Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pepper: The Spice of Life - December 2010

Diva:  Lovina

Drinks:  Mariah
Dirty Bloody Martini

2 oz Absolute Peppar Vodka

1 oz Dry Vermouth

2 oz V8 Juice

1 T Olive Juice

2 Olives

2 Ice Cubes

Put all ingredients into a shaker, except olives, and shake until shaker is frosted. Pour into cocktail glass, add olives and serve

(Adapted from

Sunday Bloody Sunday

One part Sparkling Apple Cider
One Part Pure Cranberry Juice
A Pinch of White Pepper
Stir vigorously and sever over ice

Appetizer:  Sara
Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade

1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 (6 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ c drained capers
¼ c black olives, minced

½ c jumbo green olives stuffed with jalepenos and garlic, minced

½ c fresh red pepper

1 tsp garlic, milled in mortar and pestle
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until well mixed.  I made the tapenade about 3 hours in advance so it marinated in all the yummy juices for a while.  I served it with parmesan cheese slices and a variety of crackers.  Another variation is that it could be served on cucumbers.


Salad:  Colleen
Pear and Brie Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing

2 tsp mixed peppercorns
1 c extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp lemon zest
Juice from 2 lemons
2 T white rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar

Lightly crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.
Pour crushed peppercorns into a medium bowl, add remaining ingredients and whisk until blended.

(Adapted from

Serve over salad of mixed greens, slices of pear, slices of brie and walnuts.

Soup:  Aven
Squash, Chipotle and Apple Soup

2 T vegetable oil, plus 1 cup for frying
½ medium white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 fuji apples—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise
half sunshine squash, peeled and thinly sliced
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3 c water
1 small canned chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sugar
3 yellow corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

In a medium soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the apples and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the fruit and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the chipotle.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper and return to the pot.

In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Heat the remaining 1 cup of oil in a medium skillet. Add the tortilla strips and fry over high heat, stirring, until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve the soup in shallow bowls and garnish with the fried tortilla strips.

Side Dish:  Erin
Spaghetti Squash with Jalapeño Cream

1 spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs.)
2 c milk
2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 T butter, plus more for pans

3 T flour
1 tsp salt
1 c shredded jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375°. Cut squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove seeds and surrounding fiber. Put squash, cut side down, on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake until tender when flesh is pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Or poke several holes in skin of squash with a fork and microwave it on high 10 minutes. Squash should be tender when pierced with a fork; if it isn't, microwave on high in 1-minute intervals until tender. Let sit until cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm milk and jalapeños until bubbles form along the edge of the pan. Remove mixture from heat and let sit 15 minutes. Strain and discard jalapeños.

When squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scrape the strands out of the skin and into a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Whisk in flour and salt and cook, whisking, until flour smells cooked (like piecrust), about 3 minutes. Slowly pour in jalapeño-infused milk while whisking. Reduce heat to medium and continue whisking until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour mixture over squash and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with jack cheese and bake until bubbling and brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Entree: Ashley
Smokey Black Pepper Beef Ribs

4 lbs beef back ribs (about 8 ribs)
2 T freshly cracked black pepper

1 T kosher salt

1 T dark brown sugar

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground chipotle
spray canola oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with foil and/or parchment paper. Spread beef ribs out on the pan so they’re not touching. Leave them on the counter to knock the chill off them while you mix up the spice rub.

Grind up the black pepper.

Put the black pepper, kosher salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and ground chipotle in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix to combine with a fork or whisk.
Sprinkle the ribs with the spice rub.  Pick the ribs up to coat all sides. Press the spice rub down with your hands to help it stick to the meat.

Give the top of the ribs a very light spritz with spray canola oil.

Roast for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. After 15 minutes, drop the heat to 300 degrees and roast for an additional 1 hour 20 minutes. Your final roasting time will depend on the size and meatiness of your ribs.

Remove from the oven when they have a handsome brown crust and the meat comes away easily from the bone when pulled at with a fork.

(From the

Vegetarian option – dredge slices of portobello mushrooms with spice rub mixed with matzo meal.  Roast 20 minutes.

Dessert:  Stacey
Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

2 lbs. fresh strawberries--cut in half

½ c white sugar
¼ c balsamic vinegar
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place strawberries in a bowl.  Drizzle vinegar over strawberries and then sprinkle with sugar.  Stir gently to combine.  Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for at least one hour--but NOT MORE than 4 hours.  Just before serving grind pepper over the berries.  I served berries over vanilla ice cream.
Lottery:  Tamara

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