Cambrian: Opinion

Culinary Corner: Secret ingredient gives chili extra thickness

The adage said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Tish Rogers took that one step further when preparing dessert for an Italianthemed potluck at the home of our friend Betty Swierk. As Tish prepared tiramisu, she found she lacked some key ingredients, so morphed the dish into this instead:

Fresh Berry Tiramisu

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1 cup mixed raspberries and blackberries

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tblsp. Framboise berry liqueur

1-1/2 cups Mascarpone cheese, room temp

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1-1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped until stiff, not dry

24 ladyfinger cookies

Semi-sweet chocolate, shaved or in curls as garnish

Blend berries, two tablespoons liqueur and sugar in a blender or food processor. Reserve 3/4 cup and pour the remainder into a pie plate or shallow dish.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the remaining tablespoon of liqueur, mascarpone and powdered sugar. Carefully fold in one-third of the whipped cream at a time to incorporate with the cheese mixture.

Trim the ladyfingers to fit in two rows into the bottom of an 8-by 8-by 2-inch pan. Dip each ladyfinger in the berry mix in the pie plate to coat. Lay the first layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the reserved berry mixture over the ladyfingers. Cover with half the cheese/cream mixture.

Layer with remaining ladyfingers, berry mix and then cheese/cream. Shave chocolate over the top and chill for at least four hours. Makes nine servings.

We’ve had some unique chili recipes served up at the Cambria Cook-Off, and one submitted from Memphis, Tenn. Now here comes one from Janet Ericson in Atlanta, Ga.! Include the unusual ingredient, and see how it adds to the consistency and depth of flavor.

Pumpkin Chili

2 lbs. lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

10 cloves garlic, minced

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained

15-oz can pinto beans, drained

1 46-oz can tomato juice

1 28-oz. can stewed tomatoes in juice

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tblsp. chili powder

1 tblsp. minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

(Cornbread or warm tortillas are optional.)

Brown meat in a Dutch oven or large stew/soup pot over medium heat; drain. Stir in onion and garlic and cook five minutes longer. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for an hour. Serve with cornbread or warm tortillas.

Janet adds, “I got this recipe from a friend, who credits Amanda Johnson Pettit. The chili is thick and rich because of the addition of pumpkin, and has a smoky sweet flavor from the chipotle, lots of garlic, brown sugar and spices. It’s unusual, but very delicious! Be careful not to use Vidalia or other sweet onions, or it may become too sweet.”

Because of the quantity, it kept Janet’s 19-year-old son, Connor, “very happy for several days.” If not serving a college freshman or a crowd, you may wish to cool and reserve some in zipping bags to freeze for later.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Send your unique recipes to her c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cam