Carrie's Kitchen: 'Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue and Vice'

It’s the week before school starts, so I’m back with another cookbook review. This week, I pored through Jessica Seinfeld’s “Food Swings.” The subtitle is “125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue and Vice,” which is what got me to pick up the book, because that’s kind of how I approach eating as well.

First off, who is Jessica Seinfeld? If you guessed the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, you’re right. In one of her one-page essays, she addresses that she realizes people might write her off for being a celebrity’s wife and not a professional chef, but that she has spent her whole life learning to cook both through necessity, in her family with her single mom, and then as a way to make money through high school and college. She says she tries to write for “those who sometimes cook just for the joy of it, but more often cook because they have to put food on the table.” I feel like that’s probably 90 percent of us out there.

There are two main sections, virtue and vice, and three categories of food within each: breakfast, mealtime and dessert. I’ll admit, the majority of my favorite recipes in the book came from the vice side, but a lot of the virtuous recipes looked pretty good too, and even simple: strawberry and avocado on whole-grain toast (a breakfast combination I wouldn’t have thought of) or “kabbouleh,” which is her version of tabbouleh with kale. There’s also a lot of meat in the virtue side, because as she writes, if you’re not satisfied after a meal, you’re going to looking for calories in all the wrong places.

So for today’s recipes, I chose one from the virtuous side: chili with quinoa (and plenty of beans and no meat); and two from the vice side: crispy chorizo rice with crispy eggs and red wine and shallot beef stew. I liked the idea of a very non-breakfasty breakfast, with leftover white rice, crisped up in chorizo fat, then eaten with crispy fried eggs. And the beef stew, what can I say — I’m looking ahead to new recipes for the fall.

So if you want to look at a cook book with a little bit of everything — healthy and indulgent, fancy and practical — check this book at the library too.


Quinoa chili that is not silly

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup quinoa

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes, until softened.

Add the bell peppers and the sweet potatoes to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and break them up with a spoon. Add the beans, vinegar, salt, pepper and 2 cups water.

Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa and sweet potatoes are tender. If the chili becomes too thick, you can add another ½ cup or so of water. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Crispy chorizo rice with crispy eggs

1 8-inch piece Spanish (dry-cured) chorizo (about 4 ounces)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups cooked and cooled white rice (great for leftover rice)

3 scallions (white and green parts), sliced, plus more for serving

4 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the crispy rice: Slice the chorizo lengthwise in half, then slice it crosswise into thin half-moons. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until the chorizo starts to brown. Stir in the rice and scallions and spread into an even layer. Let cook, untouched, for 7 to 8 minutes, until the underside is crisp.

To make the eggs, in another medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, spacing them apart as well as you can, and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the whites are set and crisp around the edges.

Divide the rice among plates and top with the eggs. Sprinkle with some more scallions and season the eggs with salt and pepper.

Red wine and shallot beef stew

2 ½ pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-imnch cubes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups dry red wine, such as pinot noir or Chianti

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

8 shallots

2 dried bay leaves

1 pound medium carrots (about 8), halved crosswise and lengthwise

1 ½ pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 6), quartered

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven with the rack in the middle to 300 degrees.

Season the meat with the salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the meat with the flour, shaking off the excess.

In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the meat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until a dark crust forms. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat, adding more oil as necessary to the pot, and transfer to the plate.

Turn off the heat and add the tomato paste to the pot and stir for 30 seconds to let it cook in the residual heat. Add the red wine, tomatoes, and 1 cup water. Turn the heat on to medium-high and let the mixture come to a boil while breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Add the shallots and bay leaves. Return the meat and the accumulated juices back to the pot. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven.

Roast for 2 hours, or until the meat is just tender. Nestle in the carrots and potatoes, cover, and return to the oven for 1 hour more, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat is fork-tender. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Carrie Ann Knauer writes from Westminster. Contact her at [email protected]

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