Buttermilk Biscuits


You know that I always try to have a little backstory to go along with a recipe, because I think that it’s much more fun to find out why someone cooks or bakes something than just read a recipe, which you can do on any cooking site. A lot of times, though, I have no good tale after I try a recipe, but I really want to share it and so I wander around trying to fit the recipe into a story, any story, so I can write about it. I mean, I’m not crazy (or committed) enough to go do something just so I can post about it and give you a recipe, but I do have a backlog of tasty treats that are hanging out just waiting for the right moment.

This is not one of those moments. The true story is that I bought a quart of buttermilk (seriously, who needs a quart of buttermilk?) in order to make sweet potato muffins for a brunch. Since the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup of buttermilk I had a full container when I was done.  I was thrilled when the lemon poppyseed cake called for a cup; I thought I could at least put a dent in the quart. But it’s obvious that buttermilk regenerates, because I swear that the carton was as full as when I started (and I made three of those cakes).  So as the expiration date approached, I started thinking about what else I could do.  Biscuits were the first thing that popped into my mind, but I dismissed them because I’m not a fan.  The ones I’ve had have always been heavy and chewy and too buttermilky–the tang of buttermilk is overpowering to me.  But I couldn’t find any recipes other than cakes and pancakes, so biscuits won by default.

Having never eaten a biscuit that I actually liked, I had every intention of just making them, taking a few pictures and pawning them off on my coworkers.  What really ended up happening is that I was late for work, because I was standing in my kitchen eating biscuits dripping with butter and honey like it was my job.  I moved from the “I’ll pass” camp to the “you’ll pass over all the biscuits now if you know what’s good for you” camp in less time than it took for them to cool.  They were light and layered and had a bit of sweetness (even without the honey) that balanced out the tartness of the buttermilk.  Even the next day they were soft and had none of that chewiness that I think plagues other biscuits.  Of course, I wouldn’t really know how they hold up for too many days, because there weren’t any left after day two.  But, you know what was still hanging around? 1/2 a quart of buttermilk. I kid you not.

Buttermilk Biscuits, courtesy of The Homesick Texan (I think I originally found the recipe on epicurious, but think it’s better to link to her actual site)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading (9 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more to taste (I used just 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or buttermilk (I added a bit more to the dough, because it was a little dry as I was mixing)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Cut the stick of butter into pieces and work it into the flour mixture with your hands or pastry blender until it resembles pea-size crumbs. Add the half-and-half or buttermilk, mixing until the dough is a bit loose and sticky.

Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute. Dough should be smooth and no longer wet. You can sprinkle more flour on the surface if you find it’s sticking. Make the dough into a ball and hit it with a rolling pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple of minutes (I actually just picked up the dough and threw it down over and over (fold over before throwing it down again).  Good tension release and upper arm workout).

Roll out the dough until it’s 1/4 of an inch thick, then fold it in half. Using a round biscuit cutter (you can use a glass or a cup if you don’t have a biscuit cutter–I used a measuring cup), cut out the biscuits from the folded dough. Place on a greased baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet close together, about 1/8 of an inch apart (so they rise up not out), and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

NOTE: If you don’t want to roll and cut them out, after kneading and beating the dough you can drop the dough onto the baking sheet with a spoon. They’re not as symmetrical (dropped biscuits are also known as cat-head biscuits), but they’re no less delicious.

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Polenta with Mascarpone


To say that I’m antsy is a huge understatement.  I think most people would say that I have spring fever, but spring has not yet sprung in the Chi even though we are nigh on April, so that can’t be it.  Or maybe it is. Maybe my internal body clock realizes that it’s [past] time to stop putting on 1746 layers just to leave the house to run an errand and my mind and soul are rebelling.  Who knows?  But, kids, I’m (as Blanche Devereaux would say), jumpier than a virgin at a prison rodeo (hi, Mom! Don’t pass out…).

Like last week’s brownies experiment, I needed something that was so mind-numbingly rote that my brain would shut off and stop sending off flares that would eventually lead me to doing something totally inappropriate.  I should pause here to say that when I get like this–when I get all bored and twitchy–I find myself getting into trouble.  I tend to get impulsive just to have something to do or something different to think about.  Rarely does this impulsiveness include practical things like organizing my closet or checking items off of my to-do list, because seriously, what fun would that be?  Usually I can stop myself from doing truly detrimental things and narrow the field to a haircut or buying a few pairs of shoes, but sometimes I’m led down the path of rekindling so-not-good-for-me-relationships or quitting a job.  True stories.  We haven’t gotten nearly that far this time, so I’m hopeful that the thought of a trip to Cozumel in a few weeks will quiet my mind enough to keep me out of therapy.  Or jail.  Either way.

So, yes, I had to come up with something to make that would occupy my mind for a bit, but that wasn’t so complicated that I wouldn’t do it.  I decided on polenta, because I hadn’t had success with it in the past, so there was a good challenge involved and it only has a few ingredients, so I wouldn’t get discouraged.  A friend mentioned that she’d made polenta using cream cheese, and my mind instantly went to mascarpone, because it has just about the same consistency but is much more yummy.  Plus I’ve always wanted to use mascarpone in something, because it sounds so fancy.  I mean, would you be reading this post if it were called Polenta with Philly Cream Cheese? Methinks not.

Honestly, it couldn’t have been easier.  A total of 5 ingredients (water, cornmeal, salt, sugar and mascarpone) and 30 minutes later I had a side dish that I had to stop myself from devouring like it was my job.  It was also perfect, because it required a fair amount of watching and stirring, and I learned that if you stare at a swirling mass of cornmeal long enough, your mind really will shut off (to the point that the timer may go off for a good minute before you realize it’s yours).  Mission accomplished!  The polenta was creamy and slightly sweet from the mascarpone.  It tasted ridiculously decadent, and even though I just served it with slow cooked beef I did in the crockpot and steamed spinach, I could easily see this making it to dinner party plates.

 

It was an excellent distraction, which I needed, but unfortunately one cannot stir polenta all day every day.  Any suggestions on ways to keep myself out of trouble are happily welcomed. In the meantime, I just ordered these:

Polenta with Mascarpone (adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2010)

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Bring 5 cups water to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, then 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until polenta is tender, thick, and creamy, whisking often and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, 25 to 30 minutes (I would say that it took about 35 minutes to get it relatively smooth and thick).  Mix in mascarpone cheese. Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.

Brussel Sprout Slaw–Seriously! It’s tasty…


I’m not even going to try to convince you that Brussel sprouts are yummy and that you should run out immediately and get some for dinner tonight.  I think that people fall into one of two categories when it comes to Brussel sprouts–you either love them or think that they are gross and inedible.  It’s kind of like with cilantro: there is no middle ground.  While I fall into the hate category on cilantro, I’m having a bit of a love affair with the sprouts.  I never ate them growing up, and my first taste was only a few years ago at Custom House, where they roast them in mini-Le Creuset pots and slather them with butter and bacon.  How could it not be lust at first bite??

I’m obviously not alone in my crush on the little cabbages, because they’ve been popping up on menus around the Chi lately.  A few weeks ago at the Purple Pig, I had a yummy grilled cheese sandwich with a side of Brussel sprout slaw that was so happy I actually left most of my sandwich on the plate and inhaled every bit of the slaw.  You know it has to be delish if I’m leaving melted cheese on toasted bread behind.  Their slaw is served with a light vinaigrette and shavings of nutty cheeses, so again, goodness on a plate.

I’ve been talking about that slaw since there was snow on the ground, so I finally decided that I’d try my own version for Easter dinner.  This was tricky, because while I could have lied and passed it off as regular cole slaw so that at least one bite would be taken, who serves cole slaw at Easter?  I mean, eyebrows would have been raised.  But, I just loved the cool green freshness shaved sprouts have–it just sung Spring to me–so I was honest and confessed my side dish intentions.  You can imagine that this was not met with a warm reception.  But promises were made to at least taste it.

I decided on a simple recipe using lemon juice, olive oil, green apples and salt and pepper (and I’ll admit that I made a little bacon to sprinkle on top in case there were true objections to the slaw.  What doesn’t taste better with a bit of bacon?).  I initially thought I could use a grater to get the slivers, but it was far easier to do a chop with a sharp knife.  And, seriously? It was tasty (you shouldn’t be surprised given the title of the post).  It was exactly as I hoped: light and fresh, with just a hint of the lemon.  The apples added a bit of texture and the olive oil (which I added just before I served it), wilted the leaves just enough so that it didn’t seem like we were chewing on blades of grass. 

 And the best compliment: “I never would have known I was eating Brussel sprouts if you hadn’t told me!”  Mission accomplished (and we didn’t even need the bacon).  Just don’t ask me to create a recipe with cilantro.  Never happening…

Brussel Sprout Slaw

  • 1 bag fresh Brussel sprouts from Trader Joe’s (I think it’s 1/2 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of  1/2 a large lemon
  • 1/4 green apple, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop the Brussel sprouts (starting at the top and to about mid-way down to the stem) finely; place in serving bowl.  In separate bowl, mix the olive oil and lemon juice.  Pour oil/juice mixture over sprouts (I did this in batches so that it wouldn’t get too oily–add enough for your liking).  Add the apples and salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Fall in love.

Cornbread Stuffing


When I was a kid I had an irrational fear of three things: being kidnapped, quicksand and being poisoned.  The first two I blame on Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny cartoons (no, seriously.  Those dang kids in the Mystery Machine were always getting themselves in trouble and would wind up in some haunted mansion tied up and left to fend for themselves and some Warner Bros. character was always either setting a trap over quicksand or falling into a pit of it.  Where I thought I’d find a pit of quicksand in downtown Chicago was beside the point.  As is this lenghty parenthetical, I realize). 

The poisoning was a little more rational, or at least a little more understandable.  My family, coming from an island, always worried about food spoiling if left out too long.  They would also get packages of canned food items from Jamaica like ackee–which were hard to find in New York–and talk of botchulism swirled around my grandmother’s kitchen (unripened ackee can also kill you, so there was that added delight).  I barely understood what they were talking about, but I knew enough to be afraid that one bite of the wrong thing could spell the end of me (dramatic? Me? Never…).

Anytime a turkey was involved the question of whether to put the stuffing inside or bake it separately came up, because stuffing left in the cavity of the bird could spoil, and you guessed it, kill us all.   It was a great debate each year, because the stuffing was more moist if baked inside the turkey, and that, for some reason, seemed worth the risk.  I wasn’t taking any chances, though, so I never ate stuffing unless it was of the Stovetop variety.  I refused to taste it, and truth be told, the texture and mushy look of it (plus the addition of things like giblets) let me know I wasn’t missing anything.

I’m not sure when my boycott against stuffing ended, but a few years ago I found a recipe (in a magazine ad for chicken stock) that sounded too good to pass up.  And it is so delicious that I make extra and freeze it so I can have some on a random Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  The recipe is also super easy, especially if you cheat and use Jiffy cornbread mix instead of making your own.  It’s moist and not the least bit mushy (thanks to the bits of french bread) and since you bake it separately from the turkey, there is no risk of poisoning yourself or your family, which is always a good thing….  Happiest of Thanksgivings to you!

Cornbread Stuffing

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Corn Goodness


So Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that there’s no pressure, no presents to buy, no songs to get sick of; it’s just about good food and family and friends and if you’re lucky lots of leftovers. I also love that you can make an entire meal out of the side dishes. Turkey and ham are lovely, but really, they just take up room on the plate when sweet potatoes and stuffing and rice and peas and roasted vegetables are available. For the next couple of days, I’ll be posting my favorite sides that I wish I could eat all the time, but only get made during the holidays (for no other reason than I totally OD on them for a month and then can’t really think about them again for awhile).

A friend of mine used to host a holiday girls’ night where she’d pull out her good plates and glasses, decorate her apartment and have about 10 us over for dinner. Some years it was just before she left to go home to Texas for Thanksgiving; other years it would be around Christmas and we’d do a present exchange.  We were all asked to bring something, and one year another Heather brought this corn dish that I took one bite of and promptly pulled the rest of closer to my plate and guarded it like a prisoner getting extra bread and water (or whatever prisoners eat). It was kind of like a soufflé, but a little denser and grainy, like polenta. I admit that I stalked Heather for the rest of the party until she finally wrote down the recipe for me and when I tell you it is the simplest—and likely one of the best—things I’ll ever post, I’m not exaggerating (like I’d ever do that). She didn’t have a name for it, so I instantly named it Corn Goodness, because that’s exactly what it tasted like—all the sweetness and goodness of corn, baked into this better than cornbread, almost like stuffing, happiness.

It’s insanely easy, but no one has ever tasted it and not asked me for the recipe immediately. It goes with just about everything, so memorize it and keep the ingredients handy, so you can whip it up on a cold day when you need a little goodness in your world…

Corn Goodness

  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 1 can sweet fresh corn 
  • 1 can creamed corn 
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients in bowl.  Stir well until the mix is fully incorporated.  Pour into pie dish (or individual ramekins) and bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly and then cut into triangles.  Serve warm.

Anniversary Potato Salad


A number of years ago today—I’d have to go into witness protection if I gave the actual number—my mother and aunt arrived in New York City from Jamaica.  They were 11 and 9 years old and had been separated from their parents and brother for four years.  My grandparents left one island where the sun actually provided warmth for another one where the few rays of sun were deceptive.  My grandmother left first, going to Canada and then coming into the United States where she found work in the Garment District and set up a small approximation of the life they’d had in pre-independence Kingston.  My grandfather and uncle followed, and I imagine that the rationale for leaving my mother and aunt behind was that it was easier to start a life in a new place with only one child instead of three.  I have been told this story for as long as I can remember. 

Every year on this day, either my mother or aunt would call the other and wish each other happy anniversary.  Then they would reminisce about how it was so cold, a sensation they couldn’t possibly have ever imagined, and how a few days later it snowed, just little flakes, but enough to make them stop whatever they were doing to watch this magic falling from the sky.  They’d talk about how the American accents sounded so odd to their ears—so flat—but how they were the ones who got teased for their lilting British voices.  The phone call always ended with memories of their first Thanksgiving, just a week after they arrived, with friends who lived in the same building.  First they were served Velveeta and Ritz crackers (imagine never having had American cheese and your first introduction being Velveeta!) and then the turkey and stuffing and ham and the thing my mother remembers most, potato salad with mayonnaise.  As she tells it, the white potatoes (which they’d also never had) were completely overwhelmed by heavy mayonnaise and it was cold and unfamiliar and just so not good.  The texture and the temperature and the very idea of mayonnaise were more than she could handle, and to this day she will make a face when she thinks of it.  Again, I’ve been told these stories for as long as I can remember. 

This is the first year that my aunt will not be here so that my mother can wish her a happy anniversary.  It is the second that my uncle is not here to chime in with what little he may have remembered about his two older sisters on this day.  It has been more than a decade since my grandparents told their version of the story.  Even though they were separated for years, the five of them stayed a family and were finally brought together many years ago today and remained together from that moment on.  There was so much between then and now, more than I’ll ever know, about struggles and fear and being strangers in a strange place where everything was new and sometimes not so shiny.  But I know that they were happy to be together, that they were happy to be here in this country where they made the best of every day, that they loved to dance and laugh and taste new foods (even things like mayonnaise), and that their story—which has become mine—is one of the best stories I’ve ever been told…

 Mustard Potato Salad With Capers (Happy Anniversary, Mom!)

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Food Challenge #1: Moe’s Mofongo


A friend from law school responded to our plea for things to make with a suggestion for mofongo.  I will readily admit that I had to Google it, because I had never heard of it, let alone tasted it.  I found out that it’s a traditional Puerto Rican dish made from fried plantains mashed together with garlic and pork cracklings or bacon.  A few things here: (1) anything mashed together with bacon will happily become a part of my life, but (2) what are pork cracklings? Are they pork rinds like the ones they sell at convenience stores?  Or was I going to be required to make my own and seriously, who does that and how?  And (3): despite the title of this blog, I don’t actually own a pestle and mortar, which in every recipe I read for mofongo said I must have—a food processor would not do (which is fine, because I don’t have one of those either).  So this little recipe became a challenge, because I’d never tasted what I was about to make so I’d never know if I got it right, I didn’t know what one of the main ingredients was exactly and I don’t own one of the appliances crucial to the recipe (actually, two appliances, because I discovered I should also have a deep fryer).  Oh, ok… Let’s start cooking!

 

Needless to say, I didn’t have a recipe for this.  I thought I’d come upon one in Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World.  The recipe for fufu from Ghana sounded similar, but some searching on the interwebs led me to believe that these are two completely different foods with different textures and eaten in totally different ways.   My main problem was that I had no idea what the consistency of mofongo was supposed to be.  I could guess what plantain, garlic and pork would taste like together, but I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to have something creamy or crispy, dense or light at the end.  I thought all of the frying would leave me with crispy and dense, but then I discovered that the end result needed to be rolled into a ball that could be added to soup or eaten with a sauce, so how was crispy going to work?  Finally, one recipe said it should have the consistency of mashed (not whipped) potatoes.  I decided to go with that and hope for the best.

I made the decision that recipe integrity be damned, I was not going to schlep home a pestle and mortar and deep fryer for this one dish.  So I decided to use my blender set to chop and a deep bottomed skillet for frying.  Luckily I have a candy/deep fryer thermometer, so I could test the temperature of the oil.  I also decided to go with the bacon rather than trying to figure out the pork crackling sitch, because it was Sunday and I wanted bacon for breakfast anyway…

Green Plantain

Green Plantain

All of the recipes called for green plantain, which was readily available at the local grocery store, so yeah! for one easy part of the recipe (an aside here: plantain is not pronounced plan-tane, but plan-tin.  Trust me on this [but if you don’t believe me or my Caribbean family, dictionary.com will say it for you].  If I can stop one person from mispronouncing this word again I will feel my work in the food blog world is done).

 

So the recipe. Most of the ones I found online were the same except for one thing, which I learned late Sunday afternoon is kind of a crucial difference between the recipe working and failing miserably.  The recipe I went with the first time around—from El Boricua, a Puerto Rican newsletter (http://www.elboricua.com/mofongo.html) –said that I needed to make tostones first and then use them in my mofongo.  Tostones are basically twice-fried plantains (you fry the plantain, then press them down so they spread a bit and then fry them again). 

Tostones

Tostones

While really tasty and happy, I couldn’t get this version to stay in a ball if my culinary life depended on it. 

Extra Crispy Mofongo Before It Fell Apart...

Extra Crispy Mofongo Before It Fell Apart...

 

It was too crispy and there wasn’t nearly enough moisture to hold it together.  I thought about adding some chicken broth, but that would have involved actually having chicken broth, so, um, yeah…. I also thought that adding broth would make it soggy rather than making it moist.  There’s no way that this version would hold up in a soup or sauce without falling apart, but I could see substituting it for breadcrumbs on chicken or fish or a roast.

I decided to do the recipe again, but skipped the second frying of the plantains and that led me to as close to a mofongo as I think I’ll get until I taste a professional version and try it again.  It was much easier the second time around, and the flavors and texture seemed right. 

Is this the real deal?

Is this the real deal?

 I got the mashed potato consistency after about 10 seconds in the blender and was able to roll it into balls with no problem.  I didn’t try dropping them into soup to see how they’d hold up, but I think it’d work.  I leave it up to Moe to test and let me know if I’m even close…

 

 

Mofongo (compilation of recipes)

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End of Summer Salad (not that summer actually ever started…)


Part of the reason—besides my procrastination—that I update so infrequently is that I really don’t know how to cook that many things.  Honestly, I have about six desserts that I make really well and about three dinner dishes that I feel confident about.  Nine specialties does not a blog make.  I have about 15 cookbooks, 100 back issues of Bon Appétit with all of my “must try one day” recipes tagged and six months worth of Food & Wine that started to magically appear in my mailbox and just as magically disappeared one day.  All of this to say that when I need to, I can follow a recipe pretty well, but god forbid I should be forced to cook a month’s worth of original meals on my own.  I am completely jealous of people who can look at a raw chicken and come up with seven different ways to prepare it without breaking out into a sweat. 

In an effort to get more comfortable in the kitchen, I try to take classes whenever I can. I don’t know that I’ve ever made one thing from any of the classes (aside from the couscous recipe below) ever again (sensing a pattern here?).  My cabinets are filled with all of the utensils I’ve sworn I’d use after the class—the mats and chopsticks from my sushi making class are still in the bag mocking me each time I open the drawer—and, like the road to hell, my kitchen is paved with the best of intentions.

Last winter I took a Moroccan cooking class at The Chopping Block with the hope that I could at least learn to prepare one entire meal that I could serve to people one day.  I don’t know who those people are or why they wouldn’t want to just eat out, but that was my plan.  On the menu that day was fennel spiced chickpea flatbread, Moroccan braised chicken with spices and apricots,  a date, saffron and mint couscous salad and an orange and saffron crème brulée.  I was paired with a mother and daughter who had some obvious tension between them.  The mother felt she knew everything there was to know about cooking and the daughter couldn’t have cared less about the class or learning how to dice an onion.   I tend to side with mothers in these little tiffs, mainly because I can only imagine what my own mother has had to put up with over the years, but after the mom tried to school me on pouring cream into a mixer and then tried to grab a knife out of my hand while I was “incorrectly” chopping dates (is there such a thing?) I understood why the daughter rolled her eyes every 25 seconds.  She and I shared a brief moment of schadenfreude when the mom poured an entire ramekin of saffron into our chicken (when we were supposed to use four strands).  The nice instructor’s head almost popped off, considering saffron can run about $10 a gram and Mommy Dearest had just poured about $100 into our pan of chicken breasts.

At any rate, the meal was actually pretty simple, and looks impressive enough to serve when those mystery people come over.  It’s a little much for a random Tuesday, though, which is why I’ve never tried it at home.  The only part of the meal I’ve duplicated is the couscous, which is the perfect thing to take to a picnic or make a batch of and have for lunch during the week.  What I like most about it is that once you get the basics in, anything you like can be added like tomatoes, tuna, or olives. I’ve also done it with orzo instead of couscous, which turned out just as well (add a little olive oil while it’s cooling). 

couscous 1

So if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm enough for a picnic this Labor Day, here’s your side dish.  Invite me over when you decide to make the chicken…

IMG_4096

 

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Three Steps to the Best Sandwich Ever


img_0405It’s late January, the high temperature here in Wisconsin today is twelve, and you know what? I am sick of hearty soups and stews and roasts. I just want a little reminder that summer exists, that vegetables do actually grow in the (unfrozen) ground, and that one day, I might eat a light meal and go for a walk in a T-shirt. It is times like these that call for roasted red peppers.

I loved roasted red peppers. They are always fresh and bright and ready to perk up any dish with a robust smack of flavor. You can buy peppers already roasted and packed in oil, but I prefer to roast batches of them myself and keep them in jars in the fridge. They won’t go bad, or at least, I have never had a jar of them around long enough to find out. They are the perfect addition to any sandwich, but they are also great in starring roles.

So without further ado, here is step one to the best sandwich ever.

Step 1 or How to Roast Peppers

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • De-stem and core red peppers (however many you like).
  • Place them directly on the lowest oven rack. (Their juices might drip a little, but so what?)
  • After about 15 minutes, turn.
  • Roast and turn until burnt black on all sides.
  • Place in a plastic bag and tie the bag tight.
  • Wait until cool and then peel the charred skins off.
  • Store in a glass jar in the fridge in their own oil.

Now that you have roasted all these peppers, what do you do with them? One of the many ways I use them is to make a salad of sorts and serve them as an appetizer or side dish. The recipe I use in Step 2 is my recreation of an amazing antipasto I had recently on a vacation in Italy.

Step 2 or Roasted Red Peppers and Capers Salad

  • Cut four roasted red peppers into strips and arrange on a plate.
  • Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of capers (preferably packed in salt, but any will do), the juice of half a lemon, chopped parsley, oregano (preferably fresh, but dried is fine) salt, pepper, and the highest quality olive oil you have.
  • Enjoy.

Step 3 or Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich (aka the Best Sandwich Ever)
If you and your guests can help yourselves, you may have some Step 2 leftovers hanging out in your fridge. Don’t fret, because they are the key ingredient to the Best Sandwich ever, a sandwich so good it will make you remember gentle summer breezes, weep tears of joy, and go dust off your sandals. Well, almost.

  • Take two slices of fresh, crusty Italian bread.
  • Spread one side with goat cheese.
  • Place Step 2 on top.
  • Garnish with alfalfa sprouts.
  • Voila!

If ever there were a sandwich good enough to lure Persephone back to earth early, it would be this one.

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