Browsing Tag


Spicy Good

Chili Con Carne with Homemade Chili Paste

September 13, 2021

One of my readers wrote in search of a recipe for bean-less chili that harkened back to her family’s Sunday dinners 25 years ago. Chili without beans is a-okay with me, so I worked up this richly flavored version made with beef skirt steak (you can also add a bit of bison steak if you have some) and loads of handmade chili paste. I use a combination of ancho, New Mexico, cayenne and arbol chilies for the paste, but you can vary the heat and flavor by experimenting with other varieties of dried chiles, such as pasilla or guajillo.

You’ll soak the dried peppers first. Then, brown the meat and simmer it to tenderness in the chili-soaking broth. Finally, blend the soaked peppers, garlic and spices to make the paste which you’ll add to the chili pot for a ½ hour more of simmering. That’s when the flavor really blooms! Not burn-your-mouth spicy, this beautiful chili has a deep, dark warmth.  It’s good plain or served over rice with chopped white onion and shredded cheddar. If you like chili-mac, be sure to try my mom’s recipe for that, too!

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Oven Barbecue

Texas Slow-Roast BBQ Brisket

March 6, 2021

Yes, you can use the oven to make a good Texas Slow-Roast BBQ brisket! It’s not quite the same as the melt-in-your mouth meats that came out of my Aunt Barbara’s backyard smoker in Jacinto City, Texas. But slow roast anything for a good long while and add a sauce with soaked and pureed ancho and chipotle peppers and you get delicious eats. To make this brisket, you’ll wrap the meat in bacon, which then becomes part of the thick and zesty sauce. If you have brisket left over, chopped fine and served with the extra sauce it makes great BBQ sandwiches. Continue Reading…


Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

April 24, 2020

We tried a gardening experiment last summer, growing as many varieties of peppers as we could, enjoying their bright freshness through the summer, and then drying them to spice up soups and chili pots through the rest of the year. This vegan sweet potato peanut soup makes wonderful use of them, adding kick to the velvety richness of the potage. I include roasted carrots in the recipe, sliced into rounds and mixed in at the end, adding nice vegetal flavor and a bit of texture to the soup. Right before serving, squeeze in juice of three fresh limes. Spoon soup into bowls over hot long-grain rice,  and garnish with ground peanut, multi-colored carrot bits and snipped fresh chives. This is also very good with fresh cilantro.

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American Classics

Mom’s Chili Mac

March 18, 2020

The first time my parents drove to the tiny Texas town where I would spend my early childhood, Dad got lost. He found a filling station and asked the attendant where Riesel was — pronouncing the placename “Rye-zel.” The man blinked at dad for a few moments and then, eyes wide with belated recognition, said, “Ohhhh! you mean REEEEE-zel!”  drawing out the eeeeeeeee’s in an impossibly wide-mouthed drawl. And so it was, we moved back to Texas. Mom had grown up in Houston and coached collegiate basketball in Texarkana. Then she made a serendipituous wide swoop North to coach at the University of North Dakota, where she met Dad, a South-side Chicago native, at the beginning of his vicarage in the frozen North. After a few winters there, Mom was very glad to get back to the Lone Star State. My brother and I benefited from the remoteness–and the heat. We ran around nearly naked for two years, in, and out, and all around the old wooden farm-house, with it’s big rooms, tall windows, and banana trees out back, where we used to sit on the porch steps and eat huge slices of Texas watermelon : ) And my mom’s cooking–lots of no-bean steak chili, and this chili mac made with dried New Mexico chilies, plenty of cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion, and the obligatory elbow macaroni, this dish is comfort that never fails to please. Continue Reading…