The Cookbook

A collection of favorite recipes

Archive for the 'Main Course' Category

Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili

Posted by Sylvia on 6th 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.

Posted in Main Course, Southwestern, USian | Comments Off on Woody DeSilva’s Championship Chili


Posted by Sylvia on 4th 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

Toad in the Hole

Posted by Sylvia on 8th 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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Chicken Chermoulla

Posted by Sylvia on 17th 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.

Posted in Main Course, Moroccan, Unclean | Comments Off on Chicken Chermoulla

Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Posted by Sylvia on 5th 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

Posted in Main Course, Small Meals, Soup, Unclean | Comments Off on Algerian Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Tekirdağ Köftesi (Turkish Meatballs)

Posted by Sylvia on 5th August 2008

I stumbled upon looking for something completely different and bookmarked it on the spot. Burcu has recreated as remembered from her hometown of Tekirdağ including these meatballs and a recipe for baked zucchini from her mother. I actually found the zucchini recipe first and then chose the meatballs as something to go with it. Burcu recommends a tomato salad and rice.

Unfortunately I was low on dried mint, so I used it on the zucchini and used fresh mint for the meatballs, a slight change which did not harm the flavor at all. I wouldn’t recommend trying fresh mint on the vegetables though as they would not stand up to the cooking time.

These Turkish meatballs are really nice — however, I would cut the chile seeds right down if you are serving to young children. Cliff and Connor thought they were fine but even Cliff turned down my offer of extra chile sauce on the side! The zucchini was lovely, soft and spicy with the flavor of the mint really coming through. I took Burcu’s advice and added a bit of garlic to the yogurt.

I did a simple salad of roasted pepper with chopped up preserved lemons as a side dish. The sweet flavor balanced well with the rest of the meal and the lemon was perfect. If I hadn’t used the preserved lemons then I think I would have used lemon juice in some way, as a salad dressing or mixed into the yogurt perhaps. The flavor really complimented the rest of the meal.

Tekirdağ Köftesi (Turkish Meatballs)

1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed pepper
1 tsp mint flakes
1 egg
2 tbsp fine semolina

-Knead meat, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, cumin, and salt well in a bowl with your hands.

-Add baking soda, black pepper, paprika, crushed pepper (pepper flakes), and mint, and knead again.

-Finally add egg and semolina, and knead well for the last time.

-Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate over night.

-First wet your hands and then shape into oval-shaped meatballs. At meatball restaurants in Tekirdağ, meatballs are served in finger-shaped forms.

-If you’ll save them for later use, place meatballs in a plate, freeze, and then put them all in a bag. They are good for months in the freezer.

-You can barbecue or broil them, or fry them with a little bit oil in a frying pan. The choice is up to you.

Source: Almost Turkish

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Albondigas de Lina

Posted by Sylvia on 23rd July 2008

When Lina was first looking for extra work to do, she offered to help me in the kitchen. I tried to teach her to cook and showed her some of my simple recipes but it didn’t seem to go very well. Then one day when Cliff was in London and I was struggling to meet a deadline she offered to just make me something quickly. I agreed and left her to it. Half an hour later she served me the most amazing dish of meatballs in sauce. I stopped trying to give her recipes and asked her to make whatever she fancied – which has had a lot to do with my weight gain over the past few years. Anyone who has been to our house knows that Lina is an excellent cook – she simply isn’t very good at following someone else’s recipe.

Albondigas, the traditional meatballs in tomato sauce, continue to be a firm favourite of visitors and Lina probably makes it a few times a month during the winter. Full credit to Yvonne, who spent the morning in the kitchen following Lina around so that we could get this recipe.

Note: Lina doesn’t measure anything-ever as far as I can see but the recipe is straight-forward enough that you should be able to eyeball it.

She was a bit nervous about a list of ingredients at all, making a point of telling Yvonne that you should make it to taste rather than stick to the exact recipe. “She wants to make them like you do,” I told Lina. “She can but I change things all the time,” she said and proceeded to list variations. Leave out the garlic and add in onion. Use a different herb instead of parsley. Add grated vegetable like carrots or green peppers. Use pork instead of beef or a mixture of the two. This was, Lina said repeatedly, simply one way she made albondigas and certainly not the only way. Make it the way you like it best, she said.

She thought about it for a moment and then pointed at the sheet of paper. “But you have to add the sherry. That’s not optional.”

Albondigas de Lina

  • Minced (ground) beef
  • Chopped garlic (or onion or grated vegetable)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sherry
  • Egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • flour for dipping

Add all the ingredients except the flour in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands and then shape the results into meatballs. Roll the balls in flour to stop them from sticking. You can stop at this point and leave them sit out or even freeze them.

Pour about ¾ inches of oil in a large deep-sided pan and heat to a high temperature. Gently place the meatballs in the oil and allow them to fry, turning occasionally, until cooked, about 5 minutes.


Tomato purée
Fresh basil (whole leaves)
a little water.

Note: Lina uses “fried tomato purée” which I’ve seen for sale in the UK as passata. You could also use tinned (canned) tomatoes: cook until soft and then purée them.

Place the fried meatballs in a sauce pan and then add the tomato, basil and water. Don’t panic if some oil goes in the pan. Stir it all together making sure that the meatballs are well coated and the sauce nearly covers them. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Posted in Main Course, Small Meals, Spanish, Spices, Unclean | Comments Off on Albondigas de Lina

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