Scotch Egg Poppers

In yesterday’s post, I was going on and on about the tiny tri-coloured mini peppers I’d received in my Durham Organics bin a while back. And how I’d stuffed those super sweet little gems with a quinoa-sausage filling and roasted them off to utter perfection. And how the taste memory from this one-dish dinner is so strong I’m pining for them a month later.

And that got me thinking about making a sweet version of roadhouse-style deep fried jalapeno poppers, switching out the jalapenos for the sweet mini peppers and the traditional bread crumb coating in favour of a sweet Italian sausage covering. And that got me thinking about my pulled pork dry rub. And of course that lead me to thinking about Scotch eggs.

It was a natural progression. And, yes, I think too much.

So, here you go my darling warriors. My newfangled recipe for Scotch Egg Jalapeno Poppers, sans eggs, sans jalapenos.

They were so good that, while one is quite sufficient set atop a salad, I couldn’t help myself and had seconds.

 


 

Scotch Egg Poppers (serves 4)

4 tri-coloured mini peppers
3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon cooked bacon bits
4 sweet Italian sausages (each about 100g), casings removed
⅓ cup pulled pork dry rub (recipe follows)
1 recipe spicy aioli (recipe follows)

• Preheat oven 350F.
• Line a small baking dish with aluminum foil, coat with vegetable spray and set aside.
• Slice off stem end from peppers and, if necessary, remove seeds.
• Mix together cheese and bacon and stuff mixture into peppers.
• Using 1 sausage per pepper, completely encase pepper in meat, then gently coat in dry rub mixture and place in baking dish.
• Bake on centre rack until meat is no longer pink inside, about 30 minutes, rotating dish from back to front halfway through baking time.
• Transfer dish to wire rack and let poppers cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a dollop of spicy aioli.

 

Pulled Pork Dry Rub (makes about1 cup)

¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

• Stir all ingredients together until well combined, place in an air-tight container and store in a cool, dark cupboard. Use within a month.

 

Spicy Aioli (makes about ⅓ cup)

¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce

• Stir together ingredients until well combined, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Use within 2 days.

 


 

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Notes from the Test Kitchen

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in the Fridge Whisperer test kitchen.

I’ve been testing, retesting and re-retesting recipes to come up with the final entrees for our next book; the 6th title in The Fridge Whisperer Cookbook Series (to hit bookshelves this fall).

And I can’t stop thinking about the gluten-free mini stuffed peppers recipe I posted a while back. Man, they were so good I made them two nights in a row for dinner. I’d never seen those tiny rainbow coloured peppers prior to receiving them in my Durham Organics bin.

Then just last week I noticed they’d found their way into mainstream supermarkets and even into COSTCO veggie platters, though neither offering was 100% certified organic.

 

These sweet-tasting peppers are the size of jalapenos. Which got me pining for deep fried poppers. But why settle for been-there-ate-those mass produced frozen roadhouse-style poppers when you can have homemade poppers disguised at Scotch eggs! Stay tuned for the results.

And last week the test kitchen was abuzz with lights, cameras, microphones and Metroland Media’s Your Life Video Series host, Leeanna McLean, as she put me through my paces to produce 10 knife skills videos. I’ll let you know when the videos are ready for viewing on DurhamRegion.com.

And speaking of knife skills, a shout-out to the five lucky Fridge Whisperer warriors who have won a free knife skills class with yours truly in the Fridge Whisperer test kitchen. Congrats goes out to Judy S; Catherine W; Sue R; Theresa D; and Elaine W. I’ll be in touch with you gals directly to set a date for this lesson.

Finally, if you’d like to enter for a chance to win any one of Fridge Whisperer’s monthly give-aways, just sign up for our newsletter HERE, type the word “Newsletter” in the message box, and we’ll put you on the list.

 


 

Clean Eating en Papillote

Clean Eating Haddock en Papillote COMP I was determined to use up every last bit of produce left from last week’s Family Bin before Durham Organics delivered the next one to my front porch.

Stir-frying notwithstanding, en papillote cookery is the most perfect technique for sealing in every last bit of goodness from what’s going wanting in your fridge’s crisper… that lone carrot; half a bell pepper; those two fingerling sweet potatoes; that stalk of celery and bunch of green onions; cilantro; garlic.

Such was the case with last night’s dinner. I used thawed haddock fillets as my protein-of-choice and some leftover cooked rice & peas for the base. Piled high on top was my finely diced, sliced, minced, chopped veg, a drizzle of Spanish EVOO, a splash of white wine, a sprinkling of no-salt dried vegetable seasoning and, voila, dinner for two.

I wrapped the packets as one would a sandwich, bringing the long sides of the parchment paper up to meet in the middle and making ½-inch folds until the parchment touched the top of the ingredients. Then I twisted and folded the short sides under.

The packets found their way to a rimmed baking sheet and got baked off in a preheated 375F oven for 20 minutes (or until vegetables are tender-crisp). You need to let the packets cool for 5 minutes before opening so you don’t end up with a steam burn.

En papillote packets are as vast and varied as the home cook preparing them, amendable to ethnic flavours and ingredients and all kinds of proteins. HERE‘s a variation of today’s recipe. And HERE‘s another. And a few MORE for additional inspiration.

The best part of en papillote cookery is that you can’t really overcook the ingredients. And the packets take kindly to reheating in the microwave for 3 minutes on full wack.

As long as the protein is no thicker than a half-inch and you’ve prep your veggies in small slice or dice, and you’ve used a couple of tablespoons of liquid (stock; wine; coconut milk; oil, etc) these one-packet meals are bulletproof to make.

Now go shop your fridge and pantry and let me know what you’re having en papillote for dinner tonight.

Happy cooking, my darling warriors.

 


 

Dreamy Kale Salsa

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Last Saturday night I dreamed — of all things — about kale salsa. I awoke Sunday morning with vivid taste memories on my tongue.

I had a head of kale in the fridge along with the dredges from a bottle of Grace Jerk Seasoning, half a red onion and yellow bell pepper, a couple of use-them-of-lose-them green onions, and a handful of cilantro. In my fruit bowl was a grapefruit, a couple of oranges, an Ataulfo mango and a Gala apple.

If you haven’t used Jamaican jerk paste before, proceed with caution. This stuff is blistering hot. Measure carefully using real measuring spoons.

The sweet-tart salsa was the most perfect foil against the spicy heat of the jerked shrimp and fluffy rice & peas that I also made. (I didn’t add jerk paste in my salsa but included it as an option in the recipe for those who like their food hot as Hades.)

I used a pound of raw (size 21-30) zipperback tiger shrimp tossed with a teaspoon of jerk paste and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. I set them in the fridge for half an hour to marinate, then threaded 4 each onto mini wooden skewers and sauteed them in a tablespoon of clarified butter for about 1 ½ minutes per side.

The rice was made in my rice cooker. I used raw parboiled rice and chicken stock. When the timer beeped to tell me the rice was done, I tossed in a half cup of thawed frozen peas.

Dinner was sublime.

I hope you’ll give this salsa recipe a try. It’s a something-different way to use kale and the finished product is a great accompaniment to any kind of grill meat, fish, seafood or poultry.

 


 

Tropical Kale Salsa (serves 8 as an accompaniment)

1 bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves very thinly sliced
1 grapefruit, peeled and segments finely diced
2 oranges, peeled and segments finely diced
1 Gala apple, cored and apple finely diced
1 Ataulfo mango, peeled, pitted, and flesh finely diced
½ cup finely diced red onion
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoon grapefruit or orange juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon no-salt dried vegetable seasoning
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Jamaican jerk paste (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

• Toss together all ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately as an accompaniment to grilled meat, poultry, fish or seafood or, alternatively, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within three days.

 


 

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Potatoes au Gratin au Mandoline

Back in the day I was a baked-potato-in-the-microwave girl. These days, however, I find I like them any other way but nuked.

I guess I’ve progressed as a home cook.

I know better ways to treat the humble spud that’ll give me my much-loved carb without mountains of butter and bacon and sour cream spooned over top.

My Potatoes au Gratin recipe below is a perfect case in point. I used very little olive oil, no butter whatsoever, and I switched out the heavy whipping cream in favour of half & half. I’ve also reduced by three-quarters the amount of sodium I’d normally use in nuked-potatoes-for-four by using no-salt vegetable seasoning and thyme. More flavour, no swollen ankles by 7 pm.

The addition of cheese, admittedly, was gilding the lily. But you can’t have “au gratin” without it.

To make this dish super fast to create, treat yourself to an in-expensive mandoline.

And a box of bandages.

It’s a right of passage thing.

You’ll understand what I mean the first time you attempt to use this kitchen gadget without the finger guard.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 


 

Potatoes au Gratin (serves 4 to 6)

3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced, divided
1 ½ pound potatoes (Yukon Gold; red), peeled and very thinly sliced into rounds, divided
½ a red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds, divided
½ cup light (10MF) cream, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon no-salt vegetable seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, divided
½ cup grated asiago cheese, divided

• Preheat oven 375F. Coat a gratin dish with vegetable spray and set aside.
• Layer ⅓ garlic on bottom of gratin dish, followed by ⅓ potato, onion, cream, oil, vegetable seasoning, thyme, salt, pepper and cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times ending with cheese on top.
• Set dish on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, place on centre rack and bake until potatoes are tender and gratin is golden, about 35 minutes, turning dish from back to front halfway through baking time.
• Transfer dish to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

 


 

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