Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuffed Peppers à la Left-Overs

Peppers can be stuffed with pretty much anything, but traditionally, it's usually rice and ground beef. Kind of boring. This version contains corn rather than rice (which I mark as a great improvement), and is topped with smoked pork, to make two distinct layers inside the pepper. The amount of meat/ savory topping here is quite minimal so I recommend using whatever you have lurking in the fridge rather than buying something-- leftover grilled chicken! Some fried tofu! A few strips of bacon! A quantity of mushrooms too small to use for anything else! Some deliciously-spiced beans! (and so on and so forth) Aim for something strong-flavored and crispy for textural and flavor balance with the rest of the pepper-- I do recommend frying whatever it is you're going to use.

Stuffed Peppers -- Makes 6 peppers, serves ~2 dinners and 2 lunches.

6 peppers of suitable size (Bell, or Ancho for more kick)
2 cups corn, cut off cob (Or 2 cups of rice, I suppose)
4 ribs celery
1 small onion or a couple of shallots
Salt, pepper, dash of oregano
~6 ounces savory protein goodness (I used some smoked pork, see note at beginning)
~1 cup cheese, grated (cheap cheddar used here)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Fry up your meat/ soy / tasty savory thing. Set aside to cool briefly.
Cut off top of peppers and remove seeds. Put into lightly greased baking pan.
Chop celery and onion into small pieces. Mix with corn, and add salt, spices and herbs to taste. I used pepper and oregano.
Fill peppers with this mixture, leaving about an inch on top.
Chop up your protein into bite-sized pieces (if it's not already) and top peppers with it.
Top with cheese if you so desire.
Bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is starting to brown, ~30 minutes? (I have a hard time keeping tabs on these things, but it's done when it's done, and it does take a while)
Serve with rice. Or corn I guess if you stuffed your peppers with rice.

Photo by Bodger.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Corn fritters V1.0

Like Bodger, I too have had corn on the brain, as it's the major landscape feature around here.  Indeed, the commercial variety "Super Sweet" was developed at our major Midwestern research university.  (There's even a plot of this corn planted just off the quad.)   This recipe is a simple pancake batter that's made up to be just a shade lighter, with copious sweet corn added to it, and spiced to taste.   I think it's tasty but not perfect yet-- version 2.0 will appear next season.  Don't attempt this out of season, sweet corn out of season is just a sad state of affairs.  Instead, consider this a work in progress, and something to try next year.   (Picture by Bodger)

Corn Fritters 1.0

Ingredients:  (Serves 2-3)

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Dash of cayenne
Dash of black pepper

1 1/2 c water
2 eggs
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off cob
1.5 T butter, melted*

Butter for pan*

Mix dry ingredients well.  Mix wet ingredients well.  Mix together, but gently-- Alton Brown says quick bread batters should be stirred no more than 10 stirs, and he's pretty much the best.

Let your batter rest a couple of minutes while you heat a heavy pan-- a griddle or cast-iron skillet would be best here, heated over medium-high heat.  Add a bit more water to your batter if it is too thick.

Cook like pancakes-- butter the pan between batches, and flip when the top has just set and the bubbles cease to fill in.  The fritters will be fairly thick and hearty due to the corn, but don't worry, they WILL cook all the way through.

Alternatively, I bet these would be awesome deep-fried.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out?

*Substitute out if it's your need, but it will be better with the butter left in.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curried Wheatberries

Now that summer is just about over, a nice light summer dish...

1 cup wheatberries
1 red bell pepper
1 green apple
Raisins and slivered almonds (to taste)
Curry powder (between 1 and 2 tablespoons)
3 tbsp Olive oil
3 tbsp Honey
3 tsp Apple cider vinegar

To make:
Soak wheatberries overnight.
Boil wheatberries, cover and cook until tender.
Boil raisins and lightly toast almonds (for extra flavor, otherwise this step can be skipped).
Cut apple and red pepper into cubes.
Mix oil, honey, vinegar, and curry powder to taste.
When wheatberries are done cooking, toss everything together.

Tastes great right away. And even better as cold leftovers the next day.

Corn Curry

serves 4-ish

This dish is confused about its origins and lands about halfway between an Indian curry and a Thai curry. Since it’s very much coconut-based, I expect it would drift Thai-wards more easily than India-wards. I think it’s delicious as it is.


  • Two medium young onions with green tops (each smaller than half your fist)
  • Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn (about 2 cups)
  • One small japanese eggplant (the length of your hand)
  • Two medium yellow squash (the length of your hand)

Spices to toast:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 or 4 whole cardamom pods (or about 1/2 teaspoon seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Spices to add without toasting:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 whole curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The other stuff:

  • One 400-mL can coconut milk
  • Several tablespoons vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 1 cup cashews


  1. Slice the onions into slivers, keeping the greens separate. Cut the corn kernels off the ear. Slice the eggplant and the yellow squash into chunks around 1/2” thick.
  2. Toast the whole spices in a dry pan over medium-low heat until they smoke, darken, and pop very enthusiastically. Have a container ready so they can come out of the pan immediately when they’re done.
  3. Grind the spices thoroughly in a mortar and pestle or a very clean coffee grinder.
  4. Saute the white portions of the onion and the ground spices with a generous splash of oil over medium heat until the onion is about halfway tender.
  5. Add the eggplant. Saute more, until the eggplant is halfway tender.
  6. Add the squash, cayenne, onion greens, and salt. Saute another few minutes.
  7. Add the corn, curry leaves, basil, coconut milk, and gin. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until everything is barely tender.
  8. Adjust the spicing to taste.
  9. Serve over jasmine rice, topped with cashews.

Notes to the Protocol:

(1). Feel free to substitute zucchini for the yellow squash. Just don’t use too large a specimen of either one, lest you suffer The Bland.

(3). If your mortar and pestle is like mine, grinding large volumes of spices can be a bit of a hassle. I like to work in several batches that fit comfortably in the mortar, and also to pour each batch through a sieve when it’s halfway ground, letting the fine material fall into the pan and returning the chunks to the grinder. Don’t worry about making every fragment fit through the sieve, just repeat a couple times until you can see that all the tooth-breakers (e.g. intact fenugreek seeds) are gone.

(5). Eggplant will pretty much absorb all the oil you can give it. Add more iff needed to prevent sticking.

(6). If the cashews are salted, leave the curry a touch under-salty so they balance (and in case your guests are like me and want to, y’know, taste something besides the salt once in a while).

(9). I actually love this over corn chips, but L maintains that it’s too chunky for that. Try your favorite carb and tell me if it works.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gin n' Tamarind Fizz

Gin n' Tamarind Fizz

Instead of a picture, how about an excerpt from a poem by Rudyard Kipling.  As you all know, he was an Anglo writer who grew up in colonial India and therefore I assume he was familiar with both gin and tonics and tamarind juice.  This poem is  called "The White Man's Burden." 

"Take up the White Man’s burden—

Send forth the best ye breed—

Go send your sons to exile

To serve your captives' need

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half devil and half child"

Full text at, and at a number of other websites, and also at your local library!

Bodger and I just started up graduate school so we have had much less time for cooking lately.  We have been drinking a lot of gin and tonics to compensate.  This drink is a cousin of the gin and tonic, but the sour and bitter flavors come from tamarind juice.

Ingredients (Makes 2):

1 can tamarind juice or nectar, or some quantity x of concentrate
Soda water
Gin (I prefer Hendricks because I am a classy lady and Bodger prefers Burnett's because he is cheap)

Mix juice and soda water to taste-- if you're using tamarind concentrate, you will obviously want less.  I like 1 part juice to 2 parts soda water, but do it to your tastes.
Add gin.  One shot should be tasty, but I won't judge you if you put more in.