Joe's Award-Winning Chili

>> Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Joe won a prize for his chili in a Jaycees Chili Cookoff and then years later in the Grayslake Winter Carnival cookoff. It's fantastic, even though he doesn't add beans. In fact, it was so fantastic that it was all eaten at the Winer Carnival before I could get a photo. You know what chili looks like anyway, don't you?


2 lb. chuck or round steak (or top sirloin steak)
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (12 oz) can of beer
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
5 garlic cloves minced, or pressed with garlic press
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
12 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoky paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

½ lb. Chihuahua Mexican cheese or goat cheese


In a skillet heat the oil with crushed red pepper flakes for a minute, then adding meat. Brown meat on both sides in the oil.

Place the meat into a heavy stock pot with lid, adding tomato sauce and beer to meat. Then add onion, garlic, chili pepper, oregano, paprika, salt, ground cumin. Simmer 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally but leave the lid on as much as possible.

Add cheese, and stir often while poking apart the steak so it shreds. Cook another ½ hour.


Serve with pinto beans, chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream on the side. Your "chili gourmet" friends can customize it if they like. For your Midwest friends with stereotypical Scandinavian or Northern European ancestry they may need to add elbow macaroni or spaghetti as they might not have had anything other than ‘chili-mac' in their lives!

Makes 6 - 8 big servings (12 - 16 servings if they're little bird-like eaters!).


Seafood Udon Soup

>> Monday, January 3, 2011

Seafood Udon Soup

I love simmering a stew on a cold winter night. For this satisfying fish stew, you may have to make a trip to an Oriental grocery store. Some of these items may be a little hard to find. Joe makes his own fish soup stock from leftover vegetables, dried fish flakes, crab shells, and 2 sheets kombu (thick dried seaweed), but you could substitute chicken, fish, or vegetable bouillon if you're short on time.


2 dried Chinese wood ear mushrooms
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup crab or crab substitute, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces halibut or other white fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
16 large shrimp, peeled and tails removed
1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper
2 ounces sake
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can baby corns, drained
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced diagonally
4 cups chopped bok choy
16 ounces Udon or stir-fry noodles
1 cup concentrated miso broth
8 cups fish broth
1 tablespoon Chinese chili-garlic paste, to taste
2 tablespoons sliced green onions

Seafood Udon Soup


Put mushrooms into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 min. Drain water and slice into matchstick pieces.

Heat sesame oil in frying pan. Saute fish and shellfish for three minutes. Add pepper, sake, and lemon juice.
Add vegetables and stir for one minute. Cook Udon noodles according to package directions; drain. If you can't find udon noodles, you can use wide spaghetti or linguine noodles instead.

Combine fish broth and miso concentrate; heat the liquid but do not bring to a boil, as this will cause the miso to break down and become grainy. Place cooked udon noodles in bottom of each soup bowl. Arrange cooked seafood and vegetables over udon noodles and fill the bowl with broth.
Serves 6-8.

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