Thursday, December 28, 2006

What is it about a stormy day, trapped at home, that brings out your inner junk food cravings? It's like maybe you won't survive the storm so you might as well live it up and eat anything and everything you normally avoid -- like a pan of homemade fudge or a huge bowl of Frito pie.
With the snow peppering down today, my thoughts are turning to doing some cooking and eating on the weekend if, indeed, we get stuck in another blizzard like last week. How about you?
I'll start by making an easy five minute fudge (recipe below) in the morning so it can be cool enough to slice by early afternoon. We'll set up the Monopoly board, pop up a big bowl of salty popcorn and wash down the fudge and popcorn with diet soda. Why diet soda? It's a little nod to controlling the bratty inner junk food freak's calorie count. By late afternoon the crash from the sugar rush is the perfect excuse to take a nap and forgive myself for selling off Park Place - and eating like a fool.
After a little snooze it's time to hit the kitchen to whip up a big pot of "Gordon's Chili," (recipe follows) the best base for Frito pie on earth. It's a recipe from a 2002 March issue of Saveur magazine.
If either of these ideas appeal to your naughty-snacky-inner-junk-food eater, you'd better get to a grocery store NOW, while there's still some food left on the shelves. And, if you do try these recipes let me know what you think of them. Or, if you have other closet junk food stories let me know those, too.

2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoong salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, vanilla, and nuts. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour into an 8-inch square buttered pan and cool. Cut fudge into squares.

Yield: 8 servings
4 pounds boneless beef chuck, coarsely ground or finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups homemade or canned tomato sauce
2/3 cup ground ancho chiles
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt to taste
About 5 cups water
2 tablespoons masa harina
1/3 cup warm water
Heat a large enameled cast-iron casserole or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-10 minutes. Add onions, garlic, tomato sauce, chilies, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne and salt to taste and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover meat by 1/2 inch (about 5 cups), increase hit to high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Put masa harina into small bowl and add 1/3 cup warm water, stirring until smooth. Add moistened masa to chili, stirring until well combined. Continue cooking chili over medium-low heat until meat is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes more. Adjust seasonings. If desired, use chili to make Frito Pie: Slit open a bag of Fritos (or another brand) corn chips, spoon warm chili over chips, and sprinkle with chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese.

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