Stuffed Peppers

My first home was an apartment on the corner of 183 St. and The Grand Concourse.  2274 Grand Concourse was a brick pre-war building, a walk-up, with two wings and a center courtyard (perfect for playing handball.)  The apartment had wonderful architectural features that I was too young to appreciate but which clearly made a lasting impression.  There was a dumb-waiter in the kitchen, beautiful French doors that opened into my parents’ bedroom, and parquet floors throughout the house.  The street was lined with Art Deco buildings, one of which was our synagogue,  Concourse Center of Israel.  Others included The Concourse Plaza Hotel, Dollar Savings Bank , and Lowe’s Paradise Theater.   Today, Concourse Center of Israel is the First Union Baptist Church, Dollar Savings Bank is now Emigrant Savings Bank, the Concourse Plaza Hotel is a senior citizen’s residence and Lowe’s Paradise has become a venue for concerts.

The Concourse was modeled after the Champs Elysee but there were no outdoor cafes or brasseries.  It was the Mom and Pop places that dominated the street, and the pizza parlors by far outnumbered the Kosher delis.  If my mother wanted to serve something special, she had to make it herself.  We knew that certain dishes, the ones that were more labor intensive, were only prepared on special occasions or for the holidays.  Dishes like sweet breads, miniature knaidlech with sautéed mushrooms, kreplach, favorkes, gefilte fish (starting with the fish in the bathtub) and stuffed peppers.

Prepared food is readily available in our neighborhood in Los Angeles, but this past Friday, on a quiet summer afternoon, with nobody coming for dinner and no reason to spend time in the kitchen, all I wanted was to leisurely prepare my mother’s Stuffed Peppers while reminiscing about The Bronx.  I must admit that even this recipe has changed.

Stuffed Peppers 

7 assorted red, yellow and orange peppers

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 eggs, beaten

2 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp cumin

1/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups Ketchup

Mix ground turkey in a large bowl with all of the other ingredients. Combine well.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add whole peppers. Boil for about 10 minutes.  Remove peppers, allow to cool, then core and seed.

Stuff peppers with ground turkey mixture.

In a pot just big enough to snugly hold peppers, drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of the pot, place peppers in pot upright.  Add water to come half way up the side of the peppers and then add ketchup.  Gently stir ketchup into water and baste peppers.  Bring to boil, lower heat and cover pot.  Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Serves 7.

Enjoy,

Irene

Quinoa

Shabbat tea worked out perfectly.  We had fresh fruit, a Greek salad and the fallen sponge cake topped with fresh strawberries. Nobody seemed to mind that the cake had fallen, and we finished the whole thing.  Another cake is in the oven and I am planning on letting it cool in the pan for about two hours, a tip I was given by Helene last night. I will keep you posted.

I had prepared some quinoa yesterday and this afternoon I used it to create a healthy, light salad that was full of flavor and color. Quinoa is not something that I grew up eating but it is a great alternative to potatoes or matzoh laden dishes. The trick is to add enough ingredients because the Quinoa itself is very bland.

Quinoa Salad

3 cups Quinoa

1 mango, diced

2 green onions, sliced

1 cup purple cabbage, diced

6 mint leaves, finely chopped

4 basil leaves, sliced

1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

3 beets, roasted, cooled and diced

2 Tbs honey

2 Tbs orange juice

1 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp red chili flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Rinse quinoa and add to pot with 5 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Cook for 13 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Prepare beets by cutting off both ends and wrapping in foil. Roast for one hour at 350.  Peel and dice.

Note: I used golden beets.

In a bowl combine remaining ingredients with quinoa and mix.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Enjoy,

Irene