There is a little piece in the latest issue of DSM Magazine about AllSpice Owner Rory Brown’s chili that was written by local food writer Wini Moranville for her “I Snagged the Recipe” column.
Moranville says, “From college until just a few years ago, I made the same chili recipe winter after winter. Then I tasted Rory Brown’s Smokin’ Coffee Chili and realized there was no going back.”
She especially loves (no suprise!) the spices in Rory’s chili recipe: “that blend of warming seasonings that thaw you through and through on a cold winter’s night.”
What is jerk? Jerk is a Spanish word that comes from the Peruvian word charqui: a word for dried strips of meat like what we call jerky. The word jerk started as a noun referring to the dish, and then became a verb, jerking, or poking holes in meat so the spices could permeate the food.
More broadly, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica where meat is poked with tiny holes and coated (either dry-rubbed or wet marinated) with a fiery spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.
Where’d jerk come from? Formerly enslaved Coromantee Africans in Jamaica are thought to be the originators of the jerk style sauce, developed as an adaptation, seasoning and slow cooking wild hogs over native allspice wood and using local herbs and spices, such as the fiery-hot Scotch Bonnet pepper.
Christmas is just around the corner — and on our way to that holiday later this week, we celebrate the Winter Solstice. The solstice marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.
As soon as the solstice has passed, the days will start getting longer again and you can start looking forward to Spring. Celebrated by pagans for thousands of years, Winter Solstice is marked as the “sun’s rebirth” and new solar year.
Many of the traditions and rituals of rebirth, now associated with Christmas, had their roots in winter solstice celebrations – Yule logs, mistletoe, Yule songs (Christmas hymns and carols) and Christmas trees to name a few.
And like with many other familiar traditions and rituals, some of the most beloved symbols associated with the winter solstice, and the solstice-linked Germanic celebration of Yule, are customs centered around food.
Familiar shapes and colors. Many of the special celebratory foods of Yule are hollow circles: breakfast kringle pastry shaped like a wreath (the wreath itself a symbol for the cyclical, repeating “wheel” of the year).
In keeping with the “here comes the sun” theme of Yule, too, many feast foods are made in sunny colors, whether they are delicacies and drinks colored with strong winter spices, or casseroles, curries and paellas made bright with saffron, turmeric, and chilies.
Traditional solstice / Yule foods also feature the circle gone 3-D: dishes and desserts featuring sun-like spherical ingredients like apples, oranges, and even eggs.
Traditional foods of Yule include: cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or “lamb’s wool” (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples), apples, mulled wine, beans, and oranges.
1-1/2 Cups Dal (yellow split peas), rinsed and drained
5 Cups water
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 Cups total)
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
2 tsp Cumin, Ground
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
2 Cups water
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets (about 4 Cups total)
2 red or yellow (or orange) bell peppers, chopped (about 2 Cups total)
In a stock pot, combine the dal and 5 Cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Allow dal to simmer, uncovered, 25 – 35 minutes, until split peas are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
While the dal simmers, brown the chopped onion in olive oil (medium heat) in a big heavy-bottomed dutch oven or soup pot. When onion starts to become soft and translucent (about 10 minutes), add the diced sweet potato, along with the curry powder, cumin, and fresh ginger. Saute the potato in the spices, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or so.
Add 2 Cups water to the dutch oven, and stir in the cauliflower florets and bell pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and stir to combine. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, covered, until cauliflower and potatoes are tender.
Use an immersion blender in the stock pot, or transfer the cooked dal and its cooking liquid to a blender or food processor, and blend into a semi-smooth puree. (Take care to wait for dal to cool before blending — the hot mixture can blow the lid off your blender and scald you if you are not patient!)
Fold the pureed dal into the cauliflower mixture. The dal puree makes a sunny, yellow broth for the vegetable curry. Heat through and serve with rice.