Tag Archives: Bell Peppers

Italian Sausages with Bell Peppers and Polenta

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This dish  offers the classic Italian-American combination of sausage and peppers on a bed of polenta enriched with Parmesan cheese. By putting the emphasis on the peppers and onions, it makes an indulgent meal a healthy one, as well, with 34 grams of protein and just 31 grams of fat.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
½ cup polenta
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 mild pork sausages
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 Italian frying peppers, sliced, seeds discarded
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2-3 springs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:
To cook the polenta,  add 4 cups of water to a 2-quart sauce pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and let the water return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta thickens and absorbs most of the water, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
While the polenta cooks, prepare the sausage and peppers.

In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausages and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pan.

In the same pan used to cook the sausage, warm 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, and rosemary, and continue cooking until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup wine, if using and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slice the sausages and add them to the pan, turning once or twice until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, transfer the polenta to serving bowls and top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with torn fresh basil.

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Chicken and Black Truffle Sausage with Broccoli Rabe

Sometimes, you just get inspired by what is left over in your refrigerator, like this experimental dish full of Italian flavors and Spring vegetables.

This dish is a little like one of my Grand’s creations. She never measured anything exactly and her dishes and desserts always came out perfectly with a” little of this” and a “little of that” and a “handful of this”. But for those who need exact measurements, I am still working on the perfect amounts for this particular creation in the “laboratory”.

The goodness is that the family loved it, the bad news is that there were no left overs…. lol!

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Thank you so much!

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Poulet Basquaise

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Poulet Basquaise (Basque-Style Chicken)

When most people think of the Basque Country, they think of Spain.

Bilbao began the so-called Guggenheim effect. You see, the opening of the GuggenheimGuggenH.jpg Museum in Bilbao in northern Spain in 1997, shows how an imaginatively designed museum commissioned by an energetic mayor can help turn a city around. Visitors’ spending in Bilbao in the first three years after the museum opened raised over ($110m) in taxes for the regional government, enough to recoup the construction costs and leave something over.  In 2012, more than 1m people visited the museum, at least half of them from abroad. This was the third-highest number ever, so the building continues to attract visitors even though the collection on display is modest. Other cities without historic cultural centers now look to Bilbao as a model for what vision and imagination can achieve……hence the “Bilbao Guggenheim Effect”.  In addition, San Sebastián has all those Michelin star restaurants. And Pamplona, notoriously, lets bulls run through its streets once a year.week-pamplona_2611466b.jpg

The Basques are an ancient people who have inhabited this territory for thousands of tt2years.The Basque Country is made up of three distinct  administrative regions (the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and the Northern Basque Country in France)  and  seven provinces, three of which are in southwestern France.

44MapBasquecolToday, the Spanish part is an autonomous region with a Basque government, while the French part answers to the central government in Paris. The Spanish side has had a strong independence movement, which has lately been eclipsed by Catalonia’s. At the height of its activity in the latter part of the last century, ETA, the Basque separatist group, did most of its fighting on the Spanish side, saving the French side as a hideout…….but I digress. That is another history lesson for another time.

Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The great mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes, and freshwater fish and salt cod. The French and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference between the cuisine of either side of the modern border; even iconic Basque dishes and products, such as txakoli from the South, or Gâteau Basque (Biskotx) and Jambon de Bayonne from the North, are rarely seen on the other side.

Basques have also been quick to absorb new ingredients and techniques from new settlers and from their own trade and exploration links. Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal created a chocolate and confectionery industry in Bayonne still well-known today, and part of a wider confectionery and pastry tradition across the Basque Country. Basques also embraced the potato and the capsicum, used in hams, sausages and recipes, with pepper festivals around the area, notably Ezpeleta and Puente la Reina. And last but not least, in keeping with the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is more commonly used than butter in Basque cooking.

And with all of that local produce  available to the Basque, it is no wonder that Poulet Basquaise  or Chicken Basquise (or Basque Chicken)  is a local favorite. Chicken Basquaise is a dish that defines the simple elegance of French Basque cooking.

So, I know you are asking, “exactly what is Chicken Basquaise”?  Well, first of all, a basquaise is a type of dish prepared in the style of Basque cuisine that often includes tomatoes and sweet or hot red peppers. Chicken Basquaise originated in the town of   Soule . Originally consisting of vegetables and bread, this dish typical consists of  browned chicken pieces, then cooked in a casserole with a Pipérade, which is a mixture of ripe tomatoes , red and green peppers, garlic, onions and Espelette pepper.

And before you start to  cook this dish, you will need to make the Pipérade before you begin.10987_piperade_3000

Pipérade trumpets the versatility of French Basque cuisine.  This simple sauté is enlivened with the local cured pork, Bayonne ham, and a spicy paprika known as piment d’Espelette. In my version of this dish, I added a little of bit of Creole smoked sausage and bacon, for smokiness. Pipérade  is  great over braised chicken and baked fish, but you can also heed Julia Child’s advice and use it to top a plain omelette. Simply divine!

Chicken Basquaise is guaranteed to make your heart sing and your belly cry out for more. This  is a dish where Espelette peppers and chicken go together like the French and kissing,…….. Chicken Basquaise is a dish to smooch over. So make it a date – Chicken  Basquaise is one meal you’ll want to enjoy and get up close and personal with!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 medium tomatoes
4 chicken quarters, leg and thigh portions, skin on
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced Bayonne ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
4 ounces smoked sausage, sliced
4 ounces bacon, diced
4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves, coarsely chopped.
1 medium dried bay leaf
2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons piment d’Espelette
2/3 to 3/4 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway with ice and water. Using the tip of a knife, remove the stem and cut a shallow X-shape into the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch until the skin just starts to pucker and loosen, about 10 seconds. Drain and immediately immerse the tomatoes in the ice water bath. Using a small knife, peel the loosened skin and cut each tomato in half. With a small spoon, scrape out any seeds, then core and coarsely chop the remaining flesh. Set aside.

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 3-1/2- or 5-quart casserole or large Dutch oven.

When oil shimmers, add chicken pieces in a single layer (do this in batches, if needed) and let cook until very brown, turn, and repeat until pieces are well-browned all over, about 10 minutes per batch. Remove browned pieces to a plate and set aside. Discard excess oil and wipe out the pot with paper towels.

To the same pot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ham, smoked sausage and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat mixture to a plate and set aside.

Return the pan to heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and, once heated, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring rarely, until soft and beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs and pepper slices and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring rarely, until the peppers are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Add the chicken stock. Stir in the diced tomatoes, meat mixture, and piment d’Espelette. Return the chicken to the pot.  Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

To serve, remove the bay leaf  and sprinkle fresh parsley over the chicken. Serve with rice or potatoes, on the side, if desired.

Suggested wine pairing: Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy Rouge, France.

Go all-in on the Basquaise with a not-well-known Basque wine. Made from a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Irouléguy’s not a delicate wine, but nor is it as big as wines made with these varieties in the New World. Its smoky flavor and dark fruits will merge nicely with the rustic onions, garlic, and red Espelette peppers in the sauce!

Cook’s Notes:
The traditional recipe calls for 2 pounds fresh cubed tomatoes, but one 14-ounce can of whole peeled canned tomatoes can  also be used as a substitute, in this recipe.

It is also a tradition to use a  3- to 3-1/2-pound broiler chicken, cut into 8 pieces, for this dish. You can always  ask your butcher to cut up the chicken for you at your local grocery store.

Bayonne ham is a cured ham product from the French Basque country. If you can’t find it in your local area, you can always use prosciutto or bacon.

Piment d’Espelette is France’s only native pepper, and it is so highly revered that it is protected by AOC status. It has a nice heat and is worth seeking out at a gourmet grocery or online. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute cayenne pepper or paprika.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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Shrimp In Thai Coconut Sauce

 

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Coconut milk flavored with peanut butter makes a classic Thai inspired, creamy sauce with bell peppers and sautéed shrimp for an easy dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo shrimp
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 gloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ onion, peeled and sliced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 ½cups coconut milk
4 to 6 Tablespoons  fish sauce, or to taste
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 Tablespoons purple Thai basil leaves, torn
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, sliced,  for granish
1 red hot Thai chile pepper, thinly sliced , for granish

Directions:

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. Place the shrimp in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil, garlic, kosher salt and  crushed red pepper flakes. Toss to coat and let marinade for 10 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peppers and onion to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and cook half of the shrimp for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until opaque. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and cook the remaining shrimp then add to the other shrimp.

In another bowl  mix the coconut milk, fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger and turmeric and stir well. Transfer the cooked onion and peppers to the skillet and pour the coconut milk mixture of the peppers. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp to the skillet with the basil and cilantro and toss to coat. Serve over rice or noodles. Garnish with more cilantro and basil,  scallion and Thai chile peppers.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Honey Cashew Chicken

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Forget takeout and cook in, with a super-fast Honey Cashew Chicken with Rice dish. A flavorful and sweet sauce is tossed with the chicken mixture with a splash of Sriracha added for flavor.

For this recipe, I used what I had on hand: chicken thighs, broccoli red and yellow bell peppers and served it over brown rice. The dish turned out just fine with that little improvisation.

Enjoy!

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup instant rice
2 (6-ounce) skinless,boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 cups broccoli florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews, unsalted
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 Tablespoon Thai chile sauce

 

Directions:
Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Combine chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola and sesame oils. Add chicken mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Increase heat to high, and add broccoli, garlic, onions and  red bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in cashews.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat. Serve with rice.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Stuffed Crabs

You rarely see this dish served in real crab shells, these days in restaurants. Current restaurants use pseudo-crab shells made of thick aluminum foil, and roughly crab-shaped. The only way to get stuffed crabs real way, in crab shells, is to make the at home.

The secret to this recipe is to moisten the bread used to make the dressing with heavy cream, crab or shrimp stock. Chicken stock, can be used, but the final dish will lack the seafood flavor.

These make great appetizers. You can serve them as they are, or drizzle with hollandaise sauce as a side dish, or serve three crabs as a main dish with a vegetable.

Makes About One Dozen Stuffed Crabs

Ingredients:
1 pound lump crabmeat
Two sticks unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 rib celery, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons finely minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper,to taste
Crystal Hot Sauce, to taste
1/2 loaf stale French bread, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 cup homemade French bread crumbs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup homemade crab, shrimp, or fish stock*

Special Equipment:
A dozen or so reserved crab shells, washed thoroughly, or you may substitute aluminum crab forms if fresh crab shells are not readily available.

Directions:
Pre heat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl add the bread cubes, cream and crab stock and set aside to soak.

Heat 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of the butter and heat in a heavy skillet. When the butter is sizzling, sauté the onions, and the celery until the onions begin to brown. Add the green onions, garlic, salt and the bell peppers and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the parsley and cook for one minute. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Add the vegetable mixture and bread crumbs to the soaked the bread cubes and mix very thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, with salt and pepper. Take 2-1/2 to 3 cups of the bread mixture and place in a large bowl, breaking it up with your fingers. Add the crabmeat (which has been picked over for cartilage and shell bits) and use your hands to combine it with the bread mixture, very carefully leaving large lumps of crabmeats.

Stuff each crab shell or aluminum crab form with a generous amount of the stuffing. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over each mount of stuffing. Bake for about 10 minutes, and if you like turn on the broiler for the last 30-60 seconds, so that the bread crumbs will toast slightly. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Note:

Swanson’s Fish Stock is an excellent substitute for crab or shrimp stock in this recipe.