Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

One thing I miss about Japan is the opportunity to cook for and get critical opinions from friends. Here, I am mostly cooking for myself, and, frankly, I am not the best critic of my own cooking. Another factor that I deal with here that was not a problem in Tokyo (because there were always people to share my food with) is that I am cooking for one. So I am still learning how to handle portions and minimize leftovers.
In one way, I am lucky to live near Winco, a giant, 24/7 supermarket that has almost everything I need to cook any kind of cuisine. On the downside, Winco tends to be a family-oriented supermarket, which means large-quantity portions of things like meats and poultry, so I have to plan ahead to break down and freeze big portions into small portions.
So, fast foward to today, when I decided to make stuffed peppers. This was partly because I hoped to use the balance of colored (red, green and yellow) bell peppers I used to make the Thai shrimp salad described in the previous blog.
With everyone's involvement, I could reduce some leftover brown rice, plus the leftover peppers, and dine in style.
Here, rather than a recipe, I will say that I used 1/3 of a pound of ground beef. Usually, I buy in bulk, then divide the meat into one-third pound portions that I can freeze as patties. In an emergency, I can make a hearty cheeseburger. If there is more time, I can thaw the meat and use it to make something more fancy.
I also make larger portions of brown rice. That way, I have some for curry in a hurry, and some in the freezer for a shot at curry or some other treat. I could also use a fistfull of frozen green beans, since a bigger portion would have meant more leftovers.
So, here I am with the meat all cut and frozen, then a portion of brown rice.
I also had a tomato that probably would not have survived more than two or three days, so I thought I'd stuff it, too.
In short, then, we have one whole green bell pepper and two partial colored peppers (one red, one yellow) and one tomato. I added tomato paste, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, rosemary and thyme to one thawed beef patty, added a cup of cooked brown rice, about a tablespoon of chopped garlic, a generlous splash of Worcester sauce, and a bit of salt and pepper and mixed it up. I spooned the rice-meat mixture into the pepper portions, and added a little grated mozarella and grated Parmesan (equal portions) sprinkled over the top of the meat. I put the leftover mozarella-Parmesan into the hollowed-out tomato, put the peppers and tomato into a glass baking disy with a splash of olive oil and a bigger splash of red wine, and put it in a 350F oven for 40 minutes.
I would say it was delicious. I also wish I had a second opinion.