Beer-Battered Shishito Peppers with Southwestern Dipping Sauce

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As far as day-to-day cooking goes, I eat fairly healthy. But the name of this blog is not healthy. It’s Genuss, or pleasure/enjoyment. For me, food is all about balance. Sometimes, it’s been a crappy day at work and all I need when I come home is a comforting bowl of pasta. Sometimes, I finish a good workout and all I want is a clean bowl of salad. Sometimes, it’s Saturday at 4 PM and I really want bar food.

I am a firm believer that basically all deep fried items need a dipping sauce. The only thing that makes a fried food better is a creamy sauce to cool it down. Last weekend, a friend of my Mom’s gave us a bag of shishito peppers from her garden. Naturally, my first thought was to dunk them in a beer batter and fry them up (Hey, you gotta live sometimes 😉 )!

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Shishito peppers are like a fun little gamble because most of the time, they are sweet and not spicy at all. However, about one in ten shishitos has a spicy kick, and you can’t tell from looking at them which one it will be. Think of this dipping sauce as your insurance in case you bite into a hot pepper. If you like things really spicy, you could certainly do this recipe with jalapenos or other hot peppers of your choice!

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I used to be so intimidated by frying food in my own house. Turns out, all you need is a good cast iron skillet! I let the oil get “nervous,” test it with a small drip of batter, and fry the peppers in small batches to avoid cooling down the oil. As soon as they come out of the pan, I place them on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and salt them immediately. The salt sticks to the hot oil and perfectly seasons the peppers so each bite is properly seasoned.

These fried peppers are absolute snacking perfection. The batter is super light so you get an incredible crunch with each bite. As soon as the peppers hit the hot oil, you get that aroma of capsaicin that starts to make your mouth water. The creamy sauce contrasts the crunchy texture of the fried peppers. Wash it all down with a good beer, and you’ll feel like you’re at a swanky gastropub.

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Beer-Battered Shishito Peppers with Southwestern Dipping Sauce

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

20 Shishito peppers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cumin

1 bottle of amber beer (I used Yuengling)

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling over the peppers

2 cups vegetable oil

For the southwestern dipping sauce– 

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup creme fraiche

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

juice of 1/2 of a lime

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Make your dipping sauce: Combine the sour cream, creme fraiche, garlic, cilantro, chile powder, salt, and lime juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the beer and stir until mostly smooth. The batter can be a little lumpy.
  3. In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat (if you have a thermometer, 350 degrees would be good– I just look to see when the oil begins to shimmer).
  4. Fry the peppers in small batches, 4-5 at a time: dip each pepper in the batter, shake off the excess, and drop into the hot oil. Be careful, as it may splatter! Turn the heat down slightly if they are splattering too much.
  5. Fry each pepper until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Place the finished peppers on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and season immediately with sea salt.
  7. Serve the peppers immediately alongside the dipping sauce.

 

Baked Brie with Peaches & Rosemary

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As a child, I wasn’t much of a big fruit eater. I loved every vegetable imaginable, but when I wanted something sweet I usually went straight for the chocolate. There was one exception to my general lack of enthusiasm for fruit: South Carolina peaches. I used to love taking a ripe peach from the counter top and biting right into it as the juices ran down my elbow. On a hot summer day, you couldn’t ask for a better snack!

When peaches showed up at the farmer’s market last week, I just knew I had to come up with a new peach recipe. I was recently inspired by a peach rosemary jam I tasted at local brunch favorite Biscuit Head. I was blown away by the unbelievable punch of flavor from this unique combination. Who knew rosemary and peaches were a match made in heaven? Today I am sharing a 4 ingredient appetizer that you must try for your next happy hour!

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Yes, you read that right: 4 ingredients. Peaches, honey, rosemary, and Brie. Bam. Easiest, most elegant appetizer ready in under 10 minutes. I cooked the peaches down with some honey to deeply intensify that peach essence. The woodsy rosemary adds nice depth of flavor and beautiful little speckles of green that peek out from the luscious peach reduction. The Brie is baked in the oven to get it nice and melty on the inside, so it spreads like butter.

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Look at that nice melty Brie oozing onto the plate! YUM.

I was snacking on this just a few hours ago and I’m already starting to drool again just writing this post and thinking about how darn good this combination is. I might just have to make this a weekly summer snack.

Baked Brie with Peaches & Rosemary

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz wheel of brie cheese

2 peaches, peeled & diced

leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon honey

2 Tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the brie on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven for around 7 minutes, or until the inside is nice and soft.
  2. Meanwhile: Heat the peaches, rosemary, water, and honey in a small pot over medium-high heat. Stir frequently, until the peaches are cooked down significantly (This should take about 7-10 minutes). You still want some chunks of peach in the mix, but it should look somewhat pureed. Set aside.
  3. Remove the baked brie from the cookie sheet and top it with the peach mixture. Serve alongside crackers or crostini.

 

Burrata Cheese with Arugula-Walnut Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Balsamic Reduction

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Last month, I vacationed with Eric and my family at Pawley’s Island in South Carolina. It was a wonderfully relaxing week off from grad school and I ate some spectacular food while we were there.  One of the true food gems down there is a little unassuming restaurant called Perrones. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I’m here to say it is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in my life. Everything from the atmosphere to the cocktails to the food was phenomenal. Every single thing I tasted at this place was good.  It was so good that after we had dinner the first time there, we cancelled our dinner plans for the following night and ended up eating there 2 nights in a row. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS PLACE IS. No joke.

Both nights we ate there, Eric and I could not decide what to eat because literally everything on the menu sounded so spectacular. So, we settled for sharing a number of small plates each night so we could maximize the number of menu items we could taste. One of their specials was a burrata cheese appetizer with arugula-walnut pesto, olives, roasted tomatoes, and balsamic reduction. As you may have already guessed, that is exactly what I am sharing today! That dish was so unbelievably good that I just had to recreate it at home. Using my memory and taste buds as a guide, I think my dish comes pretty darn close to what I had that night at Perrones (and Eric agrees)!

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A few weeks after the beach, I came home and made this dish for my parents for lunch with some fresh crusty bread from the farmer’s market and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. In a word: perfection.  This flavor combination gives you everything you could want on one plate: the creaminess from the burrata, the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes and balsamic reduction, the pepperiness from the arugula pesto, and the salty bite from the Kalamata olives. My favorite way to eat it is to get a little bit of everything and smear it over the bread.

I love going to a great restaurant and figuring out how I can bring those flavors into my own home. This dish is one way that I can preserve a memory from that trip to the beach and continue to relive it long after it has passed.

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Burrata cheese with arugula-walnut pesto, roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and balsamic reduction

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, divided

4 slices of a good, crusty farmer’s bread

4 balls of burrata cheese

¾ cup of Kalamata olives

 

For the arugula-walnut pesto—

1 cup arugula

8 fresh basil leaves

2 heaping tablespoons of toasted walnuts

1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half

½ cup good quality olive oil

¼ cup freshly  grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the roasted tomatoes—

1 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp sugar

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. First, make your roasted tomatoes. Place the tomatoes (cut side up) and minced garlic on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over sugar, salt, and pepper and stir everything around to ensure that it is all nicely coated. Roast for 25 minutes.
  3. When the tomatoes are finished, reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Place the slices of bread on a cookie sheet and drizzle the slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Next, make your pesto. Combine the toasted walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the arugula and basil and continue to pulse until all ingredients are combined.
  5. With the motor of the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the 1/2 cup of olive oil until nicely combined.
  6. Remove pesto from the food processor and place into a small bowl. Fold in the Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then turn down the heat to medium low. Simmer the vinegar for around 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. Your balsamic should be thick and luscious at this point.
  8. To plate everything, place the burrata cheese in the center of the plate. Surround the cheese with the pesto, roasted tomatoes, and olives. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic reduction over the entire plate. Serve with the toasted bread and enjoy!