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Archive for the ‘pepper’ Category

Pear Patina

A small group of friends gathers now and then, on a rotation of residence basis, to toast a toast and marvel at each others themed cooking. You might remember a colourful affair a while back. We’ve had a lemon theme and a Childhood Memories evening, where we reminisced about such delights as Three Bean Salad, Tuna Casserole, Mac ‘n Cheese and Pineapple Upside-down Cake. The latest exploration was for Roman Food, and my, did we eat like Caesars, one and all. With stuffed grape leaves, and large, fragrantly cooked dishes of lentils and beans and cauliflower we stuffed ourselves just short of, well, you know…

A little space was left, thankfully, for dessert. Pear Patina, voila. Simply put, a sublime, slightly fragrant and utterly pear-y baked custard served with a white wine honey sauce. Perhaps this is what the Hun was looking for on his little trip through Rome? Thank goodness something is helping me get out of my cooking funk. The fresh, sweet taste of pears in this velvety concoction, after such a beautiful and flavoursome meal, has refreshed my cooking soul a bit.

Poached pears

Roman Pear Patina

2 large, ripe Bosc pears
500ml white wine
2 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp white pepper
pinch black pepper
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp best Olive oil

For the honey sauce:

2 big, oozing Tbsp honey
¼ cup white wine

– poach the pears, whole, in the white wine in a heavy based saucepan for 20 – 25 mins, or until very tender, turning the pears every few minutes.

– preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease and sugar a 500ml Pudding basin (or souffle dish/caserole)

– allow the pears to cool slightly before pealing and coring them. Mash/process the pears until smooth.

– beat the eggs and add to the pear pulp along with the cream, milk, cardamom, peppers, honey and olive oil.

– Pour mixed batter into pudding basin and bake for about 25 minutes until golden on top, but still jiggly in the middle.

– To make the sauce, warm the honey until it’s quite liquid, add the wine and mix.

– best served slightly warm.

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Mini stuffed peppers 1

The weather is starting to turn now and I’m reminded every week at the Framers Market in the park that the days of fresh, local produce are coming to an end. Which was one of the main factors behind my decision to cook a whole meal with this fresh produce last week for friends, and these little, plump globes of fun colours were just too tempting to ignore. Such a lovely, fun thing to start an evening off with, too. A little plate of amuses bouche over the first bottle of wine while everyone exchanges greetings and catches up on tidbits of news. They went down a treat, still hot from the oven, oozing and juicy and super scrumptious. Don’t expect the the unwritten rule of nobody-eat-the-last-one-on-the-plate to be observed with these tasty morsels.

Mini stuffed peppers 2

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

A dozen or so mini peppers
100g ripened, soft goat cheese
½ cup ripe cherry tomatoes
handful basil leaves
½ Tbsp pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

-preheat oven to 350˚F

– cut the tops off the peppers, de-seed, rinse and dry on paper towel. Reserve tops.

– put basil, pine nuts, garlic and oil in a food processor (or mortar and pestle) and process to form a pesto consistency. Add olive oil and mix well.

– halve the tomatoes and pulse in a processor a few times to pulp some of them. Chop up any big pieces that stand out.

-mix cheese, tomatoes, pesto and salt and pepper to taste.

– fill each pepper, replace top and bake 20 mins. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Mini stuffed peppers 3

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pork and mango

One of the things I’m enjoying about living in North America, and I’m speaking from a culinary perspective here, is the availability of Mexican and Tex-Mex style food. There isn’t exactly a huge following of this cuisine back home, unless you can spell Old Elpaso. I love how easy the food seems, how fresh and how there seems to be a real culture of love for the making of the food. If you need a little inspiration, just follow, for a few moments, in the Homesick Texan’s footsteps and be motivated. Nowadays we often have a fabulous, if somewhat messy, dinner of Taco’s or Tortilla’s and it’s such simple, fun food that you can’t help but enjoy it in a child-like, lick the fingers kind of way. I always seem to end up with such an overstuffed Taco that as I take my first bite the whole thing invariably comes apart in my hands in a sticky mass of chicken and salsa and guacamole. I usually giggle the whole way through. Anyway, as one of our favourite restaurants here in TO, a Latin Fusion place, if you will, they serve a dish hysterically named “Pork and Roll” (which always makes me think of those Elvis Presley wall clocks with the swinging legs counting the seconds down) combining a spicy, hot hot mix of pork and pineapple on flour tortilla’s. Super yum, even though I’m not usually a fan of fruit on my meat. I figured a mango could taste just as good and Voila!

pork and mango tortillas

Pork and Mango Tortillas
(with Salsa verde, naturallement)

2 fillets of pork (about 400 – 500g total) – finely chopped, about 5mm pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp grape seed oil (or canola)mango
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp Lime juice

1 small or ½ large mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
¼ cup chopped Cilantro

Lettuce
grated Cheddar cheese
Salsa Verde
flour tortillas

– mix the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add pork, coating well with spices, and let stand for 10 mins or so.

– heat the oil in a large skillet, add meat and brown.

– Remove meat from skillet, add garlic, onion and green pepper. Saute for 2 mins. Add tomato paste and tomatoes.

– Add vinegar, sugar and lime juice and cook until tender, about 10 mins. Replace pork and simmer until pork is cooked through.

– Stir in mango and cilantro and remove from heat.

– serve in tortillas with lettuce, salsa and cheese.

pork and mango prep

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Bell Peppers, multicoloured

Peppers!

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Did you ever, as a child, put an entire hard boiled egg in your mouth at a picnic, and then sit there (knowing your Mother could see you) and realise you couldn’t spit it out, abut couldn’t chew and swallow it all either? Oh the dilemma.

I was irresistibly lured to a table at Saturday’s market covered in punnets of brightly coloured sweet bell peppers. Poor Mr P already had the glazed over eyes of a pet chihuahua being dressed up in frills again, when I spotted them down the isle and uttered a wee whoop of excitement. So, to inspire a second wind of Excitement and Vigour for all things shopping, I sold the idea of buying yet more produce to have to lug home by mentioning some magic words: Stuffed Peppers, and, Minced Beef. Oh, that brought the twinkle back long enough to persuade him to help find the prettiest and shiniest peppers by far.

But now I was committed, through the Kharmic backlash of my own desire for all things shiny, to actually make the damn things. I decided against the mince in the end, simply because we’d had quite the culinary weekend and I felt like something more, well, simple really. Of course, having not made stuffed peppers in many a year, I’d forgotten just how long they take to make, the results of which were that we only ended up eating our dinner at ten last night! Well, at least it was good. And shiny.

Note on the recipe: I used 3 anchovy fillets in the recipe, but in retrospect it could have used an extra 3.

Bell Peppers Stuffed With Wild Rice, Tomatoe, Chard, Anchovy and Olives

Sweet Bell Peppers stuffed with Wild Rice and a Mediteranian Medley

Wild rice to make 1 cup when cooked (I used ⅓ cup grain)

4 medium sized bell peppers

2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Small bunch Swiss chard, 5 or 6 stems, chopped
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
handful finely chopped Italian parsley
about ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
80 ml grated parmigiana or Parmesan
salt and ground black pepper to taste

about 1 cup chicken stock

– start by putting the rice on to cook and pre heating the oven to 380˚F (wild rice can take longer to cook, mine took 45mins) when done, remove from heat and set aside.

– carefully slice the tops off the peppers, keeping them intact. remove all the seeds and inner squishy stuff. Wash inside and out and put aside.

– heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add shallots and garlic. Saute until translucent.

– add tomato paste, cook stirring for a few seconds then add tomatoes and swiss chard. Allow to cook until soft, about 7 or so minutes. Remove from heat

– In a large mixing bowl, mix rice, tomato sauce and the rest of the ingredients (excluding the stock), leaving about 2 Tbsp of the cheese aside.

– season to taste.

– arrange peppers bottom down in a greased, oven proof dish. Fill with rice mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese and place tops on top.

– pour stock into the dish and bake for about 1 hour in the oven, basting with the stock every 20 mins to keep the veg moist on top.

Bell peppers

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pot of peas

I seem to talk a lot about my childhood food experiences in this blog. I suppose that’s because so much of what we are and what we eat stems from those formative years and the experiences we had there. For years after I left home I held a sad abhorrence for a simple peanut butter sandwich, simply because I was given one to eat at school almost very nearly every single day. Only recently I rediscovered the pleasure of fresh, soft bread, spread thick with butter, peanut butter and oozing honey. And, true to my nature, I ate them so frequently upon this discovery, that my denims soon began to miraculously shrink in the wash until one day, getting dressed, I asked my Mr P, while staring down at my posterior, ‘do you think I’m putting on weight?’ And in true Mr P candid style, he promptly looked up from his book, ran his eyes up and down me and replied, ‘ yes.’ After which he carried on reading as if nothing more important than whether he wanted muesli or oats for breakfast had been discussed. Which, of course, is why I am so enamoured with this man in the first place.

I remember that peas were a staple in our family. There were always a couple of bags of the frozen variety on hand and they would be chucked unceremoniously into so many one pot meals my mother would cook up. My mom was cook of convenience, speed and nutrition, seeing as how she was juggling family, work and cleaning the dishes after it all. So, somewhere along the line I began thinking of peas with disdain and stopped buying, cooking or even thinking about these simple green globes. And then, a couple of days ago, I walked past a bag of fresh, shelled, organic peas. Tiny, bright green and somehow translucent looking, they caught my eye and for reasons I really can’t explain, I bought them. And there they were. On the counter. What on earth was I going to do with them? I popped one in my mouth. Then another. And suddenly, I was five years old, helping my dear granny in her pride and joy: her veggie patch.

I loved my granny’s veggie patch. There was a big bush of mint that grew under the tap, and patches of pumpkins, marrows and tomatoes. I loved the carrots, their soft green tops and the juicy, sweet roots. But what I loved the most were the peas. We used to get into trouble for picking them all and eating them before Gran could pick them for the kitchen. So sweet! So crunchy! My love affair with peas, I fear, has only just begun.

Salad of spinach, red pepper, red pearl onions, peas and goats cheese
Spinach salad with peas and goats cheese

 

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