Chocolate Stout Chili

When two people cook a 4-pound spoon roast, there's bound to be leftovers. And when that particular spoon roast has been cooked in chocolate stout, those leftovers are destined for chili. We know that chili is all about creating layers of flavor and letting them simmer together, so we set out to do just that with chipotles, spices, tomatoes, dark cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, beef, beans and of course, the most important ingredient - Thomas Hooker Brewery Chocolate Truffle Stout. The fact that the beef had been cooked in the stout was just another added layer of flavor. It was a blustery cold weeknight, and the result was a chocolatey, deeply dark brown, and very spicy chili that made our noses run and our brows sweat. Can't stand that much heat? Leave out one (or both) of the chipotles.

Chocolate Stout Chili


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1 28-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked beef, cut into bite-sized pieces (we used leftover spoon roast cooked in the chocolate stout)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups chocolate stout (divided)
1/2 cup tomato puree

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute onion, garlic and chipotle peppers for 2-3 minutes stirring often, until onions start to brown and garlic becomes fragrant. Add chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and continuing to stir, cook for another 2 minutes so spices bloom. Stir in stewed tomatoes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan well. Add the cocoa powder, beans and beef. Stir in the unsweetened chocolate until it melts. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate stout, turn heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 2 hours. After 2 hours, stir in the additional 1/2 cup of chocolate stout and the tomato puree. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 1/2 hour and serve hot with a pint of chocolate stout to cool off with.


Chocolate Stout Spoon Roast

Last Friday, we attended what may be the best party (at the best price!) in town: the Thomas Hooker Brewing Company Open House. Happening on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month from 5-8, this happy hour shindig takes place right in the brewery in Bloomfield, Connecticut and costs a mere $10. In exchange for your tenner, you get a little plastic cup and access to two bars, with four taps each, flowing freely with the freshest beer around. There are pizza slices on sale (proceeds go to charity) for when you need sustenance, and oh, did we mention you get to take home a souvenir pint glass? Hollah!

On this particular Friday, the beer everyone was buzzing about was Hooker's brand new seasonal brew made with another Connecticut favorite, Munson's Chocolates. Hooker is using Munson's proprietary cocoa blend to create a smooth, luscious "Chocolate Truffle Stout" that is a dark, delicious, easily drinkable beer with hints of chocolate and coffee and a surprising lack of bitterness. We loved it so much, we purchased a growler ($11 new, $8 to refill) with every intent to use it in our cooking.

Wash, slice and dice the veggies. Aren't those purple carrots gorgeous?

Season, flour and brown the roast

Let the roasting magic happen

The very next morning it was starting to snow. Undeterred, we carefully drove to the nearest market where we picked up a 4-pound spoon roast (a top sirloin cut) and some vegetables. That afternoon, we seasoned, seared and cooked the roast and veggies in a cup of the chocolate stout and served it with creamy mashed potatoes (with a pint of stout to wash it down with, naturally). While the wonderful chocolate flavor of the beer wasn't very pronounced in the dish, the meat was especially tender and the carrots, celery and onions had a dark flavor and color that we could only attibute to the stout. Now what to do with the leftovers? Check back in a couple of days for our own "Chocolate Stout Chili."

Hooker Brewer is located at 16 Tobey Road in Bloomfield, CT. They also have tours and tastings on Saturdays. Their Chocolate Truffle Stout should be hitting grocery and liquor store shelves in the beginning of February, just in time for Valentine's Day. Drink local!


Chocolate Stout Spoon Roast


1 3-4 lb. spoon roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cups vegetables (we used celery and carrots), chopped
1 cup Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season the roast with salt and pepper and sprinkle it all over with flour. Heat olive oil in a roasting pan and sear the roast on all sides until nicely browned. Remove roast and set aside. Place vegetables in the pan and saute for a minute or two, until onions start to caramelize. Return the roast to the pan, on top of the vegetables. Pour the stout into the pan. Cook at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 325; cover or tent pan with aluminum foil and continue to roast at 325 for one hour, or until internal temperature reaches 130 for medium rare. Remove roast from pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. In the meantime, stir the vegetables and stout and continue to cook to reduce and thicken slightly. Serve vegetables on the side of slices of roast topped with "stout gravy."


Shanghai Chicken and Shrimp Stir Fry

Happy Chinese New Year! Chinese New Year is a celebration of the lunar new year, and this year is the Year of the Dragon, year 4710 of the Chinese calendar. Amy has had an affinity for all things Chinese since she was a little girl and had Chinese neighbors who shared with her their language, culture and various celebrations. So of course we had to celebrate this new Year of the Dragon with a proper meal.

In Chinese culture, certain foods are symbolic, and this is especially apparent at the New Year's dinner which is meant to feature foods that will bring health, wealth and prosperity in the coming year. We kept our own hopes for the new year in mind when we thought up the auspicious ingredients of this dish, which we are calling Shanghai Chicken and Shrimp Stir Fry.

First are the noodles themselves, which symbolize long life, as long as they are left uncut, which we did. Slurping them from the bowl is a must. Next is the chicken, symbolizing happiness, marriage and prosperity. The word for prawn in Cantonese is "ha" which of course is reminiscent of the sound of laughter and happiness. (We are using regular shrimp, but maybe it's the thought that counts?) The color red is an especially important part of the celebration, so we chopped up a couple of dried red chiles to add color and spicy heat (like the fire of the dragon!) to the dish. Finally, we garnished the dish with chopped peanuts, which symbolize long life, good health, and good fortune. For dessert, we ate a couple of clementines, which are a variety of mandarin orange, and are considered to be good luck to the Chinese.

So here's to hoping this Year of the Dragon is one filled with all good things, including more delicious dishes such as this one!

Shanghai Chicken and Shrimp Stir Fry


12 ounces Chinese wide lo-mein noodles
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspooon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water to make a slurry
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1 star anise
3 dried red chilies, chopped* (see cooks' notes)
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/2 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Notes: we had "dragon" on the brain and bravely put in three (chopped) dried red chilis, which made this dish pretty darn spicy. We suggest doing 1 1/2 to 2 unless you love love love the heat.
Prepare noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water, drain well and toss with sesame oil to coat evenly; set aside. Combine soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch slurry in a small bowl; set aside. In a wok or large saute pan, heat vegetable oil over high heat. Add ginger, garlic, green onions, star anise, and chilies, and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add chicken strips and stir-fry until mostly cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add shrimp and snow peas and continue to stir fry until shrimp turn pink and snow peas are cooked but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Pour in soy sauce/slurry and stir for 30 seconds. Toss in noodles and stir until all ingredients are well combined and noodles are coated with sauce. Serve in large noodle bowls topped with chopped peanuts.


Our New Favorite Gadget: The Food Loop

Last summer, during our annual family vacation to Maine, we purchased The Food Loop. It has been sitting in the depths of our "baking-stuff" drawer until last week when we used it to truss the M. Jacques Armagnac Chicken for French Fridays with Dorie. That's what that hot pink thing tied around our chicken was, for those of you who were wondering.

According to the product's website, The Food Loop is: made from silicone; food safe; heat resistant to 675 degrees; non-stick; flexible; reusable; and it can be used on the stovetop, oven, freezer and microwave. You simply slide one end of the cord into the other, pull it to desired tightness - from a 1-inch to a 4-inch loop - and snap it in place. It comes packaged as six "loops" inside a little mesh bag that can be used for storage or for washing them in the dishwasher.

Used for trussing a chicken

We know we're sounding a little bit "As Seen on TV" here, but if you are sick of struggling with kitchen twine, you should really get this thing. We loved it so much that we used it again only a few days after the chicken, when we made a pinwheeled pork roast. Look, ma, no knots!
Used for tying up a pinwheeled pork roast

Yup, The Food Loop is our new favorite gadget. For now anyway.


Guest Post: Garlicky Spinach Soup by Joanne

While we rest on our (teensy weensy) laurels, we invited bestie and fellow blogger Joanne to share her love of soup, in particular, her love of Garlicky Spinach Soup in this guest post.

Joanne writes:
I love soup. (And I love to share soup with Amy, who shares the love!) As much as I experiment with new recipes, there are a few I go back to over and over like this one for garlicky spinach soup.  As you’ll see, it’s beyond easy and requires very few ingredients.

Because it’s so simple, the clear but flavorful broth lends itself to easy variations.  I’ve made it with gyoza and a hint of ginger (very yummy), and plan to try it with rice noodles next. Mushrooms would be a nice addition (though not Amy-approved), and vegetable broth might substitute nicely without chicken as a vegetarian dish.

Modify as you like, but start here with this basic recipe. Enjoy!

Garlicky Spinach Soup

6 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
6 ounces baby spinach
1 cup chicken breast, shredded in bite size pieces (from rotisserie chicken)
pinch sugar
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ¼ cup of the broth so that garlic can cook without burning. Add pinch of sugar and let cook 3-4 minutes. Garlic will become very fragrant.

Add remaining broth and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and remove from heat. Add spinach, stirring until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add shredded chicken to bowls and pour soup over chicken.

Makes 4 1½ cup servings.

A Couple in the Kitchen, Recently Spotted at...

This week, our recipe for Steamed Clams with Linguica is being featured at Simple Recipes. And we just found out that our recipe for Caprese Quiche is on the Eggland's Best websiteAnd we found out that the Caprese Quiche recipe has been chosen by Wegmans (a supermarket chain in MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA and VA) to be printed up on a recipe card that will be available to customers in all 80 (and counting!) of their stores. Pretty cool, huh?

Steamed Clams with Linguica

Caprese Quiche

We are most excited about these recent developments, and want to say "Thanks!" to the Fullers at Simple Recipes, and the folks both at Eggland's Best and Wegmans.


Moonshine Sticky Wings *Award-Winning"

Okay, so maybe this week has been all about cooking with liquor. What can we say? We are madly in love with Onyx Moonshine and since we already tried a sweet dish, we wanted to do something savory with it. Thus we give you Moonshine Sticky Wings. A dozen wings, a little honey to pick up the honey notes in the moonshine, some soy and sesame oil, and of course, the moonshine itself. Pretty good stuff, but a few notes on this one since it's not yet perfect. We baked them in the sauce then broiled them for a few minutes to attempt to get some crispiness, but next time we're gonna go ahead and fry these things. We suggest you start there. Also next time we'd add more moonshine because, well, why not?

Lay wings out in baking dish;
sprinkle with garlic salt

Combine these ingredients to make the sauce

Pour sauce over wings then bake and broil

Moonshine Sticky Wings


1 dozen chicken wings
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons Onyx Moonshine
2 cloves garlic, pressed
sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay wings out in a large glass baking dish. Sprinkle with garlic salt and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour evenly over wings. Bake at 450 for 25 minutes, then broil on high for a few minutes to brown and crisp. Garnish with sesame seeds.



M. Jacques Armagnac Chicken (French Fridays with Dorie)

We haven't been able to participate in French Fridays with Dorie for some time for a variety of reasons. But last Sunday, when we purchased a super-fresh chicken (processed the day before!) from GourmAvian, a local farm, and we realized that this week's FFwD recipe was for M. Jacques Armagnac Chicken, we knew the timing was just right.

This recipe, which can be found in Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table, was soooo super easy. And while this incredibly satisfying, hearty, deliciously roasted chicken dinner (in one pot!) was roasting, the most amazing cooking smells emanated throughout our entire house. Dorie calls this particular recipe "un petite marveille" and we must concur. With about 15 minutes prep time and only an hour of cooking, the results were truly magnifique!

Add vegetables
(we used carrots, onions, potatoes and one change to the recipe - a turnip)
and herbs to a large pot

The pretty turnip

Truss and season chicken with kosher salt and white pepper,
then place in pot atop vegetables. Pour in armagnac (or brandy), cover and cook!

Now, a little anecdote about armagnac. Dorie's recipe obviously calls for armagnac (a distilled spirit made from three different grapes), and we do have a bottle. Here's the story. Back in 2007, Amy organized a school trip to Paris and Rome and Amy's mother, who had never been abroad before, came along. A very nice (read: expensive) bottle of armagnac was on our list of things to buy, but we had bought and packed so many bottles of wine in Rome already, we couldn't fit it in our luggage. So we asked Mom to pack the armagnac in her bag. Easy enough, right? Well, everyone's bags were checked and as we stood in line to be screened through to the gates in Paris, we realized...Mom has the bottle in her carry-on. And there was that little problem of no liquids more than 3 ounces being allowed on the plane. Oh the humanity!We suffered through that line trying in vain to come to terms with the fact that our gorgeous armagnac was going to be confiscated (and probably consumed!) by the airport workers, but miraculously, it wasn't! Huzzah!

So, although we do in fact have a bottle, a very nice bottle actually, of armagnac, we just couldn't use a cup of it to cook a chicken, as good as that chicken might be. So we used brandy. And the chicken was still incredible. The end.


Connecticut Moonshine Pecan Pie

After experiencing the epicness of Onyx Moonshine, made here in Manchester, CT, we knew we had to try cooking with it. The opportunity presented itself on Monday night, when we made dessert for the LSU-Alabama game: Connecticut Moonshine Pecan Pie. Although it was slightly overcooked, and maybe we used a few too many pecans (as if that could be a bad thing!), it came out pretty good. We've had some baking fails in the past, and while this wasn't the perfect pecan pie, we wouldn't count it among the "fails." In addition to the uniqueness of the moonshine in this recipe, you'll also notice we added some nutmeg, since CT is the Nutmeg State. It was sweet and rich, nutty and flavorful, with hints of vanilla, and a depth that we think came from the moonshine. If it can be done with bourbon, it can be done with moonshine!

Melt butter and combine with
corn syrup, molasses and a pinch of salt.
Boil until frothy with a caramel consistency.

Beat together eggs, vanilla, Moonshine and nutmeg.

Fold in pecans, preferably from Louisiana

Pour pecan pie mixture into prepared pie shell

Connecticut Moonshine Pecan Pie


1 prepared pie shell, uncooked
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
pinch of kosher salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Onyx Moonshine
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups pecan halves (although we'd reduce this to 2 cups next time)

Lay pie shell into greased pie plate and prick it all over with a fork. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the corn syrup, molasses and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until it boils and becomes frothy and has a caramel-like consistency. Set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the vanilla, moonshine and nutmeg and beat to combine. Add a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of the caramel into the eggs and stir to temper the eggs. Slowly add the remainaing caramel mixture into the eggs and combine well. Fold in the pecans and pour the pecan pie mixture into the prepared shell. Protect the crust with pie shields and bake at 350 for about one hour. Let cool before serving, preferably with a dollop of freshly whipped cream (of which we, sadly, had none).