Wednesday, September 8, 2010

messing around

Happy Rosh Hashanah everyone! This year my family and I will be celebrating the Jewish New Year at my dear sweet mother in law's home. I was instructed not to bring ANYTHING, but I find that a hard rule to follow. My own Irish family traditions did not include this holiday so I look to the experts for culinary advice. My BFF Ilene and I have been celebrating Rosh Hashanah together on and off for the last 10 years or so. Ilene has a wealth of family lore to accompany the fixing of the dinner. I called her this morning and asked if there was anything Jewish New Years-y I could do with chilies and peppers from New Mexico? That got her spewing out a whole list of possibilities: sweet, round, eggplant, pumpkin, luck, Eastern Europe, cinnamon, raisins, stuffed, rolled, apricots, coins, carrots, noodle pudding. Oy. She is big into free association. Hey, I 'm there.
There are many wonderful ROUND things to choose from at the farmer's markets these days to grace your dinner table with luck for the new year.

I wanted to stuff my chilies so I decided to make up something with butternut squash and mozzerella cheese, both things I happened to have in the fridge.
 My chilies are roasted then stuffed and ready for the oven.

The result is interesting, a little smoky, a little sweet, a little spicey- just what you hope for in the New Year.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Chilies

10 chilies, roasted at 400F for 10 minutes on a sheet pan till the skin blisters. Remove from oven and throw a dish towel on top of the chilies so they steam a bit as they cool. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. It should come off like a wet bathing suit after a day at the ocean. Make a small slit in the chili and gently remove the seeds.
Roasted chilies fresh out of the oven and ready for peeling.

Fry up some onions (.5 cup)
mash up some cooked squash or pumpkin (.5 cup), 
add something sweet like applesauce or plumped up raisins (.25 cup), 
add some grated cheese (.5 cup), some chopped herbs (2 Tbs), 
a pinch of cinnamon, 
a teaspoon of brown sugar, 
salt and pepper and 
a squeeze of lemon juice. 
Taste to adjust seasonings. Mash this filling all together and then carefully divide it up among your  chilies and stuff them with a spoon, spreading out the filling as best you can to fill the length of the chili.

Toast up some chopped pecans and some panko breadcrumbs in butter to sprinkle on top before baking.

Lay stuffed peppers close together in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes at 400F.

Though it's often fun to pair wines with foods that have contrasting qualities, I am going to go with the "complementing characteristics" school of thought on this one. I love the idea of a spicy Zinfandel with this dish. Zinfandel will typically have sweet fruit flavors combined with notes of cinnamon, pepper, plum and raisins. These flavors sipped alongside the similar flavors of the stuffed chilies would be fantastic! And the sweet fruit flavors of the wine will keep in line with the other symbolic offerings of all things sweet for the New Year!
If you are looking for a Kosher wine to go with your Rosh Hashana dinner, Baron Herzog is always a reliable producer of Kosher wines. If "Kosher" is not a necessary designation for you, then look to the always wonderful Zinfandels from Seghesio. Rombauer, Alexander Vineyards, and Outpost are some other names to look for. And finally, if you don't mind spending a lot of money, seek out Carlisle - the cream of the crop! (and very hard to come by...)

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