Yesterday was our official start date for registration for our online chiles class. Taking the class will definitely enlighten you to all the marvelous and mysterious aspects of chiles. They have the ability to excite you, reform you and extend your life. Sounds absurd perhaps--but it is true. The Ancients knew how important chiles were to health. In fact in China, chiles were regarded only as a pharmaceutical, not as a spice or a food until the mid twentieth century. You may be thinking, how come there were the hot and spicy dishes from Mongolia, Szechwan and Hunan area. That is because they were in the far Northeast of China in the Gobi dessert, which was sparsely populated and impossible to police for chiles. Also, they were on the direct route from the Americas where all chiles emanated.
We will have lots of fun with the class. The maximum number of registrants will be 20, allowing for a variety of points of view and small enough to learn about each other. After the first few get acquainted and fact filled classes, we will be cooking. Every three, four or five days--depending on the amount of cooking involved, there will be Lectures released--allowing for the time to get the groceries and the cooking done. There is no pressure--if you fall behind or are out of town, etc. We will keep all of the released lectures available to you all during the class and one month after the class ends. The only disadvantage of falling behind is that you will not be as caught up or knowledgeable as your classmates for forums where everyone can contribute.
The class will convene September 15 and prior to that you will receive an assortment of our chiles and spices, my comprehensive cookbook, "Jane Butel's Southwestern Kitchen" and my DVD about making chili.
An exciting and rewarding finale of the class is that I will guide you if you need it to create your very own recipes. And at the very end, you will receive a diploma.
Here's a fun Tex-Mex recipe using chiles--
TEXAS - STYLE TAMALE PIE
This typically Texas-style casserole dish is a favorite for entertaining because it can be made well ahead of time—two to three days—and then baked just before serving time. It combines the spicy, savory flavors of Southwestern cooking and highlights three popular Tex-Mex ingredients: chili, corn and cheese. You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste and to use what you have on hand. Add a green salad such as a Spinach Mango Salad with Lemony Mustard Dressing, recipe found on page 112 for those of you who have my Chili Madness cookbook, 2nd edition and perhaps the Garlic Sticks, recipe page 146 and you have a very tasty meal.
Yield: Serves 4
1 cup white, yellow, or blue corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
2 cups chili, preferably beef
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1 tomato, stemmed and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced pimiento stuffed green olives
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese combination, or to taste
1. Place 3 cups of water and the salt in a large saucepan over high heat. In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of water with the cornmeal. When the salted water boils, gradually pour in the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring often, until thick, about 30 minutes over low heat. Meanwhile, butter a 3-quart casserole.
2. While the cooked cornmeal is still warm, spread it over the bottom and sides of the casserole, smoothing it out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. If baking immediately, preheat the oven to 350 F or if delaying the baking, preheat before baking.
3. Spread the chili over the cornmeal on the bottom of the pan, then add the remaining ingredients in layers, ending with the cheese. Bake until the crust is crispy, and lightly browned, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Reprinted with permission from Chili Madness, 2nd edition.