Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pickled Banana Peppers

The heat is already here in it will take a lot of water to keep our container garden from shriveling to nothing. But in the meantime, the banana pepper plants are producing like gangbusters. Despite having one almost every night with dinner, the other half has been unable to keep up. So I've resorted to my typical summer practice....pickling. Now I'm not actually canning these...just treating them like refrigerator pickles and adding a few to the jar as needs be. haven't tasted yet, but I know they're delicious.

Pickled Banana Peppers

Banana peppers (I had enough on hand to fill a large canning jar.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
2 cups vinegar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Using a skewer, poke holes in peppers so that they can absorb pickling liquid. Pack peppers, garlic cloves and bay leaves into canning jar.

Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour over peppers in jar.

Let cool, place lid on jar and refrigerate.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Basil Pesto

It's early in the growing season, but I already have a surfeit of basil. (And mint too. Hello mojitos!) So I whipped up (and by whipped up, I mean pulled out the mini-Cuisinart) a batch of pesto the other night. Enjoyed one night with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. And spread on puff pastry and rolled up before baking for some yummy nibbles tonight. Here's the recipe:

Basil Pesto
Makes about one cup.

6 garlic cloves (Careful...this packs a punch. Use less if you'd like. But it mellows over a day or so.)
6 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped basil leaves
Fresh lemon juice

In a food processor, grind the garlic and pine nuts with salt and a little olive oil until blended. Add basil and process to a rough paste. With processor on, add olive oil in a slow stream. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beer-Battered Chile Rellenos

I play the home version of Chopped sometimes. Look around the pantry, produce drawer and freezer to see what I can put together as an interesting meal.

A couple of nights ago, it was poblano peppers, ground turkey and a bit of old grated cheese at the bottom of the bag.

The result: delicious chile rellenos. Olé!

Here's how you can play along at home...

Beer-Battered Chile RellenosMakes four servings.

Beer Batter:
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups beer
2 cups warm water
2 3/4 cups flour

2 cups vegetable oil
1 small onion , diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground turkey
1 packet taco seasoning mix
2 cups grated colby-jack cheese
4 large poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and deseeded
1 cup flour

Mix eggs, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large mixing bowl for about 2 minutes. Add beer and water and mix well. Add 2 cups flour gradually, incorporating into the mix. Slowly add remaining flour until mixture coats the back of the spoon. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the red pepper and saute another 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add the ground turkey, breaking up with the wooden spoon. Cook until no pink remains, stirring frequently. Add the taco seasoning and water and cook to package directions. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mix turkey meat and grated cheese together in medium bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 4 quart saucepan.

To assemble chile rellenos, slice the chiles down one side, creating a pocket. Stuff each chile with 1/3-1/2 cup of the turkey mixture. Roll the chile in the dry flour and then submerge in the beer batter.

Carefully place the stuffed chile into the hot oil and brown on both sides. (Or deep fry.) Remove when golden brown and place on a rack or paper towels to drain.

Serve with your favorite queso, salsa or enchilada sauce.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crunchy Lunch: Cucumber and Celery Salad with Tuna

Spent a lovely evening on the deck last night. Watching the birds at the feeder. Nursing a mojito (or two). And perusing the latest edition of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. (Which is now in serious competition with long-time fave Food and Wine as my most inspiring foodie read.)

Along the way, I ran across this recipe. As dinner was cooking, I whipped a batch for lunch today. I made a few adaptations, but it was quite yummy (interestingly sweet/sour...and the poppy seeds are a nice twist) and quite healthy. Try it and see what you think.

(Note: Serve immediately after you toss together for best results. Mine was a bit time, I'll store the dressing separately and stir it in right before lunch.)

Cucumber and Celery Salad with Tuna
Adapted from Everyday Food.
Makes four servings.

1 teaspoon poppy seeds
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or sesame oil if you have it)
Pinch of ground red pepper flakes
2 cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 cans (5 ounces each) solid white tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together poppy seeds, vinegar, sugar, oil, and red pepper flakes. (Feel free to adjust ratios to your taste to make sweeter, more sour, or spicier.)Add cucumber, celery and tuna. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat.

Serve immediately.