Posts tagged peppers
Sunday, January 11, 2009

picked garlicky red peppers

Picked Garlicky Peppers

Among foods I can eat in near unlimited quantities, pickled things are at the top of the list. Perhaps because when I get hungry I don’t crave anything sweet (though worry not, I have quite the sweet tooth as evidenced by the cavity-forming December), but savory and salty. And there’s vinegar present – all the better.

In Russia, when I was growing up, fresh fruit and vegetables were not available in the winter (other than things like potatoes and carrots) and so we did a lot of our own canning at home. My mother would boil the jars and put place tomatoes, cucumbers, cornichons, or mushrooms in them and pour warm vinegary pickling marinade over, then sealing the jars. How she did this, I haven’t a clue – her canning skills were impeccable, and everyone knew her pickled tomatoes as the best around. To this day, even the best of Brighton’s tomatoes don’t hold a candle. Yes, I had a marvelous, gastronomic childhood.

Picked Garlicky Peppers

We didn’t pickle anything ourselves after coming to America and it’s something I kind of miss. In Russia, pickling was a ritual that got everyone involved in the kitchen, even my father. It was something we did each fall with during the harvest season, to enjoy eating in the cold winter months. Cold winter months in Russia commanded bold, intense flavors and salted or pickled foods went perfectly with a staple like potatoes. Just try putting some marinated mushrooms on top of freshly boiled potatoes, sprinkle some dill and sliced onion and see what happens. For me – it was nothing short of heaven.

Picked Garlicky Peppers

But I digress. I could wax poetic about such simple meals for pages and pages and will only find the deafening snores of everyone around. I’ll quit while I’m ahead and instead tell you that I’ve sort of started to pickle at home. All thanks to Deb and her husband who let me sample some of their pickled garlicky peppers, suspecting, though not knowing fully, the monster they would then create.
The very next day after sampling these amazing things, I marched to my produce place – that manages to sell peppers at reasonable prices this time of year, and picked up ten peppers and a head of garlic. While I always have garlic at home, I see no reason NOT to pick up more of it when there’s an opportunity to do so.

Picked Garlicky Peppers

I’m telling you – waiting twenty-four hours for the peppers to be ready was twenty-four hours too long, and the first moment I could, I piled a generous helping into a bowl, sat on my couch, and devoured these peppers in one instant. Undoubtedly, these will become a regular staple in my kitchen now, because they are delicious, easy to make and go with virtually everything. Or at least I think they do. And while it’s not the traditional type of pickling, it’s close enough for me and serves as a lovely and comforting reminder of a childhood memory.

Picked Garlicky Peppers

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

tofu stir-fry with spinach and okra

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

It pains me to say this – but the cookies must take a break for a bit. My pants have told me this as well as the fact that I went through a total of twenty pounds of butter making treats for work. Twenty. Pounds. Of. Butter. And there are still butter reserves in my freezer, it’s like a mini-China in there. I promised the butter I would not abandon it forever, but a breather is much needed after the month of decadent and sweet treats.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

In addition to me swearing off cookies for awhile (let’s see how long that lasts), I also signed up for a half marathon in a few months to keep myself honest and motivated. While it’s both exciting and intimidating, I know it’s very achievable if I stick to a training routine with some discipline.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

I first made this stir-fry a few days ago as I was trying to save wilting spinach and sad-looking okra and was attempting my hand at something moderately healthy – and it was delicious. I threw in some ginger and spices for an added kick and served the vegetables over some brown rice. I know that not everyone likes okra – and it is a tough vegetable to love. A little slimy, without much flavor, okra is like an ugly step-child of the vegetable family. But it readily absorbs other flavors and envelops the dish in softness, which to me tastes comforting – perfect for a winter meal.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

And if tofu is not your thing, throw in some chicken instead, or other vegetables you might like. It’s a stir-fry so really – just about anything goes. Except for, maybe, cookies?

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Friday, October 5, 2007

peppers stuffed with chicken and eggplant

green zebra tomatoes really are the best

A small confession here: this write-up, from start to finish took me a week. It’s pretty sad and shameful that I couldn’t muster enough time to get this out earlier, but this week has been out of control with work, events and last-minute outings. While it’s been fun eating out and traipsing around town, I’ve neglected to post. I’ve cooked absolutely nothing this week, sadly enough as last night took KS and me to Pio Pio on the UES (incredible chicken!), Wednesday night to the Soho House for a special viewing of Michael Clayton (I heart Tilda Swinton!), Tuesday night to a local Sushi joint and Monday was our leftovers and snacks night! So there you have it. No time spent in the kitchen and we’re at Friday. Am I cooking tonight? Highly unlikely! But anyway, the pictures from the dish above were inspired by watching Top Chef that afternoon (I’m so so hooked now!) and so after I made the peppers, I fancied myself a skilled plater – and as you see above, I failed miserably, as I’m certainly lacking a certain je me sais quoi when it should come to plating food well. That and it looks too deliberately arranged, which now that I think about it, drives me crazy. But I regress – onward with the recipe…

dill makes everything better

I don’t know about you, but green markets make me go gaga. It’s like I have to buy everything and KS has to remind me that I can’t have everything at the market, I have to select a few ingredients and commit to them. And I have to agree with him – working long hours leaves little time for elaborate meals with lots of perishables.

IMG_0330 IMG_0328

And so I have to go with a game plan and if I don’t, I wade around aimlessly and KS has to set me straight. Last Saturday was no exception, except, we were in a rush to get to the Cloisters and I discovered on top of rushing and disarray that my trusty Nikon D70s was not cooperating! I fantasized all week about doing some fall photography on the weekend, and, alas, we had to make do with a point-n-shoot, which really delivers disappointing results compared to the SLR version. But the camera is working again (there’s some weird fluke about having to reinsert the image card again) so that is a good thing!

hello, gorgeous! greenmarket booty

While wandering about the market, I spied these beautiful peppers in a big, colorful pile. And it wasn’t so much their look as it was the aroma that wafted through the air, flowery and woodsy at the same time – the smell of fresh, ripe peppers – I had to grab a few. We had already purchased a few items here and there – a few apples, some chorizo from a grass-fed animal farm, a bunch of dill, which inevitably we always wind up throwing out a portion of because we can never eat it quickly enough. [And now – a suggestion and plea to herb vendors - for the love of the green guys you’re growing, please make these bunches smaller! I’d rather pick up several different bunches through the week, but have them be fresh, then throw out a portion of the wilted bunch, because the herbs, as you probably know, do not, at all, keep well!]

mmm... falafel glowing with promise
hot sauce on top gyro & pita

The next day, after our culture-infused trip, a sighting of scary squirrel, and some damn good falafel from West Village, I got to work on the peppers. There was little doubt what I was going to do with them, and while you can make lots of different dishes with peppers, I longed for the ones of the stuffed variety. In Russia, we used to mix ground chicken and seasoned rice together for the stuffing and finish off the dish with a dollop or sour cream (what Russian dish can do without it?) But I wanted something slightly different than the traditional recipe of my childhood – and used bulgur wheat, ground chicken, carrots, onions, tomatoes and pretty long eggplant. I have to say that with this recipe, I may not miss my childhood stuffed pepper dish for awhile.

Continue reading peppers stuffed with chicken and eggplant.