Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Versatility of Peppers

I figured out what to do with all the peppers and I am now officially down to only four, one of each colour. Oh, and for the record, I did not buy all of those peppers on Saturday. Though they all photographed very well, I bought half of them a little over a week ago, which is why I felt pressed to use them as quickly as possible. Actually, I'm surprised that they held up so well.

My initial thought was to stuff some of the peppers (which I may do in the future), but that idea bored me and no matter how I tried I just couldn't get excited about that one. So, after a bit more thought and much slicing, dicing, roasting and toasting, my glorious peppers were transformed into four more interesting dishes, each completely different from the others.

Peach Chipotle SalsaPeach Chipotle Salsa

This salsa, which I prepared as a between-meals snack, was inspired by a sample I tasted during my last visit to Central Market. I rarely participate in public food tastings, but this particular evening I was a bit hungry and decided to try the peach salsa and chips the store was promoting. Well, I must say I'm glad I did. The salsa was amazing, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay $5 per 12 oz. jar. My immediate thought was, "Okay, I'm a pretty decent cook, so I should be able to make something comparable." I'm not sure exactly what ingredients were used in the sample I tasted, but I managed to whip up my own version which is equally delicious.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic HummusFire Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Hummus

Surprisingly, the flavour of the hummus (a favourite from my vegetarian days), which I also made for a snack during the week, was quite robust, despite the fact that I over-roasted (read: dayum near burned 'em up, hence the recipe title "fire roasted...") the peppers and garlic big time! As a result, the yield from the peppers was only about half of what it should have been, as was the garlic's. Luckily I was able to salvage enough of each to make this savory garbanzo dip. And I made my first batch of pita crisps (finally), which also turned out quite well.

Pita Crisps with Hummus and SalsaPita Crisps with Hummus and Salsa

The main course was Moroccan Cornish Hens, courtesy of Epicurious. Those who know me are well aware of the fact that sampling and becoming intimately familiar with foods from all over the world are amongst my favourite things. One of my colleagues at the office playfully calls me "the international eater." She is absolutely right, and I now have this wonderfully exotic recipe from northwest Africa to add to my collection. I followed the instructions to the letter (almost) and it was off-the-hook, baby! The excellent blend of spices in this dish are like nothing I've ever experienced. The only thing I would do differently next time is omit the chicken broth; too much liquid.

Unfortunately, while browning the hens under the broiler I was distracted during the last few minutes, and before I knew it, I had charred the hens' top skin. Needles to say, they did not photograph well. Thank goodness it wasn't that bad. I was able to remove the sections of overdone skin and all was well. For me, it's the sauce that brought the hens and veggies to life, and I'm already making plans to use it on seafood, chicken, beef and other veggies.

Shrimp CevicheShrimp Ceviche

Last, but certainly not least, this fabulous Shrimp Ceviche from one of my favourite master chefs, Daisy Martinez, rocked the house! For the most part, I stayed pretty faithful to her recipe, with only minor modifications. I had been thinking of making a ceviche since summer, but never took the time to make it happen. Well, lemme tell ya, my girl definitely knows her stuff. Shrimp Ceviche a la Daisy Martinez is slammin'! To quote my man, Chef Emeril ... "BAAAAAM!"

Shrimp Ceviche
Source: Daisy Cooks!, (Daisy Martinez), p. 48

Ingredients: (6 servings)

1 1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 2 inch thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 2 inch thin strips
1 small red onion, cut into thin slivers
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely, thick stems removed
1 1/4 tablespoons fine sea or kosher salt
1 Scotch bonnet, jalapeno or hot pepper of your choice, minced
12 lemons, or as needed
8 limes, or as needed
4 oranges, or as needed


Toss the shrimp, yellow and red peppers, onion, cilantro, salt, and habanero pepper together in a bowl to mix the thoroughly. Pack into a nonreactive* container (a 2-quart jar works well). Squeeze the citrus, strain out any seeds, and pour over the shrimp and vegetables. There should be enough juice to cover the shrimp and vegetables; if not, add more. Seal the container and refrigerate until the shrimp is opaque, 12 to 24 hours. To serve, drain and discard most of the liquid and pile the shrimp and veggies into a serving bowl.

*A nonreactive container is this case means anything but aluminum, which will react with the citrus juice and lend the ceviche an off flavour, or plastic, which may do the same.

My Recipe Notes:

To be on the safe side (yeah, I'm a bit of a whip), I poached the shrimp with salt and black pepper first (about 5 minutes). I used a medium habanero pepper, added about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the zest of 3 small lemons and a bit of orange pulp to the citrus juice. I also added 1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic.

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At Wednesday, January 25, 2006 9:07:00 PM, Blogger TJ said...

That ceviche looks gooood.... I will have to hook that up for the weekend. :) I have never tried peach salsa, but since I like mango salsa, I may have to try it too.

At Friday, January 27, 2006 10:22:00 PM, Blogger Jasmine said...

You've been busy--really like the sound of the peach salsa...


At Saturday, January 28, 2006 8:49:00 PM, Anonymous Mixed Masala said...

Hey TJ,

Yes, girl, the ceviche and peach salsa were wonderful. I made enough of both to share with a couple of my colleagues who enjoyed them so much that they took some home to their husbands. And now they want more! LOL Give it a shot, girl. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Hi Jasmine,

Yes, ma'am, I've been busy gettin' my cook on! :o)


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