My friend Sue Stoner was right — I deserve her magnificent kitchen. She had designed the cooking area, which is the same size as my living area, with state-of-the-art appliances. A six-burner gas stove with one powerful enough to blast off a rocket; one big oven and one even bigger, plus an overhead warming area; two dishwashers, one big and one smaller — it was like dying and going to Cook’s Heaven. We gave it a real work-out when our Louisiana friends joined her and George for our 45-year reunion near Dallas.
While stocking up on groceries for the fiesta I was to prepare, some humongous elongated sweet red peppers caught my eye, so I planned to prepare them as I would Chiles Rellenos. They would join the gorgeous Mission Figs on my menu, along with tacos, green enchiladas and traditional red ones made from scratch. With those spacious counter tops it would be a cinch to prepare. And I wouldn’t have to set and decorate the table or do the dishes, thanks to Sue!
It would have been nice to include this venue on the annual tour of the Great Kitchens of Cambria. As it was, the tour was a resounding success, with such a wide variety of homes and tasty bites along the way. I always enjoy getting ideas for window treatments and gardens during the tour, as well as some new recipes from Alese Bell and Betsy Kincaid.
A hit was Caramelized Bacon, which I served this weekend during the festivities for my sister Erica Stewart’s milestone birthday.
Erica came in from Burlingame with her daughter and son-in-law Sarah and George Suppes, and his mom, JoAnn. Needless to say, they were delighted with the charms of Cambria as I gave them the Cook’s tour. Farmers market provided us with fresh Asian eggplant and zucchini squash blossoms, which I also prepared as one would chiles rellenos — the latter term translates to “stuffed,” a good state when referring to the local iconic pie we also served with the birthday desserts.
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Stuffed Chiles, Peppers or Squash Blossoms
6 fresh Poblano peppers, or
6 sweet red peppers, or
12 baby zucchini with blossoms attached
Wedges of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, sliced thin
1/2 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Eggbeaters or fresh egg whites with one yolk
Salt and pepper
Peanut or vegetable oil — 2 inches deep in pan or pot
The technique will be the same; the prep varies. Wash and dry the peppers; spray or brush with olive oil, place on a foil lined sheet pan, and roast in a preheated 375 degree oven 20 minutes until skins are blistered brown. Turn over and repeat — times will vary. Allow to cool, slip off the skins, and remove the stems and seeds if you like. Stuff with cheeses, dredge with seasoned flour, and let set.
Beat egg whites until frothy, add in enough flour to make a medium batter. Dip each pepper in batter and fry in hot peanut oil on all sides until golden. (Do not use olive oil, which will smoke.) Drain on paper towels and salt lightly. Serve immediately.
For squash blossoms, cut off the zucchini to serve fresh, with or without dip, or sliced with your favorite veggies in an omelette. Remove the inner green stub; stuff the blossoms with cheese, dredge in flour and dip in batter. Deep fry until golden and serve immediately. (I use a deep pot.)
Stuffed Mission Figs
Wash fresh figs and pat dry. Remove the stem and slice down just to the base in fourths. Stuff with honey flavored goat cheese and one half toasted pecan. Squeeze each one together and place on a serving plate to chill. Over medium heat, simmer and stir one cup of balsamic vinegar until reduced by half, taking care not to boil over or cook dry. Cool, and drizzle over figs like chocolate syrup. Serve cold or at room temp — leftovers are excellent the next morning with that breakfast omelette.