Wednesday, 5 November 2008


So I've been dealing with a lot of personal stress recently. I just got a mortgage but it's so incredibly complicated due to the fact that there are two names on the mortgage, one income is here, the other is in America. It's opened a can of worms that I really wish hadn't been opened. I have been cooking, but I've been terrible with pictures and lazy with blogging. So here's an update.

My boyfriend and I decided to make Romanian stuffed peppers on Saturday. It was delicious! We were a bit like tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber though. My mom used to make stuffed peppers, and I always thought she baked them (covered) . Also, we knew it had a tomato based sauce, but we weren't exactly sure if the sauce should be cooked separate from the meat. What we produced was lovely, but I don't think it was done the "traditional" way! But, for your culinary enjoyment, here is Petr and I's Romanian stuffed pepper recipe.

Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, top cut off, deseeded and deveined as best possible.
3/4 lb (200 g) ground meat
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
2/3 c (150 g) cooked rice (very soft)
1 chopped tomato
1 tablespoon summer savory (or a mix of thyme, rosemary, and cumin)
1 tablespoon salt or podravka
generous pinch black pepper
4 heaping tablespoons (1 small can) Tomato paste
1 cup (250 g) water

Now, here is the first error. You're supposed to steam the peppers first to make them softer, but we didn't do this. Oops. It was still good. If you want to do it traditionally, steam the peppers first for about 10 minutes to soften.

Fry the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices until they are light brown and aromatic
Add the beef and break up into small pieces.
Add the tomato paste and water
Simmer several minutes
Add in the cooked rice and let cook another 10 minutes. If it seems too dry, add more water.

Now here is what we did:
Over a small baking pan, hold a seive. Pour the meat and rice mixture into the seive and stir gently to seperate the tomato sauce from the meat and rice.
Stuff the peppers from the meat and rice remaining in the seive.
Place the peppers in the baking pan, cover with foil, and bake about 30 minutes (45 to an hour for softer peppers)

Serve with mamaliga (polenta)

Is that all? Oh no, readers. I havent been JUST cooking stuffed peppers! I made pumpkin butter last night adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewarts website. It was good, but I used only brown sugar (no white) so it's not as sweet as some might expect. Additionally, the brown sugar turned it a quite ugly shade of brown. However, the result is an aromatic, not too sweet butter that would go well with sweet and savory dishes.

Pumpkin Butter
250 g (1 cup) pureed pumpkin
50 g (bit less than 1/4 cup) packed dark brown sugar
6 whole cloves
5 allspice berries
teaspoon nutmeg
teaspoon cinamon
teaspoon ground ginger

Grind the cloves and allspice berries in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add this and all other ingredients into a small saucepan. On low heat, stir until the mixture becomes thick and "buttery" a bit like gnutella or frosting, perhaps....
Spoon into a container and refrigerate.

Yes, it's that easy. It makes the house smell HEAVENLY too.

I also made a winter vegetable stew that I will write about a bit later. I'm doing a bit of a recipe overload today! I have one more, which I will NEVER EVER EVER recommend doing. Why am I putting it here? Because despite all the time, it was REALLY good. The only reason I cooked it for so long was because I had a glass (or 3) of wine and not much else to do (my boyfriend was going shopping) Additionally, I had promised him risotto, but the only rice I had was brown (believe me, I smacked my forehead even before I opened my mouth. I knew what I was getting myself into)

Southwestern Style Brown rice Risotto

1 medium onion diced
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1 small jalepeno pepper minced
1 tbs of butter
150 g (2/3 c) brown rice
1 chopped tomato
1 small red pepper diced
50 g (1/4 cup) cubed cooked chicken
50 g (1/4 c) packed chopped coriander
half a carrot, diced
60 g (1/4 c) cheese (I used Zlata Praha, which is a bit like Eidam but a little sharper. Colby or mild cheddar might be a good alternative)
1 tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper
I don't even know how much (I think about 2.5 litres...) chicken stock / water (I used water after my litre of chicken stock ran out)

You know the drill.
Saute onion, jalepeno and garlic in butter
Stirr in rice and toast a bit
Add carrot
Add broth. Stir until absorbed.
More broth. Stir til absorbtion.
More. Stir.
Test it as you go to see how soft the rice is.
Mine took about TWO HOURS of pouring and stirring.
When I noticed it was getting to the right consistency, I just threw all the other ingredients in with a bit more water and stirred it until I smelled the aroma of the peppers.

How nice to finally give my arm a break! Yes, it will be an ugly brown color, but it is GOOD and CREAMY. At the end of cooking, the last thing I wanted to worry about (obviously) was to take a picture. You'll just have to imagine the delicious mess yourself (Or try to make it at home!) I'd say I'd do it again, but I probably wont. How I wish it didn't take so much time to make...

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