Posts Tagged ‘bell peppers’

We Is Like Peas And Carrots

Mine

For Meatless Monday, I thought it would be fun to try meatless pizzas for a dinner that would be vegetarian without feeling spartan or limiting.

When the Everyman and I used to live at our old house, we did pizza nights all the time because we had a grocery store in the bottom of our building with hot and cold running toppings at our fingertips.  We still occasionally make homemade pizza, but prepping dough tends to require advance planning, so it’s generally not as often as either of us would like to.  Yet every time we do, I kick myself for not thinking to do it more often because aside from dough time it’s a quick, easy dinner that’s adaptable to any variety of tastes and styles.

Yesterday I was on the ball (both literally and figuratively) and mixed up a batch of dough before leaving for work, so by the time we got home all that was required was to warm the dough to room temperature, preheat the pizza stones and determine what would make for a tasty veggie combo.  After discussing just that on the drive home, it sounded like a more prudent idea would be to make 2 individual pizzas suited to our unique tastes rather than trying to compromise on 1 larger veggie pizza.  While the Everyman ran out for some last minute extra cheese, I assembled a toppings bar for us to build our ideal pizzas.

My pizza (above) is like me; complex, off-beat and unique.  It begins with a blend of pesto and blue cheese forming a tangy green base, then it’s scattered with asparagus tips, smushed figs and bocconcini.  A shower of mozzarella shreds, cracked pepper and oregano finish it off.  It wasn’t until after the pizza was done that I realized I’d accidentally left off the shiitake mushrooms I re-hydrated.  No matter.  This pizza was a thin crust marvel, and though non-traditional, it struck just the right balance between savoury and sweet for me.

His

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You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

Peppers And Salad And Bread, Oh My!

We’ve recently entered my favourite segment of summer; abundance.

You can’t swing a cat at the farmer’s markets around town without hitting a veritable cornucopia of jewel-toned fruits and veggies just ripe for the eating.  The dazzling arrays of produce are mildly hypnotic, and I often end up purchasing more than I would normally eat just because it looks so yummy.  Of course, there’s really no downside to increasing your fruit and veggie ingestion, just let your senses guide you toward the items you find pleasing to the palate.

To that end, I’ve been running a bit of an experiment in our household this week, using the Everyman and I as guinea pigs.  Not only has our f&v consumption increased due to seasonal factors and availability, but I’ve also been decreasing our meat intake and replacing it with vegetarian protein sources for lunch, therefore only consuming modest amounts of meat for dinner.  In a roundabout way it’s sort of an offshoot of Mark Bittman’s VB6 (vegan before 6) concept, except that I am not ruling out the occasional bit of milk, cream or cheese.  Otherwise it’s somewhat more challenging to provide ample protein to the Everyman who is allergic to nuts, averse to eggs and until recently, detested tofu.

As I mentioned earlier this week I finally mastered a decent tofu dish, and our lunch Tuesday was broiled tempeh in a cherry jalapeno barbecue sauce.  Yesterday’s midday meal was a textured vegetable protein (soy flake), bulgur and ricotta stuffed pepper, and of the three, only one was a dud (the tempeh).  I’ve been supplementing these meatless meals with all of the bounty my local markets have to offer, including gorgeous yellow watermelon wedges, handfuls of plump multicoloured heirloom cherry tomatoes, the second coming of strawberries, wild blueberries, grilled corn, beets, nutty sunflower sprouts and freshly shelled peas.  We certainly haven’t been starved for options in the Foodie and the Everyman kitchen this week.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I could give up meat forever (far from it), but the exercise has allowed me to get more comfortable with omnivorousness and the flexitarian mentality.  I can cook well, but there is a marked difference between making a veggie side dish tasty and making a vegetarian meal satisfying enough that you don’t miss the meat.  Except for the tempeh fiasco, the Everyman’s not complaining either, so I must be doing something right.  The main upside for me is that this more plant-centric diet has left me feeling lighter, less sluggish and bloated during the blistering heat and humidity wave we’ve been enduring.

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Flowers You Can Eat

Dinnah!

The Everyman and I had company over for dinner on the weekend, which necessitated an early morning jaunt to the farmer’s market to procure the appropriate supplies.

Whilst there, I came across some dainty squash blossoms at my regular heirloom tomato stand and though I knew they’d be too “out there” for our guests, I couldn’t resist picking up a clamshell for myself, anyway.

I’ve eaten the blossoms in restaurants before, but never bothered to prepare them at home.  After staring at them in the fridge for a few days, I settled on what I considered would be a complimentary, yet homey stuffing.  A lot of people will tell you that squash blossoms should be stuffed with cheese, or dipped in batter and deep fried, but I say no.  Instead, I modified a stuffing recipe that I often use for peppers, to produce these tiny morsels of delectability.

Blossoms

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When The Food Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore!

Perfection

Last summer the Everyman and I fell madly in love with Pizzeria Uno’s Chicago deep dish.  It’s a near perfect melding of flavors, textures and layers that is utterly obscene in it’s decadence.

While the crusty pie is not without it’s faults, in the intervening months since our visit, I’ve been working hard to improve this classic to suit our palates.  At dinner earlier this week I think I finally found our little slice of heaven.

Firstly, one must start with a careful, homemade pizza dough.  The key characteristic we observed at Uno’s was a buttery taste and a cornmeal component.  The recipe listed below should give you a decent baseline to work from.  Both the Everyman and I agreed that there was a bit too much dough in Chicago deep dish pizza, thus the recipe has been scaled back slightly to make enough dough for a thick crust version only (or a really small deep dish).

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Pick Me, Pick Me!

I’ve always been a great lover of pickles.

But – I am very specific when it comes to foods of the brined variety.

I don’t abide dills and I dislike large ones.  Last summer I put up an entire flat of baby cucumbers using a gherkin recipe but they turned out like a weird hybrid sweet.  I then tried to use a bit of the leftover brine to make a mixed vegetable pickle with overstock vegetables from my farm-fresh CSA, only to find several caterpillars floating belly up in it a few hours later.  That’s one of the only downsides to buying a picked-that-day farmshare; occasionally it arrives with wily, hiding nuisances.  My first attempt at mixed pickles failed, so I instead jarred spicy jalapenos and sweet and tangy beets, slapdash provolone stuffed cherry peppers in vinegar and fiery matchstick carrots.

My lust for pickles has not been easily quelled, and throughout the winter I’ve been daydreaming about what sorts of fermented things I’ll make this year.  After another batch of gherkins the first thing that comes to mind is a sweet cauliflower pickle; all the better if I can get a brilliant purple, green or gold variety.  A fantastic idea sat up and smacked me in the side of the head a few weeks ago, and only after seeing a picture on Foodgawker did the idea flit back into my consciousness.  You see, one of the tubers I’m devoting some space to in my garden this year is the humble sunchoke.  While sunchokes are delicious when cooked and pureed, or even shredded raw for a salad, I did not realize their full potential until my happy accident.  Several weekends ago I was in the kitchen, shredding pickled beets, carrots and sunchokes on the mandolin for a raw, slaw-like salad.  Noticing that I still had half a sunchoke left and not quite sure what to do with it, I haphazardly tossed it into the jar with the pickled Chioggia beets without thinking.  For the record, when heat-processed they lose all their pretty, stripy color and turn an eggshell white that is not nearly as appetizing.  I forgot about the lonely sunchoke until the next time I needed some pickled beets and was fishing them out of the jar, its color having changed to a dusky pink.  A small nibble confirmed that pickled sunchokes are actually quite good.  With a texture somewhere between daikon and a potato, I think the sunchoke lends itself well to this kind of preparation.  My next thought was that there were several pounds of sunchokes in the crisper and no immediate plans for them.

After considering my options for awhile, I settled on a sweet/spicy combo.  My tolerance for mustard seeds having increased during my last visit to The Black Hoof, it sounded like an intriguing flavor to incorporate.  The sunchokes sliced into small, stubby rounds, and half an orange bell pepper would provide some semblance of color.  Into the brine I threw some mustard seeds, turmeric, peppercorns, celery seeds, chili flakes and a few sliced cloves of garlic.  The whole mess was heated on the stove, steeped and then showered over jars packed with the cut-up vegetables.  It’s then allowed to sit until cooled, and then you seal the jar and leave it in the fridge for a week or two.  Once they’re ready to eat I’ll post a recap.

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Holy Harvest, Batman!

You know, being that this is the first year I’ve really thrown myself into any sort of gardening, I can’t say whether this is what it is always like, or whether I just got lucky this year, but we’ve been experiencing some pretty sweet bounty lately.

About a week before we left for Chicago the tomatoes started coming in with increasing regularity.  We’re now at the point where I am able to harvest approximately a pint every day.  Since I am only growing heirloom varieties they don’t get very big, but we tend to prefer the juicier, sweeter cherry tomatoes anyway.  From currant to cherry and all sizes in between, our favorite way to enjoy them has been just plain in a bowl, popping them into our mouths like some weird, veggie popcorn.  When we inevitably start tiring of tomatoes then I doctor them into a salad with fresh herbs and balsamic, but that’s pretty much where I draw the line at changing the flavor of these amazing beauties.

All season long I’ve been trying my hand at putting up various fruits and vegetables (jams and pickles) from the farmer’s market too, but today marks the beginning of my most ambitious project to date.  I’ve ordered 2 bushels of roma tomatoes from my local organic delivery service which I plan to transform into canned bruschetta, italian-style tomato sauce, whole crushed and oven-roasted tomatoes.  Reading through all the recipes I expect that the next 48 hours will be exhausting, but will be so worth it 6 months from now when all that is available are those gross, pinkish winter tomatoes at the supermarket.  Then I shall laugh in the faces of the fools who didn’t want to spend the time preserving as I did, while they eat their crappy, grocery store tomatoes shipped in from Mexico.  Oh yeah, did I mention I’ll be enjoying delicious, fresh bruschetta in February 2009?

I spent most of yesterday afternoon barbecuing the baker’s dozen of corn cobs I purchased at the market on Thursday.  These sweet little niblets of sunshine were shorn from their cobs and individually quick frozen for use later this year.  A few of them also made their way into a roasted corn and sweet pepper salsa I made too.  The Everyman seemed to really enjoy that with our dinner last night, because you could never quite tell which bites had the chopped up jalapenos in it until it was too late.  Perhaps you’d like to try it some time too:

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