I almost wimped out on my first official DB challenge. When they posted that it was going to be French bread I was OK with it. Until I read the 7 pages of instructions! Talk about time consuming. But this last weekend was a big storm and pretty much all of town was hunkering down at their homes expecting huge winds, lots of rain, cold, and power outages. I decided it was a cooking weekend. I made the chili, the chess pie, the cheese bread, and for the cheese bread I used.... the DB French bread.

Putting together the recipe was not that big of a deal. The big deal was the waiting for the triple rises of the bread dough and the fact that my house is cold. The first rise takes at least three hours. Half way through I realized my cold house wasn't cutting it. I did one of the alternatives and plopped the bowl on top of a heating pad and that made all the difference.

The second rise was just the same, except it was during this time that I had read about the online PBS videos showing how to make the bread. Wish I had seen it earlier. It showed how much I should have kneaded the bread and manipulated it to get the best gluten and yeast action. Oh well - at least my bread was rising.

Finally I cut my dough to make two batards and then they had to rise. But I faced a cold kitchen and they didn't budge. So I grabbed a space heater and pointed it at the loaves and that helped.

So you can see my final product above - the better of my two batards. (I wish I could take nicer pictures like other blogs, but I have crappy lighting in my house and end up with flash pictures.) It was a good challenge because I had never made bread from scratch before. But the likelihood of me doing it again when it is so easy to buy a loaf from Il Fornaio? Highly unlikely.

The DB challenges are done by the order you sign up. At that rate it will be 2015 before I get to choose the challenge. But I already know what I want to do, a Filipino dessert. Not telling what it is - but it would be a great challenge for everyone.

The recipe for the challenge is at The Sour Dough.

Most people eat cornbread with their chili. My family was not into cornbread. When I grew up, mom made broiled cheesey onion bread. Now, of course, it's the only way I can really enjoy my chili.

1/2 c mayonnaise
1 onion, chopped
2 t Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 loaf of french bread

Mix all ingredients together. Turn on oven broiler. Slice bread in half lengthwise. Spread mixture onto both sides of bread. Place bread, spread side up, onto baking sheet and place a couple of inches under broiler. Broil until bread is bubbly, dark golden brown. Remove. Let cool slightly. Slice carefully with serrated bread knife. Enjoy!

I've always taken the easy route of using chili mixes. This recipe has intrigued me for some time because of the variety of ingredients - coffee, beer, wasabi, etc. The longest part of this recipe was running around getting the ingredients. I don't drink coffee, so I bought a cup at the corner store. I don't drink alcohol and the stores were not letting me buy a single bottle of dark beer. I ended up using Celebration Ale that someone had left at my house. I had to go to two stores to get the three kinds of peppers. I was also leery of the amount of chilis in it. I put in 1.5 Anaheim, the Habanero, and half of the Serrano and tasted it. It seemed pretty spicy, so I left out the other halves. At the end though, I probably could have/should have left them in. After simmering all day in the crockpot, the flavors had really blended together and mellowed out. I don't have palate able to really pull apart flavors, so I cannot say that I tasted one thing or another, like some people have in the allrecipes.com reviews. I did use 2 cans of pintos and 1 of kidney because I prefer the pintos. I also drained the beans because I wanted a thicker consistency and didn't want to add more liquid. All in all it was a nice chili - well flavored, nice consistency, great ratio of beans/meat. Is it great enough for me to make this much effort vs. the chili mixes? Don't think so.

from allrecipes.com
Washabinaros Chili
Submitted by: Aaron Christophersen
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 95 members Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours Ready In: 3 Hours 20 Minutes

4 tablespoons vegetable oil,
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
1 cup strong brewed coffee
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
3 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
2 Anaheim chile peppers, chopped
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 habanero pepper, sliced

1. Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot and place the pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions, garlic, beef and sausage until meats are browned. Pour in the tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and broth. Season with chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, cayenne, coriander, salt and wasabi. Stir in one can of beans, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat remaining oil. Cook Anaheim, serrano and habanero peppers in oil until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir into the pot and simmer 2 hours.
3. Stir in remaining 2 cans of beans and cook 45 minutes more.