Five-Minute Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Spread

Coming off a four-week, super-intense editing of my next book, “The Welcome Home Diner”, a contemporary novel about two women opening a diner on Detroit’s east side. I get why writers isolate themselves during the process. I was assigned  a well-seasoned editor determined to squeeze the best book that she could out of me. The verdict will be in the hands of the readers. (If you’re interested in a free advance digital copy when available, please advise!)

So now it’s over and I feel as if I’ve been hit by a stun gun. Been invited for cocktails–everyone’s to bring an appie–and don’t  have the energy to get in the car to even buy a hunk of cheese. I do, however, have the energy to be with friends; I’ve been in the isolation tank too long. And have a drink. Not necessarily in that order.

Rummaging through the back crevices of the fridge and thar’ she blows! One-half of a jar of roasted red peppers saddled up to some feta are speaking to me.

Five minutes later I actually have something pretty tasty. I know there are plethoras of ready made dips to be found at local markets, but nothing–honestly guys–ever tastes as good as homemade. Even if homemade was made using short-cuts.

Quick little Mediterranean nosh.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your town, there are a few short-cut products I’ve found indispensable for making  last minute appetizers.

♥ Their olive tapenade (the one found in the refrigerated section). ♥ Bottled roasted red peppers (a shelved product pictured above) for a variety of uses. They’re as close to roasting at home as I’ve tasted. ♥ Their spinach-feta phyllo triangles (found in the frozen section of the store) ♥ Assorted cheeses (you can’t beat those prices).

To make the platter above, I purchased the tapenade, goat cheese and roasted red peppers. Then, I roasted a head of garlic by: cutting off garlic head, drizzling exposed cloves with EVO, and then roasting in a double thickness of foil until cloves are softened, about 40 minutes. Sliced avocado and a crunchy baguette yields a tidy little Mediterranean nosh in no-time.

Even quicker: Purchase a log of goat cheese along with the aforementioned tapenade, spread the tapenade over the goat cheese and serve with a baguette. A sprig of fresh rosemary placed atop the cheese is the perfect grace note.

The Promise Kitchen

By the way, “The Promise Kitchen” is on promotion–only $2.00! The reduced price has meant the book sales have been darting about in the top 100 Kindle books in women’s fiction this month; last week the book topped 900 in overall library sales. (Not sure of the amount of women’s fiction but there’s well over a million books in the Kindle library.) This two-buck-book-chuck may be cheating, but I’ll take it.

Recipe: 5-minute Roasted Red Pepper Feta Cheese Spread

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces (drained) Fire-Roasted Red Peppers*
  • 3 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • Pinch or more cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped dill (optional)
  • Pita bread, fresh vegetables for dipping

Instructions

  1. Place red pepper(s), feta, garlic, a pinch of cayenne, olive oil and dill (if using) in processor. Blend until combined.
  2. Refrigerate for several hours until firm. Serve with pita bread, pita chips or fresh vegetables for dipping.

* I used the Trader Joe’s brand of bottled fire roasted red peppers. If you don’t have time to roast your own, these are the best I’ve found. They also are delish in this recipe for Pimento Cheese. I even add a teaspoon of the delectiable juice.

Total time: 5 minutes

Number of servings (yield): Enough to fill a small (2 cup) bowl. The perfect size for bringing to a potluck.

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Home Away in Barbados: Marlin Steaks Bajan-Styled

Traveling pleasures, for me, include exploring food markets and trying my hand at local cuisines.

We’ve just returned from Barbados, the most easterly island in the West Indies; a 3 1/2 hour flight south from Miami, and then another hour flight south to Venezuela.

When traveling, Richard and I often rent a VRBO, a subsidiary of Home Away,  Flip Key (owned by Trip Advisor) or an AirB&B condo, depending on the location we’re traveling. Trolling these sites is a favorite sport and can reap dividends. The best for less condos book first.

Said condo must be in a location ideal for a safe integration into the culture. Excellent reviews are a given, but anything less than a full-service kitchen’s a deal breaker.

Here’s the link to the condo we decided to splurge on; throw in that kiss the Caribbean view and it was worth every penny. A bit pricier than what we usually spend, but think about it, I said to my husband. Think about what we’re saving by not eating out every meal.

In Barbados, fish–moments from the Atlantic–local produce and rum are a fraction of what you’d fork out in the States. I avoid the imports, which can cost two or three times the amount I’m used to spending.

Most certainly we eat out, people watching is half the fun. I select restaurants using Trip Advisor as my Michelin guide.  Local menus, as well as the street food scene, inspired this vacation’s condo cooking.

At most rentals, pantry staples may not be much more than salt and pepper. Therefore, menus are minimalist by necessity. Take these melt-in-your-mouth marlin steaks.

The first evening after arriving we went to the popular Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry and had grilled marlin (see featured photograph). It was simply prepared and superb.

The next day, I went to the fish market and purchased blue marlin steaks.

For less than ten American dollars I purchased four juicy steaks from marlin that had just been caught in the Atlantic that morning.

I requested she cut the fillets into 3/4-inch steaks; perfect for a quick fry.

The vendor recommended I  marinate them in lemon juice, herbs, seasoning and oil, dip them in flour, and then fry the steaks in fat.

At an outdoor stall, I purchased lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes to make a simple salad.

Walking back to our condo, a small package of curry and a box of Zatarain’s rice and beans purchased at a thread-bare grocery store satisfied my ingredient list. I opt for pre-seasoned boxed grains when traveling. (Near East is another favorite.)

Why not? I only use half the pack of seasoning to avoid that over-salted, out-of-a box taste. I’ve no intentions of stocking the condo’s spice cabinet larder. Since I only travel with carry-on, I can’t pack leftover food stuffs in my luggage. Some fierce shepherd dogs at customs once sniffed out dried truffles I’d forgotten I’d packed in Lucca, Italy. Busted!  I always  learn the hard way.

Traditional Bajan food is rooted in African cuisine; I’m seeing a lot of rice and beans as sides in the menu boards around town. (As well as Macaroni Pie, which seems to be universally loved by the Bajans. Ugh. A step up from Sponge Bob, but I’ll pass, thanks for the offer.)

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This is a no-recipe recipe that would work for any 3/4-inch sliced fish steak:

Whisk together juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/3 cup olive oil and and 2 teaspoons curry powder. Marinate each side of the steaks 15 minutes or so at room temperature. Dredge both sides in flour, shaking off excess.  Heat fat, such as butter and olive oil, to medium-high heat. Fry each side apx. 4 minutes until golden brown. 

They were superb seasoned with the local, ubiquitous yellow pepper sauce, blessedly another condo staple! There was no need to season them with salt, the briny Atlantic doused them with all the sodium required.

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When I had my fill of fish (I never dreamed that would be possible), I’d choose one of the ubiquitous chicken curries in restaurants. After all, Rhianna, a native Bajan, says she can’t eat enough of this when she returns home.

A plowed sugar cane field. Sugar’s a primary export.

I was delighted to unearth her favorite recipe for curried chicken, which looks heavenly–quite different from the usual Indian curries to which I gravitate.

Maneuvering  the trickeries of  long-distance travel comfortably on a budget is like mastering roulettes; one misstep finds you feeling homeless, curled up in a corner of Chaing Mai International Airport using a newspaper for a pillow. (Been there.)

TSA pre-screen and restricting our luggage to carry-on eases the pains of  airline travel considerably.  Using Frequent Flyer miles, avoiding weekend travel, and advance planning also contributes to seamless travel.

Because of the $200 fee, I’m on the fence regarding Global Entry. I blew it when I didn’t purchase Global Entry before purchasing the TSA pre-screen. (Global Entry automatically enrolls you in the pre-screen). I’ll purchase it after missing my next connection because of a long line through customs.

“A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss.” 

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Lady Gaga Half-Time Fare

This Sunday evening in Houston, Lady Gaga performs on the world’s largest stage. She crushed the national anthem this time last year–I had goosebumps for days–and this year it’s rumored her act will be over-the-top. Literally. The Patriots and Falcons will bookend her show (-:

Don't forget the pickles!

Don’t forget the pickles!

The Falcons are the underdog rookies. After all, this is the ninth Super Bowl for the Patriots. With quarterback Tom Brady and his magic necklace  fending off the Falcon defense, it will be Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win if his team secures the glory.

The game begins at 6:30 ET and over 100 million folks will be watching. Since Super Bowls tend to last 3 1/2 hours, I’m guessing Lady Gaga should be hitting the stage around 8:15.

I hope the commercials are amusing. Aside from the Dorito dogs, Subaru retrievers, and the sheep singing “Queen”, from where I was sitting last year, they seemed to be meh

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Tossed salad with a nacho crunch is a refreshing option.

This year’s Budweiser ad is rumored to touch upon a salient, sensitive topic. It could get interesting. (Spoiler Alert: Don’t watch the U-tubes if you want to be surprised.)

Below I’ve compiled a slide show of Super Bowl watching recipes that I’ve enjoyed in season’s past. And while you’re chewing on a wing, here’s a bit of trivia to impress your partying cohorts:

Lady Gaga’s name was inspired by the Queen song, ‘Radio Gaga’. Her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, and her nicknames are Gagaloo, Loopy, Mother Monster, Little Monster and Rabbit Teeth. She’s been wanting to sing at the Super Bowl since she was four years old.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Smokey Quinoa Chili

Smokey Quinoa Chili

Chili with the Works

Chili with the Works

Chili-Lime Chicken Wings

Chili-Lime Chicken Wings

Teriyaki Appetizer Meatballs

Teriyaki Appetizer Meatballs

Chipotle Chili Chicken Skins

Chipotle Chili Chicken Skins

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Sliders

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Sliders

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Casserole

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Casserole

Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

Chopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing

No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs

No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs

Beefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese

Beefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese

White Chicken Chili thumbnailSmokey Quinoa Chili thumbnailChili with the Works thumbnailChili-Lime Chicken Wings thumbnailTeriyaki Appetizer Meatballs thumbnailChipotle Chili Chicken Skins thumbnail
Slow-Cooker Barbecue Sliders thumbnailBuffalo Chicken Pasta Casserole thumbnailChopped Chicken Taco Salad with Chipotle-Corn Dressing thumbnailNo-Fuss Barbecue Ribs thumbnailBeefy Super Bowl Sliders with Pimento Cheese thumbnail

While Chili ChickenSmokey Quinoa ChiliChili with the WorksTeriyaki Meatballs♥Chili Stuffed PotatoesCrock Pot BQ SlidersBuffalo Chicken Pasta CasseroleChopped Chicken Taco SaladNo-fuss BQ Ribs

 

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