FoodPairing is now 200 times better

I've written about FoodPairing before, which has always seemed like a great and useful kind of site, but I've never used it. As a brief introduction, FoodPairing gives a graphical representation of which foods go well together, and which foods can be substituted for other foods. It is a beautiful site, and suffered from only one flaw, which was that I could never quite understand what the graphs meant. Did this line mean that it was a pairing, and were these other lines substitutions, or did it work the other way around? Would each of these things pair with the other, or was it a one-item-only sort of thing? Very confusing. Now, however, everything is different. The FoodPairing folk have made two changes that have completely revitalized the site and will make it the reference I have always dreamed of. First, they have separated the what fits well with… graphs from the What can replace… graphs. Not having them do double duty makes them so much more readable. Second, and most importantly, they wrote a section on how to use the FoodPairing site and graphs. Instructions make all the difference. So run run run to FoodPairing and learn to use a combination of rosemary, peppermint, and sage to replace basil, or learn that chocolate pairs well with cheese. Run!

TGRWT #13: Chili Mole

Round 13 of TGRWT is Chocolate and Caraway. For various reasons, including the fact that I had recently made Chili, I thought that a Caraway Cocoa Chili would be an interesting. caraway_chili_mole1.jpg Every step of the dish was on the precipice of disaster. I thought that there was way too much caraway, so I compensated with a lot of cocoa, and suddenly I had a mole. Hurray! There was far more chili powder than I could process at once in the blender, so after a bit of an optimistic time overfilling it, I had to redistribute the powdered and unaffected bits of chiles, eventually combining them together once everything was particulated. I went to open the beer and it started foaming everywhere so it spilled all over the kitchen. It took me 30 minutes to discover where the bottle cap disappeared to. Still, after all is said and done, the chili turned out great, and even got my wife's approval. She couldn't taste the caraway individually, but thought all the flavors were balanced quite well. I could certainly taste the caraway, as I had worked with it recently, and it definitely adds a new note to the chili. Probably some sesame would have rounded it out nicely. Ingredients:
  • Chili Powder
    • 3.7 oz. Cumin Seeds, whole, toasted
    • 2.2 oz. Caraway Seeds, whole, toasted
    • 1.5 oz. New Mexico Chile, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips
    • 1.5 oz. Guajillo Chile, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips
    • 6 oz. Pajillo Chile, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips
    • 1.5 oz. Chipotle Grande Chile, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips
    • .5 oz. Garlic Powder
    • .5 oz. Cumin Powder
    • 2.2 oz. Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened
  • Chili
    • 750 ml Beer
    • 30 oz. Tomato Sauce
    • 2 oz. Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened
    • ½ cup Chili Powder
    • ½ cup Masa
    • 2 lb. Lamb, 1" Cubes
    • 1 lb. Beef Chuck, 1" Cubes
    • ¼ cup Vegetable oil
    • 4 medium shallots, sliced
    • Salt, To taste
  • Topping
    • Crème Fraiche
Directions: For the chili powder: In a dry pan, toast the chiles and seeds and let cool. In batches, process the chiles and seeds in a blender until powdered. Combine with the other powders and set aside. For the chili: Toss the meat in half of the vegetable oil to coat. Season liberally with salt. In batches, brown each side in a scorchingly hot dutch oven. Don't catch anything on fire. Set aside. Either in a separate pan or letting the dutch oven cool a bit, sofrito the shallots. Pour the beer into the dutch oven, turn up to high, and deglaze the pan. Add the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 1-1.5 hours. Season with salt. Top with the crème fraiche. Notes: This makes faaaar more chili powder than you'll need for the actual chili. Feel free to cut back significantly or, as I do, jar it up to use later or give away. The beer I used was Mandrin au Sapin. Feel free to use whatever beer makes you happiest. This is not a proper mole. I know this because I really don't know how to make a mole, but I know it's a sauce with chocolate, and so I called it a mole. I believe a proper mole has more fat in it.

They Go Really Well Together 11 Wrap Up: Banana and Cloves has wrapped up its most recently flavor pairing challenge "They Go Really Well Together" (TGRWT) #11: Banana and Cloves. The TGRWT challenges are a general web challenge to create new dishes that use a non-traditional flavor pairing. I have not participated in the TGRWT challenges yet, but they're always fascinating. I wrote about them some in my post on Cooking Creatively. One of the great thing about TGRWT is that you're encouraged to post failures as well as successes, because it's a learning endeavor. We don't really know the best way to pair some of these new flavors, so rather than having to try it all yourself, let others show what they've done and give results. Then you'll know what went too far and what worked out well. As you can imagine, there are more than one banana bread in the bunch. There are also a couple of pork-based dishes. There are some desserts, and there is a martini. If you're looking for inspiration for a dish, try one of these, or try something based on the TGWRT challenges.