Warm, Inside and Out

In which we put together our own midwinter repast.

It’s time to sweeten in-season bitter greens with citrus, to connect with that neighbor and his deer haunch in his freezer, to spice up an old favorite and tart up another. Any excuse to celebrate—indoors or out—will do.

Venison Chili

Serves 10+

(Better if made one day ahead so flavors mingle)

1 16-ounce bag kidney beans

3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 pounds venison, coarse-ground for chili

3 onions, cut in medium dice

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 each red, yellow and green bell pepper,

cut in medium dice

1 long green chili pepper, whole (or substitute Anaheim, poblano, jalapeño or other pepper, depending on

desired heat)

1 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes

1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 can water

2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon chipotle pepper

salt to taste (3 or 4 tablespoons at least)

pepper to taste

Cook beans to three-quarters done, and set aside. In a large, oven-proof pot, brown the meat in the vegetable oil, then strain and set aside . Sautée onion, garlic and bell peppers until tender. Add spices and sautée for two or three minutes. Return meat to pan and stir. Add the tomatoes, hot pepper and liquid, then add the beans. Stir until hot, then put in a 300-degree oven for an hour-and-a-half. Afterward, correct seasoning if necessary.

Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, toasted pine nuts, grated cheese, diced peppers, green onions, or any favorite chili garnishes.

Deviled Eggs With Caper Berries

15 eggs

1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 splash Worcestershire sauce

1⁄4 cup sour cream

salt and pepper to taste

Spanish caper berries

Hard-boil, chill and peel the eggs. Slice them vertically, carefully remove yolks, and arrange the whites on a platter. In a food processor, mix the mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sour cream, salt and pepper; adjust seasoning to taste. Spoon or pipe the mixture into the cooked eggs. Garnish with caper berries, either sliced and placed on top or left whole and served on the side.

Jalapeño Jack Cornbread

Note: Double this for that group of 10.

3⁄4 cup cornmeal

1 1⁄4 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 1⁄4 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1⁄4 cup butter

1 cup shredded jalapeño jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients (except for the butter). Melt the butter. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, then add the melted butter. Fold in the cheese. Bake at 400 degrees in your favorite pan—cast iron skillet, loaf pan, muffin tin—for 10 to12 minutes.

Escarole Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

2 oranges

2 tangerines

2 red grapefruits

2 white grapefruits

3 tablespoons lemon olive oil

3 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar

salt

pepper, fresh-ground

1 shallot, finely diced

2 heads escarole

generous handful Frisée (curly chickory)

generous handful red mustard greens

1 small head radicchio

Section the citrus, and squeeze the juice from the center of each fruit, all into one bowl. For the dressing, in a small bowl, mix 1⁄2 cup of the citrus juice with the lemon olive oil, rice vinegar, about a tablespoon of the shallot, a couple pinches of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. Arrange the greens on plates, arrange some wedges of fruit on top, and, just before serving, drizzle with the dressing.

Apple Cider Hooch

64 ounces good-quality apple cider

1⁄2 cup good-quality dark rum

1 stick cinnamon

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Heat slowly over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until warm.

Marzipan Fruitcake

Makes three 8≈4≈3-inch loaves.

1 pound butter

1 1⁄4 sugar

9 whole eggs

1 1⁄4 pounds flour

1 pound currants

1 pound raisins

1⁄4 pound whole almonds

1⁄4 pound mixed peel

1⁄4 teaspoon each cloves, nutmeg and ginger

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1⁄4 pounds marzipan (almond paste) in five 5-ounce logs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together. When well mixed, add the eggs slowly. Sift the flour and other dry ingredients. Fold the fruit and nuts into the egg mix and add the dry ingredients, ensuring even distribution of all. Line the loaf pans with greased baking paper, and fill with the batter, placing a sausage-shaped log of marzipan through the middle. Bake for 1 1⁄2 hours. Allow to cool before serving.

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