The Cookbook

A collection of favorite recipes

Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili

Posted by Sylvia on Sun 6 March 2011

This recipe for Texas Chili is from Saveur Magazine. I’ve been interested in trying one of the “no-beans” chilis but generally they look a bit sad to me. I didn’t want to make a version that left me thinking “I should have added in a can of pinto beans”. This one attracted me as straight-forward to make and interesting. I can’t get chile pequín here so I used a large chopped up chipotle in adobo and a couple of tablespoons of the sauce. Our sweet paprika is smoked so that added to the smoky flavour.

I simmered it gently for four hours, not two (luckily I prepared it the day before!) and then reheated it quickly for lunch.

  • Serves 6

  • 4 lbs. beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 tbsp. canola oil
  • 5 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 4 tsp. ground chile pequín or cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Tabasco
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp. masa harina
  1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 6-qt. pot over high heat. Working in 4 batches, brown beef, about 3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a plate.
  2. Add onions and garlic; cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return beef to pot; stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon, until tomato paste is caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, chile pequín, paprika, Tabasco, and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  3. Add 5 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 2 hours. Stir in masa harina; season with salt. Simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

I served the chili with green onions, cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top. On the side we had corn bread but that was a little bit weird. I think just a big piece of crusty white bread would be better.

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Posted by Sylvia on Tue 4 August 2009

In an attempt to regain some street cred, I decided to make gyoza for my creation today.

2 parts flour, 1 part water.
(I used 2 cups of flour and a cup of water to make around 2 dozen medium sized gyoza)

Boil the water and then let it cool for about five minutes and then pour it into the flour, stirring it in. Mix it with the spoon and let it cool enough to handle, then knead it for about 5 minutes until it feels soft and pliable like your earlobe.

Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for an hour.

Roll it into a long snake and then cut it into one inch pieces.

About one quarter of a cabbage
500g ground/minced pork
1/2 of a medium sized onion, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar.

Chop up the cabbage really fine, sprinkle with salt and let it sit in a collander/sieve for an hour. Rinse off the salt and squeeze out the liquid.

Mix all the ingredients and allow to rest for 30 min. Stir well before using.



Roll your chunks of dough into circles with the edges nice and thin.

Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then fold the dough in half to make a half moon. Pinch the edges together to make little pleats. Make sure they are well sealed. Place each one on a tray with plenty of flour to make sure they don’t stick. You can leave them to rest until dinner time or even freeze them at this point. (If you freeze them, don’t thaw them before cooking, just double the cooking time.)


Heat a frying pan or wok to medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil (or mix sesame and cheap oil if sesame oil is outrageously expensive like it is here). Place the gyoza (making sure not to crowd them) and allow them to fry for a few minutes until the undersides are becoming golden. DO NOT FLIP! Just make sure they are not sticking to the pan.

Add cold water, enough to come almost up to the pleated edges of the gyoza and put a lid on the pan. Allow to steam for 3-6 minutes, depending on size and how nervous you are about cooking pork through.

Remove the lid and fry for a few minutes more, until all the water has evaporated. Remove from pan and serve immediately with soy sauce for dipping.


Yum. :)


Posted in Appetisers, Asia, Japanese, Main Course, Small Meals, Unclean | Comments Off on Gyoza

Border Brownies

Posted by Sylvia on Fri 16 January 2009

When I left California, one of the things I really missed was Ibarra chocolate, dark Mexican chocolate tinged with vanilla and cinnamon that added a unique flavor to all my chocolate dishes.

I never really found a substitute for hot chocolate but these Border Brownies, based on a recipe in the El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook, comes close to the same deep spicy flavor that I remember.

  • 5 ounces dark chocolate
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon triple sec or cointreau
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces coarsely chopped pecans or 1 ounce ground almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and butter a metal baking tin/pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add chocolate (broken into pieces), melt and mix well over low heat.
  3. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon into a small bowl.
  4. Whisk the egg and add the sugar, whisk until pale and fluffy (you should be able to leave a trail in the mixture). Whisk in orange liqueur and vanilla.
  5. Now you need to be careful not to overmix. Carefully stir/fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the nuts if using. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth it flat.
  6. Bake at 350F/180C for 20-25 minutes (a toothpick near the edges should come out almost clean). Leave the brownies in the tin until cooled.

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Toad in the Hole

Posted by Sylvia on Mon 8 December 2008

I moved to Oldham in Northern England in 1992 and found I couldn’t get the ingredients for my tex-mex dishes and seafood salads. I learned a new repertoire of dishes based on “something that will stick to the ribs” but the one that I struggled with most was required every Sunday lunch: Yorkshire Pudding. I’m not sure why it seemed such a big deal but I felt frustrated that I could not quite get just the right amount of crispy and fluffy bits to go with the gravy. Meanwhile, everyone else was buying individual puddings at the supermarket and wondering why I was wasting my time.

The breakthrough was when I followed a recipe in an American cookbook. My mother bought me the Compleat I Hate to Cook Book as a joke. I noticed she had a recipe for High-Rise Yorkshire Pud. Her ratio of ingredients seems to be just right:

1 cup unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk

I’m glad that I ended up persevering because although I no longer do a big Sunday roast with all the trimmings, I regularly make Toad in the Hole which doesn’t work well with the supermarket version. I still use Peg Bracken’s recipe. The process is built up over many Sundays of experimenting to get it just right. ;)

* Batter as above
* Six good quality sausages, pricked with a fork
* Gravy

Mix the Yorkshire Pudding batter until just combined and leave in fridge to chill, at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go (450F 225C usually).

Put a tablespoon of lard or other rendered fat into a roasting tin (oil will smoke and burn) and place it into the oven. Once the tin is hot and the fat just about spitting, place your sausages into the tin and pour over the well-chilled Yorkshire Pudding batter. Return to the oven and turn down the heat to 200C/400F. Leave to bake for 50 minutes.

I serve this with a onion gravy:

Carmelise the onions with a tablespoon of sugar for 20-30 minutes, stir in flour. Add beef broth and red wine and a tablespoon of mustard. Season with Worcester Sauce. Allow this to simmer and bubble for 20 minutes or so (I start the gravy when I put the toad in the hole in the oven).

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Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Posted by Sylvia on Tue 25 November 2008

This dressing comes from Pioneer Woman’s recipe with the enchanting name of “My Most Favourite Salad Ever. Ever, Ever, Ever!

It’s a pretty basic mix, linguine noodles mixed with lots of good veg: cabbage, spinach, peppers, bean sprouts, carrots etc. The real winner in this recipe is the dressing. I think what makes it interesting is the large amount of raw ginger, which gives the dressing an unexpected bite.

Pioneer Woman’s Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
More chopped cilantro-LOTS

I mix the whole thing in my mini-food processor and then it’s easy to add to any salad going or even as a coleslaw dressing – although Connor seems to love the idea of cold noodles as a salad. I guess because his mom never really did the American style pasta salads.

Posted in Asia, Salads, Side Dishes, Small Meals, Unclean, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Lime and Ginger Salad Dressing

Chicken Chermoulla

Posted by Sylvia on Mon 17 November 2008

Another winner from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly, this chicken chermoulla is fast to make and the collection of flavours is stunning.

I used chicken breasts instead of thighs, simply because I can’t get thigh fillets locally and I can’t be bothered to bone them myself. I also added a bit of spicy harissa sauce on top. Maybe my cayenne is just not very spicy but the dish would have been to mild without the additional hot sauce.

The original recipe is featured on their site here:

Chicken Chermoulla

Serving size: Serves 4
Cuisine type: Mediterranean
Cooking time: Less than 30 minutes
Course: Main


700g chicken thigh fillets, sliced thinly
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 medium red onion (170g), chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (200g) red lentils
2½ cups (625ml) chicken stock
200g baby spinach leaves
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup (95g) yogurt

Chermoulla is a Moroccan blend of herbs and spices traditionally used for preserving or seasoning meat and fish. We used our chermoulla blend here as a quick baste for chicken, but you can also make it for use as a sauce or marinade.


Combine chicken, parsley, rind, juice, spices, onion and half of the oil in large bowl. Heat wok or large frying pan; stir-fry chicken mixture, in batches, until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine lentils and stock in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until just tender; drain. Place lentils in large bowl with spinach, coriander, mint and combined vinegar and remaining oil; toss gently to combine.

Serve chicken mixture on lentil mixture; drizzle with yogurt.

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Focaccia with Olives and Rosemary

Posted by Sylvia on Wed 5 November 2008

I got this from Epicurious, it’s originally from Bon Appétit, May 1995. It’s probably one of the first breads I ever baked and it remains one of my favorites. The fresh olives (I use a mixture of green and black) and rosemary really distinguishes it from bought bread. I sprinkle chunks of salt on top of the bread before baking but that’s probably not very healthy. :P

2 cups warm water (105°F; to 115°F;)
2 tsp dry yeast
4 1/2 cups (about) all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
3 Tbs olive oil
48 black or green brine-cured olives
pitted, halved
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary

1 Place 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over; stir with fork. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.
2 Add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes. Add half the olives and the rosemary. Form dough into ball. Oil large bowl; add dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough; knead into ball and return to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes or less
3 Coat 15×10-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using fingertips, press out dough to 13×10-inch rectangle. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle olives and chopped rosemary evenly over. Let dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.
4 Preheat oven to 475°F. Press fingertips all over dough, forming indentations. Bake bread until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. Serve bread warm or at room temperature.

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Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Posted by Sylvia on Wed 5 November 2008

I’m addicted to the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks – they do a whole set of cookbooks focusing on specific cuisines which I’ve been slowly collecting as I find them. My latest is Moroccan and the Foods of North Africa. This is the first recipe I tried from the cookbook and both Cliff and I really enjoyed it. I think Connor would too, which makes it a big winner! I made a few minor modifications (poaching the chicken means it’s more tender and more importantly means less calories, I added a touch of spicy harissa which perked up the flavor) but this is pretty much the recipe as found in the book.

Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 350g chicken breast fillets
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1½ teaspoon harissa (or add ½ teaspoon paprika and chile powder to taste, this should be a mild dish generally)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 35g (quarter cup) plain flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2x300g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2x400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add a touch of salt and then add the chicken and turn off the heat. Leave the chicken in the water for 20-30 minutes, or almost until cooked through. Cool; shred chicken coarsely.
  2. Head the remaining oil in large saucepan; cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  3. Add flour; cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Gradually stir in stock and water; cook, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.
  4. Add chickpeas and undrained tomatoes, bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and lemon; stir soup over heat until hot. Just before serving, stir in fresh coriander.

Recipe makes 6 servings at 288 calories per serving – but we ate two servings as a main course. :P

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Double Chocolate Cake

Posted by Sylvia on Fri 31 October 2008


* 6 oz / 170 g graham crackers (US)/digestives (UK) — see note
* 2 oz / 50 g unsalted butter

Line a pie tin (mine is marked as 8-inch) with aluminium/tin foil, leaving the foil high over the top to aid you in getting it out later. A loose bottom pie tin makes this a lot easier.

Crush the cookies into dust; I put them into a plastic bag and attack them with a rolling pin, which works quickly and helps to reduce feelings of aggression.

Melt the butter and mix it into the cookie crumbs until they are all moistened, adding more butter if needed. Pack the resulting damp (but not wet) mixture into the bottom of the pie tin.

Note: This simple “cookie crust” will work with any type of hard cookie/biscuit such as digestives, gingersnaps, bourbon biscuits, even chocolate chip cookies as long as they are very dry and crunchy. You can also use any sort of bought sweet crust as long as you pre-bake it before making the cake.

Pie – stage 1

* 8 oz/ 225 g Dark Chocolate
* 2 oz / 50 g unsalted butter
* 2 tbsp brandy or rum
* 50 ml / 1/4 cup cream
* 1 egg, separated

melting chocolateBreak up the chocolate and melt it carefully in a small saucepan with the butter and the alcohol. Stir in the cream. As it finishes melting, stir the egg yolk into the chocolate mixture. Remove from heat. Quickly whip up the egg white until it stands in peaks and carefully fold it into the chocolate mixture.

Pour this into the pie tin over the crust and put the pie into the refrigerator to cool; at least one hour.

Pie – stage 2

* 4 heaping tablespoons of strawberry or cherry jam
* 8 oz/ 225 g White Chocolate
* 2 oz / 50 g unsalted butter
* 2 tbsp brandy or rum
* 50 ml / 1/4 cup cream
* 1 egg

Heat the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds to make it more easily spreadable. Brush/smear the jam over the dark chocolate in the pie tin. Return the pie to the ‘fridge.

Make the white chocolate mix exactly as you did the dark chocolate:

Break up the chocolate and melt it carefully in a small saucepan with the butter and the alcohol. Stir in the cream. As it finishes melting, stir the egg yolk into the chocolate mixture. Remove from heat. Quickly whip up the egg white until it stands in peaks and carefully fold it into the chocolate mixture.

Pour this into your pie plate and put the pie into the refrigerator to cool; again at least one hour. You can put it into the freezer to hurry things along; if it freezes solid just let it sit out for 20 minutes before serving.

It looks very posh if you then dust it with cocoa or chocolate shavings. Then very carefully pull it out of the pie tin, peel off the foil and serve in small slices.

Posted in Dessert, Unclean | 1 Comment »

Plum-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Posted by Sylvia on Tue 2 September 2008

  • 3-5-+ chopped purple plums
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 stick cinammon
  • custard sauce
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and cook 8 minutes or until tender. Mash plums. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. Make the custard sauce: in a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar. In a medium saucepan bring the cream to a simmer. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook it, stirring constantly, over a low heat until the mixture thickens (about five minutes). Transfer back to the bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature, cover bowl with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days ahead).
  3. Combine chilled plum mixture, chilled custard, and buttermilk. Pour mixture into a metal container and put into the freezer, stirring every half hour until set.

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