One thing I can always count on to be going strong in my late summer garden is my crop of peppers – particularly my jalapeño peppers. After making all manner of salsas and toppings for tortillas and tacos, I’m making some proper poppers today, stuffing jalapeño halves with a cheese mixture and topping with buttered panko bread crumbs. And, if you’re into canning, I have a Jalapeño And Basil Jelly that’s wonderful on a Ritz cracker with cream cheese.
I have plenty of jalapeño plants in my garden, a lot of them volunteers from last year, so I generally know what I’m getting taste- and heat-wise. However, if you’re buying them from the market, particularly if they’re out of season, sometimes the flavor might be there, but the heat isn’t. If I’m using jalapeños, I want the heat, so I look for white striations on the peppers, running the length of the pepper. These “stretch” marks are indicative of the amount of stress the pepper has undergone which has a direct impact on the heat of the pepper. Generally, the older the pepper, the more stress it’s endured, the more striations you’ll see, and the hotter the pepper will be. A red jalapeño, being a more mature pepper, will generally be hotter than a green one, although it will be sweeter.
Rosie’s Jalapeño Poppers
- About 12 jalapeños
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 heaping TB grated mozzarella
- 2 heaping TB grated cheddar
- 4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
- 2 TB finely chopped red onion
- 2 TB chopped chives
Slice jalapeños in half lengthwise and scrape out white ribs. Capsaisin, the chemical compound in jalapeños which contains the heat, is concentrated in the ribs of the peppers, so you can control some of the heat by removing this part and the attached seeds.
- Place on baking sheet.
- Combine rest of ingredients until well-mixed. Spoon into halves.
- Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs, pressing into cheese mixture, and top with a thin pat of butter.
- Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.
Jalapeño and Basil Jelly
Yield: 6-7 8-oz canning jars
- 1 ½ cups cider vinegar
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper, seeds removed
- ½ cup chopped jalapeños, seeds removed
- 6-8 oz. pectin, depending on brand (check directions)
- 2/3 cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup shredded fresh basil
- Sterilize jars, rings, and lids by boiling for 10 minutes. Remove with tongs and let air dry.
- In large saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Add jalapeños and bell peppers and boil another minute. Add pectin, green onions, and basil and boil one more minute. Pour into jars. Clean rims and threads with clean towel dipped in boiling water, then secure tops. Invert 30 seconds, then turn upright to cool and seal.
If, as I do, you have a bounty of jalapeños and basil right now, you might think about making two batches of this jelly – using red peppers for one batch and green for the other – then you can pair them together for Christmas presents. What’s better than a special gift from your garden?
Besides serving on crackers or bagels with cream cheese, you might consider offering the jelly with ham, hot wings, cocktail meatballs, pork chops, or cornbread. Enjoy!
For more recipes, please visit with Rosie at www.KitchensAreMonkeyBusiness.com. For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at RosieHawthorne@gmail.com. Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here