I do not like Stuffed Bell Peppers

images.jpg

This photo is nowhere near as bad as what my mother used to make on a weekly basis.  She used only hamburger and rice and put it in the green bell pepper.  The gook from the hamburger sat on top and it was hard to look at, let alone eat.  To this day, the thought of it takes away my appetite.

Here is the problem.  My husband loves it and has fond memories of eating it when younger.

So I thought about it and came up with my own version of Stuffed Bell Peppers

IMG_8601.jpg

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove and discard the stems, then finely chop the tops; set aside. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them upright.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the lumps, until the meat is cooked through and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the fat.

Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and chopped peppers and cook until beginning to soften (3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through, then stir in the beef and rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in 4 oz of the cheese.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and top each with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese. Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is melted and lightly browned, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Since I still could not get my head around the “bell pepper” part of this, I put a little in miniature pie plates and just baked.  I actually liked it. It is not as pretty, but it was yummy.

 

IMG_8602.jpg

The other thing that I actually did, was use leftovers.  I had made mushroom and onion risotto the previous night so I just used it in place of the rice, onion, and garlic.  The risotto was a good way to use a bottle of white wine that I did not like the taste, but if you added a bit of butter to the risotto, it was DELICIOUS!   I used Romano cheese, so the risotto was dairy free.  But the pepper jack was not.  It is amazing how much different Pepper Jack cheese tastes when cooked, as it is not one of the cheeses I would normally buy.

The original recipe was from Lee Drummond, but she added zucchini, and even though I have it over-growing in my garden, it did not appeal to me in this dish.

BTW my husband loved it.  I served it with baby carrots, so he was a happy husband.

I do not like Stuffed Bell Peppers

New Cook Book Always Makes Me Happy

IMG_5253

I enjoy Paul Hollywood’s cookbooks.  I have the one that came out before the above mentioned one and even thought it is quite good, the newest one explains everything in much more detail and will lots of great photos.  I made the Ciabatta a second time yesterday and it came out perfectly with his improved description.  How to Bake

I have decided it would be fun to try to make every recipe in the Bread Book, sort of like the movie Julie and Julia, but a lot less recipes.  Baking makes me happy.  Today I made the first recipe in the book – Bloomer Bread.

He called it the bread to learn the technique of baking bread.  It is simple and straight forward and if you see the piece missing, you know I tried it.  I like it a lot.  It crusty and wonderful, while light and airy.  I would make this for a dinner party.  He has great videos online and easy to find.

Ingredients

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for kneading (Best to weigh it)
  • 10g/¼oz salt (1.5 tsp)
  • 1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast   (1 tsp)
  • 320ml/11½oz cold water
  • 40ml/1½fl oz olive oil, plus extra for kneading (my glass measuring cup has ml)
  • extra oil and flour, for kneading

Method

  1. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl, taking care not to have the salt and yeast touching. Add the oil and 240ml/9fl oz of water.

  2. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together. Gradually add the remaining water (you may not need it all), until all the flour leaves the side of the bowl and you have a soft, rough dough.

  3. Pour a little oil onto a clean work surface. Sit the dough on the oil and begin to knead. Do this for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and silky. Once the correct consistency is achieved, place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until tripled in size.

  4. Once risen, place the dough onto a floured surface. Knock the dough back by folding it in on itself repeatedly. Do this until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth.

  5. To shape into the bloomer, flatten the dough into a rectangle. With the long side facing you fold each end into the middle then roll like a Swiss roll so that you have a smooth top with a seam along the base. Very gently roll with the heel of your hands.

  6. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper, cover and leave to prove for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or until doubled in size.

  7. Lightly spray with water and dust with a little flour. Make four diagonal slashes using a sharp knife across the top.

  8. Preheat the oven to 220/425F/Gas 7 and place a baking tray filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven – this will create steam when the loaf is baking. Place the loaf on the middle shelf and bake for 25 minutes. After this time lower the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Paul Hollywood Ciabatta

Ingredients

– 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

– 10g salt

– 10g instant yeast

– 40ml olive oil

– 400 ml tepid water

– Fine semolina for dusting (optional)

Makes 4
Prep 2 hours
Bake 25 minutes

This straightforward ciabatta recipe is relatively easy and satisfying to make To get that classic ciabatta shape and open texture, you need a very wet and sloppy dough, so you really have to make it in an electric mixer. Serve this thin-crusted, light-textured bread warm for breakfast, with soups or salads, or split, toasted and filled with salami, prosciutto or cheese for an Italian-style sandwich.


1.Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).

2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer.

4. Heat your oven to 220°C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.

5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half lengthways and divide each half lengthways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough lengthways a little and place on prepared baking trays.

6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

HAPPY BAKING

New Cook Book Always Makes Me Happy

Brioche Bread & Mushroom Bisque

America’s Test Kitchen is my favorite cookbook for the moment.  The mushroom bisque is simple and yummy.  It freezes well, as this was pulled from the freezer in the morning.  I added Enoki Mushrooms and little sour cream, to jazz it up at the last minute.  The Extra Rich Brioche Bread recipe is from Iliana Regan in the latest edition for Food & Wine Magazine, featuring the Best Chefs.

Extra Rich Brioche

INGREDIENTS

  • One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm buttermilk (100°–105°)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Canola oil, for greasing

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the yeast with the buttermilk until it dissolves. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the bread flour with the sugar and salt. With the machine at medium speed, add the yeast mixture, then add 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Drizzle in the butter and beat for 10 minutes; the dough will look slightly greasy. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding.
  3. Lightly oil a 10-by-5-inch loaf pan. On a work surface, roll out the dough to a 10-by-8-inch rectangle. With a long side facing you, fold the dough in thirds and fit seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack in the center. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg. Brush the top of the brioche with some of the egg wash and make a 1/4-inch-deep slit down the center of the loaf. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush the top again with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the top is deep golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the 
loaf registers 182°. Transfer the brioche to a rack to cool for 
30 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely.

MAKE AHEAD

The brioche can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil and kept at room temperature for 2 days.

Mushroom Bisque

Ingredients

  • 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 ½ cups chicken broth
  • cup heavy cream, plus extra for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh chives

Instructions

SERVES 6 TO 10

NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN Tying the thyme sprig with twine makes it easier to remove from the pot. For the smoothest result, use a conventional blender rather than an immersion blender. Our Fried Shallots (see related content) can replace the garnish of cream and chopped chives.

  1. Toss white mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon salt together in large bowl. Cover with large plate and microwave, stirring every 4 minutes, until mushrooms have released their liquid and reduced to about one-third their original volume, about 12 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to colander set in second large bowl and drain well. Reserve liquid.
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and fond has formed on bottom of pot, about 8 minutes. Add onion, thyme sprig, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is just softened, about 2 minutes. Add sherry and cook until evaporated. Stir in reserved mushroom liquid and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in water and broth and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Discard thyme sprig. Working in batches, process soup in blender until very smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per batch. Return soup to now-empty pot. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Warm to 150 degrees before proceeding with recipe.)
  4. Whisk cream and egg yolks together in medium bowl. Stirring slowly and constantly, add 2 cups soup to cream mixture. Stirring constantly, slowly pour cream mixture into simmering soup. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until soup registers 165 degrees (do not overheat). Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with 1 teaspoon extra cream and sprinkle of chives.

TECHNIQUES

Lots of Mushrooms, Little Work

Our bisque contains a full 2 pounds of mushrooms, but we found that there’s no need to slice or chop them. Because mushrooms lack a thick outer layer, they give up moisture readily even when left whole. We simply toss them with salt and microwave them until most of their liquid is released. Then we brown the shriveled mushrooms to deepen their flavor and use the reserved mushroom liquid to help form the base of the soup.

MEGA MUSHROOMS: A mix of white button, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms gives our soup woodsy depth.

Yoking Together Yolks for Silky—and Flavorful—Bisque

The abundance of cream in bisques gives them their lush consistency, but it also makes most versions taste flat. While the fat droplets in cream thicken a liquid by getting in the way of water molecules, slowing their movement, they also mute flavor by coating the tongue and preventing flavor molecules from reaching taste receptors.

For a bisque with both pleasing body and a more pronounced mushroom flavor, we turned instead to an old-school French thickener—a so-called liaison, which replaces a large portion of the cream with egg yolks. As the bisque heats, proteins in the yolks unfold and bond together into long, tangled strands that, like the fat in cream, interfere with the movement of water molecules. Egg yolks also contain the powerful emulsifier lecithin, which has a twofold effect: It breaks up the fat droplets into smaller particles that disperse more completely throughout the liquid, obstructing more water molecules, for an even thicker consistency. It also keeps the bisque smooth by holding the fat droplets suspended in the liquid so they don’t separate out.

If yolks can do all this, why even use cream? Because the fat it contains provides an appealing mouthfeel that yolks alone can’t match.

 

Brioche Bread & Mushroom Bisque