For many of us who entertain, December is the most important month of the year. Whether you’re cooking for an open house, a caroling party, an end-of-the year office fête, a neighborhood potluck, or a Yankee swap (my daughter-in-law’s favorite), the holidays offer endless opportunities to share food with others. The real challenges are finding tempting, but uncomplicated recipes and the time to prepare them.
The spicy chili baked under a cornmeal crust featured here just might fill your needs. Although the chili is prepared classically with ground beef, beans, and a generous kick of heat from both chipotle and traditional chili powder, it is served in an unusual way. Spread in a casserole dish, it is topped with a cheese-scented cornmeal batter, and then baked. When done, a thin layer of golden cornbread covers the bubbling chili beneath. A sprinkle of cilantro and a bowl of sour cream make simple garnishes.
This dish has other bonuses as well. The chili itself can be prepared up to three days ahead—a gift to holiday chefs—so that all that is necessary at serving time is a quick assembly of the cornmeal batter to spread atop the casserole. And, if you’re expecting a crowd, you can double the ingredients easily.
So, during this season of gatherings, consider serving this spicy chili bake. Add a favorite salad and some holiday cookies, and you’ve got a party menu!
When you send a cookbook manuscript to your publisher, the work doesn’t stop there. Editors pore over the pages for several months, and return them marked with queries and changes. The author (moi!) then reviews these “first copy edits” in agonizingly minute detail. This summer I spent the better part of two weeks in Paris at my computer dealing with the edits for Sunday Casseroles. I was so relieved when they were finished that I rewarded myself with an afternoon of guiltless shopping in France’s capital!
Next, designers and photographers get involved and produce a rough layout of the book with photos and text. This version, known as the “galleys,” usually arrives in hard copy annotated with more queries. Last Friday Fed Ex delivered a huge package filled with 175 pages of Sunday Casseroles galleys. For the past week I have been reading the manuscript in sleuth-like fashion, searching line by line for typos, misspellings, and omissions. My eyes are red and my pencils worn to nubs, but the job is finally done! Now, I have to pack up those pages and send them to Amy, my talented editor at Chronicle Books.
Since I thought readers might like a sneak peak of a favorite recipe from this collection, I’ve included the directions for Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Kalamatas and Two Cheeses. Some will recognize this special dish because it appeared in various versions in my syndicated column and on the cover of Bon Appetit in the 1990s. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and please do let me know if you discover any typos! Continue reading
It’s a recurrent theme at our house and maybe at yours too. Does this sound familiar? You’ve worked all day and arrive home feeling as if the last thing you want to do is cook. The temptation looms large to order a pizza or take out from the local Chinese or Mexican place, but what you really crave is something homemade for supper.
Because I play out that scenario often, I’m always searching for easy homemade fixes for weeknight meals. When I discover a new dish such as Spicy Lamb Chops with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce I love to share it with my readers. Continue reading
Whether for Super Bowl bashes or casual, cold-weather suppers, the chili recipe that follows is perfect for such gatherings. Ground beef, onions, carrots, and garlic are sautéed, then simmered in stock along with tomatoes and traditional seasonings of chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add a hint of smoke and heat, while black beans replace the usual red ones. This dish improves in flavor when made a day or two in advance, and yields 8 generous bowlfuls. Continue reading
This recipe is a perennial favorite of students. Back in the 1990s it appeared on a winter cover of Bon Appétit and then later in my book, American Favorites. This dish has plenty going for it—you can make it ahead, it’s and all-in-one main course, and it’s inexpensive.