Archive for December, 2008

Stuffed Peppers


Difficulty: Moderate

These are simple and satisfying. Classic rice-and-beef fillings with tomatoes, cheddar cheese, onion and garlic. A favorite in our family. When choosing your bell peppers it is best to pick those with a broad base that will allow the peppers to stand on their own, do yourself a favor and pick red, yellow or orange peppers. Save the tops of the peppers to place around the filled bell peppers to stabilize them if needed. Serves 4.

4 medium bell peppers, tops trimmed, core and seeds removed
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
12 oz. ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup

Directions:Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 TBS salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water and place on a paper towel. Return water to a boil; add rice and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to large bowl.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up beef into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with rice; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir together ketchup and reserved tomato juice in a small bowl.

Place peppers cut side up in 9-inch baking pan. Divide filling evenly among peppers, spoon 2 TBS ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle with 1 TBS remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with remaining ketchup mixture.


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Chocolate Pots de Crème


Difficulty: Moderate

Oh. My. Goodness. Deep, rich, satiny, luscious and glorious chocolate. This isn’t your mild milk chocolate dessert. Serious and adult. There aren’t enough adjectives to due this fabulous dessert justice. Just try it yourself and your taste buds will forever praise you. Use good quality 60% bittersweet chocolate; Ghirardelli, Callebaut, etc. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 8


Pots de Crème
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 egg yolks
5 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 TBS vanilla

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Garnish (optional)
Cocoa for dusting
Chocolate shavings for sprinkling

Directions: For the Pots de Crème:Place chocolate in a medium bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.

Whisk yolks, sugar and salt in medium saucepan until combined; add in heavy cream and half-and-half. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8-12 minutes. (When its temperature is between 175 and 180 degrees, the custard will coat the spoon, and when you run a finger through it the line will maintain neat edges.) Do not let custard overcook or simmer!

Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.

Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes.

For the whipped cream: Beat cream, sugar and vanilla together until they form soft peaks. Dollop each pot de creme with about 2 TBS whipped cream; garnish with chocolate shavings or cocoa if using and serve. Take the first bite. Sigh. Take another bite and the bliss continues.

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