Sunday, 19 April 2009

Did I mention I love peppers?

My back garden in London this morning. Spring is here and a perfect time to continue my obsession with peppers.

I love the way yellow peppers collapse into a delicious nuttiness, but I have re-discovered red peppers, and I adore doing them too. To really bring out their fine sweetness, the secret is, as ever, long and slow.

Red pepper baked with tomato and basil
This was my first ever red pepper dish. It's a Delia, although I have added my own little twist. I made it over and over again. My girlfriends loved it. And it's quick, quick, quick....slooow.

Two red peppers halved and cleaned. Fill with basil and half a tomato and drizzle over balsamic vinegar (that's my bit) oil, salt - bake as long as you dare.

Dreamy creamy pork chops with red pepper
I made this up by accident.....and this is exactly as I wrote it:

"Start with chopped spring onions and two or three fairly thinly-sliced red peppers. Bake with a little oil and a vegetable stock cube for about twenty minutes. Add pepper, and then lay thinish-cut pork chops (we had the ones without the bone and not too much fat) over the peppers. Bake in a hottish oven until chops are nicely browned and the peppers all soft. Then bring it down lower in the oven, and sprinkle in a good 3 tbs of rich balsamic vinegar (my new gravy/vegetable wonder-discovery!!). Bubble for a bit, then remove from the oven and stir in half a small tub of double cream and let it sit for a bit to tenderize.....with cyprus potatoes (sauteed in goosefat) ....I'm still thinking about it....."

Goosefat isn't just for Christmas! I've just worked this out. A little jar just about stretches to three meals of fried potato, and it really does elevate a chip.

Red pepper melt
This is a dish they do at Strada, a classy Italian chain. It is irresistible. I've done it wrong a couple of times, because the secret is to cover it so it doesn't brown at all and almost turns to jelly. Start with thinly wedged onion, at least three, and put them in to bake for 15 minutes or so with a bit of salt, till just sweetly softened. Add long, thin-sliced red peppers. I'd do four or five, seriously. Mix in with the onions and add a stock cube. These days I'd probably add a little balsamic vinegar too. Cover with foil. Turn occasionally and check they're not going too fast. They're probably done in a hour or so, but it could easily be more. Good on toasted Ciabbatta with sliced goats cheese on top, or spooned onto baked potatoes. If for some reason it doesn't get finished in one sitting, it keeps.

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