Tag Archives: goat cheese

Work in Progress: Stinky Bacon Sriracha Wrapped Sweet Peppers

peppers

It seems like at every supermarket they sell miniature sweet bell peppers in red, orange and yellow and they’re so delicious to eat in many different ways.  Usually I just saute them but I was in the mood for something more feisty.   I picked up a bag of them at a farm stand on the way back home from my mom’s house, along with a pound of bacon from a fantastic place in Lockeford. I got to thinking that it might be a pleasant change from the spicy jalapeno stuffed peppers to use these sweet peppers instead.

When I got home I realized I did not have cream cheese but I did have goat cheese, and I found a wedge of Tallegio, a marvelously flavorful and stinky soft rind aged cheese. When I opened the fridge door my erstwhile bottle of Sriracha sauce fell out, again, and the idea for stinky bacon wrapped Sriracha sweet peppers was born!

I used about three ounces of Tallegio cut into small pinky-shaped pieces, and shoved those into the hollowed out peppers first, followed by a topping of goat cheese.

Each little pepper was wrapped in bacon, and then I prepared a cutting mat with a puddle of Sriracha sauce and mound of Demerera sugar.

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Each fat little pepper got rolled in the hot sauce, and then rolled around in the crunchy sugar and placed on a little baking sheet covered with mushed up tinfoil to make an impromptu rack.

Because I’m still using the kneeling walker/scooter thing I can’t use the big oven, but my convection toaster oven is pretty fantastic, despite my not having all of the required equipment, like mini baking racks.

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I baked them at 425 F for 15 minutes until the bacon was a crispy and bubbly and the sugar and Siriracha melded together for a savory sweet spicy coating.

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My apartment smelled mercilessly of Tallegio and bacon and chilies, but I didn’t care, I was just waiting for them to cool down my enough that I could eat them.

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I call this recipe a work in progress because obviously they baked up too dark, but they still tasted amazing.  Next time I will lower the heat and maybe add more bacon.
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While I waited for the peppers to cool I mounded a few of them on a little plate and mixed up a vodka Gibson. I was expecting a dear friend to come over but didn’t know exactly when she would arrive, and wouldn’t you know, the moment I sat down my doorbell rang. Perfect timing!

The heat from the Sriracha was exactly enough to make you want a sip of your cocktail, and the sweet pepper, cheesy baconiness was the perfect snack for a tipple when the sun pasts the yardarm.    We knocked back the Gibsons and then made another batch and chatted about her travels while noshing on the peppers.   Then we made pizza!  It was a perfect Sunday evening.

Work in Progress:  Stinky Bacon Sriracha Wrapped Peppers

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Party Flatbreads

My friends C___ and D___ had a party this weekend to celebrate C___’s birthday, their wedding anniversary and the anniversary of moving to their condo. What a fun trio of occasions!

I had splurged on a purchase of the best mozzarella on the planet, from Angelo and Franco, a whole BBQed chicken and racks of ribs from Sneaky’s Underground BBQ and with the haul from some recent grocery forays I realized I had some great ingredients in the pantry to make flatbreads for the party.

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Using a dough recipe from Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads, I mixed up a batch of dough and had enough for three flatbreads for the party plus enough for home dinners for the next two weeks.

I made three flatbreads:

  • Marinated grapes in herbs and olive oil, goat cheese and pecans
  • Brown tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil
  • BBQ chicken mixed with BBQ sauce, red onions, Gruyere



  • Each flatbread baked in about 15 minutes and were topped with a sprinkle of Maldon crunchy sea salt when they came out of the oven. They were perfect with the variety of white and red Rhone style wines my friends poured. Warm or at room temperature, we scarfed them down.

    If you think outside the box any leftover or ingredient can be made into a flatbread or a pizza. To me, the difference between a flatbread and a pizza has to do with tomato sauce; dough with tomato sauce is a pizza, anything else is a flatbread. They’re both equally delicious! A local Indian place is making flatbreads with curry sauce and tandoori chicken, it’s fantastic and I am bitter they don’t deliver to my neighborhood.

    Tonight I am making myself a BBQ chicken flatbread just for me for dinner, the oven is preheating now and I can’t wait.

    For other pizza toppings ideas, check out my Sharknado pizza party! What would you make?

    Playing with Pistou

    One of my favorite things to make in the spring is a vegetable soup with a dollop of pistou, a country French type of pesto using tomato, garlic, basil and cheese.

    Pistou is a zap of flavor, a bold hit of color and a zing to the tastebuds and an essential part of the spring menu.

    This spring, however, my ability to use the mortar and pestle was out of whack, and so was using a knife so I had to miss my annual ritual. However, this summer, it has finally warmed up enough in the outlying boroughs to permit ripening of tomatoes. Yay! Tomatoes!

    My CSA box has been overflowing with tomatoes and yesterday I was pondering what to make for dinner that would be simple and help me use up my bounty.  I thought of pistou over pasta.   And, given I am still not up to mortar work, I thought of making pistou in my food processor.

    My dinner was ready in 10 minutes and it was fantastic.

    I had the great luxury to use some incredible local goat cheese from Achadinha Farm.  Donna Pacheco is an incredible craftsman and her aged goat cheese is heady stuff. I was lucky enough to catch the staff at their stall at the end of the day and since they were packing up I got a tiny deal on a nice wedge of Capricious.  It’s interesting stuff, contrary to intuition you are not supposed to refrigerate it!  I like using it in lieu of Parmesan or serve it in rough chunks on a cheese plate or grated over vegetables or eggs.  It’s a little luxury.


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    (
    (keep the Capricious in waxed paper on the counter – not in the fridge!)

    But last night I decided to get splurgy and use it in my pistou and I think I will never use Parmesan again.

    Although using a food processor and aged goat cheese are quite non-traditional for a pistou I can heartily endorse their use.

    While the pasta water was heating, I peeled some garlic and minced in the food processor.  Then, I added a cup of the Capricious cheese, broken into small chunks and pulsed until the cheese was well ground.  Next in went a medium-zized bunch of basil and when it was smoothly ground I tossed in a small tomato.  The processor whizzed away turning the normal pesto-green ingredients into an incredible sunset hue.  My tomato was a pink/golden heirloom variety and I added it “seeds, peel and all”.   After scraping the bowl and adding a bit of salt and pepper I thinned out the pistou with a small slug of olive oil and, voila! Pistou in 2 minutes.

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    I dressed the drained spaghetti with the pistou and let it heat gently in the saucepan to mellow the raw garlic a little.   Mounded in a warm bowl the pasta coated with pistou glowed with warmth and flavor.  I perched on my chair and slurped away and watched Casablanca feeling rather content with life.

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    HAL’s Pistou

    5 cloves of garlic
    1/2 c Parmesan or other aged dry cheese (I used Capricious by Achadinha in Marin)
    1 bunch of basil (or 2 cups packed leaves)
    1 small tomato
    1/2 tsp salt or to taste (depending upon how salty the cheese is)
    a few grinds of black pepper
    2 T extra virgin olive oil

    In a food processor, blend the garlic, then add the cheese and pulse until smooth.  Add the basil and pulse until the leaves are finely pureed. With the motor running add the tomato and puree until smooth.  Taste for salt and add if needed, add pepper.  With the machine running add olive oil to make a loose paste, like the consistency of jam or sour cream.

    Serve in vegetable soups, dressed over cooked pasta, spread on bread in lieu of mayonnaise or drizzled over cooked vegetables.

    Makes approximately one cup

    (printer friendly recipe)

    Hakuna-Frittata

    Sometimes we find assistance with our life problems in the most unexpected places, like in a movie or a song.

    I have been trying to process my grief over the passing of my former beau and my thoughts have been quite confused. Turmoil reigns. Our relationship had ended badly and it took me quite a while to deal with that ending and to be okay with its failure. At the same time, I am keenly aware that I made the conscious decision not to be in his life and now, feeling acute grief over knowing he is gone forever, this weekend left me grappling with all of the decisions I have ever made and whether or not they were good ones. But as we all know, hindsight never changes things. You have to have faith in yourself and in your choices knowing you made the best decisions you could in the circumstances.

    But still those self-doubting thoughts churned in and out of my overtaxed brain along with the “what-it’s” and most especially a screeching “why??” until all I could do was sit on a chair holding a ball of yarn in my hands. Looking at the whorls and patterns of the yarn as it wound around itself seemed a parable of my life. Unused yarn is destined for a greater purpose; whether the execution is successful or not, it hardly matters. Sometimes just a ball of yarn is a beautiful thing just as it is. I can choose to do more or do less or do nothing. And that is okay, my life can be as simple or as complicated as I want. I have the potential to go in any direction and if it doesn’t work or doesn’t fit it can always be unwound back like a ball of yarn. A ball of yarn can be just as it is for a long time too, there is no harm in staying neatly coiled up for a while.

    A fragment of a song kept running through my mind as I smooshed the yarn and finally I realized what my brain-radio was humming. It was the “Circle of Life” song from The Lion King. I started chuckling a bit at my unconscious self and thought just how amusing it is to listen to my inner voice and hear what wacky and wonderful thoughts coalesce from in there.

    Today’s musical “ahem” is that with every ending there is a beginning and there really is a circle of life. Or, perhaps a coil.

    I began to listen to other things too, such as my body was tired, thirsty, tense and hungry. My mom and sister always tell me that when things are tough, first take care of your body by giving it the basics. Hot tea and toast or even a jolt of whiskey can have miraculous restorative powers.

    I realized I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since the previous afternoon when my dear friends A___ and R___ gave me a great brunch at the beach house.

    I went into the kitchen and started making toast and boiling water for tea. Somehow the lassitude infecting me slipped off my shoulders for a moment like a heavy blanket puddling onto the floor, and I reached into the fridge for the eggs, a few potatoes, a sliver of a leftover onion and some chevre.

    Now my crazy brain started humming Hakuna-Matata which translated into Frittata so I started cooking myself a one and singing Hakuna-Frittata. I browned potato slices and onion in olive oil and beat up a few eggs with chives from my little chicken pot at the window. I piled up the potatoes to form an even bed, poured in the eggs and plopped chunks of the cheese on top and put a lid on the pan on the lowest heat.

    Meanwhile the phone rang again and I had the sad duty to relay the news of Marc’s passing to yet another dear friend. Coincidentally she mentioned the circle of life too and after we rang off I forced myself to have an interval where I focused on nothing else but sustenance, with both songs snaking through my head.

    There is truly nothing more comforting at times than tea, toast and eggs. Life goes on and we who are left behind have no choice in the matter. We are, we remain and we have to go on. And sometimes the first step towards doing this involves seeking some solace from friends and making a simple meal.

    (My simple frittata)
    Hakuna Frittata