Roasted Marinated Sweet Red Peppers

It’s true, going through all the steps to grill and prepare these peppers does take a little bit of time.  Pick a sunny day and the sweet smell of them grilling will be enough payback.  Do enough for a dinner side dish also!  In the middle of winter when you open a jar you will immediately be transported back to that summer day.  I love using these in so many different appetizers, slivered in a salad or pasta or just served with a grilled steak.

Red pepper 4

These sweet peppers are an amazing way of capturing the tastes and smells of summer in a jar.

4 pounds firm, fresh and cleaned red bell peppers

Lightly oil peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until charred in spots and softened.  Put in bowl, cover tightly and allow to sit for 15 minutes until you can easily slip the skins off.   If you don’t have a barbecue you can also do this over an open flame or in your oven with the broiler unit.

Red pepper 1

MARINADE

  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Bring all marinade ingredients to boil in a saucepan.

Red pepper marinade 2

In most cases I would suggest squeezing fresh lemon juice, but in this instance the consistency and acidic content of bottled lemon juice is what you need.

If you want to use these within a few weeks, just fill the jars with peppers and pour the boiling marinade over.

Red pepper 3

Seal and keep in the fridge.

SEALING AND PRESERVING

Scald jars in boiling water and heat canning lids and sealers in boiling water.  Fill jars with peppers, immediately fill to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Quickly close the jars with lids and sealers and boil in canner for 15 minutes.

 

 

The BEST Crab Artichoke Dip

I’m not kidding you guys.  This dip is delicious, so make sure you get in there before your guests have consumed it all!

Crab Artichoke Dip 3

If you want a little “kick” stir in finely diced jalapeño chilies or chili flakes.

  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tin good quality crab meat
  • 1 diced roasted sweet red pepper
  • 1 14 oz container artichoke hearts (diced)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (I like white)
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion or chives
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream … then add the Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire, & horseradish.  Give this mixture a good blend, I like to use my hand held blender for this to make sure it is all smooth and creamy.  If you do this before you add the rest of the ingredients all your flavouring will be evenly distributed before you stir in the rest.

Crab Artichoke Dip 1

Gently fold in the diced roasted red pepper, diced artichoke hearts, shredded cheese, sliced onion and lemon juice.  Stir carefully at this point so you keep all the distinct colours and textures.  Lastly stir in the crab meat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Crab Artichoke dip 2

 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until it is bubbling.  Serve with crackers or sliced baguette, and stand back …. watch the crowd go wild.

 

Garden Fritters

IMG_5383

Make enough of these and it is a total meal, or use as an appetizer or side dish, either way, you are going to love these intense vegetable fritters.

 

I’m having a fritter moment.  It seems like a magical way of getting pounds of vegetables eaten up in record time, just when it is all at the peak of freshness, and who doesn’t love that?  I had to call these garden fritters, due to the tangle of grated zucchini, the wilted swiss chard, the crunchy pop of corn kernels fresh off the cob ….  Now just add to that a bunch of herbs, some garlic and a bit of cheese.  In today’s version I used feta and a bit of cumin.

If you make fritters just a few times you will quickly realize you don’t really need a recipe, but here is my general guideline:

  • 4 cups of vegetables
  • 1 clove of garlic (completely variable depending on your garlic love)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt, pepper and seasonings to taste

Now – once you’ve got  this far, just use your imagination with seasonings, and/or any cheese you decide to add.  Cheese certainly isn’t necessary, just adds another level of tasty goodness.

IMG_5380

These fritters have grated zucchini, lightly wilted swiss chard, corn kernels cut off a fresh cob, and herbs of parsley and chives.  One garlic clove and a bit of cumin with some feta cheese crumbled in created an intensely mouthwatering fritter.

A cast iron frying pan works best but any non stick pan will work well.  Lightly coat with oil, and on medium heat drop in dollops of the mixture.  Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 min per side.

IMG_5381

HEAD’S UP – these delicious little kernels of corn will actually pop and sizzle like crazy in the oil – be prepared for the splatter.

I served these with a dip resembling tsatsiki:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup grated cucumber
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Pizza Pockets & Hand Pies

fullsizerender-6

Following is the recipe for a basic, soft and easy to work with dough.  I used this recipe for making pizza pockets for my granddaughter Sloan’s first week of Grade 1, and then turned leftover dough into meat hand pies for 93 year old Auntie Elsie, who is kind of tired of cooking these days. Leftover dough you say???  Well I didn’t think 8-10 small pizzas would give me enough dough so I doubled the recipe … which yielded 25 pizza pockets, 10 hand meat pies and 1 pizza for our dinner.  Significant yield!!!

Pizza Crust: (makes 8-10 small pizzettas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 4-6 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. Once ready to cook, heat your oven to the highest heat setting (500F for most ovens) and place your pizza stone in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Portion the dough into 8-10 balls and place on a well-floured surface. Using your hands, with your knuckles, (dusted with flour, along with the counter to prevent the dough from sticking) form your pizza crust 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza on a flat surface dusted with semolina flour until it is nice and thin. Keep stretching it with your hands to make a flat pizza base (it doesn’t have to be round or perfect!).
  8. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, lay your rolled dough on the stone, and add your ingredients ….

If you are using this dough for pizza pockets or hand pies, after step 5 skip to step 7 and form circles of dough.

img_9494

For pizza pockets, layer on pizza sauce, your chosen ingredients and cheese, closing the pockets with a fork.  Make sure to prick the top surface with the fork so steam can escape.

img_9496

img_9498

img_9504

img_9503

For the meat pies I used an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount of the meat mixture – centered on the dough, and then brought up the edges to crimp over the middle of the circle.  Brush with beaten egg and poke with a fork.

Bake pizza pockets or meat pies at 400 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FILLING FOR MEAT PIE

1 onion, minced finely

1 garlic clove, grated

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup each frozen corn and peas

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp each dried oregano and basil

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is lightly carmelized, add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are almost cooked through, then add zucchini and saute for another few minutes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl.  Add frozen corn and peas.  Return pan to heat and stir in ground beef – cooking until lightly browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add beef to vegetable mixture and season with dried herbs, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  At this point, if you feel like it needs a bit more flavour, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Stir well and set in fridge to cool down.  When cool, continue on with forming your hand pies.

These pies are only limited by your imagination – use whatever you feel like to fill the pies, making sure to taste the mixture before filling the dough rounds.  Made in a smaller size they make a great appetizer too.

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Aioli

Crab cakes are one of our favourite appetizers to get when eating out …. this is an easy to create appetizer at home, or make slightly larger – serve with a great big tossed salad – amazing bread, and you have a complete meal.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions (green and white bits)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Blend well together, and gently stir in:
1 pound lump crabmeat (take care to pick through it to make sure it is shell free)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

In separate bowl combine:
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 pound of crab meat should make about 16 small cakes (appetizer size) or 8 larger cakes.

Form crab meat mixture into balls, and press each ball into the panko crumbs to coat.

Set aside in fridge to allow them to set up.

The crab cakes can be done to this stage, and kept in fridge until the next day.

Heat fry pan, and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp vegetable oil. When foam has subsided, add crab cakes and heat through for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping gently. Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches if necessary.

Horseradish Aioli

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend all ingredients well, and allow to sit in the fridge so that the flavours develop.

Serve crab cakes with aioli, sprinkled with a few cilantro sprigs.

Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Mushroom Caps

This summer we had a LOT of Italian red peppers in the field ….. we decided to try roasting and canning them – they were a fantastic success!

Creamy and delicious stuffed mushroom caps

Creamy and delicious stuffed mushroom caps

To make stuffing for about 12 medium – large mushroom caps

1/3 cup softened cream cheese
1/2 cup minced roasted red pepper
1/4 cup minced green onion
1 mushroom (minced)
1 stalk celery (minced)
1 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toasted sliced almonds
fresh parsley

First, sauté the minced mushroom and celery until lightly browned.

Stir all ingredients together until smooth and creamy – taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, but also be aware if you have enough red pepper flavour. If not, mince some more!

Stuff mushroom caps and bake at 375 until bubbly – sprinkle almonds and parsley over top and serve

Curried Crab Dip

This has been a family favorite for many years, and one I am often requested to bring. It is easy to serve with crackers or vegetables. When you want to get fancy, pipe it into little prepared pastry cups – looks like you are a pro!

Curried crab dip

8 ounce pack cream cheese (softened)
2 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1 small tin crab meat

Blend softened cream cheese with spices until nicely creamed together. Stir in crab meat (if you want to make it extra luxurious use 2 tins crab meat!)

Turn into serving dish and sprinkle with freshly chopped chives.