With a straight face, I will call this a heavy appetizer. I laugh because that means that I consider the version which is merely stuffed with cheese to be “light.” Wouldn’t you agree? A few of these and a beer will put off the hungriest guest for a little longer while you wait for the brisket to get out of the smoker. It could be a while.
These are ideally suited for outdoor cooking, but I cooked them indoors while I had steaks on the grill. But feel free to modify this recipe for the grill.
This recipe is great with leftover chicken. However you come by it, you will need a cup of chopped chicken for a dozen of these (half) peppers. But if you are a planner, and find tenders on sale for instance, you could poach several pounds of chicken, chop it and store it in the freezer to make chicken spaghetti, chicken tetrazzini (the other chicken spaghetti), or hoisin chicken wraps. You could use this spicy bite as an excuse to make a whole week of chicken dishes, for which you have already done all the dirty work. Not a bad plan. For a recipe where I give a method of poaching for tenders, see this Individual Chicken Pot Pie post. An alternative method is to heat the poaching liquid with the chicken tenders in it to 180 degrees, place a lid on the pot, turn off the heat and simply let it cool on the stove top. Just check to make sure the chicken has cooked through before using it. This is a Cook’s Illustrated method that I have been toying with lately.
…Continue reading Three Cheese Chicken Stuffed Jalapeños
You have to have a few tricks up your sleeve. You have to have some magic shortcuts in the pantry. Because you, one day, will come running around the dining room table in a mad search for someone’s swimming goggles and kick a chair with your pinkie toe and look down to find it pointing in the wrong direction. On that day you will have to call in the reinforcements to watch your children (my stalwart neighbor Linda) and help you to the ER (her fire-fighter husband Robert) to get your poor foot put back into the right configuration. These things happen.
When these things happen you will become aware of several things…
First, you will thank the heavens for good neighbors. I cannot remember a time when I have asked Linda for a favor and she hasn’t dropped everything to help me. And, Robert…well…he sat in the ER and listened to my drug induced philosophic ramblings about how cool it is that my daughter slid into home plate in her softball game last week. He is a good man. My very own man was on his way back from Tennessee where he was coaching three of his crew kids in the Nationals rowing events. That is a pretty good excuse for not pulling ER duty, I think. But, I’m so glad he is home. I’m a hobbling goofball around here. All hands are on deck.
…Continue reading Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix
I love seedless mandarins. They are often sold by trade names like “cuties,” and they are cuties. They are easy to peel and they are incredibly sweet. My kids will eat them by the handful and they are a good sweet treat to keep me from, say, losing it and heading for the ice cream shop. I do that often enough as it is.
We have been drinking a lot of frozen fruit drinks in our home. At least, I have. I’ve had a orange and vitamin C craving that I just can’t quite kick, and why would I want to? This treat grew out of the profusion of oranges and tangerines on the counter. I wanted a frozen orange treat that wasn’t quite as naughty (not quite) as the Orange Julius pops. So, this is what we did. We froze mandarin sections and we whirled them into a slush with orange juice and a little bit of simple syrup. The slush goes directly into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then it is stirred and scraped away from the edges of the bowl. And, finally, it gets another half hour in the freezer. The result is something like a sherbet or a sorbet. I think it is technically a granita because it is stirred up by hand and not frozen in an ice cream maker…but semantics aside, it is a wonderful after dinner treat. If you blend it right before you start your dinner prep, it is ready just in time for dessert.
…Continue reading Sweet Mandarin Granita
Curry is a mystery to me. It is not one of my native foods, so to speak. I don’t think I ordered a meal containing curry until I was in my 30′s, and I surely never cooked with it. It was simply not in my view. My mother-in-law used to mix bottled curry powder with mayonnaise to make a dip for chilled artichokes. It is a great little trick for an appetizer. But even that positive experience didn’t nudge me out of my comfortable culinary inertia. Truth be told, I have long believed that curry was an actual “thing” or a spice. It comes in a jar marked curry, after all.
But, I’ve been keeping my eyes open lately. Since I met you all, I’ve paid more attention and read more labels. I’ve read hundreds of cookbooks and magazines and I’ve been blinded by the wonder of it all. And while the exposure to cultures and practices and habits and tastes can make the world seem so big, at the same time it shows you that you likely have many of the ingredients for international recipes right at your finger tips.
Curry is not “a” spice. It is a mix of spices. And it is different, wildly different, depending on where you travel. Many regions in Asia have their own mixes called curry that have differing predominant spices and flavors. Indian curry is perhaps the most well known, but there are countless types of “Indian curry.” And, there are styles of curry from Bangladesh, Kashmir, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Japan, and other countries and regions. It seems that at some point British interests labelled all of these spicy, punchy, foods as curry. It is a shortcut for a million different dishes. Curry spice mixes, as found in the grocery store aisle, seem to be a Western notion, also. Which is too bad, really. Because this whole time, had I awakened to this fact, I could have been playing with curries instead of assuming that it was one thing that would always taste the same no matter what. Here is a great article on the British love of curry. Don’t skip the comments, as some of the personal stories are charming.
…Continue reading Curry Chickpeas & Polenta
Horchata is a Mexican specialty drink. It is often referred to as an “agua fresca” or a “fresh water.” These are drinks like tamarindos and the cucumber lime agua fresca which I posted last fall. They are essentially water flavored with fruit or other fresh flavors. I’m flat out cheating with this one. I admit it. The typical recipe calls for soaking rice for several hours or overnight and blending that into a milky substance flavored typically with cinnamon, vanilla, or almonds. I’m using milk and water (though rice milk might be a fun substitute). I’ve used rice flour in place of whole rice, because it seems to make a great deal of sense to me. It saves a step. And the pitcher of horchata is ready to go far more quickly. But, should you want to try a recipe that uses whole rice, take a peek at The Homesick Texan’s (Lisa Fain) recipe. Her recipe is a good example of an horchata that uses not only whole rice, but almonds, as well. Regardless of which you use, however, rice sediment will fall to the bottom of the pitcher as it cools. It needs a good shake before ladling it into a glass.
It has also become common to make horchata using sweetened condensed milk, and though there are certainly applications where I will use sweetened condensed milk, here, I believe it adds too distinctive of a flavor. I prefer making a simple syrup. You should be familiar with making simple syrup anyway, however. It is a refrigerator staple for me during the summer, because it such a handy sweetener for drinks. Dissolving crunchy sugar in cold water is for the birds. Make a big jar of simple syrup and keep it in the refrigerator. You will be ready to make this, or lemonade, of sweet tea, or any number of other great summer drinks.
…Continue reading Horchata