Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb!

If you could find me braiding “Mother Nature’s Hair” with a babysitter in the 1970’s, you can probably guess what I was doing in the early 1980’s. That’s right – rocking to Joan Jett at the college pub! When I saw these Cherry Bomb peppers at the farmer’s market this weekend I had to smile.

Cherry Bomb Peppers

Cherry Bomb Peppers

The woman selling them warned that they are “really hot”. The question now was what to do with twenty one “really hot” peppers. I decided to roast them, stuff them with a cooling cheese filling and store them in olive oil to use later as an appetizer.

Carefully remove the tops of the peppers with a sharp knife. Using the tip of the knife, scrape out all of the seeds and membrane. Be very careful not to touch your face while preparing these!

Carefully remove tops and seeds

Carefully remove tops and seeds

Place all of the cored peppers top down on a parchment covered cookie tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400 F for ten minutes.

Roast at 400 F for 10 minutes

Roast at 400 F for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, roughly chop a handful of parsley and a small bunch of scallions. Add to a log of goat cheese and a half package of cream cheese. Using a fork blend together in a bowl until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Ingredients for filling

Ingredients for filling

Once the peppers are cool start filling them with the cheese mixture. I use a less expensive brand of olive oil to gradually fill a Mason jar while layering the peppers. I sprinkled some dried oregano between the layers.

Gradually fill the jar while stuffing the peppers

Gradually fill the jar while stuffing the peppers

Store the final product in the refrigerator and use within a week. Serve the peppers cut in half, and drizzled with the oil, on sliced baguette.

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Too Many Tomatoes

There is such a thing as too many tomatoes. I am currently experiencing this problem and it happens at this time every year. It is hard to remember, impossible to imagine actually, at the beginning of tomato season.  Every tomato harvested tastes amazing and I wait eagerly for more to ripen. But right about now I am knee deep in tomatoes. I really hate to see them go to waste. This preparation solved a recent debate I had with myself – whether to toss a bowl of too ripe tomatoes – or cook them. I started by layering them at the bottom of a baking pan.

Layer of Small Ripe Tomatoes

Layer of Small Ripe Tomatoes

I then took a whole chicken and trimmed every bit of extra fat off of it. This is to help keep the tomatoes from ending up in a deep, greasy bath of chicken fat as they cook. I placed the chicken right on top of the tomatoes and seasoned with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.

Whole Chicken Ready to Roast

Whole Chicken Ready to Roast

Roast at 375 F until chicken is cooked through (depends on the weight of the chicken and your oven). The chicken is crisp and juicy and the tomatoes have melted into an incredible sauce.

Roasted and Ready to Carve

Roasted and Ready to Carve

Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken

Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken

I think this deserves a fresh loaf of crusty sourdough, a side of steamed green beans and a glass of pinot noir.

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Cauliflower Appetizer

I have a few kitchen essentials that have made my cooking easier and more delicious. A Le Creuset blue dutch oven, olive oil, well-seasoned Lodge cast iron pans and salt and pepper. My newest discovery, and the one I use most, is parchment paper. I used to think that parchment paper was for fancy baking, but while at a friend’s house for dinner I noticed she used it to roast salmon on a cookie sheet. No messy cookie sheet to clean and an evenly roasted piece of fish. I immediately bought a huge roll and have been roasting everything on parchment ever since. It has transformed cauliflower for me.

Farmer's Market Cauliflower

Farmer’s Market Cauliflower

Cauliflower, steamed, sauteed or au gratin has always been a disappointment to me. It tends to get watery and bland so I avoided using it for years – then I decided to roast it. I cut it into small florets.

Small Florets

Small Florets

Then I toss the florets in a bowl with olive oil and cumin seeds. If you haven’t used cumin seeds before you should give them a try. I love them roasted with any fall vegetable or toasted in a cast iron pan and added to creme fraiche as a dressing or dip.

Toss Cumin, Florets and Olive Oil  in a Bowl

Toss Cumin, Florets and Olive Oil in a Bowl

Then spread the cauliflower out on a parchment covered cookie sheet, salt and pepper and roast in a 375 degree oven until golden and crispy – never soggy.

Spread Evenly on Parchment

Spread Evenly on Parchment

Serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

 

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Roasted Peppers

You know you live in California when your husband comes home from a business meeting with a gift bag of freshly picked heirloom tomatoes and peppers. After washing the bounty, I arranged a tumble of colorful peppers in a bowl to display and enjoy as a centerpiece for a few days. Last night I decided to roast them and serve as an antipasto.

Colorful Peppers

Colorful Peppers

Simply grill the peppers until blistered and charred on all sides.

Peppers on the Grill

Peppers on the Grill

Once they are grilled – place them in a paper bag and roll closed. Letting them sit in the bag for about 10 minutes allows the steam to loosen the skin and make for easier peeling.

Peppers Ready to Peel

Peppers Ready to Peel

Peel the skin off of the peppers and remove tops and seeds. Slice into thick strips. Roughly chop a clove of garlic and some fresh basil. Toss the garlic, basil, peppers, and some olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. This can be served immediately or refrigerated and used within a week.

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers

These are also delicious on sandwiches.

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