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Sweet and Sour Peppers

  • August 4, 2021

Roasted red peppers have been in my radar for decades, even before I was a grown up. When I was a child, my parents would roast peppers by the bushel-full on the grill each summer and fall, before preserving them in jars for the colder months ahead. As an adult, I knew all about these delectable cured vegetables long before they became ubiquitous beyond Italian family tables. So I glossed over Domenica Marchetti’s recipe for sweet and sour roasted peppers in her cookbook, “Preserving Italy,” wrongly thinking you couldn’t improve on the basic roasted pepper. Boy was I wrong, as I found out a few weeks ago, while having dinner at the home of our mutual friends, Helen and Doug. Helen prepared Domenica’s recipe and served these treats over some luscious burrata cheese. One bite and I was hooked.

I couldn’t wait to get home and make these myself. You start out by either roasting the peppers indoors at the broil setting in your oven, or roasting them on an outdoor grill, until they blacken nearly all over. Let them sit covered in a bowl for a little while, until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel off the blackened skins, and scrape the insides, removing the seeds. Slice them and place in a clean bowl with the garlic, capers and parsley.

Follow the recipe for the brine and pour over the top. Let the peppers steep for about an hour, then drain most of the liquid, and pack into jars, topping with olive oil.

Let the flavors meld together for a couple of days (if you can wait that long) then serve any way you like. They are especially delicious and offer a perfect contrast in flavors and texture over creamy burrata cheese.

But try them simply as a topping for bruschetta; in sandwiches or however you like. I know I am utterly addicted to these sweet and sour peppers and they’re going to become a staple in my kitchen. Pack them in pretty jars to give as gifts but make sure to keep some for yourself. You won’t be able to resist.

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Domenica Marchetti's Sweet and Sour Roasted Peppers
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds ripe bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons tiny capers
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • EQUIPMENT:
  • 2 sterlized 1-pint jars and their lids
Instructions
  1. Grill the peppers until the outside skin is blistered and somewhat blacked all around.
  2. If not grilling, you can roast the ppers in the oven.
  3. Arrange an oven rack 4 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler.
  4. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning every couple of minutes with tongs, until they are blistered on all sides.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and cover, with a plate or with plastic wrap.
  6. Let the peppers steam for about 10 minutes
  7. Lay a pepper on a cutting board near the sink and slice or gently pull off the stem.
  8. Let any juice from the pepper drain into the sink.
  9. Cut the pepper in half and scrape off the charred skins, seeds and innards.
  10. Cut the halves lengthwise into thin strips, about ¼ inch thick.
  11. Clean and slice the remaining peppers and transfer them to a heatproof bowl.
  12. Stir in the capers and parsley.
  13. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic to a boil in a saucepan set over medium high heat.
  14. Boil the brine for two minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then pour it over the peppers.
  15. Let steep for one hour.
  16. Drain the peppers, reserving a little of the brine.
  17. Pack the peppers tightly into the sterlized jars.
  18. Spoon one tablespoon brine over the peppers.
  19. Then fill each jar with enough oil to cover the peppers completely.
  20. Cover tightly and let sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours.
  21. Check to make sure the peppers are still submerged.
  22. If not, add more oil.
  23. Let the peppers cure for at least two days before using, then store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
  24. To serve, remove from the jar only as much as you plan to use and let it come to room temperature.
  25. Top off the jar with more oil as necessary to keep the remaining peppers submerged.
 

Codfish and Corn

  • July 7, 2020

It’s only in summer when this perfect combination comes together in my part of the world. Fresh, sweet New Jersey corn and codfish caught off our coast are meant to snuggle next to each other when the warm weather finally arrives. You can cook everything in one pot and have it ready to eat in a half hour. I started with this piece of codfish, a little more than 1 pound. If you have a piece this long, cut it in two or three pieces, otherwise it will flake apart after it cooks, when you try to lift it from the pan in one large section.

Start by seasoning the pieces with salt and pepper, then give them a light dusting with flour. Place some olive oil and butter in a saucepan, place the fish into the pan and sear at high heat, but only on one side. You’ll finish the cooking after you’ve put the rest of the ingredients in the pan.

Remove the seared pieces and flip over onto a platter. As you can see, they’re still partly raw inside.

Scrape the corn from the cobs. I used two ears of corn, but they were so sweet, we were wishing we had one or two more to join the party. Next time.

Place more butter into the pan and add the red pepper and shallots to the pan, stirring for a minute or two. Add the corn and seasonings, stirring for another minute, then push the corn to the side and make room for the fish, adding the pieces of cod in the center of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer on a low heat for another 5 -8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Sprinkle it with more minced parsley and serve.

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Codfish and Corn
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb - 1¼ lb. codfish
  • salt, pepper to season
  • flour to lightly dust the fish
  • 2 or 3 ears of fresh corn
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • ¼ shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 more tablespoons butter
  • minced parsley
Instructions
  1. Remove the corn from the cobs and set aside.
  2. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then lightly dust with flour.
  3. Place the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet and bring to high heat.
  4. Gently place the fish pieces into the pan and sear until browned on one side.
  5. Remove the fish from the pan, reserving them on a platter with the seared side facing up.
  6. Add the red pepper and shallot to the pan and cook for one minute.
  7. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan, along with the corn, the salt and pepper and minced parsley.
  8. Stir for one minute, then push the vegetables to the edges of the pan.
  9. Add the remaining butter to the center space of the pan, then place the fish in the center, with the seared side up.
  10. Turn the heat to low-medium and place a lid on top.
  11. Continue cooking for five to eight minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
 

Seared Scallops and Corn and giveaway winner

  • September 3, 2018

I was at a restaurant recently with an out-of-town friend who ordered scallops for dinner. They arrived looking pale, small, and sitting in a pool of insipid liquid, which was almost unforgivable, given how easy it is to get a good sear and add flavor to scallops with some butter and seasonings.

I’d like to invite her back and cook this recipe for her, especially while corn is at its peak and the scallops at our fish market are particularly fresh right now. We’ve had great corn this summer in New Jersey, but we purchased this delicious sweet corn at a farm stand in upstate New York last week, on our way home from the Glimmerglass Music Festival (where we also got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, but that’s another story).

We could have eaten like normal humans and limited ourselves to one ear of corn each, but what the heck – why not cook all four ears of corn. We could always reheat the leftovers, right? (Wrong, we scarfed them all down in one sitting!)

It’s easy enough to slice the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.

Sauté the peppers, corn and tomatoes in a skillet with some butter and olive oil, along with the seasonings.

Meanwhile, use a large cast iron skillet to sear the scallops. Heat it until it’s screaming hot, then add the oil and butter. By the way, try to find the largest scallops you can. That way, you’ll be able to get a nice sear on the outside without overcooking the inside. Make sure you dry the scallops thoroughly with paper towels to avoid any moisture from oozing out. If your scallops have too much moisture, or if you crowd too many in a pan, you could end up “steaming” them instead of searing them.

Sometimes, the scallops you buy are so filled with moisture, you wonder if the fish sellers injected them with water to make them weigh more. But these scallops, from our local fish market at the Jersey shore, were large, exceedingly fresh, and not at all weighted down with water. They sautéed beautifully in a minimal amount of fat (about 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil). But feel free to add a little more butter if you’re feeling indulgent. There are few things as delicious as browned butter over sautéed scallops.

The whole dish takes less than 30 minutes to put together, from scraping the corn off the cob to presenting it at table. We ate this as a regular weeknight dinner, but it’s certainly company worthy too.

Don’t you agree?

The inside of the scallop is still moist, while the outside is well seared to a buttery goodness.

And now, for the winner of the giveaway in my last post about lobster fra diavolo  and as my way of saying thank you to one of my readers as I celebrate 10 years of blogging, ta da … drum roll please!!!  Sarah Zimmerman, you’re the winner of the $100 Lobstergram gift certificate, selected by a computer driven, random number generator. Look for the gift certificate in your email.

Thanks to all of you who left comments and have been reading Ciao Chow Linda through the years. To see what’s cooking in my kitchen, or what other adventures I’m up to, connect with me on my Instagram page here.

Seared Scallops and Corn
 
Ingredients
  • 10 large scallops (or about ¾ pound)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter (or more if you like)
  • salt, pepper
  • 4 ears corn (or two unless you are a glutton like us)
  • ½ green bell pepper, mined
  • about a dozen red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
  • fresh chives
  • fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Strip the corn off the cob using a knife.
  2. Add one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon oil to a skillet and add the minced green pepper.
  3. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and corn kernels.
  4. Season with salt, pepper and snippets of fresh chives and add another tablespoon of butter if desired.
  5. Cook the corn mixture over low to medium heat for two or three minutes while you sear the scallops.
  6. Make sure you buy the largest scallops you can find to ensure you get a good sear without overcooking the interior.
  7. Dry the scallops on all sides with a paper towel.
  8. Heat a large cast iron skillet until it's really, really hot.
  9. Add one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon butter to the pan, then add the thoroughly dried scallops.
  10. Do not overcrowd or you risk "steaming" the scallops.
  11. Let them sear on one side for a couple of minutes only.
  12. Then flip and sear on the other side.
  13. When the scallops are almost finished cooking, transfer the corn mixture to a platter.
  14. Remove scallops from skillet and place over the corn.
  15. Pour any butter/oil left in the pan over the scallops.
  16. Decorate with a couple of strands of fresh chives.
 

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Ratatouille

  • September 14, 2008

Anyone who’s ever eaten or made ratatouille has an opinion on what the dish should taste like and how it should be prepared. Let me just say there is no definitive version. There’s only the version you like. The version I like? It spoke to me at a Provencal restaurant along the Mediterranean Sea nearly 25 years ago. “Use more olive oil,” it said. “Use more red peppers,” it said. So I listened. And I made it. But it wasn’t the same. So I made it again. And again. And again. After years of trial and error, I finally figured out why I so loved that particular ratatouille in a little French village near the Italian border on that particular night. Yes, I liked the heavy hand the chef had taken with the olive oil, and yes I liked the abundance of red peppers. But it was technique as much as ingredients that made the dish special. The key to this particular recipe is layering. Don’t just throw all the vegetables into the pot and expect it to transport you to St. Tropez. Read the instructions and you’ll see what I mean.
This makes a great side dish, particularly with sausages or pork as a main course. But it’s wonderful as a main course too, in individual casseroles topped with grated parmesan cheese and placed under the broiler for a few minutes. It’s the next best thing to being in Les Baux.

Ratatouille

Serves six as a side dish or four as a main course.

I prefer more red peppers (a lot more) and zucchini and fewer eggplants than most ratatouille recipes, but you can substitute anything you like.

1 medium size yellow onion, chopped into small pieces
3 medium size zucchini, cut into chunks
1 medium size eggplant, partly peeled (I make “stripes” down the eggplant with a vegetable peeler) and cut into chunks
6 large red peppers, cut into chunks
8 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh plum tomatoes, or 1 28-ounce can tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. freshly ground sea or kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. herbs de provence

Saute the onions in part of the olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until translucent and golden. Remove the sauteed onions to a plate or bowl.
Add more of the olive oil and the zucchini. Saute for five minutes or just until the pieces begin to soften. Remove and place on a separate plate.
Add the peppers and saute for five minutes. Then add the onions and zucchini back into the pot with the peppers. Add the garlic and let it saute a few minutes.
Add the remaining olive oil and eggplant pieces. Saute all the vegetables together another five minutes at medium heat. (The eggplant should be added last since it will disintegrate into unrecognizable pieces if given the same cooking time as the other vegetables.)
If using fresh tomatoes, peel the skin ahead of time by placing in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then cut in half, clean out the seeds and dice the flesh. Add the tomatoes to the pot. If using canned tomatoes, do not use the liquid in the can at first. You can add it later if the mixture looks too dry.
Add the salt, pepper and herbs de provence and simmer at medium heat for 20 minutes with the lid off, to help evaporate some of the liquid.