Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Western Chili

Are you looking for something to bring to a potluck, bbq or party that is tasty and full of protein and fiber? I used to make this dish when I lived in Boston and then sort of forgot about it. This is surprising because it's easy and delicious.

I was getting ready for a bbq one day and remembered the recipe so that was the dish I brought along with me. Moms, dads and kids alike all enjoyed it. I've made it a few times after that and I always get the same results. Oh, and of course, everyone wants the recipe! So here it is along with some tips at the end for variations.

Western Chili

1 lb natural, grass fed ground beef
1 diced onion
1 lb natural, uncured bacon, diced
1 can baked beans with juice
1 reg can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 reg can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c molasses
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c ketchup
1 Tbl yellow mustard

1. In a large pot, over medium to medium high heat, cook beef, only stirring occasionally so as to get good browning and carmelization. When the meat is about half way cooked, add the onion. Cook this until there is no more pink in the meat and the onion is translucent. Drain any extra fat.
2. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and pat dry. Wipe out pot.
3. Add all ingredients back to pot and simmer 20-30 mins, checking for seasoning.
4. Serve by itself or over brown rice.

*Use ground pork, turkey or veggie ground round to substitute the beef
*Try buying the bacon from your butcher so you can get the exact weight that you want. Also, the quality is usually better.
*If you don't have bacon, use ham.
*Instead of brown sugar, use half the amount of agave nectar or equal parts of sucanat.
*Butter beans are really lima beans. If you can't find them, try white kidney beans.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Soup is on

Many parents will tell me they have difficulty getting their children to eat vegetables. I have noticed the same thing even with my children but I notice it seems to change on a daily basis. Sometimes the 4 year old will eat a bowl of salad and won't touch the meat. The next day he's spitting out spinach if it's in his pasta. The 2 year old ate a wilted spinach salad with mushrooms yesterday but wouldn't eat the romaine salad 3 days before. When I look at what my kids eat one day and not the next, I try to have selective memory. I rarely pay attention and will serve it to them a week later as if that episode of corn-spitting-out never happened.

Here are some things to think about:

-Don't make assumptions about what your children will and won't eat
-Tomorrow is a different day; your children might like that same vegetable they refused to eat today (you should try to introduce a food 10 times before it's "off the list")
-Make sure the vegetable (or any type of food) is prepared properly and tastes good
(and that's where I can help you with your cooking skills if necessary)

I bring this up because I hear a lot of moms who are buying the latest craze of cookbooks which hide pureed veggies in sauces, cookies and brownies. I'm here to help. Before you get to that point, I want you to try a few recipes. The one below is a perfect example.

It started with me, trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. I looked in the fridge and was faced with a bin of veggies on the verge. I had some brown rice and veggie ground round and decided to try soup. When it was done, I put the bowls in front of the kids (of course garnished with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan) and let them be the judges. A friend came over the week after with her 3 toddlers and I made the soup again. Success. Everyone loved it. Hmm, I was onto something.

One day last week, I went to my son's pre-school to help with their snack. I had decided to make the soup for them as a final test. There was a table of about 10 children, helping to identify the veggies before they went in the pot; they were able to see the cooking process; and most important of all, when it was time to eat, I watched 25 of the 31 children devouring the soup and telling me they liked it, even the ones who aren't normally as adventurous. It wasn't just the soup that was warming my heart that day.

Now, you could take two approaches with this soup; follow the recipe to the "T" or see what's in your fridge and kind of wing it. I think every soup should have onion, carrots and broth in it along with salt and pepper. Another time saving tip is to visit the salad bar of the grocery store; you can get many things already cut up.

I hope you'll try it!

Amy's Veggie Soup

1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Spices like: thyme, oregano, pepper, herbs de provence (maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp of each)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, washed and chopped
1 cup of chopped, peeled winter squash like acorn or butternut
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 red pepper, chopped
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
1 small or 1/2 large zucchini, chopped
4 cups of broth (chicken, veggie or beef)
1/2 cup of some type of grain like rice or quinoa (if you are adding uncooked, add 1 cup of water to the broth above)

Heat pot on medium heat. Add oil and onion. Add seasonings. Stir once and allow to cook a few minutes but don't allow onions to burn. Add carrots and celery and stir. Add squash, stir and cook 3-4 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower (repeat), then pepper, then mushrooms and zucchini. Once mushrooms and zucchini are soft, add broth (more if you are adding an uncooked grain or if you want it soupier). Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Test butternut squash. Once that is tender, the soup is done.
If you are adding a quick cooking grain like quinoa or millet, add about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking (when the squash is still firm). You can add white rice 20 minutes before or barley when you add the broth (it takes about 30 minutes to cook). I like to add cooked grains or pasta as well; just add these at the very end to warm through. This is best served with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and freshly grated cheese like parmesan or locatelli and maybe a bit of crusty bread.
Other things you can add: frozen spinach, peas or corn. Any type of winter squash. Any type of potato. Diced tomatoes. Tofu.