A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stuffed bell peppers

This is sort of retro, but so what? There's a multitude of variations, but I think this one has a couple of commendable characteristics that make it rather tasty. A word or several about the meat filling: I've never been as enthusiastic about ground beef or beef in general as is the general population, although I'm perfectly capable of enjoying a particularly good hamburger (I have about two a year) or steak. My tepid response to cattle isn't due to any latent vegetarianism - god forbid! I just prefer other animals. Plus, by now I've read enough about the origins and the processing of ground beef to conclude that it's best to avoid it. Ammonia just doesn't appeal to me. One must, on the other hand, acknowledge, given the American addiction to hamburgers, the very slim odds of becoming ill or dying from the consumption of ground cow. If the odds were high, people would be dying left and right and hospitals would be setting up beds in their parking lots. Gravediggers couldn't keep up. Yes, I know other foods can cause health problems, too, but I refuse to become paranoid about all this. Eating is just too enjoyable. As for the very real environmental concerns related to raising beef cattle, I won't get into that here.
   This recipe happens to be one that benefits from ground cow, but here's what I do which might increase my odds of survival or of at least spending too much time in the bathroom or in a hospital. I buy a cheap cut of beef and grind it myself. Easy. Just use a food processor. It's hardly necessary to purchase a real meat grinder. Be sure to purchase different colored bell peppers, although the red, yellow, and orange ones are a bit sweeter than the green. Also, be sure they stand up straight, so they won't topple over in the baking dish. Just test them in the store by standing them on a flat surface. The finished dish freezes well.
   I've made this preparation more interesting than the circa 1958 version by the addition of a rather large amount of smoked Spanish paprika. This is not ordinary paprika found in small tins in even the smallest grocery stores and used for decades in this country for the purpose of sprinkling over finished dishes as a sort of aesthetic garnish. No, this is from Spain, it's a bit more expensive, and it imparts a wonderful smoky flavor to foods. Please find it and use it. In fact, if you can't find it, don't bother making this recipe. I think, too, the use of Münster cheese, walnut or hazelnut oil, and jalapeños make their presence known. This recipe is for two to four, depending on their size, bell peppers.

Yellow, red, or orange bell peppers
Self-ground beef, 1/2 lb.
Angelhair pasta, 2 or 3 oz, broken
Nut oil (walnut, almond, hazelnut), 3-4 Tbs
Red or green jalapeños, 2 or 3,minced, with or without seeds and veins
Minced onion, 1/2 c
Minced garlic, 2 or 3 cloves
Smoked paprika, 6 c.  OK, I'm joking. Try 2 Tbs.
Münster cheese, 3 oz, grated
Salt and pepper
Beef broth

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Prepare the peppers by removing enough of the top (the stem end) to allow you to put
        in the filling. Remove the seeds and some of the veins.
3. Cook the pasta, drain, and mix with a tablespoon of the nut oil.
4. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and add the minced jalapeños and onion.
       Sauté until soft, then add the minced garlic and continue cooking a bit longer without 
       browning the garlic. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.
5. In the same pan, place the other tablespoon of oil and heat over medium-high heat and
       add the ground beef and smoked paprika. Cook until there is no pink left in the meat.
      The meat will have probably rendered some fat. Drain it and place the meat in the bowl
      with the vegetables. Salt and pepper.
6. Place the grated cheese - saving a bit for topping - in the bowl and toss to combine. You 
      might discover the cheese has a tendency to combine with the pasta in such a way as to 
      exclude the other ingredients. You'll just have to keep mixing the whole thing with a
      fork until it's relatively homogeneous.
7. Stuff the peppers. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray or olive or nut oil, and put
      a half inch or so of beef broth in it. Bake for about 45 minutes, but sprinkle the remaining
      cheese over the peppers ten minutes or so prior to removing them from the oven.
     They're done when they can be pierced easily (and carefully) with a fork.


  1. Any recommendations about what to serve alongside? I'm thinking some kind of green salad and a decent loaf of artisan bread? (Seems too middle class American.)

  2. Stef - A salad and good bread are pretty much all you need. Romaine lettuce, to be more specific; perhaps a Caesar salad.