Okay, the other night I got all creative with my farm share and winged-it with my first-ever attempt at stuffed peppers.
I had four beautiful, perfectly-shaped, giant green peppers and a fridge full of chili leftovers, so there was nothing else to be done with them. When I couldn’t find a recipe that sounded like what I wanted, I decided to just throw together something pretty obvious myself, and it turned out deliciously. I browned up some diced bacon, then sauteed some of our own newburgh onions with them, then tossed that all into some cooked couscous. Then I stirred in some dried oregano, crumbled feta, and a diced tomato from the farm. (I ended up making at least twice as much of the filling as I needed, because I had no idea how much would be enough. Good thing it’s bacon-onion-feta-tomato cousous, and is therefore utterly delicious with or without pepper surrounds.) In the meantime, I halved the peppers the long way, scooped out the seeds and ribs, blanched them in boiling water for a few minutes, then let them dry, hollow-side down, on towels. Then I scooped in the filling, covered, and baked at 325 degrees (F) for about 20 minutes, until everything was warm.
They were completely scrumptious, but I felt like they were going to need something on the side to zazz up the meal a bit. What I really wanted to do was make focaccia; I’ve been building up a head of steam lately to get back to more regular bread baking, like I used to before we moved to Maple Hoo, and focaccia seemed like a perfect way to start. I was going to top the focaccia with thinly sliced tomato from the farm (yeah, using up just one seemed to me to be “a great use for all these tomatoes!”), and I’d look all ambitious and awesome. Then I read a few focaccia recipes, realized it is a really involved process, and recognized why I don’t make stuff like that during the work week. I opted instead to make a much simpler pizza dough and just pretend it’s focaccia. Or faux-caccia. HAHAHA! Sigh.
I was surprised at how tasty the faux-caccia turned out, actually. I doused the dough in olive oil, then trampled the oil down into the dough with my fingers, just like “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” cookbook says to do with real focaccia, and then layered paper-thin slices of a mild yellow-red heirloom tomato on top (no, I have not figured out which tomatoes are which in the six seasons I’ve had a farm membership). It came out crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, and all rich and sweet from the tomato and oil. But even though it was delicious, it still struck me as a kind of lame cop-out.
That is, until I watched the episode of “Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee” that our tivo picked up this week. The episode promised at the outset a recipe for Artichoke Focaccini, and showed us this glamour shot of them:
Considering my long history as a scholar of all things Sandra Lee, I should have seen it coming. But still, it came at me as if from out of nowhere. Yeah, she made the focaccini out of Pillsbury Grands.