Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Chilli with cornbread muffins

Our boiler is broken. Is there anything more awful? (Why always in a really cold snap? WHY??) The chill in the house has slowed my brain right down, right back past even its most shoddy 2+2=time for a cup of tea calculations. It has done absolutely nothing for my shitty mood these past few days, I can tell you.

My husband is being terrifically sporting about the whole thing. He sees a broken boiler as rather an excitement - time for a vast fire in the sitting room, dust off the blow-heater, micro-manage everyone's wash times so as not to use up the weedy amount of warm water we have via the immersion heater, while our boiler guy sources a vital part for the fucking twatty twathead bastard boiler from, like, MARS, or somewhere.

I, on the other hand, have been moping about in a right old funk complaining about the cold like a really annoying ghost with a drippy nose.

Let's just say this: the highest praise my father can give to a woman is: "We won both wars thanks to girls like you." He has never said this to me.

It doesn't help that I'm having trouble sleeping at the moment. This is a really terrible realisation, but I think I need to do some exercise.

Anyway for the time being, if you'll excuse me, I'll sit the hard work of yet another post out. What?! FFS. I've got a note. Instead the heavy lifting today  has been done by another great gal I met on Twitter called Danielle. She's American but lives in Kent and she's terribly funny. (@pochyemu)
So here we go, Chilli and Cornbread, by Danielle Barton
As a clueless and deluded teenager growing up in small-town America, I decided that by the time I was 25 I was going to be a millionaire and Secretary of State for the U.S. government. Right hand to the president. Swanning around Washington D.C., confident as hell in my power suit and my helmet-esque hair-do. “Anything is possible”, I thought, “seeing as how 25 is forever away and also so old I’ll be practically dead”.

I was such an idiot.

Anyway, I’m 27 now, a graduate who holds two degrees largely to do with minority rights issues in Estonia (always an in-demand subject). Hillary Clinton pipped me to the post for Secretary of State. I live in Kent. Oh, and I’m unemployed with zero millions of dollars in my bank account.


It’s at times like this (times when you’re unemployed and haven’t showered or dressed in, like, maybe 3?, days, eating tuna out of the tin with your fingers because getting a plate seems like SUCH a hassle) when one reaches for comfort food. Quick and easy food that tastes good. The food you grew up on. The food your mother or father made you. You know, when you were young and stupidand living at home rent-free with no responsibilities or worries except how your parents were so mean, keeping you from drinking all your brain cells away and making you apply to universities.

I am no different from you in this respect. Therefore: chilli and cornbread muffins.

Some of you think you know chilli. You do not. You know English chilli, which is generally horrible. Real chilli should be full of recognizable vegetables and soup-like, NEVER SERVED OVER A BAKED POTATO FOR THE LOVE OF MARY. This is my mom’s recipe (or near enough) and it’s good.

Cornbread, I understand, may be new to you. That is a shame because it is God’s own food. It’s bread that tastes like cake that you eat with lashings of butter. It’s amazing (if done right). I normally make it with boxed mix that I bring over in my suitcase, but I’m out and therefore have made it from scratch for the first time ever. This recipe is the real deal and delicious.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
500g mince (can be beef, pork or turkey, depending on your preference and whether you’re watching your weight)
2-3 carrots, cut into small chunks
3 or 4 smaller potatoes, cut into cubes
1 tin sweetcorn
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tins kidney beans
2 tins’-worth of water, or enough to just cover the ingredients
2 packets chilli seasoning (I prefer Old El Paso)

1 In the pot you’ll be cooking in, fry off onions, peppers and mince in oil, draining off any fat that comes off the meat. Add the remaining ingredients and top with water. Simmer 30-40 minutes until veg is cooked through, then add spice mix and simmer for another 15-20 minutes to combine the flavours. Serve in a BOWL like SOUP, not over a potato. Potatoes already inside, see?

Honey Cornbread Muffins

(Recipe adapted from one on RealSimple.com, which has good American recipes)

4 tbsp unsalted melted butter, as well as some to grease the tin
160g plain flour
125g course cornmeal [No idea where to find this... Waitrose? – E]
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
280ml buttermilk (280ml whole milk plus one tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar, left 5 minutes on the side to curdle and thicken)
80ml runny honey

1 Heat oven to 180C. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. In a bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and soda. Whisk in eggs, buttermilk, honey and melted butter. Combine (mix will be a bit lumpy, just try to break down any big clumps). Pour batter into muffin cups until nearish the top and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the inside is just cooked through when a toothpick is inserted into the centre.


  1. I got my cornmeal at Tesco (as far as I'm aware it's just polenta).

    - Danielle

  2. Coarse cornmeal on Amazon. Possibly also W'rose though never seen it there. Mind you, never looked. I wonder if its the same as polenta - isn't that made of corn?

    Boilers are the spawn of the devil except when they do work and then they're just ok and doing what they're paid to do anyway.

  3. Boilers just seem to know when the cold snaps are coming and then decide to go on strike. I have been there myself....now have 365 days of the year cover!
    Eat lots of the chilli with extra chopped chillies on it to warm up x

  4. I have Grits so I can make the cornbread!

  5. I am loving Esther's new plan of getting other people to do her work for her. My middle daughter, Tilly, is a mini-Esther in the making I suspect. She already has developed a habit of saying things like "Boys, I have a great plan. Why don't you just..." before sneaking off to let them get in trouble while she looks angelic in the corner. She is 5.

    I have a problem with Chilli in that its either too hot or not enough, never just right. This does sound delish tho. x

  6. I make my own cornbread and muffins. Cornmeal/polenta available at Asian/African/Asian supermarkets very cheaply. It can be made without the sweetener as well. The bread tastes really good made in a cast iron skillet with melted bacon grease as the fat. Also very good with bowls of hot cooked beans.

  7. apparently:

    Great recipe.

  8. Mmmm. I like shoving a load of strong cheddar in my corn bread - cheesy cornbread with a dusting of chilli flakes. My boiler may be working, but do I have to have an excuse?

  9. Loving your bad mood and the necessary twatty swearing and stomping to show you really are in a bad mood (has to be done). My husband would point his finger at me and say you do that if I was to show him your post - I won't show him naturally or perhaps I will, just to make him smile. And yes I want to try the cornbread.

  10. This chilli recipe looks great! Although it's summer here in Aus definately one to keep up my sleeve! Thanks!

  11. Sorry to be all 'meh' but isn't this just chilli out a packet?

  12. I love chilli but you can't tell us "you don't know chilli" and then give us a recipe that includes "chilli seasoning"!

    Old El Paso probably has a different recipe over here anyway.

  13. Well, most chillies do use some sort of chilli seasoning.if you're too grand for old el paso chilli seasoning you could use chipotle paste instead. Purchasable from Waitrose.

  14. Obviously chilli needs seasoning! I was just expecting to be told to do stuff with cumin, paprika, celery seeds, actual chillies, cocoa, that kind of thing rather than a packet of stuff.

  15. (all of those are also available from Waitrose)

  16. Charlie if you're looking for that kind of authenticity you're really barking up the wrong blog

    1. Authentic American chilli? Trust me...authentic home cooks in America use store bought spice mixes... The outcome is authentic as its a recipe that has been changed to suit American tastes.

      take the bacon sandwich. If you were trying to explain how to make an authentic British bacon sandwich you would probably include HP sauce somewhere along the way.

  17. Saw a great recipe today: cornbread cupcake with blue cheese frosting and a chicken wing stuck right dab in the center. :)

    Judith de Silverlake

  18. I had Cornbread at my first ever American Thanksgiving. It was disgusting...also NOTHING like this - dry yellow bread with chunks of sweetcorn in it.

    This looks delicious though, must give it a try and impress American boyfriend...

  19. Haha, I'm not really into authenticity, I'd rather things were just tasty, it's the incongruousness of "you don't know chilli" followed by "packet mix" that I find funny.

  20. Mmmm...if I had the gas money, I'd be back to Ohio for a bowl of my mom's right now. That recipe looks delicious. What's this nonsense about chili over a potato? It's got to be in a bowl with some buttered cornbread on the side.

  21. Charlie - You could do a whole spices combination thing and make a huge jar to last you through many, many pots of chilli....but honestly, who has the time?

  22. Ok that's enough about the packet mix thing now

  23. Shutting up as instructed :D

  24. Cornbread made from scratch with stilton + eaten warm... yummy!!