Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The pepper conundrum: easy differences between Poblano, Pasilla, and Ancho peppers

Poblano peppers

I made tamales about a month ago and I realized something was seriously awry in local grocery stores. It seems that the names Poblano, Ancho, and Pasilla are used interchangeably except they are all very different peppers and shouldn't be. I realize that if chilies were being mislabeled in Arizona then they most likely were being mislabeled in less Southwestern areas and perhaps I should write a blog about it.

Here are some easy ways to tell the peppers apart:

1. Poblano peppers are most frequently mislabeled as Pasilla. They will have a wide top and a narrow base; they will be about the size of a small female's hand. They are often dark green but can be lighter green. They are less spicy than a jalapeno and when you cut them will smell very similar to a green pepper. Even though they are low spice the seeds will still burn so wear gloves when you cut them!

2. Ancho peppers are just dried Poblano peppers. To add to the confusion they look nothing like Poblano peppers; when they are dried they are red and will need to be deseeded. The easiest way to deseed them is by taking a pair of kitchen shears and cutting off the top then removing the seeds.

3. Pasilla peppers are also dried but they are dried Chilaca chilies not Poblano; they will be a dark brown or a black and are spicy so you don't want to confuse Anchos and Pasillas!



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lemon Marmalade

About a month and a half ago I began to be gifted lots of lemons by a mysterious benefactor. I am just kidding about the mysterious benefactor but it sounds way cooler than neighbor. Anyways my lovely neighbor (the one I gave ginger cookies to in December) began dropping off bags of home grown citrus at our door. Lemons, grapefruits and tangelos all began piling up in our kitchen, we must have had 15 lbs of citrus sitting on our counters and I began hunting for things to do with them. I juiced about half of them and froze the juice in ice cube trays for future use but I didn't know what to do with the rest.

I found this recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade at the only problem was that I didn't have Meyer lemons but I didn't let that deter me. I decided to attempt a half and half version of the marmalade, I purchased some Meyer lemons and I used around six regular lemons. I wasn't sure how it would work but It made some really delicious, sweet and sour marmalade. The neighbor was given several jars and he tells me that he likes the marmalade on Peanut Butter sandwiches!

I am not going to go over how to prepare the lemons and can the marmalade because Elise at simply recipes did a wonderful tutorial that I couldn't beat so go check her website out for details!

Here is the basic recipe that I used:

Meyer/Regular Lemon Marmalade

4 Meyer Lemons
6 regular Lemons
6 cups sugar
6 cups water

Follow the recipe here except when preparing the regular lemons cut off most of the peel and the pith, then cut into segments. Because most of the bitter pith and peel is removed you won't get as much peel in your marmalade as simply recipe's marmalade but it will still be tasty.

I managed to get about nine jars of marmalade out of the mixture.