Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

I highly recommend making stuffed peppers out of slightly spicy Anaheim chiles instead of sweet, boring bell peppers. See if you can find very large chiles to minimize the labor. Use whatever greens and vegetables you like – we had chard and broccoli from the greenhouse. The little cherry tomatoes in this are the best: they burst open with a hot explosion of flavor.
Large Anaheim peppers are the perfect container
for stuffing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I've made hummus many a time, just winging it without looking at a recipe, and I have always been dissatisfied with the results. Frustrated and determined to make GOOD hummus, I was intrigued by a recipe that claims the secret is peeling the chickpeas. Every single one of them. If this was the key to good hummus, I was willing to try it. However, being an experimentalist, I was also keen to know: how much of a difference does peeling the chickpeas make? Would anyone notice the difference between peeled and unpeeled? Fortunately for you, I did the experiment so you don't have to, including blind taste tests with my friends. Here are the results.

The best hummus I've ever made.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vegetable Stock

Our system for making vegetable broth for soups and stews is the following. Whenever we're cutting vegetables, we add the odds and ends to a gallon-sized ziplock baggie in the freezer (our "broth bag"). When the gallon-sized bag is completely full, it's time to make broth, whether we have a soup in mind for dinner or not (the broth freezes well).

What goes in the broth bag?
Carrot tops, celery leaves, the tough outer layer of onion between the skin and the first tender layer, pepper seeds (jalapeno, bell, whatever), green onion tops; basically any part of vegetable that you wouldn't eat straight but is still edible.

The most special, not-so-secret ingredient in our broth bag is roasted green chile skins and seeds. In New Mexico, it's culinary custom to buy a large bag of green chile when they're in season (late August-September), and have them roasted on the spot. We freeze our roasted chiles with the skin still on (some people peel them all at once before freezing). Whenever we want green chile in our eggs, stew, burritos, etc., we defrost a baggie of green chile and peel the skins off. The skins and seeds go in the broth bag. Yes, this means every single soup of ours is at least slightly spicy! We don't mind.

What doesn't go in the broth bag?
I wouldn't put stuff that's dirty or gone bad into the broth bag. The thing about the broth bag is that it gets extensively boiled, so that should kill bacteria, but food that's gone bad might still taste off. Keep in mind that any pesticides or inorganic contaminants on the surface of the vegetable will still make it into the broth, so the vegetables that go in there should be washed just as thoroughly as the parts you eat straight away.

We boil the vegetable bits 'n' pieces in a few quarts of water for at least an hour, usually longer (if it's winter, we'll leave it on the woodburning stove for 3 hours or more). If we don't have that long, an hour in the pressure cooker is great. You can add bay leaves and other spices if you so desire, and definitely salt to taste. Strain the liquid and use right away or freeze.

Chocolate "Mousse" Pie

This is one of the easiest, most impressive desserts you can throw together in a few minutes (plus a few hours to let it chill). It is a dense, firm, rich, dark chocolate pie but it can be easily made with less chocolate for a more kid-friendly dessert.   It is also very simple to make it dairy free/vegan, as the "mousse" is silken tofu (but no one will ever know, unless you reveal the secret). If you make it as-is, cut small, thin slices for your friends – it’s that chocolately rich. Serve with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (if you’re not required to be dairy-free), ice cream (coconut-based would be delicious), and/or a blended sauce ("coulis") made from your berries of choice. Really, this recipe just BEGS to be served with fruit.

Dense, dark chocolate "mousse" pie with fruit and ice cream.