Looking for cooks & recipes

Can you suggest a good home cook to be featured in this column?

Looking for a recipe or have one to share?

Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at food@postandcourier.com or 937-4886.

(If emailing about a home cook, please include their name, contact information and a brief description of their cooking talent.)

My version of a tough position to be in: Caught between a cast-iron pan and a panini press. Let me explain the dilemma.

In the digital age, as society young and old has come to fully embrace the Internet, its search capabilities and immediate results, the need for a newspaper column like this one to seek and obtain recipes for readers is fading. In the 10 years I have been writing it, I'm sure you have noticed that requests and recipes have diminished over time.

On the other hand, your appetite for reading a food column on Sundays seems to be as healthy as ever. Almost all of the correspondence I get is positive, with comments such as "The recipes are the first thing I read in the paper!" or "Keep up the good work; we love the column."

Naturally, I do strive to write a column that will be interesting, informative, useful and entertaining. But I'm not egocentric enough to believe that readers are hanging on my every word. I think they just love reading and thinking about food, especially if it's local, and this column fulfills that pleasure, as it did when Ann Thrash (then Burger), Connie Hawkins and Charlotte Walker penned it in years past.

So, with the arrival of the new year, we would like to try a new tack. It combines what the column is now with a popular feature that we have done off-and-on in prior years.

We'll still welcome recipe requests anytime, and do our best to gather responses. This function doesn't go away at all. I look at the people who answer the requests with their recipes as a giant community "test kitchen." Usually, they offer recipes they have tried and liked and often have tweaked for better results. Some of the recipes are family heirlooms. That's pretty cool.

But in addition, the column will highlight a good home cook from the Lowcountry and include a recipe or two from him or her.

Readers' help on this is critical, as we'll need you to suggest the names of people you know - family and friends, young and old and in between - who have a way with food. And we'll need a steady supply of them for the foreseeable future, so please don't hesitate to recommend a person at any time.

At times, you might see the column's topic devoted to something else, such as a new community cookbook or a special tea room dessert. But it will be relevant to local food in some way.

Let's see how this goes, but I am really excited for a fresh start in 2014, and hope you will be, too.

Everything but the ...

A friend who is going meatless in 2014 asked for good vegetarian chili recipes to jump-start the new diet.

We heard from longtime reader Dot Glover of Adams Run. She writes, "Here's a vegetarian chili recipe my daughter developed several years ago because our church starts the new year off with a corporate Daniel Fast. I've added a few touches from my favorite recipes that call for hamburger meat. The veggie burgers are much easier and no one can tell it isn't meat."

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon diced garlic

1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 (16-ounce) cans beans, drained (can use black, Northern, pinto, or light or dark red kidney)

1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Hot sauce to taste

3 Boca brand vegan burgers, crumbled (or Boca or Morning Star crumbles)

Shredded cheddar cheese and chips for serving

Directions

In large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion, green pepper and diced garlic until vegetables soften. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, the beans of choice, and the corn.

Stir in the chili powder and cumin. Add salt to taste if needed. Add the onion and garlic powders if using, and the hot sauce to taste. Stir in the crumbled vegan burgers. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 11/2 hours.

Alternatively, this chili can be cooked in a slow cooker. Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Sprinkle servings with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serve with chips or crackers of your choice.

Notes: For a thicker stew, mix 1 tablespoon cornmeal with a small amount of water and stir into the mixture until smooth the last few minutes of cooking. "This doesn't work well for me when I use the Crock-Pot, however," Dot advises. Also, she says, "Honan garlic sauce gives a great kick to this chili."

I also spotted a chili recipe I want to try in the newly published "The Fat Chance Cookbook" that arrived in the office at year's end. In the past few years, I have become a big fan of quinoa ("keen-wah"), the grainlike, super-seed from South America, and plan on collecting more recipes that use it, like this one:

Quinoa and Vegetable Chili

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup onion, peeled and chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 cups red bell peppers chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups zucchini chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika

2 teaspoons salt

11/2 cups water

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, or 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

4 cups cooked beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto, black or kidney beans

Directions

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add the onion, carrots and celery; saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Saute for 2 more minutes. Add the bell peppers and zucchini and saute for 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir in the chili powder, cumin and paprika, Stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add the salt, water, stock, quinoa, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover the pot and let simmer until the quinoa is tender, 20 minutes.

Variations

Replace the quinoa with 1 cup cooked barley or 1 cup of cooked brown rice.

Add 1 pound ground cooked turkey or beef.

Add cheese, sour cream.

Per 11/2-cup serving: Calories 230, calories from fat 70, total fat 8g, saturated fat 1g, trans fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 960mg, carbohydrates 34g, dietary fiber 11g, sugars 5g.

Adapted from "The Fat Chance Cookbook" by Robert H. Lustig (Hudson Street Press, $26.95).

Who's got the recipe?

Pat Frey writes: "For some years I have enjoyed a Green Tomato Chutney put out under the Rockland Plantation label. I have not been able to find it for a few years now, and the last of my hoarded supply is almost gone. This is a very tasty, salt-free sauce for bland meats, such pork and chicken. I'd be very happy if any of your readers could come up with a recipe."