I'm going off to Washington to attend The Rally to Restore Sanity at the end of next week, so I did my cleaning and my cooking in one burst today. I even found the time to cook something I haven't cooked in a long time: chili.
It's been so cold lately that my thoughts cannot help but turn to a climate a little less brutal (well, in the winter) than that of New England. That, and I have a friend in Arizona and she's been bragging that it doesn't get that cold there. It is cold here. Humph. I love fall in New England, but the gradual loss of daylight and the ability to stay outdoors for long periods makes me miss the days when I could escape the gathering gloom by flying out to LA to meet my boyfriend (who lived there for a few years) and then going to Guelaguetza for some Nopal Zapoteco sin la carne and a cafe de olla. (I like the Northeast, but it's somewhat wanting when it comes to places that serve cactus. Sigh.)
So to cheer myself up, I searched my cookbooks for some chili to get some ideas, and then I made up this chili with those two lovely Mexican cooking standbys: cinnamon and chocolate.
1 small onion
3 bell peppers, chopped (I used green and red.)
3 large tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes or tomato paste (in emergencies, plain bottled pasta sauce will also suffice.)
1 bag of fake beef (I prefer Morningstar Farms), if you do not live in the US, you can get fake lamb -- that's actually probably closer to the original dish -- if you don't like fake beef, add an extra 2 cans of beans
4 tablespoons cinnamon (adjust for your tastes)
2 tablespoons UNSWEETENED chocolate
2 tablespoons cilantro
hot sauce to taste (I used my old standby, siracha sauce, however Texas Pete's Hot Sauce or Cajun Chef are also good)
Fry the peppers and onions in vegetable oil in a big soup pot, stirring occasionally. Add the cinnamon when the vegetables get soft. When the vegetables begin to brown, add the chopped tomatoes, the can of stewed tomatoes, and the fake meat. Stir in the chocolate and cilantro. Simmer for an hour. I like to serve it with a side of rice, as that kills the pepper fire. Serves four.