Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

The crisp, firm texture, bright sweetness and subtle heat of Peppadew Peppers makes them ideal for a spicy Peppadew relish. This Peppadew Relish is a condiment you’ll want to keep on hand for topping burgers, mixing with cream cheese to serve with fresh vegetables, or stuffing inside small tomatoes for an easy appetizer.

What’s a Peppadew?

If you haven’t encountered Peppadew peppers yet, it’s because they are a relatively new product. Discovered in 1993 in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Peppadews are now exclusively cultivated there, pickled in a sweet vinegar brine, and sold as a trademarked product of Peppadew International. The company describes them on the label as “piquanté peppers.” It’s not clear which cultivar of pepper plant they come from, but they seem to be closely-related to a hot cherry pepper, or at least their taste and texture is similar.

What sets Peppadew peppers apart is their refreshing (thus the “dew” part of the name) crisp texture, relatively mild heat, and sweet picking treatment that perfectly balances their spiciness. They are best eaten only briefly cooked (such as on a pizza), or eaten raw as part of an appetizer (stuffed with cheddar cheese), a salad, or made into this zingy Peppadew Relish.

Being the DIYer and occasional gardener, while I was researching the Peppadew for this post, I though, “can I grow Peppadew plants and pickle these little peppers myself?” As it turns out, the answer is noooooo! – unless you are willing to engage in international plant piracy and the illegal importation of an agricultural product. (I am not.)

As I discovered, the Peppadew variety is actually rights-protected by The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). As such, the plants or seeds are not sold by Peppadew International, although some people do acquire them through nefarious means. I’ve heard that birds carry the peppers away from the fenced and guarded fields where they grow these peppers in South Africa, and people collect the seeds. It’s still probably illegal if someone plants those seeds, but I’m sure the birds who drop the peppers a few miles away aren’t lawyering up anytime soon. Life… finds a way! That said, besides being illegal, it is a bad idea to sneak non-native species, animals or plants, into places they do not belong!

Where can I find Peppadews?

So, how do you legally acquire some Peppadew peppers? They’re often sold in bulk near the olives and other bulk relishes. You might also find them in jars (mild or hot – go for mild), or you can buy them online. They are most often red, but I’ve started seeing a bright yellow-orange variety show up called Goldew. What’s lovely about both varieties are their texture and flavor. Choose firm, non-mushy peppers to ensure that they are as crisp and juicy as possible.

I originally developed this recipe to top some lamb burgers, along with a parmesan crisp. While the burgers were tasty, as it turned out, this relish really needs to sit after it’s prepared so the flavors have a chance to meld together. So make it a day ahead if you can, and stash it in the fridge. Then use it to top sandwiches, deviled eggs, cheese and crackers, or blend into cream cheese for an excellent veggie dip. (I’m excited to post the specific recipe for this dip soon! You might want to follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss it.)

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish
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Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp parsley leaves packed
  • 8 oz red Peppadew peppers drained
  • 8 oz golden Peppadew peppers drained
  • 2 tsp capers drained
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, add shallot, garlic, and parsley. Pulse until finely minced, occasionally scraping large unchopped bits from the sides.

  2. Add remaining ingredients. Pulse until chopped evenly, scraping sides a needed. You're looking for a consistency similar to sweet pickle relish. Adjust seasoning as needed.

  3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.

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Vegan Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets

Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets (Vegan)

A hearty vegan paté of earthy mushrooms, black walnuts, and velvety cashew cream is nestled into flaky puff pastry squares to create this crowd-pleasing vegan appetizer: Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets.

I’m the kind of person who wanders around a grocery store like it’s my second home. I usually have a list, but it’s just wishful thinking, because I’m never just shopping – I’m also designing. It seems like there is always a new ingredient to try, or something that’s ready to be rediscovered.

This time, I rediscovered black walnuts, an ingredient I grew up with. My grandpa’s large black walnut tree yielded literal buckets of black walnuts every year. He kept them in a shed behind the house, ready to be dried, husked, and cracked on the back porch. Grandma always had bags of black walnuts in her freezer, often using them in banana bread or oatmeal cookies. Black walnuts are the walnuts of my childhood.

Banana bread seemed like a good place to start. I pulled a card from Grandma’s recipe box, which I recently acquired after she passed away this September. I made a loaf with black walnuts, and another loaf with milder english walnuts, per the request of my son Lance who – as it turns out – does not like black walnuts. It was Lance who pointed out why: black walnuts have a funky, earthy, blue-cheesy taste. And Lance does not like blue cheese.

“Hmm,” I thought. “What if I used black walnuts as a stand-in for the flavor of blue cheese?” That would be perfect for something VEGAN!

I was vegan for a short time, and although I am no longer, I have a lasting appreciation and respect for vegan cooking. Nowhere have I found more creative and resourceful chefs and home cooks than in this community. I mean, someone took an ingredient like the leftover water from a can of chickpeas, whipped it into a foam, and now we have aquafaba, a vegan ingredient that’s remarkably like whipped egg whites. (Disclaimer, I have yet to try this, but the preceding link has some amazing-looking ideas. VEGAN MERINGUE, right?)

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to create a savory vegan appetizer. This began with a riff on Todd English’s mushroom puree from The Figs Table, which you should also definitely try. I wanted to create a sort of vegan paté consistency, and I knew I would need an ingredient to stand in for cream. Blending raw cashews in a high-speed blender creates a quick cashew cream. (You could skip this step entirely if you want to use a non-sweetened nut milk creamer that’s ready-made. Go for it.)

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you should probably soak the cashews overnight in enough water to cover them, then drain the water and add fresh water before blending. Soaking softens them up quite a bit, and will help you achieve a smoother, less grainy puree.

You don’t have to toast the walnuts, and I’ve certainly skipped toasting nuts before – but the extra step is worth it. Toasting brings out the flavor of the black walnuts, and you want as much of that funky cheesiness as you can get.

Lastly, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is quickly becoming one of my must-have-on-hand pantry items. It keeps for a long time in the freezer, thaws quickly on the countertop, and is a fun base to use for a quick appetizer or to top a homemade pot pie. When I thought of how easily it bakes up into crisp, flaky layers, I knew it would be the perfect pairing for this paté. And, it’s accidentally vegan!

I hope you enjoy these tasty little bites. Their earthy flavors would be perfect for a winter holiday party. If you make these, show me on Instagram: @birdseedkitchen.

Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets (Vegan)
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Vegan Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 32 puffs

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp dry red wine
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 3 oz oyster mushrooms chopped
  • 10 oz baby portobello mushrooms chopped
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Unfold two sheets of puff pastry. Cut each into 16 equal-sized squares. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.

  3. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to soften.

  4. In a blender, combine cashews and 3/4 cup water. Blend at high speed until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the blender as needed to ensure an even consistency. Remove cashew cream from blender, add to an airtight container, and set aside. (You will have cashew cream left over. It's necessary to make a larger quantity than you need because the blender can process this quantity more easily.)

    There's no need to wash the blender container at this point - you will be using it to process the mushroom mixture near the end of the recipe.

  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss the chopped black walnuts into the heated dry skillet. Toast until lightly brown and fragrant, tossing or stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove nuts from pan and set aside.

  6. Return the skillet to the burner, and raise the heat to medium. Add olive oil and onion. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  7. Add garlic and sauté two minutes longer, or until garlic is fragrant. Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.

  8. Add the porcini mushrooms along with their soaking liquid, chopped mushrooms, herbs, pepper, and salt to the skillet. Sauté over medium-low heat until most of the water is absorbed and the mushrooms are soft. 

  9. Remove from heat. Stir in toasted walnuts and 1/2 cup of the cashew cream.

  10. Add mushroom mixture to blender. Pulse a few times to create a coarse puree. You don't want it to be completely smooth; just a few seconds of blending should do it.

To assemble the tartlets:

  1. Arrange puff pastry squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly with cashew cream.

  2. Place a tablespoon-sized mound of the mushroom mixture in the center of each puff pastry square. 

  3. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until light golden brown. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

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Turkey and Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

I can’t remember the last time I was so completely impressed with a recipe – the first iteration of a recipe, no less – that it rendered me utterly speechless. So I have to tell you, I am writing this a couple of hours post-dinner, after two bowls of this velvety, sweet-sour-spicy, umami-rich turkey and sweet potato cashew curry.

I think I’ve found the words. It’s so perfect, I need to share it. It’s the best way I’ve ever used leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

 

(Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra charge to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

We cooked Thanksgiving dinner at my mom and dad’s house, and took most of the leftovers home. She was a pretty bird this year, and quite a bit bigger than we’re used to. Just look that crispy, golden skin…

the crispiest golden turkey skin you ever did see
Noah is definitely going to write a future post on how he makes THE BEST roast chicken and turkey. He roasted this bird.

I wanted to create a simple Thai curry with turkey, potatoes, and other vegetables. As it happened, we peeled a few too many sweet potatoes before Thanksgiving, and stashed them in the refrigerator. When simmered in this spicy coconut broth, they are rich and delicious, and a step above regular potatoes. You could substitute regular potatoes and create something a lot like a massaman curry (which I love), but their sweetness goes especially well with coconut milk and a little bit of ginger. Not to mention that sweet potatoes are richer in a lot of vitamins than white potatoes.

So what else is going on in this dish? Well, there is a lot of flavor, but putting it together is surprisingly uncomplicated. It takes a bit of prep, but only one pot (not including rice.)

Sautéing the red onion separately, before adding it to the sauce, is a technique I first saw on Serious Eats. The onions retain their beautiful purple color and just the right amount of texture when added to the curry at the end.

If you have it on hand, homemade stock will make a difference in this dish. We usually have some on hand, because of the aforementioned husband and his prowess with poultry. If you don’t have homemade stock, be sure to look for a low-sodium variety. I like Better Than Bouillon Low Sodium Chicken Base and have used it for years. It’s a concentrated paste, so it stores easily in the refrigerator and keeps for a long time.

I am not sure what brand of red curry paste I used, because I purchased it at an international grocery store and I can’t read the brand on the label! I guess that means it’s authentic, right? I definitely need more curry paste (of all types) in my life.

Finally, most Thai curries are served over jasmine rice, but we only had Basmati rice on hand. I think it’s a great substitute. Basmati rice also has the added benefit of a lower glycemic index than shorter-grain white rice, which means it has less of an impact on blood sugar.

I hope you enjoy this!

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

Turkey Sweet Potato Cashew Curry
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Turkey and Sweet Potato Cashew Curry


Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large red onion sliced into wedges
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots diced
  • 2 1/2 cups sweet potatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 can (13 oz) coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock unsalted, homemade is best
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (Three Crabs brand is best)
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lb cooked turkey diced
  • 1/4 cup green peas (frozen is ok)
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces

Serve With

  • hot basmati rice

Garnishes

  • cilantro leaves
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or heavy pot, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion wedges. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions start to brown around the edges. Remove onions from pan and set aside.

  2. Add curry paste, ginger, and garlic to the pot. Fry briefly for about a minute.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add carrots, potatoes, brown sugar, coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, star anise, and cinnamon stick. Stir to combine. 

  4. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are just tender.

  5. Gently stir in onions, cooked turkey, peas, and cashews. Simmer for about 5 minutes longer, or until hot.

  6. Remove and discard kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon stick, and star anise before serving over hot rice. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime if desired.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition information provided is an estimate, and does not include rice. Actual nutrient values may vary.

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Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

cheddar garlic biscuits - quick drop biscuits with garlic and sharp cheddar cheese

(Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra charge to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.) 

Breakfast for dinner is a standby meal in our house – the go-to dinner when we didn’t make it to the meat shop, or the ground beef is still frozen. Eggs any style are usually the foundation: scrambled, poached, or over medium (everyone’s favorite.) Meanwhile, hickory-smoked bacon sizzles in the oven. (This is the BEST way to cook bacon – easiest cleanup you can imagine.) Sometimes it’s omelettes, which can be a great way to use leftover bits of roasted veggies, herbs, meats, cheeses, and condiments.

If we’re out of bread (likely) and looking for something to mop up a perfectly-cooked over-medium egg, a quick drop biscuit fits the bill. If you like biscuits, it’s worth making your own from scratch, and you don’t even need to roll and cut them. This recipe is based on the Quick Drop Biscuits recipe from The Joy of Cooking, which I use often. I might even like drop biscuits better than rolled. The shagginess of the batter means you get golden, crispy peaks all over the surface.

These cheesy drop biscuits are not only great with breakfast. They would make a savory accompaniment to a hearty fall soup or stew. They keep well for a few days in an airtight container, but are definitely best when eaten as soon as safely possible right out of the oven.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuit closeup

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits
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Cheddar Garlic Biscuits


Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup milk I used 2%.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, white pepper, and garlic powder.

  3. Add cubed butter and toss to coat with flour mixture.

  4. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. 

  5. Stir in cheese, parsley, and cayenne until cheese is coated with flour mixture.

  6. Make a well in the center, and pour in milk. Stir until combined, about one minute.

  7. Drop in 8 rounded mounds onto parchment-lined sheet pan.

  8. Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly browned. Best when warm from the oven!

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Chipotle Refrigerator Dill Pickle Slices

refrigerator dill slices

Lots of garlic and a good-quality blend of pickling spices from Penzeys add flavor to these crisp slices.  The slight red hue on this batch comes from dried chipotle peppers, crumbled into the jar across each layer. The result is crunchy pickle slices with a lot of heat and smoky flavor.

Ingredients:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup canning salt
1/2 cup (packed) fresh dill
1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
6-9 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 1/2 to 4 pounds cucumbers, scrubbed and sliced (I used four of the english variety cucumbers, and 1/4 inch slices)
4 tbsp pickling spice (I used Penzeys)
2-3 dried chipotle peppers, crumbled (optional – if you like them spicy!)

Directions:
Sterilize a 1-gallon glass jar and lid by immersing in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water, and set aside.

In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine 6 cups water, cider vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and then simmer mixture while proceeding with recipe.

Place a third of the dill in bottom of jar. Top with a third of the onion and garlic.

Arrange 2-3 layers of cucumber slices over garlic. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of pickling spice and 1/3 of the chipotle peppers, if using.

Continue layering until jar is full, packing jar tightly.

Place jar in sink, and carefully pour in hot vinegar mixture into jar to fill it completely. Gently shake jar to dislodge any air bubbles. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

If using metal lid, line with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap before fastening lid to prevent corrosion.

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove jar from basin, and wipe clean with damp sponge.

Refrigerate jar for at least 24 hours before eating. These pickles will keep for up to a year in the refrigerator, but will probably not last that long!

refrigerator dill slices

 

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