So. I’ve been in a bit of a mini baking frenzy recently. The restaurant was closed for a few days to do some renovations (the floor in the hot part of the kitchen is badly cracked and split, for example), and I gleefully seized the opportunity to absolve myself of any responsibilities for those days (excepting having lunch in the city with a friend who is newly engaged) and barricaded myself at home with bags of flour and sugar. I even piked out on the Work Christmas Party, which is pretty bad of me I know.
But I promise you I have been using the time wisely.
November seems to be shaping up to be Love-Helen-Month in the Lemonpi household. I saw Helen’s post about her award-winning chilli recipe and made a lunge for it immediately. The boy loves chilli, you see. I make a batch of it on a vaguely regular basis. However, I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that my basic recipe could be somehow improved.
Helen’s recipe, I think, let me in on a few important secrets. The use of roasted garlic and chillis, for example (remembering the smell that filled my kitchen while the garlic was roasting, still makes me smile). The hand-cutting of the meat (as opposed to using ready-made mince, which is often minced too finely for what chilli should really be like) and that final flourish : a tiny bit of bittersweet chocolate stirred into the pot at the end, to enrichen it. All these and more, are what have made a big difference so far.
For this first attempt, I was forced to substitute a few ingredients based on what I could find on the day. Those pesky peppers, for example. Instead of habaneros, I used jalapenos, which are pretty hot, though I think they are probably a bit limp-wristed in comparison to habaneros. I also eschewed dried kidney beans in favour of black beans, which I had a big packet of. (A massive packet, in fact. Beans to last me for days. Beans I could be a bean-llionaire with, if ever adzukis, chickpeas, limas and turtles became the new currency.)
Cooking your own beans instead of using the tinned stuff is great especially if you happen to have the time to do it. Soak the dried beans in cold water the day before and the next day, bring them up to boil in plenty of fresh water, then simmer until cooked. Soaking the beans shortens the total cooking time and is apparently also the key to avoiding beans being the notoriously musical fruit we all know and love. You can also throw some aromats into the pot while the beans are simmering, to boost the flavour (and season with salt towards the end of the cooking time), but I skipped this step because I was planning on using part of the batch for some black bean brownies.
Yes, you heard right! Black.Bean.Brownies.!
It’s not often I find myself having time to bake from other blogs, even though I have tons and tons of bookmarked recipes, and I certainly never thought I’d find myself baking vegan, but I’m a big fan of Celine’s beautiful blog and lately I haven’t been able to take my mind off those tempting bites she offers up, like pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and black bean brownies.
These brownies were fun to make (you could say it was almost liberating, not working with eggs and butter for a change!) but are by no means the perfect brownie. However, I can see where they are heading, and Celine promises that an even better recipe is on it’s way, so keep an eye out for it!
In the meantime, B is due back from San Francisco soon. I’ve got the dinner and the dessert prepared. All I need now is the boy.