Jimmy Nardello Italian Peppers with Capers and Parsley

Last year we started growing  Jimmy Nardello Italian frying peppers. They are long, red, and thin skinned, and have no heat so they are sweet and delicious. You can eat them raw, pan fried or grilled. For the photo below I pan fried them in a cast iron skillet with nice results. They don’t take long to cook so they are a great, easy side dish. They may be my new favorite peppers to grow and eat!

Jimmy Nardello Italian Frying Peppers with Capers and Parsley
6 Jimmy Nardello peppers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Slice peppers lengthwise to split them in half. Remove the seeds. In a heavy frying pan heat olive oil on medium heat. Place peppers in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook 3-5 minutes until peppers have some blackened patches. Turn over, cover, and cook about 3 more minutes until peppers are fork tender. Remove peppers to a serving dish. Check to see if you need to add more salt. Top with capers and parsley. Serves 2-3 as a side dish.

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Indian-Style Roasted Okra

I needed to use up a bag of okra from the garden and decided to try an Indian-inspired version. This is a nice way to dress up the okra. I love the flavor of toasted black mustard seeds and whole coriander seeds and they marry beautifully in this dish.

Indian-Style Roasted Okra
1 lb. fresh okra, trim the stems but leave whole
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
salt and pepper
Light sprinkling of ground coriander, sweet paprika, and cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour oil into a baking sheet. Spoon coriander and mustard seeds into the oil. Place baking sheet in the oven and let the seeds toast in the oil until fragrant and mustard seeds begin to pop. This will take 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and add the okra to the pan. Toss okra into the oil, coating it well. Sprinkle the okra lightly with salt, pepper, ground coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Toss well. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the okra is browned and fork tender. Stir occasionally while roasting. Serves 4.

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Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

Cubanelle peppers are thriving in our garden this year. Also known as Italian frying peppers, these thin skinned peppers are sweet and great for stuffing, baking, grilling or eating raw in salads. They range in color from green to red and are tender and delicious. We make the stuffing with homemade sweet Italian sausage and cremini mushrooms. Cut the tops off the peppers and use the pepper flesh around the stem for the stuffing. Discard the stem. Slit the peppers 1/2-3/4th of the way to the bottom so there is room to hold the stuffing mixture.  It does take a little time to make this dish. I find the easiest way to manage the task is to cut and stuff the peppers early in the day (you can make the stuffing mixture the day before), then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to put the peppers in the oven to bake.

The stuffing is versatile. It not only works for peppers but as a filling for stuffed cabbage or escarole. It is also good for layering in lasagna or large shell-shaped pasta. Add homemade croutons and a bit of stock for a very good Thanksgiving dressing. Any leftover stuffing can be fried into a delicious sausage burger.

Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers
12 Cubanelle peppers
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1 lb. loose sweet Italian sausage with fennel
2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms or 1 (24 oz.) package
1/4 cup finely chopped Cubanelle peppers (use flesh around stem)
1/4 cup finely chopped red or yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the tops off the peppers, reserving the flesh around the stem to finely chop for the filling. Slice peppers lengthwise 1/2-3/4 of the way down the pepper and remove the seeds and rib. Place prepared peppers on the foil-lined baking sheet. In a large bowl combine all the stuffing ingredients and mix by hand until everything is evenly distributed. Stuff each pepper, but do not pack too tightly. Sprinkle the peppers with a bit of salt. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45-50 minutes until the peppers are fork tender and the filling is browned and cooked through. Remove top foil cover and brown lightly under the broiler just before you are ready to serve. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

Stuffed Peppers Before Baking

Baked Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

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Raspberry Fig Almond Cake

During the months of September and October our yard is loaded with ripe raspberries, and this year we also have an abundance of figs from our almost 20-year old tree. Raspberries and figs are a delicious dessert combination. This cake may appear rather plain on the surface, but the flavors blend beautifully (and you can always dress it up with a little whipped cream or creme fraiche). You can’t go wrong with browned butter, almonds, and raspberries along with jammy figs. If you don’t have access to figs, just add more raspberries to the batter. The recipe is a variation on an earlier post for Italian Plum Almond Cake.

Raspberry Fig Almond Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
zest of half a medium lemon
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed
4 medium fresh figs, stemmed and sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or line a greased 12×6 pan with parchment. Begin by browning the butter. Place butter in a shallow pan and cook on medium low heat until it melts and becomes foamy. The foam will subside and eventually the butter will cook until it develops flecks of brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Be sure not to burn it. It will take 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat once the browned flecks have formed. Set aside to cool. In a medium size bowl combine flours, almonds, baking powder, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together browned butter, milk, sugar, and egg. Mix well. Add extracts. Whisk in dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, then fold in raspberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place sliced figs on top, then sprinkle Demerara sugar over the figs and batter. Bake 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking. Remove from oven when an inserted toothpick comes clean. Cool on rack. Serves 8.

Posted in Cakes, Desserts, Fruit | 2 Comments

Indian Snack Mix

We have been buying Indian snack mix (also called “hot mix”) for years, but I recently learned how to make a homemade version from my friend and cooking teacher Farida. This is my variation on her recipe. I love adding whole coriander seeds because they provide a subtle citrus note to the mix.

Indian Snack Mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
4 cups shoestring potatoes
1-1/2 cups roasted and salted peanuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of citric acid
2-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

In a large bowl combine Rice Krispies, shoestring potatoes, peanuts, and raisins. Toss, then set aside. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, ground coriander, garlic and onion powder, and a pinch of citric acid. Mix and set aside. In an 8-quart heavy bottom pot, heat oil on medium high heat. Once it is warm add whole coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Stir for about 2 minutes and when the mustard seeds begin to pop and coriander becomes fragrant add the cereal mixture. Stir to mix the mustard and coriander seeds into the cereal. Cook for 2 minutes or so until the cereal mixture begins to get a bit of golden color. Remove from heat and sprinkle in spice mixture. Stir well to combine. Pour onto a baking sheet. Spread and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 cups.

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Peach Mango Fruit Compote

Last weekend I hosted a dinner party for which I cooked Indian food and wanted something fruity to accompany it. Peaches are still in season here and they marry well with the flavor of mangos, so I made this uncooked compote. I also added cubes of coconut gel for a nice textural contrast. It is available in Southeast Asian grocery stores under the name nata de coco. It was delicious and refreshing, also very versatile. It also makes a nice dessert sauce for cheesecake or ice cream.

Peach Mango Fruit Compote
15 medium-size ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar or more to taste
juice of half a lemon
1/2 (30 oz.) can Kesar Mango pulp
1 (17 oz.) jar coconut gel in syrup (nata de coco), drained

In a large bowl mix sliced peaches with sugar and lemon juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add 1/2 can mango pulp. Save the rest of the mango pulp for another use (it freezes well). Add drained coconut gel cubes and mix well. Taste and add sugar if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. Serves 8-10. Double recipe if feeding a crowd.

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Creamed Corn with Pink Peppercorns and Thyme

This is a great way to use up leftover corn on the cob. It is not a low-fat recipe, but it is a nice change once or twice during corn season. I like to use a cast iron skillet to make this dish because it distributes the heat evenly.

Creamed Corn with Pink Peppercorns and Thyme
8 ears corn on the cob, cooked
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
salt to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

Remove the corn kernels from the cob. You want 5-6 cups of corn. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add corn with salt to taste. Let cook, stirring often until corn just begins to get a bit of golden color on it and there are brown bits in the bottom of the pan. It should take 7-8 minutes. Add cream, a little salt, pink peppercorns and thyme. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let cook uncovered 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust salt. It should be ready when the cream has reduced and is thickened. Serves 4-6.

Posted in Thanksgiving, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Pickled Eggs

When I was a girl I kept myself busy during summer vacation reading my mother’s cookbooks and experimenting in the kitchen. One of the first dishes I learned to make was pickled eggs. Here is my updated recipe for them using the leftover beet juice from a previous post for beets with green onions and dill.

Pickled Eggs
8 hard boiled eggs

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups beet juice
1/2 cup cooked cubed beets
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly mashed
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Peel the hard boiled eggs and rinse them to remove any shell pieces. Place eggs in a half-gallon mason jar or other container. Make the brine by combining the brine ingredients in a 4-quart pot. Whisk to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil on medium high heat and boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour brine over the eggs. Screw on lid and refrigerate 2-3 days until eggs are a deep purple color. Serves 4.

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Fresh Beets with Green Onions and Dill

Last year we planted beets in the garden and grew a beautiful abundant crop, but this year the local quail population ate most of the tender seedlings we planted in the spring.  I was craving beets so I bought a box at the farmers market and made this dish. The recipe is a variation on one my mother made often when we were growing up. It does take time to boil the beets and peel them, but you can busy yourself with other things while they cook and cool. The fresh dill really shines in this dish. I have been trying to be more conscientious about not wasting food and repurposing leftovers. I saved the beet cooking water and used it to make pickled eggs. I also took the leftover beets and puréed them with some water and sour cream. Then added a grated cucumber and a bit of vinegar for a cold summer borscht. Delicious.

Fresh Beets with Green Onions and Dill
15 medium beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a light sprinkle of garlic powder
a light sprinkle of onion powder
1 bunch green onions (about 8), thinly sliced
7 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill or more to taste
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Place scrubbed beets in a 5-quart pot. Add enough cold water to cover them along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil then lower the heat slightly and let beets cook for about 40 minutes until you can pierce them with a fork. Remove the cooked beets with a slotted spoon and allow any larger beets to continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Save the beet cooking water to pickle eggs if desired. Let beets cool 10 minutes then peel and cube. Place cubed beets in a large bowl. Add olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Toss. Add green onions and vinegar. Toss. Add fresh herbs and toss again. Cover and chill. Serves 8.

Posted in Salads, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Jalapeño Green Sauce

My Indian cooking teacher and friend Farida introduced us to this all-purpose spicy pepper sauce. You can use it as a dip, add it to curries, and spice up bean or vegetable dishes. Any dish that you want to perk up with a bit of spice will benefit from a spoonful or two of this sauce. Right now there are quite a few varieties of hot peppers at the local farmers markets. Last weekend I bought enough peppers to make several batches of this sauce. It is optional to remove the jalapeño seeds. If you leave them in, the green sauce will be quite fiery, but I seed them for a milder flavor. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when working with the jalapeños or your hands will burn for hours afterwards. The green sauce freezes beautifully. Also, it is optional to dress up the sauce if you use it as a dip with a little sour cream or other dairy product.

Jalapeño Green Sauce
8-9 jalapeños, stemmed and seeded (seeding is optional)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro with stems, rinsed and dried
juice of 1 medium lemon
1 medium Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped

In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until you get a smooth purée, using a spatula to scrape down the bowl or blender as you work. Pour sauce into small bottles leaving half an inch or so of space at the top for the sauce to expand as it cools. It will keep several weeks in the refrigerator or freeze. Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups.

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