These are what made me mad. Those who know me would probably all say that I am a pretty even-tempered person. Mellow. I don’t get angry easily. All the crazy cooking I have been doing lately? I’ve kept it together in the kitchen. No one has gotten yelled at, nothing has been thrown. Poorly written or poorly tested recipes? Those really get my goat. I have so little time to cook and am trying to do it for families in addition to mine (these days I am cooking for 11 people on Tuesdays). I can’t afford to make something and have it not turn out.
Oh, these cupcakes turned out all right, but not without significant tweaking and additional dirty dishes. The proportions of the recipe were totally off. The basic idea is some chocolate cupcake batter in the bottom of the cup, a big spoonful of another batter that starred marscapone cheese and mini chocolate chips, topped with some more of the chocolate batter. After baking and cooling, they are dipped in a chocolate ganache. How could you go wrong, right? Wrong. As written, the recipe made only half as much chocolate batter as needed, twice as much marscapone filling as needed, and twice as much ganache as needed. So that means I had to frantically whisk together more batter (and add a new bowl and whisk to my dish pile in the sink), throw away half the marscapone filling, and half the ganache – a huge waste of costly ingredients.
I have so many cookbooks and I really do try and give them all their due, especially the baking ones. This recipe reminds me that there is a reason I have my favorites – they are trustworthy and don’t let me down. For desserts, I often use one of my notebooks because I know that all those magazine recipes have been tested to death. I wish this recipe had been. (By the way, the cupcakes tasted great, but that’s not the point. Or maybe it is if you are my husband.)
Anyway, so as not to end on a down note, I will tell you how I used those incredible tomatoes. If I say stuffed peppers and you think so 1970′s vegetarian, please stick with me. These are modern, healthy, and very tasty. And if you take a recommended short-cut, they can be quick. I don’t have a photo to share of the finished product because some cupcakes (ahem) ended up taking too much of my time. But trust me, not only are they delicious, they are beautiful. There are gorgeous peppers available at the Farmer’s markets right now (purple!) – a great way to use them up.
One note: This recipe includes a puree you make from roasted eggplant, chickpeas, and herbs. A kind of hummus essentially. To make this dish really fast, I would buy hummus and baba ghanoush (an eggplant dip, usually sold next to hummus), mix them together in equal parts, and add in the herbs described in the recipe. I didn’t do that this time, but I will next time!
Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Chickpea and Eggplant Puree and Mushrooms
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
6 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms
6 oz. cremini or button mushrooms
1 lb. mixed cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 medium peppers with stems attached
2 cups chickpea and eggplant puree (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. pine nuts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Trim and quarter the mushrooms. Halve tomatoes lengthwise. In a large skillet over moderately high heat, add enough oil to coat bottom of a large skillet. Add shallot and saute until softened. Reduce heat to moderate and cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, until they just begin to release their juices. Off the heat add the tomatoes.
Halve bell peppers lenthwise through stems and discard seeds and ribs. Season pepper shells with salt and pepper and in a large baking pan, bake in upper third of oven 15 minutes, until just starting to soften.
Spoon chickpea and eggplant puree evenly into shells, smoothing tops. Mound mushroom mixture onto center of puree and sprinkle with pine nuts. Bake stuffed peppers in upper third of oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Chickpea and Eggplant Mixture
Makes about 2 1/4 cups
I found that this recipe needed some olive oil added through the food processor feed tube to make it come together.
3/4 pound eggplant
2 tbsp. Kosher salt
1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tbsp. water
Cut eggplant into 3/4 inch thick slices and sprinkle both sides with salt. Arrange eggplant in a large colander set over a bowl or in a sink and let stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Wipe eggplant slices off with a paper towel and broil on a baking sheet or broiler pan about 4 inches from heat until deep golden, about 4 minutes on each side. When eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off skins, scraping all flesh from skins and discarding them.
In a food processor, pulse eggplant with remaining ingredients until just pureed and season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.)