One of the most interesting facets of the culinary revolution is our growing fascination with culinary history. It seems the more I learn about the ethnic melting pot that makes up our dinner table, the more curious I become about regional cuisines and the origin of specific dishes.
Stuffed peppers probably go further back than the 1890’s. Many cuisines around the world have a traditional stuffed pepper that has been passed down for generations. Here’s a few I found interesting: Denmark: Fyldte Peberfrugter – Bell pepper stuffed with bulgur, mushrooms and kale Hungary: Toltott Paprika – Bell pepper stuffed with ground meat, rice and paprika. Served with sour cream. India: Bharawn Shimla Mirch – Bell pepper stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes Korea: Gochu Jeon – Chili peppers stuffed with tofu Mexico: Chili Rellenos – Poblano pepper stuffed with carnitas meat, kielbasa and topped with cheddar cheese Phillippines: Pandak na tao pinalamanan peppers – – Bell peppers stuffed with shrimp, pork and water chestnuts Romania: Ardei Umpluti – Bell peppers stuffed with pork and rice and served in a creamy sour cream sauce Spain: Pimientos Rellenos de Arroz con Salsa de Tomatoes – Bell pepper stuffed with Valencia or arborio rice and saffron, then cooked in a tomato sauce Tunisia: Fil Fil Mashsi – Bell pepper stuffed with lamb, rice and sprinkled with nutmeg, saffron and cardamom United States & Canada: Classic Stuffed Peppers – Bell pepper stuffed with ground beef, rice and cooked in a tomato sauce
The recipe today, pairs flavorful bacon risotto with colorful sweet bell peppers. The fact that they can be frozen for up to 6 months sure makes for an easy meal on a busy day.
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Lay on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings in saucepan; set aside. Cook onion & mushrooms in drippings until tender; add rice, cook & stir 2 minutes more. Carefully stir in broth; bring to boiling & reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in bacon & peas. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in cheese. If desired, season with salt & pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut large peppers in half lengthwise. Remove membranes & seeds. Spoon risotto mixture into peppers. Place in a shallow baking dish. Cover with foil; bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes or until heated through. If desired sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve with heated zesty pasta sauce.
Can be chilled for up to 12 hours then baked for 50-55 minutes.
Can be frozen for up to 6 months then baked (frozen), covered, about 1 hour or until heated through.
I was interested to know a little more about this idea of ‘food on a stick’. It seems its a fairly wide spread way of eating food. In Indonesia there are many forms of chicken satay and of course the shish kebab originating from Turkey. It all comes from a culture that has been around since before the 1840’s.
The North American classic ‘corn dog’ was patent in 1929. The patent cited that it was for a ‘combined dipping, cooking and article holding apparatus’ and was intended for ‘impaling foods such as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced fruit, etc., on a stick, covering them in a batter and deep frying it’.
This food on a stick phenomenon has grown greatly over the past 20 years or more. It has become some sort of extreme ‘sport’ on a stick. For entrepreneurs, its whatever I can put on a stick that nobody’s done before. I was reading an article that listed 83 different possibilities!
Here’s a couple of ideas I found interesting to try. TURKEY MEATBALL BREADSTICKS and BACON WRAPPED MUSHROOMS ON A STICK.
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil & salt. Allow to become frothy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise about 1 hour in a warm, draft-free place. While bread sticks are rising, prepare turkey meatballs.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper & garlic. Form into 36 - 1" diameter meatballs. When dough is ready, turn out onto a floured surface. Press or roll into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Cut into twelve strips about 1-inch wide x 8-inches long.
Starting with one bread stick, thread dough then a meatball, repeating process with 2 more meatballs alternating dough-meatball, ending with dough. Make sure to spread dough & meatballs away from each other by about 1/4", so the meatballs bake through & the dough has room to expand.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together garlic powder & melted butter. Brush bread stick dough ONLY with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven & sprinkle each skewer with 1-2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve while hot with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
Soak skewers 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each mushroom with a bacon strip & thread 4 on each skewer. Grill on medium heat until bacon is done, about 10-15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.
Can you believe it …. July 5th already! I guess we better be making the most of those barbecue days with simple, no-fuss meals. I can’t resist featuring another recipe using those wonderful portobello mushrooms.
The best way to cook these beauties is to grill or roast. This type of cooking really brings out the meaty texture because they lose their moisture and get dry as well as the flavor becoming more concentrated. Portobellos are also large enough that they can sit on a grill and not fall through the grates.
I find the versatility of the portobello mushroom is endless. They have a rich, meaty texture and flavor which is retained even after cooking. You can use them in soups, stews, baked pasta, rice dishes or as a meat substitute in salads. Portobellos are excellent paired with fresh herbs, cheese, tomato or cream based sauces, leafy greens, garlic and onions.
This recipe has been one of my summer favorites for many years. It’s definitely a ‘keeper’ if your a mushroom lover.
Lightly oil grill& preheat barbecue to medium- high. Place mushrooms, cap side down, on a cutting board. Layer spinach, bruschetta & cheese on mushrooms.
Grill mushrooms, with lid closed, until cheese is melted, 2-5 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta buns; garnished with fresh basil strips.
This recipe & picture were featured in a Sobey's Grocery Store flyer a number of years ago. We have enjoyed these mushrooms many times so I decided it was a good recipe to share. I have also used their picture instead of my own as it gave such as nice presentation I thought.
Lasagna has a rich history as a comfort food. Originally it resembled layered macaroni and cheese rather than its present form. The origin is a little unclear but none involve Italy. However, Italians have been credited with its name of ‘lasagna’.
Present day lasagna has become very versatile with recipes such as vegetarian and seafood which use either red or white sauce. Although, lasagna has been a favorite meal of many people, it also comes with a high fat and calorie count. That being said, there are numerous ways to change that. In traditional lasagna, substitute ground turkey or use extra lean ground beef. In the case of a white sauce, substitute fat free plain yogurt for sour cream and use skim or 1% milk to reduce the fat content. Using low fat or non fat ricotta cheese, fat free cottage cheese or part skim mozzarella cheese helps to boost the calcium and protein contents without adding a lot of fat.
In any case, lasagna is just too good to not enjoy it. These SEAFOOD LASAGNA ROLL-UPS can be made with a light version of either homemade or purchased Alfredo sauce. We absolutely loved this meal!
Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cool water; reserve. In a large skillet melt butter. Saute spinach until wilted. Remove to paper towels. Add shrimp & scallops to skillet; saute for 3-4 minutes until opaque & just barely cooked; reserve. Grate mozzarella cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a small casserole dish. On a large piece of wax paper, line up lasagna noodles in a row. Spoon about 1/4 cup of Alfredo sauce onto each noodle & spread.
Alternately top with shrimp & scallops, cooked spinach, shrimp/scallops, spinach & crab meat. Sprinkle noodles with grated cheese. Roll each noodle & stand or lay in casserole dish. Spoon remaining Alfredo sauce over rolls.
Place a pan with a small amount of water in it, under the casserole dish & place in the oven. This will help the noodles from becoming dry during baking time. Very loosely, cover with foil, just to keep the noodles from drying on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly bubbly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you prefer to make your own sauce, I had noticed the tasteofhome.com website has a very similar recipe making the sauce from scratch. It looks real good if you have the time.
For as long as I can remember, I personally have had a love affair with the ‘Big Sur’ coastline in California, USA. The spectacular beauty of this rugged 145 km (90 mile) coastline, with the natural drama playing out between land and sea is breathtaking.
Over the years many of our vacations have either been in this area or it has made a fabulous ending to a long flight coming back from Europe, before returning home to Canada.
One of the special memories I have from this vicinity was the quaint little European-style village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.
Some 30 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long , cobblestone alley corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger.
Every time Brion and I have returned to Carmel, we have made a point of eating lunch at the Hogs Breath Inn, just so I could taste that burger again. The Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of this came in a grilled Ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.
Of course, never having been someone who could just leave it at that, I had to see if I could push this idea just a bit further. Along came some more recipes for the ‘Stuffed Burger Series’. If you like these ingredients, I think you will really enjoy them.
Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushrooms using a spoon; discard gills. Remove stems, reserve for another use if desired. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leek & garlic, & saute until tender. Remove from heat; cool.
Gently combine mashed avocado with next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir into cooled leek mixture.
Dip round side of mushroom caps into Italian dressing; drain slightly. Arrange rounded sides down in a foil baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly into mushroom caps; then top evenly with seafood/avocado mixture, pressing filling to compact slightly. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover & refrigerate if making in advance.)
Preheat oven or barbecue to 350 F. Combine Asiago & mozzarella cheese; sprinkle mushrooms with cheese mixture. Place foil baking dish with mushrooms in oven or on barbecue. Bake until tender & filling begins to brown, about 35 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with aluminum foil so tops don't burn. Serve on slightly grilled Ciabatta buns. Serves 6
Remove brown gills & stems from mushrooms. Dip round side of mushroom caps in Italian dressing; arrange, rounded side down, in a foil baking pan. Preheat oven or barbecue grill to 400 F.
Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with a few drops of water & microwave on high for one minute. Chop cooked spinach; mix with cheddar & cottage cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Spread spinach mixture onto prepared mushroom caps.
Bake in oven or on barbecue until mushrooms are tender, about 12 minutes. Nice served on slightly grilled wholewheat buns. Serves 4