Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stuffed Long Hot Peppers

I cook a few dishes I call "stolen recipes." I didn't really steal anything per-se; I learned to replicate at home after having them in restaurants. My friend's restaurant Graziano's Ristorante in Chesilhurst, NJ makes a wonderful appetizer of cheese stuffed long hot peppers. Long hots are in season now, and available at my local farm stand, so I've been making them weekly for Wifey and I.

  • Long Hot Peppers
  • Cheese
  • Onion
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Ingretient tips
  • Long hots tend to be slightly curly, straiter ones are easier to prep
  • Any type of onion is fine: red, yellow, white, vidalia, shallots. I've used them all
  • I prefer sharp provolone - I shred it myself in a food processor

  • Oven - Preheat to 375F
  • Stovetop
  • Saute Pan
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Knives
  • Cutting board

The onions serve two purposes for the appitzer: part of the stuffing, and as a topping. For four peppers, I use about half a decent sized onion total. Slice a quarter of the onion and dice the other quarter. Saute the slices in olive oil until browned and set aside.

Long hots aren't nearly as hot as jalapeños or other peppers, so I skip the gloves when prepping the peppers. Lay the peppers on a cutting board and slice down the length of them. Slice open the top, as they lay stable on the cutting board, so they won't roll over during baking and the let the stuffing run out. Remove the seeds and the ribs (the light colored stuff the seeds are attached to). The ribs provide the heat (not the seeds), so remove more of it for milder peppers (Wifey's serving), or less for SPICY (mine). Coat the outide of the peppers in olive oil. I won't describe my process for oiling them, the photos are self expanatory (1, 2, 3).

Fill the peppers with the chopped onions first, then stuff as much cheese as you can in them. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange the peppers on it. Bake in the middle oven rack at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown. Remove from the oven to a plate, and top with the sautéed onions and serve. ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soakin' the Mugs

Saturday marks the beginning of the college football season, followed quickly by the start of the NFL season. Of course that means drunk-fests tailgating. While the Red Solo Cup is the tailgating standard, I prefer to drink out of something a little more personalized, and eco-friendly: the pewter mug. Some people don't like mugs because they taste like metal, but that's because pewter mugs used for drinking beer need to be seasoned by soaking them in beer. The soak is similar to treating cast iron pans, the beer fills in any nooks and crannies in the pewter and prevents the metallic taste. Since the beer the mugs are soaked in gets thrown away, it doesn't make any sense to use good beer for the soaking. Actually my friends and I like to brag about how bad a beer we can find for the soak. Over the years, I have used Mickey's Malt Liquor, Coors Light, and Natural Light. This year's choice was Schmidt, rolling in at a whopping $5 per 12 pack. Here's the details:

  • Cheap Beer
    • Mugs
    • Appropriate sized container

    I own multiple mugs: one for college games, one for NFL games, and wifey has one she really doesn't use, but I soak anyway, so I need a fairly large container and used a 16 quart cooler. Wash out the mugs and set them in the container and fill will beer until the mugs are completely covered. It took me an entire case of beer because the one mug I have is so tall. I let the mugs sit overnight before removing and rinsing. The next part is key: after removing the mugs, just rinse them. Do NOT use soap, it will remove the coating and render the process useless. So stop killing the environment one cup at a time, get a mug or two and get soaking.