Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Multi-purpose muhammara

I made muhammara for the first time (I think) last week. It’s a combo of roasted red bell peppers (open a jar, easy, or roast them yourself—more on that later), walnuts, whole wheat bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses (a magic ingredient that deserves a spot in your cupboard), cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes and salt. Whip it up in a food processor and you’re good to go.

I topped bluefish fillets with the muhammara—after the fish came out of the oven. It’d be great on chicken or other meat, or potatoes. I’m dipping pita bread and celery into the leftover muhammara.

Roasted red bell peppers

Since red bell pepper season is mere months away, let’s talk about roasted red bell peppers. Making your own is easy and a good thing to do when peppers are really cheap. Here’s how I do it.

  • Put an oven rack pretty close to the broiler but no closer than three inches away. Preheat the oven or toaster oven broiler.
  • Slice top (stem end) off pepper. Cut out the stem and discard. You’ll end up with a pepper ring. Slice ring in two pieces.
  • Stick your hand into the pepper and pull out the seeds and white ribs. You don’t have to worry about getting them all, you’ll get the rest in the next step.
  • Slice the pepper into four flattish panels. Slice off the rest of the flimsy ribs. Repeat with other peppers.
  • Line pan—sheet pan, toaster oven pan or whatever—with foil.
  • Place peppers, red skin up, on pan. Flatten them down as much as possible. Slide the pan into the oven under the broiler.
  • Keep watch. You want the pepper skin to char but you don’t want the flesh to dry out and burn. Pull them out as they get charred and put them into a sealable plastic storage or freezer gallon bag. Seal the bag as you put them in.
  • Let them steam until they cool down.
  • Peel off and discard the burnt skin. Say hello to your roasted red bell peppers.

Store them in the fridge for a few days or freeze them. When I freeze them, I separate layers with plastic wrap so they don’t freeze together. Then I can easily remove the amount I need.

Menu ideas and recipes for bluefish, muhammara, roasted red bell peppers, gochujang meatballs and more

Gochujang meatballs

The highlight of the week was spicy Korean-style gochujang meatballs. Boy, those were somah spicy meatahballs, but maybe because I added a long squirt of sriracha to the meat and glaze.

Gochujang is that super fantastic Korean chile paste or sauce. The heat level varies by brand. I didn’t brown the meatballs like the recipe instructed. I simply baked them for about 20 minutes. Doubling the recipe worked fine.

We both enjoyed a meatball sandwich a few days later. I topped mine with the glaze and cilantro. Jim used the rest of the glaze on sautéed red onion and baby Brussels sprouts (from our garden!)—a little appetizer before dinner last night.

NC goodies

Shout out to Goat Lady Dairy for their Snow Camp cheese. Here’s the description from their website: “Named after one of the first settlements in central North Carolina, Snow Camp is a mixed cow & goat milk bloomy rind cheese. Released at only two weeks, the cheese has lush cream-like and butter flavors that deepen as the cheese ripens.”

I bought the cheese from Mae Farm Meats at the Raleigh State Farmers Market and ate an excessive amount yesterday afternoon on Triscuits. So good.

Until next week, stay safe, stay well, take care.


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Creative Commons photo by Vishang Soni via Unsplash


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