So Spring teased us last week with its beautiful sunshine and warmth. I proudly threw my boots and down coat into the closet, and unregretfully whispered, "Good riddance."
But, with the weekend a cold breeze re-entered Tallinn along with the occasional snow flurry. And, I begrudgingly can be seen around town, once again, in my lined boots and black puffy coat.
So, to celebrate the revival of winter, I will share one of my favorite cold-weather meals: turkey chili. When I eat this alone, I keep it as the healthy meal it is.
But, when I want to impress my Estonian friends with a true American meal, I also bake cornbread muffins- the classic companion for a good bowl of piping hot chili.
On Sunday, I invited some of my Estonian friends over for a taste-test. And, as you can see from the pictures...they LOVED it (or at least acted like they did to not offend my sensitive soul).
This is what heaven in your mouth looks like, ladies and gentlemen!
So, whether you live in America or Estonia, this is a great recipe that I always receive quite a few compliments on.
Ground Turkey Chili
4 Tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin- cold pressed if possible)
2 bell peppers (I like to mix colors - 1 green/ 1 red; 1 red/ 1 orange) - diced
1 large onion - diced
3 cloves of garlic- minced
2 cans of diced tomatoes in their juice (eesti keeles- purustatud tomatid)
1 can of red kidney beans (eesti keeles- punased aedoad)
1.5 cups of water
1 jar of salsa (I love this organic version found at Rimi Supermarket)
1 package of ground turkey BREAST (eesti keeles- hakitud kalkuni rinnaliha)
**Make sure you are using breast meat (in Estonia, there are two types of ground turkey- white and dark meat. Be sure you buy "rinnaliha." If you use the dark meat, it is nearly as fatty as beef).
Salt- 2 tsp
Fresh Ground Pepper
Ground Mild Chili Powder
***In Tallinn, there are only a few stores that sell cumin in its ground form and also a mild chili powder (instead of the bright red, super spicy stuff). I find both spices at Marks & Spencer store at Kristiine or Rocca al Mare shopping centers.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pan. (Don't heat it too hot or your ruin the olive oil's healthy properties). Sauté the minced garlic, diced onion, bell peppers, and ground turkey until meat is cooked-through and vegetables are soft.
Then add diced tomatoes (with all juice), kidney beans (with all juice) and 1 can or approximately 1.5 cups of water.
Now it's time to add the spices, salt and pepper that make all the difference :) I have given approximate measurements, but I always taste and add more or less spice according to our family's preference.
Cover with a lid and let simmer on low heat (and allow all spices to absorb) for a good 20 or 30 minutes.
When I serve this, I always add bowls of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese to the table. These can be added into the soup according to each person's liking. Chopped avocado can also make a nice garnish for the soup.
In Estonia, I find cheddar cheese in the specialty cheese cases at Rimi or Solaris. It is a white cheddar (rather than the orange cheddar of America), but it still tastes great.
Here is a brand I often use:
Now, if you really want to impress your guests and not worry about adding on a few extra muffins around the hips, you can make corn bread muffins!
Corn Bread Muffins
1 cup all-purpose white flour (eesti keeles - nisujahu)
***Not all white flours in Estonia perform like our American all-purpose flour. This is a safe one I have tried and tested!
1 cup yellow cornmeal (eesti keeles- maisi-tang)
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
(I love this one from Marks & Spencer - mostly because of the larger/ solid packaging)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (a good substitute found in Estonia - Keefir)
1/2 cup butter, melted
***In Tallinn, I use this butter that is salted (get red-not green version- that says "Extrasaltat) - most Estonian butters are not, while most American recipes require salted butter.
1 Large egg, beaten
***Most eggs in Estonia are a size Medium according to American standards, but I have been able to find Large size eggs at Rimi Supermarket
*** I like this organic version I found at BioMarket in Solaris.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius (400 degrees F).
Grease muffin tin using coconut oil so that muffins do not stick after baked (or use muffin paper cup liners). Coconut oil is a healthier oil to use.
Mix dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt) together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients (buttermilk, egg, honey, melted butter) to dry ingredients and mix well.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Cook in preheated muffin until toothpick inserted in middle of muffin comes out clean (12 - 15 minutes).
I like to serve these hot with some butter! These are a very American dish, and very delicious. Although it may be a strange taste for Europeans, give them a try. Nick even likes to crumble them into his chili!
And the good thing about chili- it tastes even better the second day after the spices have really set in. So, this is perfect for leftovers.
Until next time, stay warm out there. Spring is coming!