Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Goat Cheese Biscuits

It’s one of those cut-myself-shaving because I haven’t-touched-a-razor-in-months kind of days. You know, the good-lord-am-I-really-that-white morning. Wow-I-need-to-work-out afternoon.

And an ice cream evening.

Blissful denial gets me through the toughest times.

Especially butter denial. After years of no meat, some evil warlock in the back of my head tells me during just about every meal that I deserve butter. That butter has a lot of calcium. Butter is good for you.

It’s really not.

But don’t tell the biscuits I told you.

What’s the harm in butter when complimented with a platter of vegetables, right? says the evil, high-cholesterol dude in my brain.

Black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. A lethal combination. They really are a magical fruit.

I get apartment-smell envy. It happens when I come home from work around 6:30pm and my vegan neighbors are cooking something divine that I know is good for them. So I demolish a bag of Triscuits seconds after entering the kitchen.

But then I spend a few hours chopping, sautéing, stewing and simmering and feel loads better. Because then the entire neighborhood smells like chili and buttered biscuits and no one but my friends can have ’em.

I’m not sure if that’s the dude talking or just me.

Oh. Hot. Damn.

The cast iron skillet gets preheated in the oven and slathered in a load of butter. Then more butter gets drizzled onto the raw biscuits.

I know. Cardiac arrest. It might be worth it?

True Life: I over-mix sometimes and things come out flat. But still amazingly stupendously onolicious.

You + me = us.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Goat Cheese Biscuits

For the chili:

1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 habañero pepper, de-seeded and minced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock (or cheap beer)
2 heaping tablespoons chili powder
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1/3 cup barbeque sauce
2 more cups vegetable stock

Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and zucchini and saute for another few minutes until they are slightly soft. Add the garlic, habañero and all of the spices and cook for a few minutes before adding 1 cup of stock or beer for a rapid searing. Make sure you scrape off all the spices from the bottom of the pan.

As soon as the liquid stops simmering, add the canned tomatoes, barbeque sauce and additional vegetable stock and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Top with cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.

Serves six.

For the biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for a glaze
4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)

Preheat the oven and cast iron skillet to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and goat cheese, making sure not to over-mix. It should resemble coarse meal.

Make a well in the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, lightly fluff until no pockets of flour remain.

Take the cast iron out of the oven and melt one tablespoon of unsalted butter until the pan is completely coated. Spoon about 1/4 cup worth of batter dollops into the pan, leaving about half an inch of space between every piece. They will bake into each other. It’s okay.

Bake for about 17 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

Makes about 9 biscuits.


Apple Habañero Chutney

Don’t hurt me.  But I don’t like Halloween.

I wore the same witch costume for a good seven years.  There was a kid in high school that made a Megazord costume out of cardboard with speakers built in.  Willy Wonka had dozens of Oompa Loompas running around campus.  Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I think the most elaborate costume I ever made was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  So much red glitter.  Glitter in my ears for months.

In college, Halloween was stupid (stupid!) because the sorority hussies slutified Strawberry Shortcake, Alice, nurses, traffic cones, piles of poop.  And there was no point in trick-or-treating because I had turned 18 and that’s usually when the fun stops,  right?

Maybe it’s because I never had a candied apple back in Hawai’i.  I’ve never even bobbed for an apple.  But with the influx of Granny Smiths, Macouns, Pink Ladies, and Whateveritis because of that apple picking triple date a few weeks ago, I made me some chutney.

Some spicy, chunky, spreadable, awesome chutney.

Chutney is better than jam.  Yeah, I said it.

My roommate once yelled at me for trying to pull off Marilyn Monroe.  She said that I have to pick costumes that match my ethnicity.  So I was Pocahontas the next year.

 Oh.  About the apples.  I used any and all kinds.  People say to stick with the sour ones for cooking, but for a chutney I vote that anything goes.

Habañero chutney.  Yeah.  Watch out.

This is fantastic.  All I had to do was throw everything into a pot.  Witch’s brew.

Apple Habañero Chutney.

1lb apples (about 6 medium-sized), peeled, cored, and chopped
1 diced onion
1 diced habañero (or jalapeño)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Throw all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil, reducing the heat to simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until the apples are fully reduced and the liquid is thick.

Makes about 5 cups of chutney.