Tuesday 21 October 2014

Sheep's noses and amputated fingers

Sounds like a gruesome recipe for Hallow'een? No, these are the varieties of sweet pepper (poivrons) that we are growing this year. Sheepnose is an old favourite, a heritage variety from the US state of Ohio (obtained from Kokopelli who no longer have them, try Rareseeds). They produce a good number of middle-sized bell peppers with thick sweet flesh on stocky plants that have been known to fall over under the weight of fruit.

Sheepnose plant, 6/8/2014

They have been growing all on their own in a little bed behind the longère to isolate them from the other peppers, and particularly from the hot ones (piments)! That way I can keep the seed strain going. They grow happily outdoors here, apart from the snails; in the UK I kept them in the greenhouse where they did extremely well. A certain amount of tickling of flowers with a sable paint brush was called for, in both locations, to ensure plenty of seeds.

Why are they called Sheepnose mummy?
'Dedo de Mocha' or Sweet Ají is a new one for us, courtesy of the Real Seed Company. They are related to some of the hottest chillies in the world, but are not hot at all. To quote the supplier,
The name of this traditional variety translates roughly as 'Amputated Fingers', which is fair enough given the shape and colour, but seems to be in dubious taste! 
Lurking pepper

The closer you look, the more you see (August 2014)

They are incredibly productive plants, but the peppers stayed resolutely green. A few are turning red now (mid October). The shape is rather wiggly, but it's quite easy to remove the seeds to stuff them.


They are perfect for many stuffed pepper recipes, including some for mild chillis such as poblanos. The recipe for Tina's Greek stuffed peppers with feta cheese that follows is from Allrecipes UK and Ireland.

Serves: 6

    12 long green peppers
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon plain flour
    235ml milk
    250g feta cheese, crumbled
    1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
    black pepper to taste
    oregano to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Boil the peppers in hot salted water for about 7 minutes, or until they start to soften. Drain them and leave to cool.
Heat the oil and flour in a small pan. Add the milk and whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add the feta cheese, some parsley, black pepper and oregano. Mix them in but the feta should remain slightly lumpy.

Make a slice in the side of the peppers and take out the seeds. Try not to break the peppers, but open them up (like the shape of a little boat). Stuff them with the feta mixture. Place them in on an oiled baking tray.

Ready to start baking

Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 30 minutes. You can leave them to cool before serving, but I thought they were nicer hot.

Ready to start eating!

Make ahead and pop them in the oven  ready for serving as a starter, with crusty bread and a green salad.

No need to add salt to this recipe because feta cheese is salty enough. I used a young goat cheese instead of feta, and that did need a little salt.

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