Manzana Rellenas (Stuffed Manzana Peppers)

Manzana (or manzano, depending on who you ask) peppers are often times called “rocoto peppers” or “locoto”, depending on the region you’re in. Biologically they are different, but in terms of practicality, they’re really the same. Rocotos are more red, while Manzanas have a vibrant orange color with large, round black seeds. Indigenously, they both grow high up in the Peruvian Andes and, unlike most chiles, grow best in cooler weather. This recipe is a traditional Peruvian recipe and is typically served with simple potato gratin, Arequipa style.

The peppers are extremely hot and since this heat is like breathing in fire, I strongly recommend (from experience) covering your nose and mouth when cutting and boiling them.

When using this recipe, be sure to add salt, pepper, herbs and spices throughout the cooking time rather than all at once. This will help to layer the sweet-salty-spicy combination in every bite. Add the egg at the very last minute and stir minimally to keep the eggy flavor and texture in tact.

These peppers are also fantastic when pickled and used in tacos, sandwiches, pizzas. To pickle, first seed and de-vein the peppers and soak in ice water, the same as below, to cut some of the intense heat before using your favorite pickle recipe. If you want to cut the heat even more, boil them for a half hour or so. When chopped oh-so-finely, they’re already great additions to a seriously spicy salsa.

You can substitute jalapenos, pasilla chiles (which will be easier to find and MUCH less hot) or Bulgarian carrot peppers, if you happen to find them (and let me know if you do, I want some too…) Alternatively, you can also use this filling to fill empanadas; just use the refrigerated canned crescent dough if you don’t want to make your own and make sure to add a decent amount of red chile flake to have some balance in the flavors the you’d be missing without the peppers. The beef, the egg, the olive and the raisins make for a fairly traditional Chilean empanada filling.

Ingredient Amount How
Manzana peppers

8

oz

cotija cheese

1

tbsp

queso oaxaca or jack cheese

1/2

cup

shredded
beef

1/2

cup

finely chopped (not ground)
eggs

4

—-

boiled and chopped
black olives

1/2

cup

sliced
black raisins

1

tbsp

rehydrated in water
cream

3

tbsp

olive oil

1-2

tsp

butter

1-2

tbsp

dried oregano 1-2+ pinch
red chile flake

1

pinch (optional)
garlic

3

tsp minced
shallots (sub white onion)

3

finely diced
cumin 1-2+ tsp
dried bay leaf

2

salt and pepper layered, to taste
    Directions

  1. Cut the tops off of the peppers and scoop the seeds and white veins from the inside, then soak peppers in bowl of ice water with 1T white vinegar for 1 hour to overnight.
  2. After soaking, boil peppers until just softened, then remove and let stand at room temperature.
  3. In a deep skillet, sauce pot or dutch oven, add olive oil, bay leaf, garlic and onion and cook until fragrant, seasoning with salt, pepper, chile flake and oregano.
  4. Add cubed beef and tablespoon of butter, cook until beef begins to brown on the outside (about 3 minutes)
  5. Add cream and bring to soft boil, reduce for app. 6 minutes
  6. Add crumbled quest fresco, cumin and more oregano, salt and garlic powder. Stir in and let cheese melt.
  7. Turn heat down and check meat for doneness. Once cooked through, add olives, egg and raisin and stir in. Add more cotija cheese and stir in.
  8. Once the beef is cooked through and all ingredients have been incorporated, spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out peppers and top with the oaxacan or jack cheese.
  9. Bake on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until warmed through and cheese is melted and browned.

 

Spicy Pickled Slaw, (Repost, Update)

This post is a recipe from one of my first successful pickling experiences; since then I haven’t stopped. But I still use this same basic recipe and ratio. It’s a great way to pickle. I updated a couple things, but wanted to re-share it and get you all as excited about pickling everything in sight as I am! 

I was recently cursed with bout of the ugliest of flus, spending a week of my life on the couch. It sucked. Seriously, sucked. There were, however, one or two breaks in the clouds where I thought I was feeling better and so ventured out, desperate for some fresh air and to avoid the atrophy that was setting in on my body. One such evening, I weakly stumbled upon the Mission Community Farmer’s Market.


And by golly, what luck of the season (though I already knew), it was perfect timing. The market full of lovely purveyors, delicious pupusas and super scrumptious fruits and veggies. And, of course, as it’s that glorious season for all things canned, jammed, jellied and pickled with an adorable label, my heart let out a sweet giggle when I found this purveyor, Emmy’s Pickles and Jams:

I indulged myself in some quince butter (oh, mmmmmmm) and a jar of zesty pickles (double mmmmmm)…..

I’m going to get me some fig jam next time….

After chatting it up for a minute, I moseyed on for my own jarring (hah! oh, puns…) adventure. I was on the look out for some additions to a cabbage, fennel, onion, and carrot combination…. that’s right. Some additions to…. SLAW!

Mmmmm!

Edging dangerously close to the end of pepper season, I didn’t know what I was going to find – but I did know I was going to snatch up and hoard what I could. I got lucky and crossed ways with some real beauties!

The great thing about slaw / pickled items is that they’re incredibly versatile. You can use just about anything that’s available. Lately, I’ve been using a combination of some or all of the following:

  • Cabbage
  • Jalapenos (lots of ’em, some seeded, some not)
  • Fennel
  • Onions (white, red, yellow, shallots)
  • Green Beans
  • Yellow Wax Beans
  • Carrots
  • Padrons/Shishitos (stemmed and torn in half lengthwise)
  • Red, Yellow, Orange Bells and these gorgeous purple heirloom peppers I got at the market:

with a quick, mild pickle. 

Try this mildly pickle slaw (similar to Salvadorian curtido) on eggs, tacos and pupusas (duh), mixed with avocado and cucumber, in place of lettuce on any sandwich…the options go on and on.

Be sure to experiment with the brine, too, based on what your ingredients are. Sweeter peppers? Make a spicier brine. Spicier pickles, make a sweeter brine by using more brown sugar than white sugar and apple cider vinegar in place of granulated. Or, add some funky spices that you really love. Clove? Extra black peppercorn? Or make it crazy spicy with some whole dried cayennes. Try adding tarragon, star anise, who knows. It’s quick and cheap so you can experiment time and time again.

Here’re the basics:

Prep Your Slaw Veggies:

      1. Chop or clean all the ingredients you chose to use into long strips that
          are as close to the same size as you can get.
      2. Mix them together in a large bowl so they’re evenly distributed. It should
          look about like this:

3. Evenly distribute the mix amongst the jars you have cleaned. Fill them fully to     the top.

4. Follow the instructions below to make the brine and pickle.

Basic Brine (for 2 cups)

    • 1/2 c. white vinegar
    • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
    • 3T white sugar
    • 3T brown sugar
    • 2t coarse grey sea salt (substitute regular kosher salt if you can’t find coarse)
    • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1T black peppercorn
    • 1cup water
    1. Bring all ingredients to a boil, then pour immediately over your prepared slaw, in jars.
    2. Let cool until just comfortable to the touch, then seal with a screw top lid. (It’s not necessary to do a proper canning seal for this quick pickle, as long as you eat it within a week or so.)
      3. Let cool, then refrigerate and let sit for 24 hours, then

enjoy!

Spicy Pickled Slaw & the Mission Community Market

I was recently cursed with bout of the ugliest of stomach flus, spending a week of my life on and off of the couch, up and down at all hours of the night. It sucked. Seriously, sucked. There were, however, one or two breaks in the clouds where I thought I was feeling better and so ventured out, desperate for some fresh air and to avoid the atrophy that was setting in on my body. One such evening, I weakly stumbled upon the new Mission Community Farmer’s Market.
And by golly, what luck of the season (though I already knew), it was perfect timing. The market full of lovely purveyors, delicious pupusas and super scrumptious fruits and veggies. And, of course, as it’s that glorious season for all things canned, jammed, jellied and pickled with an adorable label, my heart let out a sweet giggle when I found this purveyor, Emmy’s Pickles and Jams:

I indulged myself in some quince butter (oh, mmmmmmm) and a jar of zesty pickles (double mmmmmm)…..

I’m going for the fig jam next time….

After chatting it up for a minute, I moseyed on for my own jarring (hah! oh, puns…) adventure. I was on the look out for some additions to cabbage, fennel, onion, and carrots…. that’s right. Some additions to…. SLAW!

Mmmmm!

Edging dangerously close to the end of pepper season, I didn’t know what I was gonna find – but I did know I was gonna snatch up and hoard what I could. I got lucky and crossed upon some beauties!

and these shishitos..

You might think they’re padrons, but they’re not! (They’re mostly the same, though. Think of them as the japanese version.)

The great thing about slaw / pickled items is that they’re incredibly versatile. You can use just about anything that’s available. Lately, I’ve been using a combination of some or all of the following:

    Cabbage
    Jalapenos (lots of ’em, some seeded, some not)
    Fennel
    Onions (white, red, yellow, shallots)
    Green Beans
    Yellow Wax Beans
    Carrots
    Padrons/Shishitos (stemmed and torn in half lengthwise)
    Red, Yellow, Orange Bells
    and these gorgeous purple heirloom peppers I got at the market:

This recipe is adapted from Charlie Kleinman’s (of Wexler’s) recipe for brining anaheim chiles. I use his ratios, but add a few ingredients and change the types of sugar and vinegars.

The recipe also works really well for jalapenos all by their lonesome. If you do that, though, I strongly recommend soaking them in ice water for a couple hours after you’ve cut them. The ice water mellows out some of that super intense heat they got. You also gotta decide whether to seed or not to seed – that is the question….(oh, I’m cracking myself up again…) Depends on how hot you want them. Remember, that’s where the majority of the heat comes from.

The basic ratio is:

    1/2 c. white vinegar
    1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
    3T white sugar
    3T brown sugar
    2t coarse grey sea salt (substitute regular salt if you can’t find coarse)
    2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    2 bay leaves
    1T black peppercorns1c. water

To make the brine and slaw:

    1. Bring all ingredients to a boil, then pour immediately (while still boiling) over slaw.2. Let cool just a bit then seal with a screw top lid. It’s not necessary to do a proper canning seal for this quick pickle.

You can make as much or as little of this brine as you want, just make sure to keep the ratios the same – double it, triple it, half it, whatever – but is has to be one part vinegar to one part water, etc etc. You can adapt the types of vinegar and sugar you use depending on how sweet or hot or acidic you want it. I use a lot of jalapenos, which is why I use brown sugar and apple cider vinegar; the extra sweetness cuts some of the heat. You could play around using champagne vinegar or rice vinegar or even flavored vinegars like taragon vinegar, or with sugars like turbinado sugar – just KEEP THE RATIOS THE SAME!

To determine how much of if you’ll need:

Figure out how much it will take to completely cover the amount of slaw (or other pickled item) you’ll be making, then make just a little bit extra to compensate for whatever might evaporate when it boils.

To prep your slaw ingredients:

    1. Chop all the ingredients you chose to use into long strips that are about the same
    size. I assume you’ve seen slaw before and know what size it should be. You can
    leave the beans whole, just snap off the dirty ends
    2. Mix them together in a large bowl so they’re evenly distributed. It should look about
    like this:

    3. Evenly distribute the mix amongst the jars you have cleaned. Fill them just about to the top, leaving just enough room for a little bit of extra brine.

    4. Follow the instructions above to make the brine etc. etc.

    5. Let it sit for one to two days, and enjoy!

Sweet Peppers and Mexican Meatballs

Recently, someone asked me why I love cooking and I realized that it’s the concept of sharing that made me fall in love with food in the first place. Throughout traveling, I have noticed that few countries have this American habit of ordering a dish and hording it all to their greedy little selves. They order small plates or a few entrees to share from the middle of the table. They also take a lot longer, talk a lot more, eat slower and enjoy their downtime and the good things in life a little bit more. This is my theory on why Europe is so much thinner than we are – even though they eat excessive amounts of rich cheese and drink wine through the day starting at lunch. Eating becomes less of a chore and more of a social event; you eat less and enjoy it more. Americans fill themselves as much as possible as quick as possible and if a dinner takes more than an hour, its a pain the ass (pardon my French).

In any case, I’ve always desired my food to be a celebration of all the good things that we overlook and take for granted, not solely delicious taste explosions. And so here it is: a dish designed to do just that, a dish meant to be shared, inspired by these gorgeous bad boys from Argentina – the land of long meals and passionate people: ArgentinaPeppers2

If you didn’t notice how beautiful they are:ArgentinaPeppers

Mini Sweet Peppers with Mexican MeatballsMeatballs&Peppers

    10 small sweet peppers
    1T evoo
    ½t. each: fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

    ¾ lb lean pork (you’re gonna have some left over)
    juice of 1 lime
    1 ½ t. cilantro, finely chopped
    1 ½ t. parsley, finely chopped
    ¼ jalapeno, very finely diced
    2t white onion, very finely diced
    ½ t. each: cayenne, cumin, chili con carne, fine sea salt, fresh ground black pepper
    2T bread crumbs
    2 eggs

    5-6T butter (or earth balance)

    1C. shredded mozzarella


    1. Keeping the stems in tact, slice peppers clean through the stems and down the center; remove the seeds and all white veins, toss with the olive oil and ½t of salt and pepper and bake at 450 until just barely browned (about 10 minutes). Keep a close eye on them because these small peppers cook a lot faster.

    2. By hand, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs and roll into small dime sized balls (they’ll be the cutest little meatballs you ever did see).

    3. In a medium sized saute pan, heat 2-3T of butter on high.

    4. Once melted, add meatballs and turn slowly to brown on each side. While browning, continuously add small amounts of butter to keep them from burning or drying out. Cook until browned but just a teeny bit undercooked in the center – (how do you tell? Lightly push on the tip of your nose. That’s what well done meat feels like if you poke it. Now, pinch the meaty part between your thumb and your forefinger. That’s medium. Last but not least, pinch the dinky skinny skin just above the meaty part between your thumb and forefinger. That’s rare.) You want the balls to be super rare (hah).

    5. Now that the meatballs and peppers are ready, put a T or so of the grated cheese in each pepper half, then top with as many meatballs fit (probably 2-3), then bake at 325 until the cheese melts.

    6. Plate and eat!