Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Art of the Junk Bowl

Rachael Ray has mastered "fast" cooking and her "fast" cooking is very appealing to moms who need to cook fast!

I definitely believe that one of Rachael Ray's keys to her ability to cook so fast and so well is her ability to be organized and efficient in the kitchen. She is always thinking 3 steps ahead. One of her best suggestions that has saved me a lot of time is her "junk bowl" for the left over stuff, e.g., onion peels, wine foil, paper towels, ends of garlic, seeds from a jalepeno......etc.

Anyway, I either use a tupperware container or a larger mixing bowl if I am really going to make a mess. It saves me several trips to the garbage can, could potentially be used in a compost, and saves you from clogging your disposal. (It took me a long to find out that there is very little you can put down your disposal.)
My "junk bowl" was a result of the chili below, which was quite good, especially with the corn cakes.

Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Corn Cakes
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
2 pounds ground beef sirloin, 90 percent lean
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons dark chili powder, 2 palm fulls
1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 palm full
1 cup beef stock or broth, 1/2 a 14-ounce can or paper container (I used Better than Bouillon)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce or tomato puree
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, a handful, optional
2 (8 1/2-ounce) packages, corn muffin mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Butter, for greasing griddle pan

In a large deep skillet or pot, brown ground beef in oil over high heat. Season meat with salt and pepper, then add Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium high when the meat is browned and crumbled, then add onion, garlic, red peppers, jalapeno. Season veggies and meat with chili powder and cumin. Cook veggies and meat together 5 minutes. Stir in broth and scrape up pan drippings. Stir in diced and pureed tomatoes and black beans. When the mixture comes to a bubble, reduce heat to simmer and stir in cilantro, optional.
Mix together 2 packages of corn muffin mix with 1 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sliced scallions. Batter should be thick. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle pan over moderate heat. Nest a pat of butter into folded paper towel and wipe hot pan surface with it to lightly grease. Pour corn cake batter into the hot griddle pan or skillet in 3 or 4-inch rounds. Cook 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

To serve, top bowls of beef and black bean chili with green onion corn cake toppers. Eat the chili and corn toppers as you would a pot pie, grabbing some of the corn cake with each spoonful of chili.

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