Fat Tuesday - You Ain't Kidding

Anyone else find it ironic that Fashion Week started on Fat Tuesday? I guess you could argue that both celebrate a season of fasting. For those of us that aren't walking the catwalks today, you might feel as I do after the long weekend - sluggish, tired, bloated, and well, FAT. How appropriate. The majority of the East Coast was trapped indoors by the snow and forced (FORCED I tell you!) to eat hordes of comfort food to stay warm.  I spent the weekend up in Vermont where ironically there is no snow (and unfortunately no skiing) causing food and booze to be the focus of the weekend. Amongst the dozen friends that stayed at the house, we had a handful of fantastic cooks, all of which contributed to the weekend's smorgasbord. Spicy chili, oozy ziti, homemade pigs in a blanket, queso dip, meatballs and gravy, grilled flank steak, and a few roasted vegetables for good measure - it's no wonder I'm moving slowly today.  

The carnage:
Midnight snack:

Family Dinner:

Unfortunately I'm not the type of person who can do a complete 180 and eat nothing but celery sticks the next day. And I don't want to believe in cleanses. The way I look at it, one day I'll probably have to drink all my meals through a straw. I should chew while I still can. In order to ease my body off the sugar and fat high from the weekend, I have decided to make a pot of vegetarian chili. Chock full of high fiber beans, vitamin laden vegetables, and healing spices, it's a healthy dish that doesn't skimp on flavor and warmth. And in honor of Fat Tuesday, I have chosen a recipe from the King of Creole himself, chef Emeril Lagasse. For my own twist, I will add two favorite ingredients - chickpeas for a touch of toughness and raisins for a sweet surprise. I also omitted the cilantro - opting to add fresh cilantro or parsley as a garnish, depending on my mood. Other ideas for garni include a sprinkle of Emeril's Essence (either buy it or follow the recipe below), sliced avocado, crushed cashews, or chopped scallions. 

Vegetarian Chili

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups defrosted frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespooon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, or water
  • 2/3 cup Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning for garnish
    • 2.5 T paprika
    • 2 T salt
    • 2 T garlic powder
    • 1 T black pepper
    • 1 T onion powder
    • 1 T cayenne pepper
    • 1 T dried oregano
    • 1 T dried thyme

  1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. 
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  5. Add the tomatoes and stir well. 
  6. Add the beans, raisins, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. 
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning, to taste. 

Needless to say I will be staying away from Bryant Park today. Lets see how the old self esteem feels after a couple bowls of this chili. 

- The Heat


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