Party Leftover Chili

As far as I am concerned, my grandmother’s chili is chili. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but I guess because it’s what I grew up with, it’s the definitive chili in my opinion. Nonetheless, when I came across this recipe last week, I considered it fortuitous because it calls for a bunch of stuff that I had left over from last weekend’s party. I had leftover beer, tortilla chips and an entire jar of salsa brought by thoughtful guests. This recipe takes care of all that stuff! Here’s how I veganized it.

Alton Brown’s Pressure Cooker Chili

1 1/2 lbs your favorite seitan (if you are like many people, Kittee’s seitan may well be your favorite)
1 1/2 lbs soaked pinto and kidney beans –> Okay, I dropped the ball on this one by not weighing these before I soaked them; I merely soaked all I had left of both kinds, then weighed after soaking. I’d say maybe a pound unsoaked? There’s no need to be exact anyway.
1 tsp salt
1 bottle of beer
1 beer bottle full of water (12 oz) –> this is twice as much liquid as called for in the original recipe, however, you need it for cooking the beans.
1 jar of salsa
1/2 can chipotles in adobo sauce (chilis + sauce)
2 cups tortilla chips (whole or fragments, whatever)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder

Chop seitan into bite-sized pieces.

Place a couple tablespoons of oil (I used peanut as Alton Brown suggested) in a pressure cooker, then fry the seitan until golden brown.

Pour about half the bottle of beer into the cooker and deglaze the pot, scraping all the browned bits off.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the tortilla chips.

Add the tortilla chips and give a quick stir.

Put the lid on the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure on medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low or low (the lowest setting at which you can keep the pressure) and cook for 30 minutes. Use a quick-release method to release pressure (i.e., hold pot under cold running water until pressure is released).

Garnish with vegan sour cream if you’d like and eat with additional tortilla chips.

This was great: very tasty, very easy, very fast, and I felt so great about using up all those party leftovers! The original was an all-meat, beanless chili, but I thought it would be seitan overload if I used all seitan, plus I love beans and I thought they made for a great texture. The pintos were creamy and the kidneys had just enough texture to provide a contrast.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you’ll have to cook it (in a Dutch oven or large pot) for several hours until the beans are done. Or just used canned beans (which I wouldn’t recommend in the pressure cooker because they’ll overcook): I’d probably use two cans pinto and 1 can kidney, but you can use whatever you like.

Incidentally, we don’t have cable TV and I therefore only ever get to watch the Food Network when we’re at Mark’s mom’s house or on vacation somewhere, and I’ve never seen Alton Brown’s show. I’m so out of touch. I always thought he was the “science” guy of cooking, though, (and kind of cute – some people think Mark looks like him and I’ve seen photos where that’s true), so I figured I’d like him. I was surprised to see things like jarred salsa and tortilla chips in one of his recipes. It just seemed more like a Sandra Lee (wow, I saw her show on a Virgin flight one time and I wanted to throw up) thing to do. Or Paula Deen (saw her show on the same flight and also wanted to throw up, for a different reason: she used about a pound of butter to make everything). Or am I overreacting? Jarred salsa isn’t bad: I use it sometimes. It’s even an ingredient in my famous nacho cheese. It’s just that I find it an unusual ingredient in a professional recipe because you can’t control what brand the user will purchase and they are so different. Not that I think TV chefs want to control people, but it seems a certain salsa could make or break their recipe. If I were writing a recipe, I’d probably just include individual salsa ingredients in the recipe. Then again, I have to admit I didn’t specifically taste the salsa in the finished recipe so I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m probably being snobby. And also, I was delighted the recipe called for jarred salsa because I had so much of it!

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Celebration of Celebrations 2009

Mark and I have an annual summer party, called the Celebration of Celebrations, that usually coincides with a visit from Smucky. This year’s party was this weekend and like last year, I managed to not take any real pictures of any of the food I made. However, I did get several requests for recipes, so here’s a run-down of what I served, as well as some horrible photos. Most of the food had already been wolfed down before I was able to get a second to take pictures.

Here is some of the spread:

That’s homemade Italian bread, and with it a dip of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground pepper. I bought a ton of snacks: several different kinds chips (including Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos for the novelty of it because they are vegan and I haven’t had a Dorito in a million years), peanut-filled pretzels, and Virginia peanuts. It was junk food heaven. I made ranch dip, which is what I got the most requests for recipes for. Unfortunately for the world, I just throw things together when I make dips (well, when I make just about anything, really), but this is approximately what I did:

Vegan Ranch Dip
1 jar Vegenaise
1 cup vegan sour cream
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried minced onion, reconstituted briefly in hot water then drained
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together then refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to blend.

I balanced all the junk food out with some veggies and hummus. I was going for unusual colors of ordinary vegetables (purple peppers and yellow baby carrots!):

I made two different types of hummus: roasted red pepper and extra garlic.

Hummus, Two Ways

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 can chickpeas
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic (or more to taste for extra garlic flavor)
optional: 2 roasted red peppers (for roasted red pepper flavor)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make my own salsa; it’s usually Mark’s job to make salsa but he didn’t grow any hot peppers this year so he’s not interested in making it. I did, however, make guacamole, which I served with chips and store-bought salsa.


1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe avocados
Tabasco, to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tomato, chopped

If you have a molcajete, place the onion, garlic, and salt in it and mash with the pestle. Add the avocado and mash, then add the Tabasco and lime juice and continue to mash. Stir in the tomatoes, and serve in the molcajete. If you don’t have a molcajete, put all ingredients except tomatoes in a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth-ish, then stir in the tomato.

The guac was such a hit that I had a request/demand to make a second batch around 1 a.m. – it it was all gone by the time I cleaned up around 4.

At Smucky’s request, the main course was a pasta bar of sorts. I cooked several different kinds of pasta, including a gluten-free penne, and made a couple different sauces.

Marinara Sauce

2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (or to taste)
2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
1 tsp dry oregano
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon

In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring some olive oil to temperature over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Let simmer for 20 minutes to half an hour, add the lemon juice, then use an immersion blender or blend in batches in the blender until to desired chunkiness or smoothness.


2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups (packed) basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese, or nutritional yeast

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

The main attraction, however, seemed to be Hamburger Noodle Bake, of which I made a double batch and had only a small bit leftover – even after filling everyone up on junk food for a couple of hours before serving it. I was a little surprised how popular it was considering there were no other vegans or vegetarians (I don’t think, anyway) at this shindig. Even the ever-skeptical Smucky enjoyed it! I prepared it Friday night, put it in the fridge overnight, and baked it up Saturday afternoon, which made it perfect party food because I didn’t have to worry about it the day of, everyone loved it, and it tasted fine sitting out buffet style all night long. I can definitely recommend that recipe for appeasing omnivores!

I didn’t take any pictures of the pastas, but in this photo by Smucky – which also shows you the snacks in much better detail – you can see them at the far end of the table:

I also made mint chocolate chip ice cream, it being Smuck’s favorite flavor, but I forgot to tell everyone it was in the freezer! Fortinbras made short work of in the morning (and by morning, I mean “3 p.m.”, which is when I think he got up), however, when doing his usual rummaging and foraging, and Smucky’s had a bowl or two today…and I’m having one right now!

Smucks also got an unattractive shot of me looking a bit crazed while putting all the food out:

But hey, guess what? I finally got to spend most of the weekend in the pool, so maybe I’ll stop complaining about the lack of summer? I sure hope so and I’m sure you all do too!

And finally, here are me and Smucky celebrating!

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Bad photos from a good party

I took a few pictures of the food at the party last weekend, thinking vaguely I might post them and perhaps some recipes, but I was in the middle of doing a million things and didn’t take the time to take decent photos. Seeing how bad the photos were, I decided not to post them. But then I realized it’s been many days since I’ve posted anything and it will probably be a several more days before I have a chance to make a real post, so I thought I’d throw up an intermediate post with my bad photos.

Here’s sort of some stuff:

Some veggies on the London Tube platter my mom gave me (I love London with all my heart):

To the upper left of the veggies is a ranch dip that Fortinbras practically inhaled and asked me how I made it about 30 times. It was one part Vegenaise, one part Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, and a mixture of spices that I REALLY should have written down (because it really did taste amazing). You can also sort of see my cucumber salad.

Peanut noodles:

Just udon noodles tossed in my peanut sauce (the recipe can be found in this post) and some scallions and sesame seeds. I would have included a julienned cucumber, but I didn’t think to make this dish until the last minute and didn’t have an extra cuke.

Homemade pita bread and hummus:

I really need to do a tutorial on making pita bread because it is so much fun! I love it! I’m sure you’ve seen enough hummus recipes that you don’t need another one. It was very basic: chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt. It was the first time I used dried chickpeas, though, which was exciting. In the way that soaking beans is exciting.

I don’t know if a photograph of food can get any worse than this, but here is the “nacho station”:

It consisted of both white and blue tortilla chips, red and green salsas, and my nacho dip, which is just the “Yeast Cheeze” recipe from this post mixed with one jar of chunky salsa. And our special glowy Jesus lights from Fortinbras because Fortinbras loves us. (If any of you are Smiths fans, you may be interested to know that the one on the right makes me sing, “the sun shines out of our behinds”.)

I bought a pineapple merely because it is my favorite fruit, but was surprised to get so many comments on it:

EVERYONE wanted to know how I cored the pineapple (and when I showed them the tool, they all seemed to want to use it as a weapon…I have strange friends). I used this tool, to which my aunt alerted me. I think I actually got mine at Whole Foods. Or maybe it was Wegmans. I can’t say; so much of my life is spent in both places they blur together. Anyway, the pineapple was devoured.

I’m not a huge dessert person, so it’s usually my weak point, as in I often entirely forget to make it (although I hear it from Fortinbras when I forget). I didn’t forget this time, so no whining from Fortinbras. In addition to three different kinds of homemade ice cream (mint chocolate chip, cookies & cream, and pistachio), I made blackbottoms:

These were also devoured. I think my friend Matty ate six of them himself. His new nickname is Blackbottom. Perhaps I should slap the recipe up here for you.

Not pictured here is Vegan Dad’s green enchiladas. Mark loves them so much and I thought they would be a crowd pleaser, so I made a double batch. They went over very well (and remember, none of my friends are vegan or, at this party, even vegetarian), and all of the people who were still around the next day happily ate the leftovers for lunch. Also not shown is a loaf of sourdough bread that I baked. I think that was gone before I even returned to the table because I don’t remember ever seeing it after putting it out.

So there you go, some crappy pictures of what I hope was good food. The party was great, though. I have a bunch of non-food photos but I’m pretty sure I’d get in trouble with my friends for posting most of them. Here is Mark doing a shot, though:

He did not enjoy it.

So that’s my pseudo-update for now. After all the party preparation, I’ve barely been in the kitchen. Then tonight I wanted to feed my sourdough starter and start preparing dough for a couple of loaves of bread I’d like to bake tomorrow for Mark’s family, and I cut myself chopping onions for a New York deli rye. Cut myself pretty badly, in fact. I don’t even know how I did it. I do know there was a lot of blood and I am a big huge sissy about blood, so there was a lot of feeling faint, dizziness, and moaning. Mark came to my rescue and bandaged it up for me, then, under my instruction, finished dicing the onion and even sauted it for me. He wanted me to tell you that he was my surrogate chef tonight. I did manage to make the sponge for the rye bread and a pâte fermentée for pain de campagne; hopefully my mixer won’t crap out again tomorrow because I probably can’t hand knead with this gimpy finger. One day, my friends, one day, this shall be mine.

We’ll be out of town over the weekend for a wedding, so I probably won’t have a post for another few days. I promise when I return I will have better photos and an actual recipe. Hopefully I’ll have all of my fingers.

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