UPCOMING: Austin Kosher Chili Cookoff comes back for 8th year

pot of chiliYes, Texas is known for its chili…but with the pork that’s so often a part local cook-off recipes, people who choose to skip out on that particular beast for religious or health reasons have been kind of left out of the fun.  The pork meant Jews, Muslims and others couldn’t sample cook-off chili offerings.

Not so at the annual JCC Kosher Chili Cookoff! February 10th of this year  will be the 8th  year for the pork-free zone in Texas chili, held at Austin’s JCC campus.

Contestants can choose to enter the meat or the vegetarian division. And to keep everything truly Kosher, the meat division entry fee includes certified Kosher meat, as well as access to all needed cooking utensils.

According to Amy Kritzer, The Austin Jewish Outlook’s food writer,  the event was started by the grandfather of this year’s event chair Jerrod Kogut.   This year’s cook-off also includes arts and crafts, kids activities, and great food, and promises to be a full day of fun for families. 

The competition and the event are open to the public. Entry fees for a meat-chili team of 4 are $250, with meat provided.  Vegetarian teams have an entry fee of $125 (and yes, I will be there sampling those veggie chilis!)

Not ready to cook? Admission the event for everyone else is $12 for adults, $10 for students and free for kids under 4 (or over 65, for the young at heart!)

Sign your team up at the event website, or contact Jerrod for more information at KosherChiliAustin@gmail.com . Registration closes February 1st.

So what are you making with your Thanksgiving leftovers, Austin?

Southwestern corn chowder and spiced sweet potato souffle with stuffing crust

This is another one of those off-topic posts (I’m thinking of making them a regular feature on Fridays, so I can share the rest of the Austin experience with y’all.)

Today’s off-off-topic (kind of like off-off-Broadway but without the pretentious audiences) is a “What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers” cook-off on Google Plus.  There was three of competing, plus an awesome judge and timekeeper (sucking up?  You bet!) and a fun audience.

The challenge?  Come up with a creative way to use Thanksgiving leftovers to make a tasty Black Friday meal.  And we all jumped right into the challenge.  We each cooked in our own kitchens, and shared the event as a live Google Hang Out.

The first competitor was Mary Helen Leonard of Mary Makes Dinner. She crafted her Thanksgiving leftovers into a tempting-looking Turkey Day pizza.

The second competitor was Amy Kritzer from Kosher food blog What Jew Wanna Eat and a series of regular cooking demonstrations from Google Austin.  She turned her Thanksgiving ingredients into a delicious looking Thanksgiving Benedict.

My creations were a bit different.  Because we are vegetarians (or at least 2/3 of the household is; my husband eats, well, pretty much everything!) , I skipped over the turkey and went right for the leftover veggies and stuffing.

And because we’re living in Austin, I opted for a local flavor, too.  I started with a Southwest Corn Chowder, full of chopped veggies from the vegetable tray, corn, mashed potatoes and an array of smoky spices.  The soup was finished with a dash of cream, and garnished with fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of Mexican cheese.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

I also made a dish with leftover sweet potato casserole and stuffing, combining the sweet with heat by adding cayanne, San Antonio Chili Powder,  a touch of garlic and some hot Paprika to the potatoes and then whipping them with eggs and egg whites.  That became the soufflé to top a crust made of twice-baked stuffing baked in muffin cups.

Sweet potato souffle on a stuffing crust

I was going crazy getting ready for the event, but I had so much fun doing it!  If you want to see the video, check it out on Google+.  And don’t forget to vote for your favorite chef!  There are prizes afoot, so click here to pick your number one choice! 

After Thanksgiving Cook-Off