Party Foods at Stonewall Kitchen!

I had a great time last night at Stonewall Kitchen in York, ME, teaching another cooking class.  It wasn’t quite sold-out, but that was entirely my fault.  A few months ago, when I was planning the class, I came up with the semi-brilliant idea of doing a class on party foods.  Which of course, meant doing a Super Bowl Party-themed class.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Until a couple of weeks ago, when our beloved Patriots kinda/sorta croaked.  Then it became a really dumb idea.  So a client of mine suggested that I change the name to “Cabin Fever Party Foods.”  I did that for this Thursday’s class at UMass/Amherst.  But it was too late to change the name for the Stonewall class.  Heavy sigh.

So, on a cold night in Maine, we had 15 people, who had a GREAT time, with a terrific menu.  One of the dishes was my world-famous Chicken Chili with Black Beans and Corn.  It went over well, as did the mini-Reuben sliders and the chocolate chip, walnut, and oatmeal cookies.  A great winter menu.  Actually, it’s a great year-round menu, too.  Chili in the summer?  Yup.

And as I do with every class, we had a trivia question, with the winner receiving a Chef Bill apron (home edition, of course…).  The winner was Jeffry Burke, of Tuftonboro, NH.  It was a fun night all around..

Chicken Chili with Black Beans and Corn

  • 3-4 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs) cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2  16 oz cans black beans
  • 1 8  oz package frozen corn (try to thaw in advance, but not crucial).
  • 1 lime, use all of the zest and juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, over a medium heat, add the olive oil, and the onions.  Sauté these for approximately 20-30 minutes, until the onions are soft.  Add the garlic, and sautee for another few minutes
  2. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, and oregano, and mix well to combine.   Add the cubed chicken, and stir frequently, for approximately 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned, but not cooked through.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and lime zest and juice.  Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked though.  Adjust the seasonings (especially the chili powder, cumin and salt) to your liking, and serve.

Makes approximately three quarts, or 8-10 servings.

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Soup and Snow

We had almost two feet of snow this week.  That means one thing: making a pot of soup.  But with all that snow, I felt compelled to make three soups.  Well actually, it was two soups and a chili.  But one was a classic, almost-garbage soup.  Garbage soup, in case you missed the (choose one) memo, email, or tweet, is a soup that’s made with whatever you have lying around and is on the verge of being tossed out.  Some of the best soups ever have been garbage soups.  And unless you keep records of everything you’ve ever made, these soups are often unrepeatable because of their random availability of ingredients.

My almost-garbage recipe this week was sausage and kale soup.  But it didn’t achieve full garbage status because I went out and bought the kale.  So why can’t it be replicated exactly?  Well, I used my second-to-last quart of turkey stock, from Thanksgiving.  And the sausage?  Some kind of sweet Italian turkey sausage, origins unknown, that had been in the freezer for a while.  So yeah, I can come close to this again.  But an exact repeat?  Nope. That’s what makes home cooking so good and variable.  Every time.

Sausage and Kale Soup

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausage, cooked and diced
  • 1 14 oz can diced or whole tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (or 1 quart stock and 1 quart water)
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 bunches of kale, rinsed and chopped (large pieces are fine)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  1. In a large stockpot, add the stock and tomatoes, and bring it to a simmer
  2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the stock, and bring it to a simmer.  Simmer until he carrots are partially cooked through, approximately 10 minutes
  3. Add the potatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes
  4. Add the chopped kale, and simmer until all of the vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Add the cooked sausage, bring to a simmer, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with grated parmesan cheese

Yield:  Makes 6-8 servings.

NOTE:

  • all of the dicing of the vegetables (except the kale) and sausage should be small, spoon-sized
  • All of the simmering should be done with the stockpot covered

Valentine’s Day Romantic Dinner for Two Auction

Valentines Day this year is Tuesday, Feb 14.  I’m auctioning a Romantic Dinner for Two, with all proceeds going to Reader to Reader.

So what will this mean for the lucky couple for the evening of Valentine’s Day?  In their kitchen, I’ll prepare a four course dinner, including an appetizer, salad, entree with two side dishes, and dessert.  I’ll bring the pots and pans.  And the food.  And I’ll clean up after. The lucky couple, who will select the menu, will enjoy a relaxing, fun evening.  And they’ll have great food, too.  The regular price for a Romantic Dinner for Two starts at $325.

So how does this work?

  • To start, click on the left side of the page to bid on this memorable evening.
  • All bids must be made by Thursday, February 9, at 9:00 pm, EST.
  • The winner will pay be invoiced through PayPal, with payment to be received by Thursday, February 10 at 9:00 pm, EST.
  • All proceeds, except for any travel charges, will be donated to Reader to Reader.
  • There is no geographical restriction on this dinner.  However, if it is more than 50 miles from Amherst, MA, then an appropriate travel charge will be added.  For example, if the dinner is in the Boston area, then a $50 travel charge will be added.

Reader to Reader, is a non-profit organization based in Amherst, MA, which has  donated over $45 million in books and computers to needy schools and public libraries across the U.S. and beyond.  In addition, they also have a terrific and effective mentoring program for students of all ages as well as a variety of summer programming.

Chicken Provençale

  • 3 whole (6 halves) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2-4 Tablespoons, olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut in 1/2 if small, cut in 1/4s if large
  • 1 teaspoons, dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon, dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon, dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium sized onions, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 anchovies, rinsed and minced
  • 3/4 cup, white wine
  • 1 28 oz can, whole or diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  1. Mix 1/3 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, and coat the chicken pieces with the flour. In a large skillet, over a medium heat, add the olive oil, and brown the chicken breasts on both sides.  Remove from pan.
  2. Add the mushrooms, and cover. After 4-5 minutes, stirring to keep them from sticking, the mushrooms will be soft and there will be liquid in the pan.
  3. Add the thyme, rosemary, oregano, garlic, onion, and bay leaf. Cook until the onion is soft.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour, and mix well. Add the anchovies.
  4. Add the wine, tomatoes, and broth. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  5. Return chicken to pan, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. You can tell when the chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside, but it is still moist.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  7. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Serves 4-6

NOTE: you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breasts