How to Flash Freeze and Fire-roast Peppers and Chiles

September in Michigan is the month when one day could be 85 degrees and the next might be 30… Well, perhaps that describes nearly every month in Michigan but in September and October it is more relevant to people with gardens or anyone that loves fresh locally grown produce because we are watching the weather and hoping that it does frost.  Often times right around the time of the first hard frost… everyone has an abundant of tomatoes, peppers and chiles. Most folks have a bunch of ways to preserve to preserve tomatoes but what to do with the peppers and chiles??  I have a couple really easy ways to preserve peppers for the winter months assuming you have a little freezer space.

In the winter in Michigan, colored bell peppers usually cost $1.50 each and up!  During the season, I can get them for 3/$1 at the farmer’s market or “free” from a garden.  The local ones arguably have better flavor also.  A couple years ago I learned an easy way to flash freeze peppers.  If you freeze enough, all winter you’ll have peppers that are pre-chopped, don’t stick together and are ready to go from the freezer straight into a pan to saute.

How to FLASH FREEZE PEPPERS:

Step ONE: Wash, core and chop, julienne or dice bell peppers.

Step TWO:  Toss them in a bowl with a splash of vegetable or olive oil.  Just enough to very lightly coat the peppers… perhaps a 1/4-1/2 tsp per pepper.  Some people skip the oil all together but I find it helps the peppers freeze separately and not stick together.

Step THREE:  Get a baking sheet (a standard size fits in a normal freezer) and line with non-stick foil. Lay the peppers out in a single layer on the pan.

 

 

Step FOUR:  Put the uncovered pan in the freezer until the peppers are frozen solid.  You may want to stir the peppers a couple times to make sure that none of them stick together.  To be fair, a regular household freezer doesn’t quick freeze them in a “flash” but can take an hour or so to freeze solid.  You can probably get away with a less time if you are in a hurry or leave them in a little longer if you want them to be frozen all the way through.

 

 

 

Step FIVE:  Place the frozen peppers in an airtight container, label them and put them in the freezer. (I usually store them in a freezer bag and use a trick that my mom taught me to remove the majority of the air inside the bag.  Zip the bag shut except for a small portion on the edge of the bag and using a small cocktail straw, suck the air out of the bag and in one motion, remove the straw and zip the bag… or of course if you a have a vacuum sealing machine, that would work too. ;)

 

 

I’ve used this same method with all sorts of peppers, diced or whole chiles, par-cooked morel mushrooms, etc.  The flash freezing technique is actually good for any time you are freezing ingredients, meals or dishes that you don’t want to stick to anything or to fall apart.

————————–
FIRE ROASTING:

The other method that use is fire-roasting.  This works well for New Mexican or Anaheim green chiles, bell peppers, thick skinned jalapenos, etc.  I process a couple bushels of green chiles every season to freeze and often to some roasted bell peppers packed in oil too.

 

Here is my how-video for all sorts of fire-roasting.  (I also use this method to roast and peal tomatoes when I am processing them to preserve.)


Wow! Two blogs in two weeks.  I am on a roll.  Happy Preserving and Freezing! ;)

- dan, Funktified Food

Make it a Bar! Chili & Guacamole (at your Superbowl party.)

People like Superbowl parties for one to three reasons.   1. Football.  2.  Friends  3.  Food …Or a possible fourth reason… laughing at the commercials with your friends, while eating food and talking about football.   The Superbowl is coming and food and friends are two things that I enjoy… so let us speak of food!

Do you know what I love?  Options.  Choices.  Customizable food.  Why?  Because it is fun.  At my wedding reception, I had a potato bar… During one part of the night… you could go and get mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and proceed to the add various toppings of your choice…  it made potatoes into an event.  Most people don’t get overly excited about potatoes, but people DO get excited about a potato bar. (After typing “potatoes” so many times… I realized that I have two things in common with Dan Quayle… my first name and well… thank you spell-check for reminding me there is an ‘e’ in potatoes.  Oops.)

GUACAMOLE.  Last month, I was reading Rick Bayless‘s book called ‘Fiesta at Rick’s’ and he talks about a guacamole bar.  GENIUS!  A simple roasted garlic guacamole with lots of toppings! I get pretty excited about good guacamole but I get REALLY excited about customizable guacamole!  Apparently, 8 million pounds of guacamole is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday… so why don’t you try a guacamole BAR!  I set up a little guacamole bar at Christmas time and made a fair amount of guacamole and it didn’t last long so buy extra avocados.

CHILI. You know what else I love?  Chili.  All types of chili.  Texas-style, Cincinnati-style, NM Chili verde, chicken chili, vegetarian chili, sausage chili… I like it all.   (I also love chile peppers… but that is for another blog.)  I made a couple types of chili for my friends last week and set up a little station for toppings and thought… oh my!  Chili bar is the best idea ever.  ha.

MAKE IT A BAR. This year at your Superbowl party (or any other time)… if are making chili, guacamole… or even mashed potatoes… I suggest giving people some options and make it a BAR!  You’ll thank me later.  Not only is is FUN but it also let’s the picky people be choosy and the indulgent people be indulgent(y).  You know who you are.

VESSELS for serving:  For chili… the obvious answer is… bowls.  Small bowls are actually the best to encourage people to try a few variations and/or multiple types of chili.  For guacamole… the obvious answer is chips BUT a more exciting option would be toasted baguette slices, pita chips, large carrots sliced in rounds, cucumbers, etc… you get the picture.  Mashed potatoes… try plastic martini glasses… because… it is just fun and easy to carry around.

 TOPPINGS:  The options are endless but here are a few ideas: Diced tomatoes, chopped red onions, green onions, raw or fire-roasted peppers/chiles, cilantro, toasted hulled pumpkin seeds, various cheeses from cheddar to bleu to queso fresco, crumbled crisp bacon, lime wedges, sour cream…  you get the idea…

Hot and Cold: Keep the hot items hot and the cold items cold.  A crock pot is the easy answer for most hot food.  The obvious answer for cold items… ummm… ice.  A fun tip that I learned from Rick Bayless is to get a  terracotta pot that is slightly larger than your serving bowl and chill the pot and then stick your serving bowl in the pot, this will help keep cold foods cold and help slow the process of your guacamole turning brown.

Green and Red Chili Bar with Toppings

HELPFUL LINKS:

 

Funktified Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

Funktified Pumpkin Muffins
Everything is better with pumpkin.

I know that you may be thinking that I’m a few months late for posting a pumpkin recipe… but chances are you still have a can of pumpkin in your pantry or maybe some frozen pumpkin puree that you made in the fall… so this is a good time to use it.  Besides, everything is better with pumpkin, right?!  Or is that bacon that I am thinking of… Either way, I think you’ll like these muffins.  ;)

Funktified Pumpkin Muffins Recipe
- Mix Wet Ingredients:
12 oz pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup apple cider
1/3 cup melted vegetable shortening
Then Add:
1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

Mix Dry Ingredients (In a separate bowl):

1 1/4 cups all purose flour
1/2 whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of allspice
pinch of ground cloves

(You could probably substitute about 1-2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for the spices if you’d like)

Topping:
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/8-1/4 raw sugar

Directions:

  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fill greased muffin tins or baking cups about 3/4 full.
  • Sprinkle topping on each muffin.
  • Bake at 350 degrees about 25-30 minutes or until the muffin is set when touched.
  • Set pan on rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and let cool on rack.
  • This recipe will make 18 muffins (If you actually fill the tins only 3/4 full.)

If you try these… come on over to Funktified Food at Facebook and show me a photo!

Looking for more recipes?  Find a bunch of my simple video recipes: Funktified Food on YouTube.

Funktified Punpkin Muffins

Funktified Punpkin Muffins

Funktified Blog Intro

Dan Vaillancourt - Funktified Food (and Folk)!

About Me.
Hi. Nice to meet you. ;) I am not a chef. I have never worked in a restaurant. Actually, I am a touring musician, songwriter and teacher by trade and I have a passion for making, eating and talking about food.  (More about the music at danvaillancourt.com.)

I love to learn and teach how to make food from real ingredients. I grew up eating home-cooked meals every day and have sought out quirky little restaurants with unique fare and regional foods across the country (and a few other countries.) I also usually research techniques and ingredients and take a tradition dish and put a new twist on it.

The food on this blog will include the styles of foods that I most often make including (but not limited to) Southwestern (and other US regional foods), Italian, home-style and lots of pizzas and artisan breads. Simple ingredients, a little creativity and a little technique go a long way.

The origin of Funktified Food.
In the summer of 2009, video producer Paul Schmidt from UnoDuece Multimedia approached me at a music festival that I was performing at with a crazy idea of making an online cooking show that would combine food and music. He had seen my food photos on facebook! ha. For the last decade, my music has been described as “Funktified Folk” so “Funktified Food” was the logic choice for a name… We shot a pilot in December 2009 and the rest is history. View the videos on:  www.youtube.com/funktifiedfood

Why the blog?
After making a few dozen video recipes and posting hundreds of food photos on facebook… I decided to start a blog for a few reasons.

  1.  To expand on some of the videos and have a place for the print version of the recipes.
  2. Often times I am still experimenting with a recipe (sometimes for years) and it isn’t ready for a video but I really want to tell you    about it! I have been using facebook for this but wanted a more permanent place to talk about it also.
  3. The more steps a recipe has or the longer it takes to make… the harder it can be to condense it into a video but sometimes it can be explained easily in writing.

What to expect?

  • Photos (and sometimes also videos) with recipes, tips and tricks… or  instead of a recipe, I might just explain how to do it.
  •  Expect the occasional misspelling and some other errors.  I just want to get the ideas down and will surely miss a few things… you’ll just have to bear with me… it is a blog after all. ha.  (It might drive the official Funktified Food copy-editor Emily a little bit crazy.
  • I don’t believe that there is “one way” or a “best way” to make most dishes… I will tell you what works best for me… and I usually give you a few options to customize it to your own tastes and I often give vegetarian options too. I usually change the way I make a recipe just about every time.

I believe that everyone can cook.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  YOU can make food from REAL ingredients. This is Funktified Food.

-dan