Tag Archives: Peppers

Homegrown Philly Cheesesteak with Farm Stand Sweet & Hot Peppers

I developed this recipe for Philly Homegrown’s Cheesesteak Give-away tomorrow, August 25th at the Mayor’s LOVE Park Farmers’ Market beginning at 11 AM.

What could be more homegrown in Philadelphia than a Philly Cheesesteak? What about a Philly cheesesteak in which all the ingredients come from farms within 100 miles of the City of Brotherly Love on an Italian roll from Sarcone’s? Best yet, with this recipe you can enjoy your Homegrown Cheesesteak…at home.

The Philly Homegrown Cheesesteak Give-away is part of Philly Homegrown, a consumer education and tourism marketing program launched this summer to introduce the people, places and flavors of the area’s foodshed—from Amish Country to the Atlantic Ocean and from the region’s rivers to the rich farmlands in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. I’ll be there with my Frog Commissary crew. We will give-away 1000 mini-Homegrown Cheesesteaks.

To learn more about Philly Homegrown and the event, go to food.visitphilly.com

Philly Homegrown Cheesesteaks will also be available at Ben’s Bistro at The Franklin Institute from Thursday, August 26th through Sunday, August 29th. Ben’s Bistro is open to the public without admission.

Philly Homegrown Cheesesteak with Farm Stand Sweet & Hot Peppers

Do ahead Onions and peppers may be cooked up to two days ahead. Reheat before serving. Bread should be bought the day you are using it.

8 ounces assorted farm stand sweet and hot peppers, stems and seeds removed
2 cups large dice sweet Pennsylvania onion
6 ounces mild, semi-soft cheese such as Pennsylvania Colby, grated
1 1/2 pounds grass-fed Pennsylvania rib eye steak* or chip steak
1 Sarcone’s large Italian bread loaf or similar 22-24″ loaf, ends trimmed and cut into 1/3’s or 1/4’s**
3 ounces oil
4 ounces water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
* If using rib eye steak, place in freezer for 2-3 hours until partially frozen. With sharp knife, shave thin slices.
** You may substitute 4 standard 6-inch steak rolls

1. Split each piece of bread in half lengthwise, but keep two halves connected. Pull out a little of spongy part of bread creating a cavity.
2. Cut peppers into long, thin strips.
3. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over low-moderate heat. Add peppers. Saute until peppers start to soften. Add 2 ounces water and steam peppers until water evaporates. Repeat with 2 ounces additional water. You want to fully soften peppers without browning them. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over moderate heat. Add onions and cook until translucent without browning. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Add beef. Using a flat spatula, toss and chop apart beef as it cooks. When beef is fully cooked, add onions, salt and pepper and mix into beef. Add cheese on top of beef and melt. Place open rolls on top to lightly heat and refresh. Using tongs or slotted spoon, scrape meat onto rolls taking care to leave behind any liquid in pan.
6. Top with peppers and serve hot.

Serves 4

You will need a mix of farm stand sweet and hot peppers, onion, meat, cheese, bread and oil. From mid-summer on, farm stands are bursting with all manner of sweet and hot peppers. Depending on your preference, you should have about four times times sweet peppers to hot. Here are long hots and banana peppers along with red and green bell peppers. These hot peppers are hot, but not searingly so.

Cut tops from peppers and split in half. Be careful handling the interiors of hot peppers — seeds and membrane — as the volatile acids that provide the pepper’s heat can come off on to your fingers. Either wear gloves, put a piece of plastic wrap between the pepper’s interior and your fingers or just take care not to touch any soft membranes like your lips, nose or eyes until you thoroughly wash your hands after handling the peppers. Your fingers themselves will not be troubled. Soap, water and time will “cure” any pepper burning. It’s not dangerous, just uncomfortable.

Using your fingers and a sharp paring knife, remove seeds and cut away white membrane of peppers. Discard seeds and membranes. Cut peppers into long thin strips.

The cheese should be mild and semi-soft — suitable for grating. I used an organic Meadow Run Colby. Grate cheese using a box grater or something similar. In a “worst case,” just slice cheese thinly.

You can use chip steak. However, here I used a piece of  rib-eye steak. Premium cheesesteaks start with a rib-eye steak, typically sliced on a commercial slicer — something unlikely to be included among your home kitchen equipment. But you can still use a whole piece of rib-eye. Place the beef in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours so that it is partially frozen, but not rock hard.

With a sharp knife, cut slices as thin as you can. Your goal is to “shave” the beef so that you have “paper-thin” slices. Your slices will not be paper-thin, but do the best you can.

I used a long Italian loaf from South Philly’s Sarcone’s Bakery on 9th Street between Catherine & Fitzwater. DiBruno’s also carries Sarcone’s bread.  You can certainly use individual steak rolls.

If using a long loaf, begin by trimming away the rounded ends. Regardless of what sort of roll you are using, pull out and remove some of the doughy bread. This just makes for a less doughy and more enjoyable sandwich. You can cut your long loaf into three or four smaller pieces. Later I will recommend cutting sandwiches into 2″ wide pieces for easier handling so three or four pieces is not critical.

Also, chop your onion into pieces about half to quarter-inch in size. Here’s a video on How to Chop and Onion.

Now you’re ready to cook your Homegrown Philly Cheesesteak with Farm Stand Sweet & Hot Peppers.

Assemble your ingredients next to your stove.

Begin by sauteing your onions in a large saute pan in oil — I used olive oil. You should only need about 1 tablespoon oil.

Cook until onions are soft and translucent but not browned. This should take six to eight minutes. If onions begin to brown, reduce heat and/or add a touch of water. The water will stop the browning and help the onions soften. You will want to evaporate the water. Remove cooked onions and set aside.

Next, in the same pan, cook peppers over low-moderate heat in a tablespoon of oil. Peppers will take longer to cook than onions – about 15-20 minutes. . You want them to be very soft, but not browned or falling apart.

Again, adding a few ounces of water, once the peppers start to soften, is helpful to softening the peppers. Here I added 2 ounces of water two times, each time allowing the water to fully evaporate. You want sautéed peppers and not boiled peppers. Lightly salt peppers, remove from pan and set aside. The peppers should be warm, but they are a topping and do not have to be hot.

If you do not have a large saute pan, cook the steak in two batches. Hold your first batch in a 200 degree oven while cooking second batch. I used a 13″ pan. Begin by adding 2 tablespoons oil to pan over high heat. Allow oil to get very hot — nearly smoking. Carefully add shaved beef. Allow bottom to brown.

With a broad, flat spatula, turn beef and using “blade” of spatula, chop and cut up beef into small pieces.

When beef is fully browned, add cooked onions and mix in well. Cheesesteak places cook their meat on a flat griddle that allows the rendered liquid to flow away. When cooking in a pan, the liquid will evaporate somewhat, but you will still have some liquid to contend with.

Add cheese on top and allow to melt. Season with salt and pepper.

While cheese is melting, place bread lightly on top to enable steam from cooking beef to re-fresh bread. I cut the long loaf into three very generous sandwiches, but you can easily cut it into four.

Using slotted spoon or spring tongs, transfer beef, onion, cheese mix into rolls. Take care in doing this as it’s very hot. Top with farm stand sweet and hot peppers. In serving, I recommend cutting sandwiches into more manageable smaller pieces — two inches or so in length.

For lots of recipes and to view visits to area farm stands or Philadelphia Neighborhood Farmers’ Markets, go to athomebysteveposes.wordpress.com.

For more information about Philly Homegrown, visit food.visitphilly.com.

To learn more about local farmers’ markets, visit The Food Trust and Farm to City. Year ’round you can purchase local food products at Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market.

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Grilled Bread for Hors d’oeuvres or Accompaniments

For access to the complete list of At Home Blog recipes, visit Recipe Index.

Grilled bread is a versatile, multi-purpose accompaniment that once you master it’s relatively simple technique, will become a crowd-pleasing stable at your table. In grilling bread, your goal is to maintain a slightly spongy interior to the bread and “wrap it” in a crunchy exterior. The charring provides a more complex flavor than simply toasting. The spongy interior enables bread to absorb liquids. Taken together, it is an altogether more compelling experience and than fully crisp cracker or oven-baked crostini.

Grilling bread is more a matter of staring with good bread and technique than it is a recipe. Good bread is critical. You want bread that has a firm crust with a spongy interior rather than a cottony interior. Sourdough is best. Ciabatta is a bread that has the sort of texture you want and is often available in supermarkets. In my experience, if you live in the Philadelphia area, the best bread comes from Metropolitan Bakery.

Here’s what you need to grill bread: Good bread, spring tongs, a bread knife — though you could use pre-sliced bread, olive oil, and, of course, a grill or grill pan. Pictured above is a Metropolitan ficelle in the foreground and a Metropolitan Country White. A ficelle is a smaller-sized baguette-style bread. Due to its smaller size, it makes for a somewhat more “mouth-friendly” sized hors d’oeuvres.

There are several ways to cut your “baguette-style” ficelle. Cutting it straight across makes more round slices.

A bias or angle cut produces longer more oval slices. The rounder sizes are on the right.

In foreground are bias cut — longer and thinner than the rounder straight cut in background.

This is a loaf of Metropolitan Bakery Country White. Larger pieces of grilled bread are better for accompaniments with dishes that have liquids that beg to be sopped up on bread.

By cutting the bread yourself rather than buying it sliced enables you to control the thickness of your bread. Cut slices about 1/2 to 1-inch thick. Cut large slices in half.

A variety of cuts. The cuts from ficelle are ideal for hors d’oeuvres or cheese. The half slices and “fingers” work best served with something that has liquid that needs something more spongy such as an amply dressed tomato salad or steamed mussels.

Pre-heat grill, or in this case, the grill pan over moderate-high heat. You may need to slightly adjust heat source if you find bread grilling too quickly or too slowly.

Place bread on grill.

Once bread is well-grilled on one side, turn it and grill on other side. Don’t hesitate to sample an occasional piece as you go to check bread’s progress — slightly crunchy exterior and lightly spongy interior. Another “tell” is bread should still be slightly pliable when you bend it rather than fully crisp. Once you do this, the “skills” and “tells” of grilling bread will become second nature for you.

Thinner bread has less room for error if you want to maintain a slightly spongy interior.

Ideally you want bread to visually “express” it’s place of cooking, ie. grill marks. The variable amounts of charring, from dark to light, produces a pleasingly complex flavor “profile.”

Once all your bread is grilled, lightly brush on both sides with olive oil. Serve immediately or within a few hours. If bread sits longer than that, it will be helpful to re-fresh in oven.

Bread can be stored for up to five days in an airtight container and refreshed before serving.

If you have stored bread, simply refresh by placing on tray and…

…place in pre-heated 350 degree oven. The smaller pieces need 3-5 minutes and larger, thicker pieces take 7-10 minutes. You goal is to restore the crunchy exterior crust while maintaining a slightly spongy interior.

Grilled bread is the ideal accompaniment to Marinated Roast Sweet & Hot Peppers. Serve a bowl of peppers along with a basket of grilled bread — including a small fork for guests to make their own.

Or make individual hors d’oeuvres and serve on a platter.

Enjoy…At Home!

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Marinated Roast Sweet & Hot Peppers

Note: For the complete library of At Home blog recipes, see Recipe Index.

Marinated Sweet & Hot Roast Peppers
By mid-summer, sustained heat produces a rainbow of peppers at farm stands and farmers’ markets.  These peppers are transformed by roasting such that when paired with slightly soft grilled bread, they are one of the great pleasures of sitting around with friends and family in summer. When buying peppers, select an assortment of colors — mostly sweet peppers with an occasional hot pepper — enough to keep things interesting and preventing a bland bowl of just sweet peppers.  If using supermarket peppers, select a mix of red, yellow and orange. They are expensive, but worth it. Do not use green bell peppers as their taste is too aggressive and not sweet. For hot peppers, use mildly hot Poblano or Anaheim and Cubanelle. You want substantially more sweet peppers than hot – maybe five to one.

You will definitely need a spring loaded tongs to turn peppers while charring so don’t even try this without them.

Do ahead Marinated peppers will sit happily in your refrigerator for a month.

2 – 2 1/2 pounds assorted sweet and hot peppers, in a volume ratio of 4-5 sweet to 1 hot
1 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 ounces olive oil
3/4 teaspoons Salt, Kosher preferred

1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Place peppers on foil-lined heavy duty rimmed baking sheet. Depending on how many pounds of peppers, a double layer of foil may be useful to protect your pan and make clean-up easier.  Place peppers on sheet and place on shelf closest to flame. Broil until lightly charred, turning peppers as you go to char all over.
3. Remove peppers from oven and immediately transfer to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to steam peppers. This facilitates peeling peppers.
4. When peppers have cooled enough so they can be handled, place on cutting board. Pull away stem. Peel away skin. Split peppers in half. Remove seeds.
5. When all peppers have been peeled, lay peppers flat. Cut into thin strips. Cut long strips in half.
6. Transfer strips of peppers to bowl. Add garlic, good olive oil and salt.

Yield About 1 1/2 cups

This is a wonderful assortment of peppers purchased at several Philadelphia farmers’ markets. Roasting, peeling and removing seeds is a project made easier if you avoid smaller and long, thin peppers.

Peppers are variable in the time it takes to char and blister so be patient. This is a result of pepper size and how different peppers skin reacts to heat.

Most broilers have two rows of burners down the middle so some peppers will be closer to heat than others. You will need to rotate peppers.

Rotate peppers as you go. As they are round, they may prove slightly stubborn about maintaining the position you want them. As they soften, don’t hesitate to apply a little pressure — squishing them to position them as you need to. Instead of a broiler, you could do lots of peppers at a time over a hot grill. Char peppers over high heat.

Turn as you go. Remove fully charred peppers to bowl and cover. Add more peppers as space allows. Peppers do not have to be fully charred, but can be substantially blistered and you will be able to peel away skin. As peppers heat, the air inside will expand and some peppers will “explode” — simply meaning they will split open. This is fine.

Transfer charred peppers to a bowl and cover so they steam. Steaming helps to remove charred skin. Rather than wrapping and unwrapping with plastic wrap, you can just place a plate on top to “seal” bowl. As peppers char on outside they steam and soften on the inside. Keep both your covered bowl for charred peppers and your un-charred peppers near broiler to make it more convenient to deposit your charred peppers and add un-charred peppers to the tray as you go.

Once all peppers have been charred and steamed in their bowl, it’s time for the somewhat tedious task of peeling and removing seeds. Here’s a set-up to make this task easier. From left to right:
1. Container to discard peel and seeds.
2. Damp cloth to keep area clean. A pastry scraper also helps.
3. Empty bowl for peeled peppers
4. Bowl of charred and steamed peppers.
You will also need a sharp paring knife to scrape away peel and cut strips.

Larger, thicker peppers are easier to peel. You have to be pretty careful with thinner skinned peppers to remove peel and seeds without destroying peppers meaty flesh.

First remove stem and peel from all peppers waiting to remove seeds until all peppers are peeled. You can just pull out the stem or cut away the pepper’s top including stem. Next, split peppers and carefully remove all seeds. As you go, it is useful to continuously wipe your peeling and seeding area clean to prevent pesky peel and seeds from sticking to the peppers you have cleaned. Stack cleaned peppers in bowl.  Take care in handling hot peppers. The volatile oils will sit on your fingers — and counter and cutting surface — and if you touch your eye or other soft membrane it will be painful. If this happens, wash well with soapy water and rinse well.

Once you have peeled all peppers and removed seeds, take one or two peppers at a time, check to be sure that there are not errant seeds sticking to pepper and lay flat on cutting board.

With a sharp knife, cut peppers into strips. If peppers are long, cut strips in half. Long strips of peppers are messier when placing on hors d’oeuvres-sized crostini or grilled grilled bread.

When you are done you have wonderfully naked strips of sweet and hot peppers waiting for their marinade…and a mess of peel and seeds to discard. This is a double batch.

Garlic is the natural compliment to peppers. Patiently chop until garlic is very finely chopped as you don’t want your guests biting into a chunk of garlic. The garlic is not essential, but strongly recommended.

Mix peppers well with garlic, good olive oil and salt. They get better the longer they marinate and will keep in refrigerator for a month. Serve on crostini or grilled bread. See At Home Page 82 for a crostini recipe.

Look tomorrow for instructions on grilling bread

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On the Table: Farm Stands of Northern Chester & Montgomery Counties, PA

At dinner’s end, with guests gone and a tired me sitting on the couch, Christina nicely extolled a wonderful dinner. While I appreciated her compliments, I expressed that this dinner was not a culinary triumph that required any great skill. I asserted, as I often do, that preparing a nice meal is more a matter of aspiration and planning than it is any great skill. You could have prepared this dinner.

Here is the slightly ridiculous haul from my drive through Northern Chester & Montgomery Counties. My farm stand shopping is a matter of faith. I have faith that when I get home I will find good uses for all that I have purchased over the week.

Here was my mostly Northern Chester & Montgomery County Menu:

Hors d’oeuvres
Roast marinated sweet & hot peppers with grilled bread
Deviled eggs
Soppressetta from DiBruno’s
Cerviche of diver scallops with coriander

Dinner
Cold Beet Soup with Cucumbers, Sour Cream & Dill

Tomato & Red Leaf Lettuce Salad

Grilled Shiso-marinated Swordfish
Creamy Corn Salad
Grilled Wax Beans

Cherry Grove Farm Toma Primavera

Peach Sorbet with Blackberries & Doughnut Peaches

Dinner began at 7 PM with the Blanc de Blanc Champagne from J.Maki’s Chester County winery. Everyone agreed it was excellent by any standard — not just excellent for being a local champagne.

Light hors d’oeuvres included roast, marinated sweet and hot pepper, deviled eggs and a DiBruno’s house-made soppressetta. The deviled eggs includes mayonnaise, mustard, a tiny dice or cornichon, fresh chives and topped with sweet smoked Spanish paprika. Frankly, the roasted peppers were a pain to peel — but they were possibly the unexpected hit of the evening. I bought them at a stand in a residential street from a “backyard” farmer whose mode of transport was a golf cart rather than a tractor. The peppers were arrayed in little plastic baskets like we use to serve burgers at Frog Burger — $1 a basket, one red sweet and one hot green. But they were very thin-skinned peppers that were difficult to peel after I charred them in the broiler. I cut them into short, thin strips and tossed them in olive oil and garlic. They were served with grilled bread — something a bit different from fully crisp crostini. I plan to post a “How to Make Grilled Bread” Tip in the next week or so. DiBruno’s house-made dried sausages are a go-to easy hors d’oeuvres addition.

Another very easy hors d’oeuvres are sliced diver scallops — also know as dry scallops because they are not packed in that awful white liquid that lesser quality scallops can be packed. They are simply thin-sliced and “dressed” about a half hour before guests arrive with lime juice, olive oil, chives and crushed toasted coriander seed — plus a little sea salt and pepper. There is a similar recipe on page 149 of At Home using pink peppercorns.

Unlike recent weeks when dinner was served family style on the table — that is, on platters where guests helped themselves, this menu was a plated dinner.

This cold beet soup is the third cold soup I have done this month. As frequently noted, I am a fan of soups as meal starters. They are easy, do ahead and lend themselves to dressing up. Here, the soup is dressed up with a small dice of cucumber, a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. To make the soup, I just peeled the beets, cut into similar-sized chunks, cooked in a corn stock with onion and garlic, pureed in a blender and flavored with red wine vinegar. Look for the recipe tomorrow.

The cold soup co-opted the first course that would likely included tomatoes so I added a small tomato salad to the menu. I picked up some beautiful red accented lettuce from the Z Farm stand on Rittenhouse Square in the morning. The tomatoes and sweet onion came from my trip as did the basil. So, this is just the lettuce, two slices of tomato, topped with small yellow pear and orange tomatoes — cut into half as even the smallest tomatoes should be — dressed with a little balsamic, very good olive oil, Maldon sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and topped with a basil chiffonade. Everything was ready to go to be plated well before guests arrived.

I had grilled fresh swordfish earlier in the week for Christina and she lobbied to have it again for our guests. Given my failure to locate duck or lamb or pork on my drive, I went for the swordfish. It was marinated in a little garlic, shredded shiso — a minty, grassy herb that I got from Z Farm and olive oil. It was grilled in my grill pan — good as any you would get off a backyard grill. Served with a properly trimmed lemon wedge. There is a similar recipe on page 198 in At Home. I decided to grill the yellow wax beans. Just lightly tossed in olive oil and grill. Here a grill pan is much better than an open grill as there is no place for the beans to fall. The grilling adds a dimension to the otherwise very simple beans. See At Home page 307 for Grilled Green Beans. And what’s the purpose of a summer’s dinner but for an excuse to eat corn. Here it’s shaved with just a little sweet red pepper for color and purple scallion. What was unusual about this corn salad is that I had some leftover home-made mayonnaise from the deviled eggs and felt that the plate could use something creamy so I dressed the corn salad in the mayonnaise. It was sweet and creamy with a little bite from the scallion. One does not frequently see a corn salad with a creamy dressing.

We served the J.Maki Viognier with dinner. Like the champagne, it was also excellent. If you are not familiar with Viognier’s — a varietal grape that typically not bone dry and with tropical fruit overtones. At Home owners check-out the wine chart on page 32.

Rather than a full blown and filling cheese course added to an already ample meal, I served just a little bit of a Toma Primavera from Lawrenceville, NJ’s Cherry Grove Farm. I would put this cheese up there with the world’s best cheeses. It is available at the Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market. It’s served with a little grilled bread.

Weaver’s peaches were ripe, sweet, spectacular and easy to handle freestones. I made a peach sorbet by simply pureeing a mix or yellow and white peaches — skin and all – them passing the puree through a strainer to remove the larger pieces of skin — adding a ginger-scented simple syrup and then freezing in my ice cream freezer. It is important to “temper” sorbet or ice cream before serving. That means removing it from the freezer so it has a chance to soften somewhat. The peach sorbet was served with a grilled half of a yellow doughnut peach. I used an apple corer to get the pit out while accenting the “doughnut.” These were brushed with honey from Jack’s Farm Stand of two weeks ago and olive oil and grilled. Blackberries provided a color and slightly sour counterpoint.

Prep and Service Strategy
I always counsel that the ideal is to begin planning a weekend dinner at least the weekend before and spread your tasks over time. My current schedule isn’t allowing me to do this, but here’s how I would approach this meal if I were you. The sorbet and roast marinated peppers the weekend before. (Be careful not to eat those wonderful peppers during the week!)  The cold beet soup early in the week. You can also make deviled eggs mid-week though I would not stuff them until Friday or Saturday. Shop on Thursday for everything else except the swordfish and scallops. On Friday, grill bread and store in air-tight bag, dice cucumbers and chop dill for soup, slice onions for tomato salad, rinse lettuce and store in damp towel, blanch yellow beans, make corn salad, chop garlic for swordfish marinade, make lemon wedges and remove pits from doughnut peaches. Friday also set the table and chill wine.

That leaves for Saturday during the day, slice scallops, marinate swordfish, grill yellow beans, slice small tomatoes and make basil chiffonade. Grill doughnut peaches. Place hors d’oeuvres on platters or bowls. Make sure you give yourself one relaxed hour before guests arrive. If you follow this schedule that will be easy.

To turn-out dinner: dress scallops, bowl and garnish soup, arrange and dress tomato salad, grill swordfish and plate entree, cut cheese and plate with grilled bread, plate sorbet with doughnut peach and peach sorbet.

I am not suggesting this is no effort. Nor am I suggesting you try to repeat this exact meal — though I believe you could. What I am suggesting is that by planning ahead and spreading out your tasks, this can all be fun and not a chore — including the shopping.

Thank you for visiting.

Steve
Your Home Entertaining Coach

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Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers Recipe

I love mixing mildly hot peppers into a mix to provide an occasional surprise in the mouth.  My apartment does not have an outdoor grill so I do my grilling in a grill pan. Works just fine, but this goes much more quickly on a grill with generous cooking surface. I have to do mine in several batches.

Do Ahead I would happily make this two days before serving. Store, well-covered in refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature and re-toss before serving.

2 pounds assorted sweet and mildly hot peppers – 2-3 times sweet than hot
2 pounds assorted small eggplant
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine garlic and olive oil in large bowl. Mix well.
2. For eggplant, remove stem end and discard. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Down length of each half, cut deep slits into flesh about 1/2-inch apart taking care not to cut all the way through. These slits allow oil to penetrate without drenching eggplant in oil, helps steam escape during grilling and generally facilitates cooking.
3. For the peppers, remove the stem and top and discard. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and trim away membrane. Take care in handling hot peppers not to touch soft membranes like your lips and eyes or you will cause burning. Wash hands well after handling hot peppers.
4. Prepare eggplant for grilling. You can’t just toss eggplant into garlic oil. Eggplant acts as a sponge and that’s not good. One eggplant could absorb most of this oil. Instead, place your fingers into garlic and oil mixture. Generously rub and coat each eggplant. Continue with all eggplant. Eggplant should have modest patina of oil.
5. Prepare peppers for grilling. Unlike eggplant, peppers do not absorb oil. Combine what’s left of garlic oil with peppers and toss well.
6. Preheat grill to moderate.
7. To grill peppers, start peppers skin side down. Cook until scorch marks are formed — three to five minutes. Turn peppers and continue cooking until peppers become very limp. Transfer to bowl and stack. Stacked peppers will continue to cook from their own internal heat and you want this to happen. Allow peppers to cool.
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8. To grill eggplant, start flesh side down and cook until well scorched and marked — about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn so skin side is down. Continue cooking. You will see moisture within slits bubble and steam and eggplant will swell as internal moisture turns to steam. Oil will also seep into eggplant through slits. Skin protects eggplant through this process. Continue cooking until eggplant are limp and very pliable. Undercooked eggplant is not a good thing. Set aside to cool.

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Here I use my Grill Press to facilitate “marking” by putting downward pressure on eggplant. A Grill Press is a recommended but not essential list of kitchen equipment. You will get my full recommendations in our upcoming book.

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Eggplant are well marked and spend a while “on their backs” as they cook fully through. Look for the sizzling in the slits as a sign that heat has deeply penetrated eggplant.

9. Cutting peppers and eggplant. There are two approaches to this – big pieces or more fork-friendly pieces. If you are using small eggplant, these look better as they are without cutting them up. Depending on size of peppers, you may have to cut some into somewhat smaller peppers. This approach assumes your guests have a knife and a stable place to cut the peppers and eggplant on their plate. Neither are easy to cut with a fork as each has a skin. Alternatively, cut peppers into generous, but not too long strips. Cut eggplant into large chunks, but not so large that your guest could not fit it into their mouth.
IMG_4742

Eggplant cut into manageable pieces.

10. Toss together eggplant and peppers in bowl. Add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss again. In addition to flavoring the dish, the acid from lemon juice or pepper serves to cut the richness of oil. To serve, spread onto low platter taking care to have a nice mix of peppers running throughout.

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Looks pretty good!

Yield A pound of eggplant and a half pound of peppers will serve 6-8 depending on what else is on the menu.

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Eggplant & Peppers Recipe + Yellow & Green Beans Recipe

Book Update
Yesterday, we received the “soft proofs” of At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking and Entertaining. Looking great. We are now less than a month from having books in hand and ready to ship. If you are enjoying these posts, you will love the book — sort of these posts on steriods multiplied by 512 pages! If you buy the book now you will receive a signed, limited first edition.

Two More Do Ahead Labor Day Recipes
Ah, Labor Day Weekend! The third and last of summer’s holidays. Memorial Day weekend, summer’s just begun and produce stands and stalls just tease us. Come July 4th, summer’s in full swing — except maybe for corn. But by Labor Day, market baskets are brimming with peppers, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, herbs and, of course, corn.

Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers
My Maple Acres farm stand always has an array of small multi-hued and unusual eggplant and a rainbow of sweet and hot peppers. Grilled together these make for the ideal Labor Day do ahead dish — whether a part of your backyard menu or your contribution to someone else’s party.

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I love mixing mildly hot peppers into a mix to provide an occasional surprise in the mouth. Some recipes are more idea and technique with some seasoning than they are a careful step-by-step procedure and this is one. Pay attention to the tips and hints and you can then set this actual recipe aside and just do it. My apartment does not have an outdoor grill so I do my grilling in a grill pan. Works just fine, but this goes much more quickly on a grill with generous cooking surface. I have to do mine in several batches.

Do Ahead I would happily make this two days before serving. Store, well-covered in refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature and re-toss before serving.

2 pounds assorted sweet and mildly hot peppers – 2-3 times sweet than hot
2 pounds assorted small eggplant
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine garlic and olive oil in large bowl. Mix well.
2. For eggplant, remove stem end and discard. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Down length of each half, cut deep slits into flesh about 1/2-inch apart taking care not to cut all the way through. These slits allow oil to penetrate without drenching eggplant in oil, helps steam escape during grilling and generally facilitates cooking.
3. For the peppers, remove the stem and top and discard. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and trim away membrane. Take care in handling hot peppers not to touch soft membranes like your lips and eyes or you will cause burning. Wash hands well after handling hot peppers.
4. Prepare eggplant for grilling. You can’t just toss eggplant into garlic oil. Eggplant acts as a sponge and that’s not good. One eggplant could absorb most of this oil. Instead, place your fingers into garlic and oil mixture. Generously rub and coat each eggplant. Continue with all eggplant. Eggplant should have modest patina of oil.
5. Prepare peppers for grilling. Unlike eggplant, peppers do not absorb oil. Combine what’s left of garlic oil with peppers and toss well.
6. Preheat grill to moderate.
7. To grill peppers, start peppers skin side down. Cook until scorch marks are formed — three to five minutes. Turn peppers and continue cooking until peppers become very limp. Transfer to bowl and stack. Stacked peppers will continue to cook from their own internal heat and you want this to happen. Allow peppers to cool.
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8. To grill eggplant, start flesh side down and cook until well scorched and marked — about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn so skin side is down. Continue cooking. You will see moisture within slits bubble and steam and eggplant will swell as internal moisture turns to steam. Oil will also seep into eggplant through slits. Skin protects eggplant through this process. Continue cooking until eggplant are limp and very pliable. Undercooked eggplant is not a good thing. Set aside to cool.

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Here I use my Grill Press to facilitate “marking” by putting downward pressure on eggplant. A Grill Press is a recommended but not essential list of kitchen equipment. You will get my full recommendations in our upcoming book.

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Eggplant are well marked and spend a while “on their backs” as they cook fully through. Look for the sizzling in the slits as a sign that heat has deeply penetrated eggplant.

9. Cutting peppers and eggplant. There are two approaches to this – big pieces or more fork-friendly pieces. If you are using small eggplant, these look better as they are without cutting them up. Depending on size of peppers, you may have to cut some into somewhat smaller peppers. This approach assumes your guests have a knife and a stable place to cut the peppers and eggplant on their plate. Neither are easy to cut with a fork as each has a skin. Alternatively, cut peppers into generous, but not too long strips. Cut eggplant into large chunks, but not so large that your guest could not fit it into their mouth.
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Eggplant cut into manageable pieces.

10. Toss together eggplant and peppers in bowl. Add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss again. In addition to flavoring the dish, the acid from lemon juice or pepper serves to cut the richness of oil. To serve, spread onto low platter taking care to have a nice mix of peppers running throughout.

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Looks pretty good!

Yield A pound of eggplant and a half pound of peppers will serve 6-8 depending on what else is on the menu.

Yellow & Green Bean Salad

This very simple salad is both colorful and has a distinctive flavor that results from being dressed in lime juice and a touch of sesame oil. With this salad I cut beans into half-inch lengths — an unexpected look for what is typically a salad of long beans — and much more fork friendly.

Do ahead Beans may be cooked up to a day ahead but best not to dress salad until ready to serve.

1/2 pound yellow beans
1/2 pound green beans
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, about half a lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

1. Snap stem end of yellow and green beans. Line up beans and cut into 1/2-inch lengths.
2. Bring a generous amount of generously salted water to a full boil. Add beans and return to boil. How long to cook depends on tenderness of beans. Young and tender beans will cook in 4 to 5 minutes with more mature beans taking longer. The best thing to do is taste as you cook until beans are tender, but still al dente. Once beans are cooked to your liking, drain and immediately run under cold water to stop cooking and set color.
3. In a bowl, combine beans and lime juice and toss. Add olive oil, toasted sesame oil, salt and pepper. Top with optional toasted sesame seeds.

Yield 1 pound of mixed beans will serve 4 – 6, depending on what else you are serving.
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To toast optional sesame seeds
While you can toast seeds and nuts in the oven, I find the quickest way to do a small batch is in a small fry pan over medium heat.
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Place seeds in cold fry pan over moderate heat. Shake occasionally. Once seeds begin to tan, shake frequently until they reach a deep tan. Be careful at the end to not let seeds go to far.

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Turn seeds out on to a plate to stop cooking.

Tomorrow: Lemonade Alternative: Lime Rickey

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Pepper Roulette — Pimientos de Padron

This “bottom note” about discovering Pimientos de Padron is from At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining. There are more than 100 “bottom notes” that, added together, tell a story about me starting in “My Mother’s Kitchen” and running through this year. The book and its companion website will be available at the end of September. You can buy the book and access to At Home Online right now and receive a signed first edition.

Pimientos de Padron in Madrid

Just when you think you’ve tasted it all, there always seems to be something new to discover in the wide world of food. Christina was winding down her 20-year rein managing the artistic and business affairs of Mikhail Baryshnikov. We joined Misha’s summer tour in Madrid where Misha was initiating a new duet with Ana Laguna — choreographed by Luguna’s husband, Swedish choreographer Mats Ek. We dined well over several Madrid days, but it was at Casa Alberto on calle Huertes, near Plaza de Santa Ana that we discovered pimientos de padron. Sitting on Casa Alberto’s zinc-lined bar was a platter of thumb-sized green peppers, shriveled and glistening from their recent bath in hot olive oil. Eating them — you just hold the stem and bite the flesh — is culinary roulette because most have an intensely green flavor but every now and again you get a fiery burst of capsicum heat. We washed them down with a chilled glass of modestly sweet local vermouth served on tap. When we returned from Madrid I tracked down a US source and ordered several pounds as a free treat for our Frog at The Yard patrons.

Casa Alberto, Huertas 18, near Plaza de las Cortes & Huertas, Madrid

Picture 1

Illustration by Pascal Lemaitre.

Pimientos de Padron

Pimientos de Padron are currently available online from La Tienda and Happy Quail Farms. Order now for Labor Day and they will be the hit out your backyard outing. To eat, just hold a pepper by the stem and bite off the pepper. Most are quite mild with a little bite. Occasionally you get a hot pepper — but not at all unpleasantly hot.

Do ahead Garlic may be chopped ahead, but saute peppers just before ready to serve.

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 pound pimientoes de padron

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt, sea salt preferred but otherwise kosher salt

1. In a large saute pan heat oil until hot, but not smoking. Add peppers and garlic, tossing frequently until peppers are wilted and slightly wrinkled. Off heat and add salt. Serve immediately.

Picture 2

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