How to Roast Peppers

There is nothing like roasting your own red bell peppers.  The taste is better, there are no artificial ingredients, it’s economical, and best of all, EASY!  

Step One: Rub oil on peppers and put them under the broiler until blackened, turn to get all sides.

Step Two: Put the pepper into paper bag, seal and let rest for 15 minutes.

Step Three: Once cool, take the pepper out and pull the green stem out.  The core and seeds should easily fall out and the skin will easily peel off.

And it will smell so good!

Puréed Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Canapés

 

Puréed Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Canapés
This is a slightly modified version of a recipe from epicurious.com.  Though it does call for some cheese, this appetizer is actually packed full of vitamins. Enjoy!
  •  garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli florets plus 1/2 cup peeled thinly sliced stalks (from about 8 ounces broccoli)
  • 1 cup canned cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained (or organic pino or navy beans)
  • fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup freshly shredded parmigiano-reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 16 1/2-inch-thick baguette slices
  • sliced roasted red bell peppers
  • cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

 

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine garlic, oil and crushed red pepper in small custard cup. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until garlic is tender, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes.

Steam broccoli florets and stalks until very tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Drain. Transfer to processor. Add beans, basil, lemon juice, oil-and-garlic mixture. Process until smooth. Still in parmigiano and season broccoli puree with salt and pepper. 

Spread broccoli puree atop toasts and top with slices of roasted red bed pepper. Transfer canapés to platter and serve immediately.

The Wine, Cheese & Etc. Forage

Many people feel that they cannot enjoy a proper meal without taking the time for shopping, preparing and cooking.  And who has the time for that?  Your partner and friends can always enjoy a good forage:

The Cheese.  Don’t think you have to be a total foodie to compile a good cheese arrangement.  Start with some opposites, such as a cheddar and some brie. Whatever you like.  

The Wheat.  A couple of different types of crackers will do, and maybe any leftover french bread.

The Drink. That’s what friends are for. Have them bring the bottle (s).

The Etc.  A good dry salami, delicate prosciutto or basic ham from your local deli counter (or whatever is left in your fridge) is always a good compliment to the cheese.

Arrange 3-4 cheeses, the wheat and the etc. on a large wooden cutting board or serving platter and have the wine glasses waiting.  If you have a herb garden, grab whatever is the most plentiful and use as a garnish on the tray.

The point is that you will be sitting down to a nutritious (but yes, high in fat) meal with good company that takes little prep time.  

Some cheese and wine experts may balk at my advice.  True, some people go all out, supplying proper utensils such as cheese knives and researching the proper wine to accompany each type of cheese. Now that takes time.  I’d rather get on with it and enjoy the food and the company, the most important part!

Stuffed Mushrooms

I have been using this recipe for over six years now, and this is actually one of the easiest recipes to get comfortable with.  It always adds flair as a side to whatever your entrée is.

You don’t need as much bread as they call for, though you will always end up with extra stuffing that it good to save to use with chicken breast or pork loin.  We use baby bella mushrooms for the better flavor and color, and it only costs a few cents more than traditional white mushrooms. 

 

  • 3 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 large (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter) white mushrooms (1 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Tear bread into pieces and pulse to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and toss with oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

Pull stems from mushroom caps (to create space for stuffing) and finely chop stems. Put mushroom caps, stemmed sides down, in a lightly oiled large shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until mushrooms exude liquid, about 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

While mushroom caps are baking, melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped stems, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, oregano, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Cool vegetables slightly, then add to bread crumbs along with cheese and parsley and toss well.

Turn mushroom caps over, then mound mushroom filling in mushroom caps, pressing gently (there will be some filling left over). Bake in middle of oven until mushrooms are tender and stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Courtesy epicurious.com

J’s Awesome Salsa

Here is a basic, nutritious and easy salsa recipe that can be used as the base for other entrées.  Use what you have in the house and add to taste.  For a really fresh taste,add finely chopped fresh cilantro.

When we use canned veggies, we try to buy organic and generally give the vegetables a light rinse to remove the excess salt.

  • 1 can petit diced tomatoes, rinsed (or fresh diced tomatos)
  • 2-3 chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 or whole jalapeño (depending on how hot you like it) or pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lime juice (or to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper and Kosher salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for one hour for best flavor.  Serve with organic tortilla chips.  We like to mix yellow corn and blue corn chips for color.  Enjoy!

Ham, Leek & Gouda Souffle

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus softened butter for brushing
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 ounces diced ham
  • 2 sliced leek whites sautéed in butter
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 5 ounces shredded aged Gouda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 400° and brush eight 1-cup ramekins with butter. Lightly coat the ramekins with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and set them on a sturdy baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook over moderately low heat until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and cayenne. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the Gouda, ham and leeks.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-high speed until frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the soufflé base until no streaks of white remain
Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them to 1/2-inch below the rim. Run your thumb inside the rim of each ramekin to help the soufflés rise evenly. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the soufflés are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, bake in an 8-cup soufflé at 375° for 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

MAKE AHEAD

The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. The soufflés can be assembled up to 1 hour ahead. The cooked soufflés can be reheated in the oven.

Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine