Prosciutto and Provolone Stuffed Peppers: Holy Cow

When starting this blog, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to post ramblings on other peoples food – restaurants, markets, whatever. While it’s true that I spend a significant majority of my time thinking about other people’s restaurants, markets and food, there are already enough people doing a fine job writing about this and one more would just make it bla-zee as they say.

But.

I was at Lucca the other day – my most favorite Italian deli in San Francisco (and I know my Italian delis) and as I do each time I’m there, I picked up something that I haven’t yet tried: Cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone.luccapeppers1Oh mama.

I can hardly talk about it, it makes my heart flutter. Instead, I will take a short moment to IMPLORE you to stop by your local Italian deli and get a few. You will die a happy person, I promise you this. See: luccapeppers21

They are a fairly common Italian snack and any place that offers fresh cured meats and cheeses should have them. If not, try this:

IBFoods

(or)
Pork Store Brooklyn
(or)
Mariano Foods

Next up from Lucca is marinated pig’s feet. What do you think it’ll be like?

Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos: Mmmmmm

stuffedjalapeno2
I’ve been on a bit of a jalapeno kick lately, and I came up with this while working on another recipe involving jalapenos. You can make it hot or mild, depending on how many seeds you choose to leave in. It works great as a small appetizer, and if it seems difficult to eat, just slice the jalapenos into 1/4 to 1/2 inch rounds.

(I do apologize in advance for the photos. While I went to art school, digital pictures of tasty treats was, unfortunately, not my focus…)

This recipe is for a small, 2 jalapeno appetizer. Double the recipe, triple the recipe, half it. How many people are you serving?

Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos

    2 medium-sized jalapenos
    1t extra virgin olive oil
    1 clove roasted garlic, crushed
    5T finely shredded mozzarella
    2t chopped cilantro
    2t cotija cheese
    1t mild chili powder
    1t cumin
    salt and pepper

Preheat to 475 and make sure the rack is on the top shelf of your oven.
1. Cut the tops off of the jalapenos, seed and remove the white veins. Reserve the tops.coredjalapenos
2. Coat the jalapenos in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on the top shelf of the oven for 10 minutes, until almost browned.
3. While roasting, mix the rest of the ingredients.
4. When roasted, stuff the pre-roasted peppers very tightly (it will a little less than full) and replace tops, loosely.
5. Roast for 10 minutes (or until the skin of the pepper is browned and the cheese is melted).
6. Eat it!

I Wanted Guacamole, He Wanted Meatballs

I had a few conflicting feelings about mixing meatballs with guacamole. First of all – I’m a biiiiiig guacamole fan, so for me, anything with guacamole will be a-ok at worst. But on the other hand, it seemed like meatballs and guacamole was a dish that wasn’t going to be easy to eat – meatballs aren’t really finger-foods and guacamole is a dip that requires some digital dexterity. In addition, while I am in full favor of spicing up traditional ground meat products, I feel pretty standard about meatballs – they go with tomato sauce, they go either in the midst of long slender noodles or between two pieces of submarine sandwich bread, and that’s how it’s done. Granted, they are made of the same base product as a burger patty, which can be done in so many varieties of meat with so many flavors, there’s something different about a circular roll of ground beef and a round, flat patty between two pieces of bread. Maybe it’s the bread, maybe it’s the shape. In any case, meatballs, in my mind, just don’t lend themselves the same manipulation that other ground meat products do.

In the end, though, I wanted guacamole and he wanted meatballs and so it had to be. I tried my own adaptation for “Spiced Meatballs with Guacamole” from Tamasin Day Lewis’s “Good Tempered Food: Food to Love, Leave and Linger Over”.

My initial concerns ended up both justified and denied: It’s true that meatballs are a little awkward to eat with guacamole. The roundness is not adequate for a finger food, and cutting and dipping a meatball is just wierd. A meatball, however, does not deserve to be repressed to living in a sandwich or marinara sauce, or with some bare-bones oregano and parsely and some bread crumbs. The meatball loves some new flavor!

Try this recipe these ways. too:

    · Sausages: roll the meat into sausage-link shapes and dip them like French fries into the guacamole. a great casual appetizer
    · Mexican Meatball Sanwiches: like a regular meatball sandwich, but use guacamole instead of marinara, and melt some mozzarella cheese!
    · Tacos: Use as ground meat for tacos, plop on the guacamole and add some extra onions and cotija cheese.
    · Nachos: Cook ground meat, pile on chips, melt mozzarella cheese, add guacamole, and cotija cheese.

Guacamole for Meatballs

    · 3 Haas Avocados
    · Juice of 2 Limes
    · Juice of one lemon wedge
    · 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced with only a few seeds
    · ½ white onion, finely diced
    · Handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
    · 2t cumin
    · ½ tSea salt
    · Pinch of ground black pepper
    · Pinch of red chili flakes

    1. Cut avocados in half, pit and scoop out into a bowl
    2. Add limes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and chili flakes
    3. Mix with a fork until desired consistency – whether you prefer chunky or smooth guacamole.
    4. Squeeze lemon wedge over the top to keep from browning (the lime in it will help, but lemon works the best)
    5. Refrigerate and let sit for an hour.

*The jalapenos and cilantro/parsley combination in this recipe are the star flavors. Really make sure to coarsely chop the herbs, so that they are more than just an accent when biting in. Their freshness will also complement and counter the spice of the jalapenos.

Ground Meat

    · 1 ½ lbs lean beef
    · ¾ lb ground turkey breast
    · 1 egg
    · ¼ C parsley and cilantro combined, both coarsely chopped
    · ½ jalapeno, with seeds, finely diced
    · 1t cumin
    · 1t cayenne
    · 1/8 c bread crumbs
    · Pinch red chili flakes
    · 2t salt
    · 1t ground black pepper
    · 1t celery salt
    · 1t chili powder

    1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except egg and use your hands to mix it up.
    2. When well combined, add egg and re-mix
    3. Make a very mini-patty to prepare and taste-test.
    4. If to your liking, wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap to prevent oxidation and refridgerate until ready to use.
    5. When ready to cook:

    For meatballs: roll in balls, and sauté in warmed butter, turning when browned on one side until well browned on the outside and just very barely browned (still a tiny bit pink) inside pink. Serve hot with room temperature guacamole on the size.meatballs

    For sausage-link-like meatballs: roll into finger-length links, cook the same as meatballs and serve with a dipping bowl of cool guacamole.

    For tacos and nachos: it’s okay that it has the egg in it. Just sauté it up in a shallow, non-stick pan coated with butter and use a spatula to continue breaking it up until browned. For tacos, toss a tortilla in the same pan til warm and crispy, pile on the meat, a spoonful of guacamole, a pinch of minced white onion, bit of cotija cheese and some coarsely chopped cilantro. For nachos, warm chips, onions and cheese in the oven in the oven, and cover with cooked meat, guacamole and jalapenos.

meatballtaco

Double and triple mmmmmm……

3 Things to Do with Marinated Artichokes

As the ultimate food purist, I never thought it would happen, but it did. I was having wine at a friends house, and she offered me a bite to eat, and of course I’m not going to turn down food – and it was thus that I soon found myself chowing down on instant mashed potatoes – and loving it! She made them with butter and milk, of course, but here’s the kicker- sautéed garlic and jarred quartered artichokes, too. It was totally delicious, and I was intrigued with this artichoke addition. What else could I add marinated artichokes to? How could I make this already awesome recipe even more awesome? Now that I had let down my guard to an instant food, I was about to have a lot more time to experiment – with gravy, with bacon wrapped mashed potatoes, etc etc.

While thinking all these thoughts, I also mulled over possible adaptations of these artichoke mashers. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a stronger artichoke flavor. I messed around a little and found that the key was not only to warm the separated leaves of the artichokes, but to add a teaspoon or two of the oil from the jar, as well as roasting the garlic (mincing and sautéing will suffice if time is tight).

Here are results, in brief but comfortable simplicity:

Mashed potatoes with artichoke hearts and roasted garlic:

    For every two cups of mashed potatoes, add 2 cloves roasted garlic (crushed), 2 artichoke hearts, quartered, and leaves separated, 1-2 teaspoons (depending on preference) juice from jarred artichokes, generous pinch of fine sea salt, stir up and serve with or without gravy. If serving it with gravy, I suggest a very mild gravy, as the artichoke flavor tends to be easily over powered. Serve with chicken.

After working on this recipe a bit, it got me on quite an artichoke kick. After all, I had all these jars of artichokes. Something had to be done with them. Here are two of those recipes in brief but comfortable simplicity:

Pasta with creamy artichoke sauce: artichokepasta

    · 1lb. cooked pasta (I recommend shells or penne, so that the cavity holds the sauce)
    · 5T softened butter
    · 5T all purpose flour
    · 2 C milk
    · 1 C (vegetable or chicken)
    · 1 C water
    · 9t oil from jar of marinated artichokes
    · 3 clove roasted garlic, finely chopped and smashed
    · 6-8 artichoke hearts, quartered & leaves separated

    1. Make a roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan on medium-high heat, then adding the flour and whisking vigorously.
    2. Reduce heat
    3. While whisking, add milk, broth, and water slowly and constantly whisking
    4. Continue whisking and add artichoke oil.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in garlic and artichoke hearts.
    6. While warm, pour over pasta and mix thoroughly.
    7. Top with chili flakes. (Ricotta or goat cheese would also be a tasty addition.)

Ricotta and Artichoke Topped Crostini
artichokecrostini1

    Slice a baguette thick and on a bias, brush on olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toast in the oven at 350 until
    browned but still slightly soft in the center.

    Top with a small scoop of ricotta and a quarter of an artichoke heart, drained and
    sprinkle with a pinch of Fleur de Sel, or if you have it, fume de sel, a coarse French
    sea salt, smoked in Chardonney barrels. Drizzle with white truffle oil (optional).

Enjoy!

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Leeks Quiche

Don’t let the length of this recipe fool you. It’s a rather standard quiche: “Goat Cheese and _______” and it’s really not difficult. If you – like me – detest making crusts, just use a frozen store-bought. I have too much pride to do this, so I suffer through the process, bitching and moaning the whole time, but I sure don’t blame you if you opt out to make your life easy.

Other than salt and pepper, I don’t use many herbs or spices in this dish because the flavors of the leeks combined with the texture of the warm goat cheese are so rich already, I try not to distract from them.

Some good alterations include replacing the leeks and shallots with crispy, chopped, brown sugar cured bacon, thinly sliced raw chives, sliced (and maybe roasted?) heirloom tomatoes. Also, you can use any kind of goat cheese. I used herbed, but plain would be just fine, as well as peppered (the peppered would be great if you replaced the leeks and shallots with tomatoes!).

(Don’t forget, this is also great for those individually sized dishes that are so cute and fun!)

For crust:

  • 2 C. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 C. milk
  • ½ C. oil

  1. Mix together dry ingredients, and whisk to aerate.
  2. Add in liquids and mix until forms a dough ball.
  3. Roll out and put into a 9” pie or tart pan, per-bake for 8-10 minutes at 350.
  4. Take out and set aside.

For the Filling:

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3T butter
  • 1t butter
  • 2 ¼ t brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 C. milk
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese (herbed or plain)
  • Salt and Pepper

  1. Caramelize the shallots:
    • Melt 1t of butter on medium heat in a small sauté pan.
    • When melted, add shallots and salt generously.
    • When warmed, add ¾t of brown sugar and stir.
    • *watch the heat closely to keep the sugar from burning!
    • Cook on medium to medium-low heat until soft brown, app. 5 minutes.
    • Take off heat and set aside.
  2. Caramelize the leeks:
    • Melt 3T butter in larger sauté pan.
    • When melted, add leeks and salt and pepper generously (the shallots are a more delicate flavor, which is why I omit the pepper for them).
    • When warmed, add 1½ teaspoons of brown sugar and stir.
    • Continue the same as the shallots.
    • Take off heat and combine with shallots.
  3. Do the eggs and put it together:
    • Combine 4 eggs, 2 yolks (save the whites to make some meringue cookies for dessert!), milk, salt and pepper and whisk.
    • Add leeks and shallots and mix gently.
    • Crumble goat cheese into egg and milk mixture, reserving just enough to spread on the bottom of the crust.
    • Spread some goat cheese on the bottom of the par-baked crust and pour in the filling, using a small spoon to evenly distribute the leeks, shallots and crumbled goat cheese.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350.
  5. Stuff your face.