Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Disasters and musings while making dinner last night

I was preparing some of my special vegetarian stuffed peppers last night to take for lunch this week. (Yes, Sue, you're right about the peppers, but they're less objectionable than a lot of vegetables and eating a whole pepper makes me feel virtuous). I bought four large red bell peppers from Whole Foods. They looked gorgeous. I cut off the top of one of them and looked down to find MOLD on the inside of the pepper. How does one avoid things like this? Could I have taken the pepper back and demanded a refund? How do you buy a pepper and know there will be mold inside it?

The pepper recipe in case you were wondering....

3/4 cup wholewheat couscous cooked in same amount of water
2 Hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 handfuls of chopped dried apricots
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
Cumin, cinnamon, oregano, or whatever other spices you feel like sprinkling in there.

350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the peppers are soft.

Moving right along...

I was also making turkey meatloaf for my dinner. These days when recipe calls for ketchup, I prefer not to buy that HFCS-laden stuff in a bottle. I mix a combination of tomato paste, cider vinegar, paprika, salt, pepper, and a few pinches of sugar and get a similar taste and texture to bottled ketchup. I did this last night.

I LOVE the tomato paste in a tube. I used to hate it when the only tomato paste you could get was in a can and if you only needed a little, you ended up wasting it. There is just one problem. It can get messy. When the tube starts to run low, I like to try to twist and turn it to make that last bit come out. It does eventually come out. The problem is it comes out every place but into the bowl I want to receive it. It tends to shoot out sideways. Last night it shot sideways out onto my pants (and I hadn't changed out of the work clothes yet). Looks like I'll have a dry cleaning bill this week.

But dinner had its good points too...

I was making mashed potatoes to go with the meat loaf. I went into the refrigerator for the milk. That's when I saw it. Over the weekend I bought a lot of heavy cream to use to make the ganache for my mother-in-law's birthday cake. I still had quite a bit left over. I went to reach for the milk, but the cream just kept staring at me. I don't normally do such artery-clogging things like mashing potatoes with things like cream cheese (sorry Ree) or heavy cream. I don't want to clog up my arteries or balloon my belly out more. Still, the heavy cream stared back at me and beckoned. Did I dare? Did I really dare?

In the end I mixed the heavy cream with regular milk, but I used enough of it to know it was there. Those potatoes were heavenly. I think I may start liking heavy cream in my potatoes too much. They really had a lovely richness to them.


Emiline said...

I would have done the same thing. If I was just cooking for myself, I probably wouldn't add cream to the potatoes, but when you cook for family and friends you always want it to taste delicious and rich.

Ew, moldy peppers.

Couscous sounds good. Manischewtiz makes some tasty couscous.

Sue said...

YES, YOU COULD HAVE AND SHOULD HAVE taken that pepper back. As a former employee of Whole Foods, (I was their in-store chef for awhile - I didn't chef for them, I gave cooking lessons and wandered around the store demonstrating different recipes)I can tell you that they absolutely would taken back that pepper.

The stuffing for the peppers sounds so good. I like Jamie's thing where he slices the peppers not on the equator, but on the International Date Line, so they're not as deep. Maybe that makes them better to eat, because you don't feel like you have this whole mountain of a pepper to eat, but rather a small boat of one.

I can't really think of a place where heavy cream wouldn't improve the dish...