Archive for April, 2011

Ham Stuffed Bell Peppers

5 April 11
Grilled ground meat filled in bell pepper (231...

Image via Wikipedia

There are probably a million and one recipes for stuffing a bell pepper. Well, here’s mine. Or, more accurately, my mother’s. I hadn’t had this in years and had forgotten just how good it was/is.

First off, you need some ham. If you have baked a ham, then when you get down where it doesn’t slice so pretty, you are there. Alternatively, one of the best kept secrets going is that the Honey Baked Ham Company sells “soup bones”. If you have one of these stores in your area, check it out. Around here they sell for $3.00/lb. apiece.They seem to average about 3 lbs. of usable meat.

Anyway, wherever you get your ham, grind it up. When I was a kid we had one of those grinders that would clamp onto a table or counter top. Hand crank, it was. You can still get them, anywhere from about $25.00 up to ridiculous. Plus shipping, of course. Just look up meat grinder on the net.

Alternatively, if you have the Kitchenaid mixer with the grinder attachment, this is a winner. Whichever way, do a coarse grind on the ham, we don’t want a paste.

About one large bell pepper per person, maybe one and a half if they’re hungry and you don’t do a side. Cook up some rice while you are grinding the ham, figure about a quarter cup of rice per pepper. Don’t overcook the rice. Grind up enough ham to equal the amount of rice you have. Lightly fry the ground ham. If it is a salt-cured ham don’t add any salt, if it is not, add salt. Add fresh ground pepper. How much salt and pepper? I don’t know, taste it. When it’s right, you’ll know. That’s all the spicing it needs. But, if your taste buds want overkill, add whatever.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and spines, and then par-boil them. Just get some lightly salted water boiling then drop in the peppers and boil the halves for two minutes. Drain them and lube the outside with a little olive oil – yes, they’re hot. Mix up the ham mixture and rice, then mound it up in the peppers. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and put a small pat of butter on each. Put it into a lubed dish, the spray stuff is fine, and bake for 30 minutes at 350ºF.

Enjoy.

You can add all kinds of things to the mix. Sweat some onions and add those. Add chopped bell pepper if you want more pepper taste. You can do this with beef, lamb, chicken, whatever. BTW – the way we used to have them was green peppers. I don’t do green anymore, I use orange or red. Better taste, less indigestion. See the discussion of peppers for more details.

{Photos coming later! – Herself}

Fruitcake Cookies

5 April 11

Fruitcake goes way back – probably almost as far as breads and cakes. Certainly the Romans were dumping stuff into their barley mash. By the Middle Ages sweet cakes were called fruitcakes for the first recorded time. They used honey, since sugar, the wonder sweetener, didn’t come available until the discovery of America. Middle Age European cooks also used whichever appropriate spices they could get and whatever fruits were available. The Roman Church even got into the act – weakening the fasting regulations in the case of the North German fruitcakes. This was Innocent VIII in 1490. Considering the cost of spices and sweets and fruits in Western Europe at that time fruitcakes were very special indeed.

There is no one way to make fruitcake – and certainly no one way to make fruitcake cookies. It will vary from place to place and cook to cook. This is just one of many ways.

This amount will make about 8 dozen. Vary to suit your need.

2 sticks butter, softened (1 cup)
300 g sugar (1-1/2 cups)
3 eggs, separated
430 g flour (3 cups)
210 g candied cherries, finely chopped (1/2 lb)
210 g candied pineapples, finely chopped (1/2 lb)
210 g golden raisins (1/2 lb)
500 g shelled pecans, finely chopped (1 quart)
3 g cinnamon (1 tsp)
1 g nutmeg (1/2 tsp)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)
22 g dark rum (2 Tbs)
5 g baking soda dissolved in (1 tsp)
10 g hot water (1 Tbs)

The night before chop up the fruits if you didn’t buy them  already chopped. The easy way is just shove it through a food processor. Pour the rum over the fruit and let it sit at least one night in a tightly covered container. More time doesn’t hurt anything.

Cream the butter and sugar together completely. Add in the egg yolks.

Mix in the flour and the spices. When it is pretty completely mixed add in the fruit, nuts, and anything else that is going in except the egg whites. It may be kind of like biscuits – pea sized and crumbly – but that is fine.

Whip the egg whites until they are very stiff and blend into the batter.

Grease up cookie sheets with Crisco and drop teaspoon sized onto the sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.


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