Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Hot Peppers

Bacon wrapped hot peppers stuffed with cream cheese on a yellow oval plate. Garnished with parsley.

By all means, use only jalapeño peppers for this recipe. I went to 2 different grocery stores when I made this particular batch and was only able to find 5 jalapeño peppers and so I subbed in whatever small hot peppers I could find. Although I roasted the peppers to help take out some of their heat, my guests still found the jalapeños overwhelmingly spicy (although I preferred them, so knowing your audience is helpful here). I like the reliability of cheddar when it comes to these peppers, but use any cheese that sounds good to you. I specify full fat cream cheese because I find that low fat versions tend to have a gritty texture when heated, and if you’re wrapping these in bacon I feel like the whole low fat idea becomes moot anyway. The most time consuming part of this recipe comes from hollowing out the peppers and removing the seeds, the stuffing and wrapping part goes by quickly in comparison. I’m always trying to convince myself I don’t need to wear gloves when I cut up hot peppers but after several fiery eyeball incidents I’ve resigned myself to a pair of rubber gloves reserved just for this purpose. Serve something ice cold to drink with these, I suggest a really cold light tasting beer or giving rosé slushies a try.

bacon wrapped stuffed hot peppers:

16 small hot peppers of your choice

8 oz. full fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature

2 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

1 bunch of scallions, things sliced (both white and green parts)

1 medium-sized tomato with the seeds removed, cut into a very fine dice

About 2 Tbsp. worth of fresh sage, cut into fine ribbons

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

16 slices of bacon, sliced in half lengthwise

Cilantro or parsley for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prep the hot peppers by cutting them in half lengthwise, carefully removing the seeds without destroying the shape of the pepper – you’re aiming for little pepper boats. Roast the peppers cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about a half hour. Allow them to cool to room temperature, leaving the oven on if you’re making the peppers right away.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, diced tomato, fresh sage, lime juice, kosher, and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Using 2 teaspoons, carefully stuff each pepper with the cream cheese mixture. I find that I usually have to reallocate some odds and ends once I’m finished, but you should have enough to generously fill each of the peppers.
  4. Carefully wrap each stuffed pepper with half a slice of bacon, being careful not to pull too tightly as the bacon will shrink as it’s heated. Arrange them on the same parchment-lined baking sheet that you used before, making sure there’s space between each pepper.
  5. Return the bacon wrapped peppers to the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes. Serve while still hot garnished with the parsley or cilantro, ideally with cold beer, and watch how quickly they disappear. In fact, you’ll probably be kicking yourself for not doubling the recipe so make note for any future stuffed hot pepper endeavours.

From Russia, with love.

Motorama – Ghost

Roasted Jalapeno and Sweet Pepper Barley Salad

barley salad

I’ve been going through a hearty salad obsession for the past month or so, I think it’s my own culinary method of chasing the grey and perpetually dripping winter away. That is to say, if my food is bright and fresh tasting then the cold exterior seems less of a a constant looming cloud. Winter is also an excellent time to make salads on a regular basis because it forces you to get creative with your ingredients due to a lack of summer vegetables, or at least ones that taste delicious while out of season. The first time I made a variation of this Roasted Jalapeno and Sweet Pepper Barley Salad I was unconvinced that it would taste as delicious as it does. I’m enamoured with each of the ingredients on their own, and in combination with any of their fellow recipe ingredients, but the barley kept throwing me off. In my mind barley had always paired spectacularly with rich, savoury and earthy flavours in soup or faux risotto form. The barley is actually an ideal vehicle for the other ingredients, light and chewy and extremely simple to prepare. I’m so glad I took a chance with this salad, because it is now easily one of my top 3 favourite salads to make.  The roasted peppers give an intense smoky and spicy sweetness to the salad while the lime juice perks up the overall taste in a way that makes you swear this salad time traveled from someone’s backward barbeque in July. For a heartier salad add diced avocado and thinly sliced roasted portobello mushrooms.

roasted jalapeno and sweet pepper barley salad:

3/4 cup of pearl barley

3 sweet peppers, cut in half vertically

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut in half from tip to tail

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

5 scallions, both white and green parts finely chopped

2 limes, juiced

3 Tbsp. fruity olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a lidded saucepan toast the dry barley over medium-high heat, this should take about 5 minutes stirring frequently (you will be able to smell it beginning to take on a nuttier aroma at this point.) Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, covering and cooking over reduced heat for 25-35 minutes depending on the particular batch of barley you’re using. Once the barley is cooked take off the heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and leave to cool with the lid off.

2. Meanwhile, as the barley is cooking place all of your peppers cut-side down on parchment paper or aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes or until the skin on the peppers is quite blackened. Once they are roasted take them out of the oven put them all in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes to steam.

3. Remove the charred skins off of all the peppers and chop finely, add the peppers and any juices that accumulated while steaming or chopping to the cooled barley. Stir in the grape tomatoes, scallions and cilantro before topping with the remaining olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix carefully with a spatula and serve cold or at room temperature.

Holopaw is perfect warming all over music for January, each song feels small and intimate and quietly glowing. There’s something about this particular song that I have been in love with since this album debuted, it sounds poetic and safe at the same time – like being held tightly in a reassuring embrace.

Holopaw – Igloo Glass