March 2007

Pomma RosaI remember the first time I ever heard the adage “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”, I was maybe seven or eight years old, but I knew intuitively, that was a saying that would instill hope in the winter weary hearts of all of us who prayed for the first hints of Spring. At this time of year, I always watch for at the arrival of Spring like a kid watches a clock on the classroom wall for the 3 o’clock bell; it just can’t come soon enough. I fidget and keep an eye out for those first crocuses peeking out of the ground, or the arrival of the first wild ramps in the green grocer. In short, it’s pretty pathetic.
Very shortly, I will be able to go into the kitchen and make delicious recipes that spell S-P-R-I-N-G, like tender pink racks of lamb, or cream of morel soup, or if I was in Puerto Rico, fresh pomma rosa or Tia Gabriela’s pastels de cetis, the tiny little silver bait that Pastelgrace the shores of Arecibo. For now, however, I will have to comfort myself by going into the kitchen and whipping up a bit of comfort food, and nothing says comfort food to me quite as well as stuffed peppers, whether it’s Abuela’s recipe with the savory bread pudding plugs, or my own Chiles Rellenos, which, while a bit of an effort, are quite worth the while.
This past month I was invited my Chef Mary Ann Esposito, host of the PBS show, Ciao Italia! To do a live show with her at t he Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, CT. We both did our own take on stuffed peppers, she executing her mom’s recipe of upside-down stuffed peppers, and me showing her what stuffed peppers look like south of the border. Stuffed PeppersBoth were a hit! Mary Ann stuffed her peppers with a combination of ground beef, veal and pork, then added slices of Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese and cooked rice: not too shabby. I countered with my Picadillo Stuffed Poblano Peppers, which are then batter dipped, fried, then bakes in a simple enchilada sauce and topped with Monterey Jack cheese. Needless to say, we had way too much fun in her kitchen, shared a lot of laughs, and some really delicious comfort food. You can find the recipes to both of these recipes on the Ciao Italia site : . Here’s to Spring, and anticipation!
Buen provecho to Mary Ann, her delightful crew and her lovely producer, Paul Lally for making me feel right at home, and helping me bear these last few weeks Chiles Rellenosof winter chill.

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