Archive | Peppers RSS feed for this section

Spicy Tomato Salsa

11 Sep

9 dried chili peppers

Hot water

12 cups diced cored peeled tomatoes (1/2 inch/1 cm dice) * See How to Peel Tomatoes.

3 cups chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups tightly packed, finely chopped cilantro

15  cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped * If you like your salsas extra spicy, leave in all or a portion of the seeds and membranes.

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

3/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

1. In a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl, combine dried chilies with hot water to cover.  Weigh chilies down with a bowl or a weight to ensure they remain submerged, and soak until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain off half the water.  Transfer chilies and remaining water to a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine chili puree, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, salt and hot pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa.  Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process both 8-ounce and pint jars for 15 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving, Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.

I haven’t been able to stop talking and thinking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles the year she and her family  committed to eating 100% local produce.  She talks about asparagus the way some men talk about women in fishnets; and I can tell you, I’ve been as excited to see asparagus in local markets after a long, food-dull winter as many are to see beer, nachos and Bears football today. Maybe the book has stuck with me because I share her utter excitement in juicy, sweet tomatoes after months of unripened, tasteless toms from god-knows-where at grocery stores, but really, it’s just that she makes it sound so incredibly easy and doable.  And it turns out, it is.

I don’t live on a farm and I share my yard with 6 other units (currently 11 people total) so although the City of Chicago does allow its residents to raise and keep both chickens and roosters on their property within city limits, I figured all 11 neighbors would not be welcoming to a little brood of chickens between the 3 grills,2 tables and my garden.  Space is tight as it is.  These were the sorts of things I thought immediately as she described ordering her little box of chickens and the variety of wild turkeys for her property.  Literally every can-not that I’ve come up with has been followed by a very easy solution in the city.  For example, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, which is 3 blocks from my house, sells free range, organic chickens from a farm in Wisconsin and there are nearly always local eggs and meat at the farmers markets (and there is a farmers market somewhere in this city every day of the week).  I haven’t fully boarded the all-local-bandwagon (it’s so hard to resist avocados in summer) but I would estimate that well over 80% of the items I’ve cooked at home this summer have been local.

So as fall is setting in, I’m contemplating how to continue supporting local farming and how to save the tastes of summer.  This weekend was momentous because I finally started jarring.  This was yet another task that I had found completely daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy and, between you and me, fun it can be.  I started with this salsa recipe but I also made a peach salsa that I hope to post soon.  It’s so convenient to have homemade salsa available when you need it and each of the individual ingredients shine in the homemade salsa rather than condensing into a homogenous stew like many of the store-bought options.  If it seems like too much work for you alone, get friends together to split the jars (this recipe makes 12 8-oz jars).  And I happen to know the local Ace Hardware on Lincoln Avenue is having a sale on jars and canners through the end of the month.  I’m happy to burst your can-not bubble, but no excuses,  you can do it too.

Advertisements

Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

23 Aug

1 medium poblano chile
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 (8-ounce) russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) container crab claw meat, shell pieces removed

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 8 minutes on each side or until blackened. Place pepper in a small zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.
3. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper) to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Remove 3/4 cup corn mixture from pan. Combine 3/4 cup corn mixture and 3/4 cup half-and-half in a blender; process until smooth. Add potato to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes or until potato is almost tender. Reduce heat to medium.

4. Combine remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return corn puree to pan. Stir in poblano, milk, and crab; bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light, August, 2010

As you may know, my favorite things to cook are breads, pies and soups.  So, when the weather turned chilly (and by chilly I mean high 70s to low 80s, but it’s all relative, right?) I wasted no time getting back to chop-stir-simmer-enjoy business.  I love that you can leave most soups to boil away, filling the house with complex yet comforting aromas and a steamy heat you can’t find anywhere else.   As such, I was a little disappointed to find that while this chowder did provide the hoped-for olfactory excitement,  it did require quite a bit of hands-on time and sagged on flavor.   The lack of sit-and-simmer time  may have contributed to the disappointing outcome of the chowder in which the flavors both failed to come together or to shine individually.  I love poblanos and could barely taste them.

If I made this again, I would add additional poblanos, sweet peppers, potatoes and possibly even bacon to to add a little something extra.  I would decrease the milk added in the last step as it seems a little watered down or, well, milky.  I would also add some additional spices such as thyme, chili powder or paprika (though not all at once) to spice it up a bit.   This could make for a good base upon which to develop a more complex chowder, but let’s face it, there’s much better recipes out there already.

Easy Summer Pico de Gallo

4 Jul

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-2 jalapenos (depending on your spice-tolerance/preference), seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 lime

2 avocados

1. Combine chopped tomatoes, red onion, mango, jalapeno and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl.  Add fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lime.  Stir to combine.  Add salt to taste.  Place mixture in the refrigerator until ready to serve, preferably overnight.

2. Before serving, add chopped avocados and stir to combine.  Serve with tortilla chips.

I have to give primary credit for this recipe to Mary McMullin who asked me to come up with a salsa to serve with simple grilled chicken breasts, using her 2 mangos, a few tomatoes and an avocado.  I insisted that we add onion and jalapeno to spice it up and have since added the lime which helps to preserve the ingredients and adds a nice citrusy splash.  I just served this on a camping trip in Michigan.  I divided the batch into two servings, tossed them in the cooler and added 1 avocado per serving to keep it fresh.  Great way to use those farmer’s market tomatoes and serve a big crowd.  You can also mix it up by adding different peppers such as any bell pepper or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Paella with Poblanos, Corn, and Clams

16 May

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 pounds littleneck clams
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 lemon wedges

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, poblanos, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add rice and saffron. Cook 2 minutes; stir constantly. Add 2 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper; bring to a boil.
3. Bake at 450° for 50 minutes or until rice is done. Stir in corn and tomatoes. Nestle clams into rice mixture. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until shells open, and discard unopened shells.
4. Return the pan to medium-high heat, and cook without stirring 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates and rice browns. (It should smell toasty but not burned.) Top with parsley; serve with lemon wedges.

Mark Bittman, Cooking Light , May 2011

I made this paella last night before heading out to watch the bulls wins (!) so I was drinking a sauvignon blanc and managed to burn myself not once or twice but three times on the pot.  Once the pot goes in the oven, keep the mitt on if you are in the habit of holding the handle while stirring your skillet-cooking foods.  Yes, I am an idiot, but hopefully this warning will help others avoid the same finger-burning fate.

The burns were worth every second!  I’ve never had a dish with saffron or poblano that I didn’t like and this was certainly no exception.  I’ve made paellas in the past, but this is hands down my favorite.  The wealth of smoky heat is balanced by the citrus of fresh squeezed lemon pouring from the perfectly cooked clams.  Nothing overpowers here.  The corn adds texture and a nice sweetness.  This dish is perfect for entertaining because the hands-on time is relatively short, but the product is complex and impressive.   Or you can make it for two to spice up an otherwise average Sunday night.

I strongly recommend serving with a light white wine.

Pepper-Corn Chowder

14 Feb
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup  chopped onion
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 5 cups  loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 14-ounce cans  reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium  red sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
  • 3 threads  saffron (optional)
  • Snipped fresh chives and/or ground black pepper (optional)

Coat a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat about 1 minute. Add onion and leek; cook about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add corn. Cook about 5 minutes or until corn softens, stirring occasionally. Add 1 can of the chicken broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the corn is very tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Transfer half the corn mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Return the pureed corn mixture to mixture in the Dutch oven.

Add the remaining 1 can broth, the sweet pepper, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper, and, if desired, saffron. Heat through. If desired, garnish with snipped fresh chives and/or additional ground black pepper.

Better Homes & Gardens, February 2010

Overall this chowder has a nice sweet and spicy flavor.  The jalapeño and cayenne add the perfect amount of heat and a hint of smokiness.  The colors make it inviting and springy.  In fact, this is the perfect soup for spring because it’s not too thick or heavy and it culminates some of the best flavors of summer with the corn/pepper combo.

I did make some modifications.  I added half an jalapeno at the same time I added the corn.  I also used an immersion blender rather than blending half in a blender/food processor because I thought it would be easier.  If you use this method, simply blend until you reach the desired consistency.  As usual, I used veggie broth instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian-friendly and I might recommend adding just a touch of salt if you take this option.

I also recommend adding all of the broth after cooking the corn to allow the flavors more time to meld.  I thought the soup was better left over but adding all of the broth before cooking would have likely had the same effect.

Poached Halibut with Lemon-Herb Sauce

10 Feb

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 4  teaspoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4  teaspoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  lemon sections, finely chopped
  • 6  cups  water
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black peppercorns
  • 2  green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1  parsley sprig
  • 1  cilantro sprig
  • 4  (6-ounce) halibut fillets

1. Combine first 8 ingredients.

2. Combine water and next 5 ingredients (through cilantro sprig) in a large skillet; bring to a low simmer (180° to 190°). Add fish; cook 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce.

Deborah Madison, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2011

This recipe was such a pleasant little surprise.  I’ve never actually poached fish before as I usually opt for grilling, pan searing or broiling so I was weary of dunking my lovely cuts of fish in a bath of boiling water.  Delicious!  The slightly seasoned water actually allowed the fish to cook while retaining full moisture and added just a hint of the flavors which are so fully enhanced by the sauce.  And the sauce!  What a nice hint of summer in the midst of sub-zero temperatures.  You could distinctly taste the parseley and cilantro  and the jalapeño adds the perfect heat.  The lemon added the perfect amount of sunshine into my night.  This sauce could be an excellent complement to most any fish.  In fact, I actually used tilapia instead of halibut because halibut was running at $22.00/lb. at the store and it was just perfect.

The total cook and prep time was less than 20 minutes yet the dish packed in a full and vibrant flavor.  I served it with steamed green beans tossed in olive oil with a little salt and pepper and some roasted veggies, but it could go with almost anything.  This versatile dish will become a staple dish at my house for sure.

Baked Vegetable Lasagna

31 Jan

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  cup  chopped white onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1  (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 3  cups  finely chopped red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
  • 2  medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooking spray
  • 12  cooked lasagna noodles
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add white onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute or until golden. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in basil and oregano. Cool.

3. Combine ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tofu, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process for 10 seconds or until blended. Stir in green onions. Set aside.

4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, zucchini, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 3 noodles. Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture over noodles; top with 1 cup tofu mixture and 1 cup zucchini mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Spread remaining 3/4 cup tomato mixture over top. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until bubbly; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes.

Corrine Trang, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2010

I made this exactly as instructed except I do not have a food processor so I used a hand mixer instead.  Preparing each of the three layers takes quite a bit of time and effort so I would recommend making this dish on a night where you have a little extra time and are looking for a more involved cooking project.  Is the work worth the effort?  Yes and no.  This is not your standard lasagna which I knew going into it, but I was still disappointed.  Oddly enough, though, it was actually better leftover.  I don’t think the flavors had enough time to blend in the original cooking stages, but they really came together after a night in the fridge.  Also, if you’re a lasagna fiend looking for a healthier fix, this might be just the trick.

In case you’re weary of the tofu addition to the cheese (I was), no worries: the texture is actually incredibly similar to ricotta and, of course, it merely took on the flavor of the other cheeses in the cheese blend.

Cheese and Shrimp-Stuffed Poblanos

15 Jan

  • 1  red bell pepper
  • 8  poblano peppers
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1  pound  peeled and deveined medium shrimp, chopped
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1/2  cup  half-and-half
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free milk, divided
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice

Preparation

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place bell pepper halves, skin sides up, and whole poblanos on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened, turning poblanos to blacken all sides. Place peppers in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel. Finely chop bell peppers. Cut tops crosswise from poblanos; remove seeds.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until done. Remove from pan.

4. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with flour and ground red pepper; cook 1 minute. Slowly add half-and-half, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/2 cup milk; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 2 minutes. Add cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring until smooth. Place 1/3 cup cheese mixture in a large bowl; reserve remaining cheese mixture. Add bell pepper, shrimp mixture, cilantro, and juice to 1/3 cup cheese mixture in bowl; toss to coat. Stir 1/4 cup fat-free milk into reserved cheese mixture. Spoon 3 tablespoons cheese sauce onto each of 4 plates. Spoon 6 tablespoons shrimp mixture into each poblano. Place 2 stuffed poblanos and two tops on each plate.

Cooking Light, January 2010

This is one of my all-time favorites.  It is incredibly spicy, definitely not for the weak in tongue (or stomach).  I recommend serving over a plate of my Spanish Rice recipe.  The grains of the rice combined with the dairy in the shrimp/cheese blend tame the heat a little.  You could also serve as an appetizer for a special occasion (or no occasion at all – the best time for indulging).   This was the first recipe I made since I got back from California and an awesome way to jump back into cooking after a little reprieve.  It combines my favorite spanish flavors, reminding me of chile rellenos and ceviche all rolled up in one.  Note that the roasting and peeling of the peppers takes a little time and effort, but it is worth the wait.  I made it on a weeknight after work and went to a show after so it’s not too bad.  I recommend serving with a lighter ale (such as Floyd’s Gumball Head or Pride and Joy) or a dry white wine.  Great for company!

Butternut Squash Bisque

26 Dec

1 2-3 lb butternut square or 3 12-oz pkgs. frozen winter squash, thawed

1/4 cup butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large Braeburn or Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 48-0z box reduced sodium chicken broth

1 cup apple cider or apple juice

2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sour cream

3 oz. smoked Gouda or smoked cheddar cheese finely shredded

Crumbled cooked bacon, celery leaves and/or shaved gouda cheese (optional)

1. Peel, seed and cube butternut squash.  In a 6 qt. Dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add fresh squash (if using frozen squash add with apples and broth), onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add apples, broth, cider and chipotle peppers.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover; simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables and apples are tender.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.

2. When slightly cooled, puree in pot using an immersion blender (or puree in batches in a blend; return soup to sauce-pan.)  Bled in sour cream.  Heat through.  Remove from heat; stir in shredded Gouda until melted.  Top with bacon, celery leaves and/or Gouda cheese.

Servings: 8

Better Homes & Gardens

This is one of my all-time favorites.  The chipotle and Gouda creates a nice smoky flavor and the chipotle also makes the bisque perfectly spicy.  You can use vegetable broth to keep this dish vegetarian-friendly.  I always use fresh squash and apple cider, both of which keep the bisque incredibly flavorful.  Perfect for a fall or winter day.

Golden Green Paella

15 Dec

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces peel & deveined medium shrimp, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup instant brown rice

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces fresh sugar snap pea pods

1 large green sweet pepper, cut in 1/2 pieces

2 green onions, diagonally sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Better Homes & Gardens

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in skillet.  Add shrimp; sprinkle with half the salt and pepper.  Cook 2 minutes until shrimp are opaque, stirring occasionally.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Add remaining oil to skillet.  Cook onion until almost tender.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute.  Stir in rice, oregano and turmeric; cook and stir 1 minute.  Add broth and remaining salt and pepper.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, 5 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  Stir in peas and green pepper; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in green onions and shrimp.  Sprinkle with parsley.

I’ve been making this recipe for quite a while.  It’s quick and easy, yet every bite features a different flavor.  I love the crisp peas with the sweet shrimp.  A classic at my place.  I made this one for my boyfriend and my dad last night and my dad loved it (even though he is the pickiest eater in the world).   I never have instant rice around so I simply cook regular rice until almost tender and use that.  I also used organic vegetable broth and I didn’t think it made much difference.  I would recommend adding crushed red pepper flakes if you’re into the spicy stuff.