Cooking with Help for the Homeless

On a trip to the east coast I was able to lead a cooking session with Help for Homeless, an inspiring organization initiated by a Connecticut school principal and run by high school students. One Tuesday a month, a group of students and a few parents join at a local church kitchen to learn how to cook a dish and prepare a meal for 80. The next night, they serve that dish at a nearby homeless shelter, sharing the meal with up to 80 hungry men.

This month, we made a fall vegetable and turkey chili, along with cheddar scallion cornbread.
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Fall Vegetable and Turkey Chili
Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 pound ground turkey (breast or dark)
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, minced
½ small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced small (optional)
½ bunch kale or swiss chard, washed, tough ribs removed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
1 28-ounce can chopped or crushed tomatoes
1½ cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
Chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
In a medium pot, bring an inch or two of water with a large pinch of salt, to a gentle boil. Add in squash, lower heat and cover to steam for about 5 minutes or until tender. drain and set aside. In large deep pan, bring an inch of water with a large pinch of salt, to a boil. Add in greens and cover; let steam for about 5 minutes or until greens are wilted.

In a separate, large deep pan, heat olive oil in large. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add carrot, large pinch of salt, and spices, and sauté until spices are toasted. Crumble in the ground turkey breast, and sprinkle in the minced bell pepper and cook until the turkey breast is cooked through and becomes white and opaque.

Add the beans and tomatoes to the turkey, and stir gently so as not to break the beans. Carefully stir in squash. Bring to a boil then lower heat and cook, partly covered, over medium-low heat for another 20 minutes. Stir in greens at last minute.

Serve hot, topped with a sprinkling of walnuts and parsley.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen for California Walnuts.

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Cheddar-Scallion Cornbread
Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels along with pulp from the cob
½ cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Generously grease a round 9-inch cake pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Gently fold in the grated cheddar cheese and scallions, mixing until combined.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, corn, eggs, and melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined.
Bake until golden and a tester inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
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