cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim off the limes’ tops and bases using a small sharp knife. Stand each lime on a chopping board and cut down the sides of the fruit, following its natural curves, to remove the skin and white pith. Quarter the limes from top to bottom, and cut each quarter into thin slices, about 1/8 inch think. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stir and set aside.

Next, cut the squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut each half, top to bottom, into 3/8-inch-thick slices and lay them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and work with a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and work the seeds into a rough powder. Transfer to a small bowl, add the allspice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, stir well and brush this mixture over the butternut slices. Sprinkle over a little salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender when tested with the point of a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Peel off the skin, or leave on if you prefer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick but runny enough to pour; add more water if necessary.

To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Spoon over the lime slices and their juices and scatter the chile slices over the top. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.


For the big day, the attractive nuisance’s favorite family recipe.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 1 pie shell
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 stick melted butter, cooled
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sprinkle bottom of pie shell with chocolate chips. Combine eggs with sugar, corn syrup, and flour. Gradually mix butter, then nuts and vanilla. Pour carefully over chocolate chips.

Bake at 325 for one hour. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!


And for the day after, Mark Bittman’s recipe to use up some of that leftover cranberry sauce.

Cranberry-Swirl Quick Bread

Combine 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Pulse in 4 tablespoons chilled butter. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1 egg and pulse just until combined. Pour into a greased loaf pan and swirl in 1 cup cranberry sauce with a knife. Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, at least 45 minutes.


LA Times

I discovered a whole slew of cool recipes on the LA Times website. Bookmarked a bunch. Here’s the first.

Ad Hoc’s Rice with Roasted Cauliflower

I used brown rice, which apparently takes longer to cook than white rice. And since we didn’t have green onions, I threw some cilantro in there. This was good and relatively easy and quick to make. I’m pretty sure the serving size is referring to 8-10 lilliputians. We ate all of it. And the lilliputians.


Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: 8 to 10

  • 1/2 head white cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of curry powder
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup Carolina, or long grain, rice
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the canola oil and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste.

3. Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan (reserve the bowl) and roast until the cauliflower is a deep brown and tender throughout when pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing every few minutes for even coloring and cooking. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.

4. While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the rice: In a large saucepan, add the water and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and chili flakes and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice just until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rice well, then spread the rice in a thin shallow layer in a large baking dish.

5. Place the rice in the oven to dry out for 5 minutes. Remove, then stir in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper.

6. Place the cauliflower back in the bowl and toss with the curry powder. Taste and season, if desired, with additional salt and pepper.

7. Gently stir in the warmed rice and butter, tossing until the butter is melted and evenly coats the rice and cauliflower. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.

Each of 10 servings: 136 calories; 2 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 6 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 6 mg. cholesterol; 68 mg. sodium.

Buttermilk birthday

It’s my birthday! Special breakfast!

By the way, the fact that you can make buttermilk by adding vinegar to regular milk is awesome. Just saying.

And yes, you’re right. There are many forms of sugar on top of that waffle. And they were all gooooood.


Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Adapted from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola or other neutral oil for brushing on waffle pan (Deb note: Pam works great!)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt and the egg yolks. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer (spotlessly clean ones work best) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.

Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

* The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes.