Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Plethora of Peppers

In May I planted a variety of peppers in my little courtyard garden... Thai Poinsettia, habanero, jalapeno and anaheims. I've really enjoyed having them, as well as fresh herbs- some from pots included in my CSA share, some perennials, and some I planted. It's been great to pad out in the morning and grab some basil and a pepper to add to scrambled eggs, or shred and sprinkle over a bagel and cream cheese. Now we're getting ready for the first frost, and it's time for me to pick what's there and think about pulling them out for the winter.
So I went out in the cool of the morning and picked everything there. Here's a picture of this morning's harvest. I couldn't bring myself to pull up the plants just yet--flowers on the pepper plants promised more peppers in the cool, sunny days to come. While I was out there, I also picked a bowlful of green grape tomatoes.
But... now I have a plate-full of really spicy peppers to use!! Here's the plan:
Spicy Pepper Sherry, simple as can be. In a few weeks I'll have a condiment to sprinkle on veggies, maybe brighten up a soup or some rice or a baked potato. Use in stir fries and other Asian dishes.
Green Tomato Salsa. Using the the unripe grape tomatoes, some corn from this week's share, basil, oregano, chilies, and adding garlic, lime juice, and a little cumin and olive oil.
Chiles Rellenos. Dinner! This recipe will use the eggs from my farm share this week, leftover Corn Milk Tortillas from last week and the above mentioned Green Tomato Salsa.
Spicy Pepper Sherry
Using the garlic and ginger will definitely give this an Asian flare. If you want it to be more versatile, leave out the ginger.
1 bottle sherry (I'm using Fino, 'cause that's what I have, but any sherry will do)
5 jalapeno peppers
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled (optional)

Make sure the peppers are super clean. Peel the garlic and ginger. Pour out 1 cup of sherry from the bottle and push the peppers, garlic and ginger into them (cut them if you must, but try not to). Top off with as much of the sherry you removed as fits. Cap and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Wash the sherry bottle with hot soapy water and pour the strained sherry back into the bottle. Use in soups, stews, stir fries, sauces for chicken wings or ribs.

Green Tomato Salsa
You don't have to use grape tomatoes. If substituting regular sized green tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces before measuring.
2 cups green grape tomatoes
1 ear corn
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers
1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon fresh basil or cilantro
2 Tablespoons fresh chives OR 1 scallion
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the kernels off the corn cob. Cut off the stems of the peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and veins from the peppers. Peel the garlic. 
Place the tomatoes, peppers, corn and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until minced. 
Store in the refrigerator.
Chile Rellenos
If using fresh peppers, charring them first is important. You can use canned, peeled peppers in the winter. 
6 Anaheim or Cubanelle (aka 'Italian Frying") peppers
8 ounces cheddar cheese
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
oil for frying

1. Char and peel the peppers: Inside-- if you have a gas stove, turn a burner on high (turn on the vent) and place the whole peppers right on the flame. Turn as the outsides blacken. When they are all charred, place in a paper or plastic bag and let steam. When cool, rub off the charred skin by running them under cold water. OR place under a broiler until charred, place in a bag and rub off the skin. Outside-- place directly on coals or over a high flame on the grill. Turn as the skins turn black. Follow the directions for steaming and removing skin, above.
2. Cut a small slit, lengthwise, near the top of each pepper at the stem end, about 1-inch long. 
3. Cut the cheese into pieces that will fit into the peppers, estimating the length and width of each pepper (better to be a bit smaller than large when doing this estimation). Carefully ease the cheese into the pepper through the slit.
4. Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites to a soft peak (this takes me about 2 minutes by hand with a wire whisk). Fold in 2 Tablespoons of flour and the egg yolks.
5. Dredge the peppers in flour.
6. Heat 1-inch of oil in a heavy skillet. When a drop of batter fluffs up immediately, place one pepper into the batter. With a large spoon turn it around until coated by the batter and carefully place in the hot pepper. Repeat with remaining peppers (you probably can't fit them all into your skillet, so do it in batches). When the batter puffs up and is golden, turn over and continue to cook until both sides are lightly browned. Remove to paper towel lined plate.
7. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Good side dishes are rice, refried beans, and/or tortillas.

My share this week included broccoli, lettuce, eggs, corn, turnips and collard greens. Here's where everything went:

Giant chef salad with hard cooked eggs, lettuce, and some broccoli
London broil with Brazilian Greens and sweet potato (from last week's share)
Beef burritos using leftover london broil, lettuce, tomatoes, green tomato salsa
Chile rellenos with green tomato salsa and corn milk tortillas from last week
Oven Fried chicken, Herb baked corn on the cob, steamed broccoli

Have a great week!!

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