Tuesday Dinner: Chili

I’m still working my way back to normal life after last week’s power outage. You too? My freezer is still nearly empty; my fridge is filling back up, but slowly. We were luckier than many people—we have a gas stove, oven, and water heater, so we were able to cook and take hot showers. Our house was down to 40º, but I baked something every morning (pumpkin bread, potatoes), and the house warmed back up to a balmy 50º. We ate a lot of potato soup and drank hot chocolate to stay warm. 

The best way to stay warm was to leave the house. We played at the school one day, drove to San Francisco another day, and had a lovely walk in Point Reyes the afternoon of Harper and Linnea’s radio show. 

I already told you guys that I finally started a website. Now for another bit of news—I’ve also started a weekly newsletter called Notes & Stories. It’s separate from this chatty menu, and includes links to articles or books I’ve read, recipes, or other items that have caught my interest. The sign-up form is on the website (in the sidebar on the right), and I hope you join me! The first one went out over the weekend, and I wrote about the blackout.

We were glad the power came back on before Halloween, but it didn’t come back soon enough for me to make our traditional pre-trick-or-treating meal of chili and coleslaw. So we’re having it today instead! For this week’s version of chili, I used both pinto and peruano beans. Peruanos (also called mayocoba or canary beans) are a beautiful yellow color that fades almost to white when they’re cooked. They have a creamy texture and thin skin, but hold their shape. I really like them. 

The main chile in the chili is guajillo, a not-too-spicy chile with a complex, fruity flavor. I toasted them, then soaked them in hot water before blending them to a rich paste. In addition to guajillos, the chili is flavored with cumin, oregano, lots of onion and garlic, and a bit of coffee and cocoa for depth. There’s a range of toppings to use if you like: cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a mixture of white onion and cilantro. It’s a good meal to revive us after the back-to-back stressors of a power outage and the time change.

For me, chili isn’t quite the same without coleslaw and cornbread to go with. I like my coleslaw not very sweet, with a gentle tanginess from apple cider vinegar. Today’s bread is a yeasted cornbread; the dough is enriched with butter and milk, and has a touch of brown sugar. 

Dessert is chocolate cake with a whipped ganache frosting. Holy moly, that’s a dreamy frosting! It somehow manages to be rich and light at the same time, and could almost stand on its own as a chocolate mousse, to be eaten with a spoon. 

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