Farm stands and farmers’ markets are a minefield for me this month. I can’t resist. Anything.
I bought a basket of about 10 large heirloom tomatoes last week and have been eating them out of hand like apples, sprinkled with chunky sea salt, as I race to use them up. Then at Rittman Orchards in Doylestown on Sunday I bought big handfuls of green beans and a bunch of nectarines that I sliced and tossed with my own blackberries for a pie.
I have been indulging in corn and watermelon for a month, and now am heavily into muskmelon. I supplemented my stash with a fragrant little Charentais (!) melon I also found at Rittman Orchards.
And then at Dunkler’s in Copley last week, I was thrilled to see that hot peppers are finally in season. A pile of shiny, fat, wrinkled poblanos called to me. I scooped up four big ones and carted them home with no idea what to do with them. I couldn’t justify the calories of chile rellenos, which I craved. So I started thinking of ways to slim down that dish of cheese-stuffed peppers, breaded and deep-fried.
The recipe I came up with is a cross between rellenos and stuffed peppers with a Mexican accent. I roasted the poblanos over my gas stove burner (electric will work, too) and stuffed the peeled peppers with a delicious mixture of browned ground meat, fresh corn kernels and crumbled feta cheese seasoned with oregano. A splash of Worcestershire gave the mixture an undercurrent of umami. I stirred in a bit of shredded Mexican-style cheese mix (Monterey Jack and Cheddar) for melty goodness.
After baking the peppers for 20 minutes, I lashed them with lime-flavored sour cream and scattered some chopped tomato over the top. Yeow. The filling was delicious, and the cool lime sour cream tied together the flavors and toned down the mild sting of the poblanos. Tony and I loved them.
Now, what to do with a crate of cabbage and a half-peck of new potatoes?
BAKED STUFFED POBLANO PEPPERS
6 fat poblano peppers
1 to 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend (or Jack) cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
Grated zest of 1 small lime
Chopped ripe tomato for garnish
Blister peppers on all sides on a grill or over a gas or electric range burner. Immediately place in a paper bag and close tightly. After 5 minutes, rub each pepper under running water to remove blistered skin. Don’t worry if some skin remains.
Cut a lengthwise slit in each pepper and carefully remove the seeds without tearing the pepper. Wear rubber gloves if you wish. I didn’t, but I was careful not to rub my eyes. Set peppers aside on paper towels.
While peppers steam in the paper bag, start the filling. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet. Sauté the onions over medium-high heat until softened. Add garlic and sauté a minute longer. Crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring often, until no longer pink, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil if necessary.
Stir in corn kernels. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and stir in feta and shredded cheese.
Stuff the poblano peppers with the meat mixture. It should be enough to fill six large poblanos. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan or individual ramekins, allowing two peppers per person. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream, milk and lime juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon into a small sandwich bag and snip off one corner (a tiny snip!). When the peppers are done, place two on each plate (or leave in ramekins) and squeeze the sour cream mixture over them in a decorative squiggle. Scatter a spoonful of chopped tomato over all. Makes 3 servings.
Anyone who is nostalgic for 1950s and 1960s food should read “In the President’s Home: Memories of the Akron Auburns,” my friend Mark Auburn’s book about the years his father, Norman, was president of the University of Akron (1951-1971).
Mark, a fellow food-lover, did not stint on descriptions of the food served to family and guests alike. I am now bereft that I never tasted Blossom Shop Candies’ mint disks sandwiched with a layer of chocolate. And Mark, I want you to know I STILL eat Coco Wheats. Not often, but there’s a box in my cabinet for special occasions.
The book is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble in Montrose, or through the University of Akron Press.
What I cooked last week:
Chicken, tomato and pesto on whole wheat toast; feta, tomato and pesto on whole wheat; sautéed zucchini smothered with spaghetti sauce and melted feta cheese; stir-fried cauliflower rice with chicken and vegetables in a spicy sauce; hard-fried egg, pesto and tomato on whole wheat toast; bagged chopped salad and microwaved frozen chimichurri chicken; roasted bell peppers with olive oil and sea salt; eggplant Parmesan; venison spaghetti sauce; peach and blackberry pie; baked stuffed poblano peppers.
What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Indian bread stuffed with potatoes, chickpeas with Indian spices (chana masala), lamb madras, chicken tika masala, steamed basmati rice, Indian masala tea at Singh Biryani in Cuyahoga Falls (very good); small popcorn no butter at Regal Cinema; Coney dog with onions and mustard and a diet root beer at Coney Island Diner in Mansfield; steak salad from Chipotle.
From Bill B.:
Just had a blurb on my Facebook feed for a place in Wooster called Bay Lobsters. Seems they are handling a lot of fresh seafood, along with the lobsters. I haven’t been there yet. Have you?
Yes. The business sponsored this newsletter when they had a store in Twinsburg. I noticed just recently that their shop is now in Wooster, and they have added a cafe. They sell very fresh seafood. The Bay Lobsters Cafe & Fish Market website is baylobsterswooster.com.
From Anne K.:
I would be interested in knowing the instance of salmonella in heritage pork grown by small producers who do not use antibiotics. I try not to buy any grocery store pork.
I have no information on that, but would guess that pork from a small operation whose breeding stock does not come from a mass producer would be a safer bet for consumers.