Cooking is all about flexibility for me. I do take some pretty serious notes when I’m creating new dishes, or fiddling with old ones. (Most of the time, anyway.) Therefore, I can usually recreate a favorite dish fairly accurately, if that’s what we want.
But most of the time I’m looking for new twists. So here are a few new versions of some previous posts.
Inspiration for this remake came from my sister Lynne. She’s always made her own stuffed mini peppers, and mentioned using sausage as the filling. I sautéed some minced spicy chicken sausage (1½ fat links) with ½ cup minced onion, a minced clove of garlic, a minced Fresno chile (gotta get past my Fresno obsession). I bound all this goodness together with 1 cup of the homemade ricotta and ½ cup grated parmesan. Then I followed my usual Stuffed Mini Peppers recipe. Definitely a hit: spicy-sweet-salty-creamy all at once.
I also tried them stuffed with orzo and cheese and grilled. Cut the tops off and scoop out the seeds, instead of slicing a side off the peppers lengthwise, so they’ll hold together better. Mix 2 cups cooked orzo with 1/2 cup cream cheese or ricotta, 1/2 cup grated parm, and a few tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs. Stuff the heck out of the peppers and grill them over a medium fire, so the peppers have time to soften before the skins blacken completely.
One more updated recipe: Lemon-Almond Biscotti. My sister Lynne (yep–same one) made these recently, and it got me in the mood to do some adjusting. My husband’s a big oriole fan (the birds, not the baseball team). He keeps a stash of oranges in the fridge this time of year, and puts orange halves on the deck to attract the sweets-loving birds. I absconded with one of those oranges and switched up the citrus in the biscotti. I also had a handful of pecans to use in place of the almonds. (Follow the basic recipe but substitute the zest of at least one whole orange for the lemon zest, and pecans for the almonds.)
For a little decadence, I melted a half-cup of good chocolate chips with a teaspoon of butter and painted one side of the cooled biscotti. The biscotti were sweeter than the lemon-almond version, thanks to the oranges and the pecans, but not at all overly sweet, even with the chocolate. Next time I’ll double up on the zest (lemon or orange) for more oomph; the flavor is surprisingly subtle.