Red and Black Chili


I call this Red and Black Chili (or “Bulldog Chili”) based on UGA’s colors, which are ubiquitous and fun here in Athens, especially on game days. But aside from the colors this is a fairly traditional, if hopefully tasty, Tex-Mex chili. 

The recipe feeds six to eight heavy eaters – but leftovers are appreciated. Serve in shallow soup bowls with some rice at the bottom of the bowl, if desired. And grated cheddar or jack cheese can be sprinkled on top, along with a dollop of sour cream. 

2 strips uncooked bacon, finely minced

1 medium-large onion, coarsely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds ground beef (preferably 85% lean)

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon oregano

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon (or more) crushed hot pepper

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomato, including the juice

2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup water

1 small red bell pepper, medium diced


Cooked rice (white or brown) for serving, optional

Grated cheddar or jack cheese and/or sour cream for serving, optional


In large pot, fry minced bacon with the onions, stirring frequently, until onions start to turn golden. Add garlic and meat. Cook until raw color leaves the meat, breaking the meat up as it cooks. 

Add bay leaves, dry spices and herbs, plus 2 teaspoons of salt. Fry gently 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the beans and water. Simmer 5 minutes. Add diced bell pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed. Add a little water to make a medium-thick consistency, if desired. Remove bay leaves at the end of cooking. 

Let sit 10 minutes, stir, and taste and adjust salt if needed. 

Chili is richer in flavor if made ahead and reheated. 

If desired, place some cooked white or brown rice in bottom of bowl before adding the chili. 
Sprinkle with grated cheddar or jack cheese, or dollop with sour cream, if desired



Sauerkraut for Autumn, Braised with Apple and served with Bratwurst 

Sauerkraut is the traditional way plentiful summer cabbage was preserved for eating in winter in the old days in Central and Northern Europe when few fresh vegetables were available. Unbeknownst to those eating sauerkraut back then, essential Vitamin C was preserved along with the cabbage, and probably prevented a lot of scurvy in those populations. 

Sauerkraut and Bratwurst,  Parsleyed Potatoes
Cooking that pickled cabbage with smoked ham or sausage, and brightening it with ingredients like apples was a way to enjoy summer produce when the weather had turned cold. The cooking methods for garnished sauerkraut are numerous in Germany, German-speaking areas of Switzerland, and the Alsace region of France. Often some smoked pork, such as a knuckle or chunk of ham, is simmered in with the kraut, and sausage is added at the end. 

Here is an Oktoberfest apple-braised sauerkraut with bratwursts cooked in at the end. The sauerkraut in October would have been recently made and relatively mild in flavor. Bratwurst sausages, typically made of pork and/or veal and white to very light tan in color, are originally from Bavaria, the home of Oktoberfest. Good imported Bavarian bratwurst are available from Trader Joes. I also like Johnsonville Beer Brats, made in Wisconsin, the American Bratwurst heartland, which are available at supermarkets. I prefer cooking a white wine into sauerkraut Rhineland style, though in Bavaria cooking the kraut cooked with beer would be more common. 

The sausage and kraut can be eaten as a snack – with bread and beer as in southern Germany. Or the dish can be served with boiled potatoes or noodles if making a meal of it. Accompany with good mustard, or my favorite sauce made from equal quantities of Dijon mustard and sour creamplus a touch of horseradish. A Pilsner or lager beer pairs traditionally with this dish, but chilled white wine such as a fairly dry Riesling or a Grüner Veltliner does well. 

The recipe serves 4-6 people.


1 small onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons sunflower or other non-olive vegetable oil

1 medium apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced

1 (14-ounce) jar or can shredded sauerkraut, juice squeezed out

1/2 cup white wine (or lager beer)

3/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 juniper berries (optional)

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon brown sugar

14-16 ounces bratwurst or smoked sausage, cut in 2-inch lengths.

Salt, if needed 

In stainless steel or enamel pot, fry onion lightly in 3 tablespoons oil until softened. Add apple. Fry several minutes, stirring frequently. Add drained sauerkraut, and stir and fry 2 minutes. 

Add wine and seasonings. Simmer, covered but stirring frequently, until sauerkraut and apple pieces are becoming tender, adding a little water only if dry. Taste and add a little salt if needed. Add the bratwurst or smoked sausage and simmer, covered but stirring frequently, until sausage is fully heated. Taste for salt once more, and add a little if needed. 

Serve alone as a snack, or as dinner accompanied by boiled or steamed small potatoes or buttered noodles. The condiment is mustard, such as brown or horseradish mustard (not the bright yellow American hotdog mustard), or a sauce of Dijon mustard mixed with an equal amount of sour cream and a small amount of horseradish.



“Hot Blond” Chili


This is the non-traditional chili that I won overall first prize with years ago at a chili competition at a rowdy sports bar in Atlanta on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a white chili, with turkey, white beans, sour cream and habanero peppers. While it contains none of the usual red or green ingredients, it’s especially flavorful. It can be made quite hot, depending on the number of habanero peppers it uses. 

The recipe serves six to eight.

1 medium-large onion, finely chopped

2 thick or 3 thin slices (raw) hickory-smoked bacon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground annatto seed (“Achiote Molido” at Mexican groceries)

1 or more small whole orange or yellow habanero chile peppers

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey

Water as needed

1-3/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

2 (14-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained but not rinsed

1/4 cup sour cream


Grated “Queso Blanco” or “Cotija” (Mexican-style crumbling cheese)

Coarsely chopped cilantro, including part of stems

Fry onion, bacon, and olive oil together until onion softens and begins to turn golden. 

Reduce heat. Add garlic, herbs and spices plus whole habanero(s). Stir and fry one minute. 

Add meat. Raise the heat. Break up meat as it fries. When raw color is gone, stir in 1 cup water plus the salt. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, 10-15 minutes. Add a little water if needed, so there is always a bit of liquid with the meat. 

Add the drained beans. Heat together for five minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water to keep it moist but not soupy. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in sour cream and simmer several minutes. Taste for salt at end of cooking and add some if needed. Remove habanero(s). 

The chili is tastiest when made ahead and reheated to serve. 

Sprinkle lightly with crumbled cheese and chopped cilantro for serving.



Greek Salad 

 “Greek” salad with feta cheese is in fact a more general type of salad enjoyed throughout the eastern Mediterranean, from Bulgaria to Turkey to Lebanon as well as in Greece. It was introduced to Americans through Greek restaurants, and thus its common name. Romaine is the most appropriate available lettuce, but other types of loose-leaf lettuce, and even iceberg lettuce, can make a successful salad. In the US, the feta cheese is typically crumbled and sprinkled on top of the salad. In Europe bigger chunks are arranged around the salad for the diner to break up and eat along with the salad. The method I describe here produces the salad familiar to Americans. 

The recipe serves six. 

Vinaigrette (dressing)

1 medium-large clove of garlic

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3/8 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon oregano, crumbled between the fingers

Juice of one lemon

2-1/2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil 

Salad vegetables

2 hearts of romaine lettuce or 1 medium-large head of romaine

1 medium cucumber or 2 small Persian cucumbers

1 small-medium onion, red if possible

3 medium tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups “grape” or cherry tomatoes

4 sprigs flat (“Italian style”) parsley (optional)

1/4 pound feta cheese

20-24 black Greek (e.g., Kalamata) olives

10 small pickled green peppers (“pepperoncini”) or 1/4 cup sliced pickled banana peppers

6-8 anchovy fillets (optional) 

Prepare vinaigrette: Thoroughly crush garlic in a bowl with the salt and sugar, using the back of a spoon. Mix in remaining ingredients. 

Prepare vegetables: Rinse and drain lettuce and tear or cut into 2-inch pieces. Place it in a very large bowl. Peel cucumber only if skin is tough or waxed. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut out seed cavity, unless seeds are very small. Thinly slice cucumber on the diagonal, and add to the bowl. Peel then thinly slice onion lengthwise into thin “julienne” strips or crosswise into rings and add to the bowl. Core then cut tomatoes into chunks (or cut grape or cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise) and add to bowl. Cut leaves off the parsley, if used, and add to bowl. 

Drain feta and either slice it 1/4-inch thick (and cut in half if the pieces are long) or crumble it. Set aside. Drain and set aside the olives, peppers, and anchovies, if used. 

Shortly before serving, add vinaigrette to lettuce mixture in bowl. Toss to moisten thoroughly. Taste a piece of lettuce and, if necessary, add a little salt or vinegar and toss again. When fully seasoned, place the salad mixture on a large platter or wide shallow bowl. Distribute feta slices or sprinkle if crumbled, on salad. Arrange the olives, pickled peppers and, if used, the anchovies on top of the salad, and serve immediately.



Easy-to-make Norwegian Apple Cake

Although incredibly simple and actually low in calories (no oil or shortening), this cake or, more accurately, torte, is a rich-tasting dessert. It is patterned after a recipe from my sister-in-law, Libbet, who learned it in Vermont. While the cake is satisfying alone, I include a recipe for honey-tinged whipped cream for a topping. Good vanilla ice cream also works well.

Made by Christina Dondero
The “cake” will serve six to eight.

With cooking spray or butter, grease a 9-inch pie dish (preferably glass or ceramic) or a spring-form pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 medium-large apples, such as Golden Delicious, Rome, or Braeburn

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, or coarsely chopped pecans

Combine the dry ingredients. Peel and core apples. Cut them into 1/2-inch slices. Mix these into the dry ingredients. Lightly beat egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, and stir them into fruit just until moistened.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Sprinkle with almonds or pecans.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the middle bounces back when you touch it. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.


Honeyed Whipped Cream 

1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons honey (orange blossom is particularly good) 

Combine cream and honey in cold mixing bowl. Beat, scraping bottom of bowl frequently, to mix honey in well, until fluffy and slightly firm.

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