Monday, July 14, 2008

in honor of my lil' bro turning 21...we feast!

last week my youngest brother turned 21 years old. whoa. for some reason i thought he would stay 12 forever. no such luck. when birthdays roll around i usually host a "cousin's sunday dinner" at my place and the whole gang comes over. i let the birthday boy pick the menu. my little bro went with stuffed peppers. the other day i posted a picture of my trusty old better homes and garden cookbook and the recipe in there for stuffed peppers was the one i went with.....more or less.

growing up i cooked stuffed peppers for us alot. everyone loved them and they were really easy. i guess he must've remembered that they didn't suck.

i picked up several kinds of peppers from the market along with all of the other feast fixin's.

my other brother emailed me asking for some heat. to accommodate him i picked up some poblanos and some hungarian hots in addition to the mild and sweet bell peppers. i cleaned these and prepared the stuffin' well in advance so when they got here i just had to pop 'em in the oven. for the bell peppers i used the traditional hamburger, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, rice and cheddar cheese filling. for the poblanos and hungarian hots i used all the same stuff but substituted chorizo for the hamburger.

with the pioneer woman as my inspiration i tried my hand at some bacon wrapped jalepeno thingies for the appetizer.

first you have to slice the jalepenos in half and scoop out all the seeds and the membrane. now, i know this stuff is hot. that is where all the pepper's heat comes from. and i have cut 'em up before and burned my hands a smidge. one time i even had the misfortune of itching my face (YOWZA!) but nothing and i mean NOTHING compared to the burn these babies gave me. my entire left hand was on fire. it was damn near debilitating. i called my aunt for a possible remedy and she suggested the following: soak your hand in vinegar or milk. i called my boyfriend and he suggested the same. i also asked my neighbor and he too said milk and also mentioned that he'd heard somewhere that chocolate syrup might take the sting away.
they also all suggested washing my hand with dish soap and really scrubbing.

first i tried milk.

that didn't work. then i tried vinegar and that didn't work. then i thought to myself, 'what about buttermilk? that is like the best of both worlds.'

nope. nothing. i smeared hershey's syrup all over my hand and really rubbed it in. i scrubbed them with dawn dish soap and scrubbed at my hand with my lil' potato brush. nothing worked. nothing. and it was horrible.

in the end i just took some tylenol and kept a bowl of cold water and ice cubes to my left on the counter and when the burning got too bad i just soaked it for a minute to relieve the pain. i persevered though and this was the end result:

delicious! you stuff 'em with cream cheese, wrap 'em in bacon, and cook 'em until the bacon is done. these were a smashing success. like off the charts success. thank you pioneer woman!
(and thank you to aj for sending along a beautiful gift bag full of plastic gloves so that i can make these babies again burn free!)

and this is where the photographs end. when cooking up a feast like this for a crew this size there is no time for photo snapping.
maybe i should review my menu for you:

bacon wrapped jalepeno thingies
spicy shrimp and grits
stuffed peppers
steamed broccoli and cauliflower with cheese
lemon tart aka glorified lemon square

wear plastic gloves while scooping out 3 dozen jalepenos! i will also cut the bacon in half instead of thirds - or maybe try to buy longer bacon - so that it wraps all the way around that lil' nugget of goodness.

for the grits - these ones were definitely not as good as the ones i made last week during my cheesy experiment. those were way better. using half milk and half water really made a difference. i of course could not do that this time around since i used nearly all my milk to soak my scalding red peppery hand. (you know i had to take a cold shower? seriously the hot water burned it so bad it was awful. this was some serious shit.)

spicy shrimp - killer! i won't adjust this too much other than to use more beer. thankfully i left a UFO hefeweizen behind on saturday knowing that i would need it on sunday for this dish. however, i had no other beers in the house and i was really thirsty after slaving over a hot stove and i drank about half of it. oops. it was a really, really good sauce and the shrimp went great with it. served over the grits with a spoonful of sauce was pretty damn good.
next time - milk in grits and more beer in sauce.

stuffed peppers - no adjustments. i think i have this one pretty well down. i might try hot italian sausage next time in the hungarian hots and maybe some different cheeses.

cheesy broccoli and cauliflower - i don't really know how to make a cheese sauce so i usually opt for velveeta in a case like this. sadly i lost my shopping list and velveeta was omitted. shit. i had some mild shredded cheddar so i tried nuking it with a little milk and stirring it. eh. it was stringy and not too awesome. next time - don't forget the damn velveeta.

lemon tart - i didn't have a tart pan so i used a springform pan. it worked ok but my crust didn't look very pretty. the whole thing tasted pretty good but it was really just a round lemon square. i'll use this recipe again but just smush the crust down into a pyrex dish and pour the lemon mix on top.

it always feels good to have the people you love most in the whole wide world praise the meal you just cooked for them. really, i can't think of a single better feeling. that is tops for me.


Viper said...

I don't think you can make fun of me for marinade hands anymore.

That's some good looking grub!

the erratic epicurean said...

marinade hand and sandwich hands are much different than peppery burning on fire hand!

Viper said...

But not so different from milk/vinegar/buttermilk marinated hand.

Xenia said...

In my family, we puree a zucchini and shove that in the stuffed peppers too (minus the cheese) with a whole lotta olive oil.

The jalapeno thingies look good. If I can find a hazmat suit, I'll give it a go.

the erratic epicurean said...

a hazmat suit is a serious bonus