chili with smoke & cocoa

chili/smoky chocolate/pot outside

Unbeknownst to many, cocoa, in it’s natural state, is not sweet, which is why it can be used very successfully in savoury dishes. Unfortunately, it has gained a painfully sweet reputation and suffered many an insult in the form of additives, colourings and chemicals. Do people really think there’s such a thing as white chocolate courtesy of Mother Nature? Anyway, cocoa powder is part of the chocolate family, and something I turn to when I’m looking to add a depth of flavour, a richness, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi – and you don’t need much to turn many a dish from your kitchen, into something that tastes like it’s straight out of somebody else’s – like a pro with years of schooling whose been cooking right alongside Wolfgang!

chili/smoky chocolate/feature

Your beef stew, rack of lambcocoa chile pork ribs, grilled chicken, fish fillets, all sorts of chili concoctions, (con carne or not) – the list goes on and on of what can benefit from a hit of cocoa powder – turns a 2D into a 3D experience for your tastebuds! So in an attempt to bring cocoa powder from the back burner, to the front, from the end of the meal, to at least the middle, if not the beginning – deepen up marinades, rubs, stews, curries, and a pinch or two in a savoury sauce or gravy is magical! So start cooking with (unsweetened) cocoa powder – it’ll be our little secret! Enjoy as is, add a few of the suggestions below, spoon it over rice, pasta or potatoes – have a pot of this on the go, and you’ve got several meals that can be put together quickly and be different every single time depending on what you choose to stir in before serving – I added a little pork to mine. Spoon out what you can eat at any given meal, add what you like, and keep your pot of virgin chili, virgin – for the next spin around the dance floor! So the next time you make chili, switch it up and add to your repertoire of chili recipes, there’s 1000’s to choose from – I’ve got your back below!

shrimp, grapefruit, scallions & garlic

grapefruit shrimp feature 1

Grapefruit and seafood is such an obvious pairing considering the citrus quality, so why it’s not more common place, is a mystery. Think lemon and switch it up with grapefruit instead for something a little different – lemon and seafood is classic but with grapefruit, makes it clever!

pancakes with whole-grains & buttermilk

pancakes, whole -grain buttermilk/feature

Whole-grain/wheat pastry flour can replace white flour in most recipes, especially these heavenly whole-grain buttermilk pancakes. Nix the white, go for something heartier and do your health a favour in the process.

garlic nuggets

garlic/microwave feature 3

Roasted garlic prepped in the microwave turns into chewy, crunchy little nuggets and is a heavenly addition to pizzas, pastas, dips, salads, rice, vegetables, soups or stews. The oven has its time and place but the microwave is a dependable stand-in!

baked beans with mesquite

pork & beans

Mastering a basic baked bean recipe will broaden your horizons completely! The multitude of additions can take basic beans in any direction you want.

corn on the cob with garlic & lime

corn roasted in a pan with citrus

Corn and the cob can be enjoyed like it came hot off the grill, but didn’t! Thanks to a hot pan, you can roast it to caramelized perfection, as if it did. It sears up beautifully right on your stove-top, ready for whatever you’d like to throw at it.

cornmeal cakes with bacon, scallions & corn

cornbread cakes/feature

What better way to enjoy your veggies than folded into a batter headed for a hot pan to become a nice crisp cake or fritter!

black olives seared in lemon, garlic & herbs

black olives seared in olive oil feature

Canned black olives get a complete makeover with the simple addition of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. And it doesn’t stop there – the whole load gets dumped into a ho pan to sear and caramelize, transforming the canned variety to rival the souped up ones from the deli.

tomato soup roasted italian-style

roasted tomato soup/feature

Roasting tomatoes before they turn into soup is the only way to make tomato soup – along with a few cloves of garlic, an onion and a little olive oil – you will be enjoying an intense tomato flavour you never thought possible.

ricotta with herbs

Making ricotta at home from a pot full of heated milk with a little cream (or not), laced with a shot of vinegar, strained through cheesecloth and what’s left is homemade ricotta – instant cheese waiting for any flavour combo you can imagine!