Jalapeño Poppers

Here is a simple and delicious appetizer that is great for an afternoon or evening party.  I made them the first time because I was being pressured to use up all the jalapeño peppers that I had bought (They were on sale!), but I have made them often again, sometimes at the request of my wife.  

Occasionally a friend will comment that they are a bit hot, usually as they are reaching for a second or third popper.  And for those who cannot tolerate the heat from peppers, I suggest that they try the stuffed mushrooms.

INGREDIENTS:

Jalapeño peppers (2 to 2 1/2 inches long ones are best)

Cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese

Bacon 

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Cut the strips of bacon into thirds or halves.  (I use halves of thick cut bacon, which doesn’t stretch as much as ordinary bacon, though I have also used thirds of regular commercial bacon.) Put a roasting rack on a baking pan.

Put on your rubber gloves.  Wash and cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise.  With a spoon or knife, remove the seeds and white membrane.  Fill each half with softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese.  Wrap each jalapeño half with bacon,  Secure the bacon with a toothpick to finish the popper and place it on the rack. 

Bake the poppers about 22 to 27 minutes until the bacon starts to brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTES:  The amount of cheese you need depends on the size of the peppers.  An eight ounce package of cheese will be plenty for 24 poppers.  Neufchatel cheese seems to work just as well as cream cheese.  The major difference is that Neufchatel has fewer calories and is a little less creamy in the poppers, but people seem to like them equally well.  Wear rubber gloves while working with hot peppers unless you know that you can take the heat. 

Linguine With Summer Peppers and Sausage

Every cabin should have a stack of old food magazines.  They’re perfect reading for those days when you are trapped by bad weather miles from shopping malls, movie theaters and sidewalks.

Food magazines don’t have news stories, political cartoons, investment advice columns or movie reviews.  They do have ads, photos, advice columns and an occasional editorial.  And of course they have lots of recipes.

Our collection of old  Bon Appetite and Cuisine magazines includes issues from the 1980’s and 90’s.  They are filled with things I didn’t know.  For instance, in the July-August 1981 edition of Cuisine there’s an ad for a zucchini cookbook.  I can only think that the author must have planted ten hills of zucchini and was desperately trying to find ways to justify the mistake.

Letters to the editor in the same issue are relevant today.  From one writer I learned, for instance, that one of my favorite wines, Gewürztraminer, goes well with Indian cuisine.  I wish I had known this two years ago when there was a case price special on that wonderful wine at the local store.

The editorial in the August 1995 issue of Bon Appetite is a a philosophical essay. Among other matters “The Real Dirt on Gardens” addresses the question of whether “leisure activity” is an oxymoron.  The editor’s conclusion is that “Leisure is leisure and activity is activity and never the twain shall meet.  Not on my sofa, anyway.”  Clear, concise and accurate.

My wife was ignoring me and reading this issue while lying on the bed in front of our newly installed room air conditioner when she announced that she had found a recipe that looked good to her.  In the newly cooled air of the bedroom I first learned about “Linguine with Summer Peppers and Sausage,” one of the recipes in the “30 Minute Main Courses” article from long ago.

All I will say is, “It’s delicious!”

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. mild or sweet Italian sausage
2 large bell peppers, preferably red and green
1 medium onion (3 to 4 inches)
1 large clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc works well)
1 lb. linguine
Salt for the linguine cooking water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more to pass

PROCEDURE:

First begin heating three to four quarts of water in a large pot.  Peel and thinly  slice the onion .  Then wash the peppers.  Remove the stem, seeds and white membrane and chop the peppers into half inch pieces.   Remove the paper from the garlic clove and mince it.

Sauté the sausage in a large skillet until it is lightly browned.  Break the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it is browning.  Depending on your sausage, either drain the meat or add a little oil.  You should have about a tablespoon of oil in the pan.  Add the onion, garlic and peppers and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine is slightly reduced, about six or seven minutes.

While the meat and peppers are simmering, cook the linguine al dente, following the directions on the pasta package.  Drain the pasta and mix it with the sausage and peppers.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Add a little salt and pepper and taste.  Adjust as necessary.

Serve with salad and bread for a wonderful but simple dinner.  Pass the parmesan so guests can add more if they wish.

NOTES:  Any sweet summer peppers can be used.  You should have two to three cups of chopped peppers.  Chardonnay can be substituted for the sauvignon blanc.