Friday, 22 May 2015

Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

Hi there!

I had my last lectures before Easter and now only two exams are left and a dissertation to write over summer.
At the beginning it was weird, but now I am enjoying being able to work from home, since that way I can do things where I have to pop into the kitchen every few hours. Plus I can have for lunch whatever I want to have without it having to be portable or easy to prepare!

During this past week I've been having different red and green smoothies (not as creepy as it sounds!) followed by bread rolls made from my Crusty Potato Bread dough* with butter and Orange Jam.

*For making rolls, instead of shaping bread loaves, divide the dough into 6 pieces per loaf, form into rolls (like small bread loaves). Proceed as with bread. Bake at only 220°C for 21 minutes. 

My smoothie week mainly originated from me having bought a bunch of beetroots last Friday and having the stems leftover from that. They looked far to nice to throw them out so I made smoothies with them, including banana, orange and some other things, which turned out surprisingly nice!
I hadn't been looking up recipes and just threw in random leftovers. And ... well, since I am not the most experienced smoothie person sometimes these creations turn out pretty weird I have to admit.
But I think I might stay hooked onto my smoothie-part of lunch for a little while longer. Usually I just have carrot and apple with my baked goodies or carrot and apple salad.
...A difference between carrot and apple and carrot-apple-salad? Uh, yes...there is a small difference even if it might not be apparent at first sight. Believe it or not ;-)

Here in England, we still have days where it's drizzling - or pouring - outside. Then it feels chilly inside to me if there hasn't been any sun all day to warm up the house.

On days like that I tend to make the dish, which this post is about:
A chili with red wine, cocoa powder and a dash of coffee.

Sounds unhealthy? Three vices combined in one dish? Red wine, chocolate and coffee?
Well, it is not as bad as it sounds - in fact I would still think it is quite healthy ;-)
... After all the alcohol evaporates, the cocoa powder only has the good parts of the chocolate without all the sugary stuff in it and there's only a spice-sized amount of coffee.
Sooooo... I hope I have convinced you!!!

My housemate claims that this is one of her favourite dishes out of those I've made for her so far, so I hope that you might like it as well :-)

Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

approx. 40 minutes without considering the beans
+ 20 - 50 minutes for cooking the beans if using dried ones
+ 6 hours for soaking of the beans (if using dried beans)

This recipe is an adapted version of this Bean Chili with Walnuts & Chocolate by Green Kitchen Stories.

for 2 4 6 people (without rice)
2/3 cup 1 1/3 cups 2 cups uncooked, dried beans (any dark colour)
½ cup 1 cup 1 ½ cups cooking water from the beans
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 2 tbsp olive oil
½ 1 1 ½ onion(s)
1 2 3 garlic clove(s)
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp cumin, whole seeds
¼ tsp ½ tsp ¾ tsp chili flakes, to taste
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp paprika powder
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp oregano, dried
1 2 3 carrots/parsnips/medium sized potatoes
1 2 3 celery stalks
1*400g tin 2*400g tin 3*400g tin cubed tomatoes
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup (+) ½ cup (+) ¾ cup (+) red wine
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp coffee powder, ground (instant granules or normal)
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 3 tbsp cocoa powder

  • If you are using dried beans, like I did:
    • Soak the beans in plenty of water for about 6 hours. Then drain, rinse, cover with a lot of fresh water and cook. Do this either in a pressure cooker (for 16-18 minutes on the highest setting) or in a normal pot (for about 40 minutes). Do not add salt, as otherwise the beans will not soften. When straining after cooking keep some of the water.
    • You can do this while you prepare the remaining ingredients and start cooking.
  • You can also use canned beans. Then you should have about three times the volume of beans, since they triple in volume when being cooked. Strain and rinse and use fresh water instead of bean cooking water.
  • Finely chop onion and garlic.
  • Cut carrot/parsnip/potato into 1cm cubes. Cut the celery into pieces of about ½ cm in size.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté onion and garlic, as well as the spices, on low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Stir often.
  • Add the remaining cut-up vegetables and cook for another 10 minutes until these have softened slightly. Stir often.
  • Add cooked beans, tomatoes, (bean cooking) water and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes with the lid on. Stir from time to time.
  • Add red wine, coffee and cocoa powder. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Serve. For decoration you can use parsley or coriander leaves if you wish.

You could combine this dish with rice or bread, but having it on its own is delicious as well!

** In my photograph I used light-coloured beans, but I'd recommend dark-coloured beans, since they look much nicer in here!
*** Feel free to use other vegetables, such as butternut squash or sweet potato as well.

As always, I would love to hear if anyone has tried this :-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sauce Bolognese

Did you think: "Huh? Has she abandoned being vegetarian?" upon reading the title?
Well, in case you did, no I haven't ;)

In fact, in our family there was a long pause from Sauce Bolognese that lasted for about ten years ever since my Mum started cooking vegetarian food.
This was one of the few things that I was sad about back then, since Sauce Bolognese, Lasagna Bolognese, Goulash and Schinkennudeln (= ham noodles) were, I think, the only meat-containing things that I ever truly liked. Well...liked. In that case...I loved them!

My Mum used to make large - and when I say large I mean large, such as two giant pressure cookers full - batches of sauce Bolognese for freezing, which was an afternoon filling task. I remember I used to leave the door of my room open when she did that, just because I loved the smell. And this has to say something since, as a kid, there were things upon smelling which I would hide in my room for a day. Probably that was a bit crazy, but well...

The original recipe is from a small cookbook on Italian cooking, which gives the most amazing Bolognese. It needs to cook for several hours, but the time is so worth it!

Then, two years ago, my Mum and I decided that we absolutely needed to try to make a vegetarian version of this sauce. So we tried and tested lots of recipes, but never got anywhere near the one we used to have. Usually it tasted more like a hash sauce than Bolognese.
And then, at some point, we thought we'd just forget about all the recipes and try and make the old recipe, changing minced meat for cooked green spelt.
It needed two tries and a bit of tweaking at the following tries, but by now the new vegetarian version is 95% close to the old version and tastes absolutely lovely, even if it is not 100% the same! But it can't be, since it is something different.

We've used the sauce in lasagna as well and it makes deliciously amazing lasagna!
I can only recommend this to you and I can promise that it does not taste like hash sauce, but like Bolognese! (Very important!) And it does live up to the original version!

Sauce Bolognese

Time: about an hour

for 4-6 servings
75 g green spelt, cracked
150 ml + red wine
50 g butter
180 g onions, chopped
200 g carrots, chopped
90 g celery, chopped
30 g dried tomatoes, in stripes
(only dried, no oil)
800 g
= 2 tins
chopped tinned tomatoes
200 ml vegetable stock
120 ml cashew milk (using about 15- 20 g cashew nuts)

  • In a small pot combine cracked green spelt and red wine. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on low for about ten minutes until the grains are soft. Add a bit of water if the wine evaporates too quickly. Switch off.
  • Melt butter in a medium to large pot, add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until softened.
    • When I make a large batch I chop vegetables using a food processor. For small batches I chop them by hand.
  • Add the green spelt and red wine mixture. Then add dried tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a low boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Add the cashew milk and season with salt and pepper. Add more red wine if you think it tastes too much like tomato sauce. Leave to cook for another ten minutes.

Serve over spaghetti or other pasta or use for making lasagna.

The longer you cook the sauce, the better it tends to get.
The sauce freezes well and reheating (and thus cooking again) only enhances the flavour.