Posts Tagged ‘hot peppers’

Mushrooms and Peppers

August 23, 2012

One summer night we were dining at the late, lamented Cesare’s Cafe here in Trenton.

We’d placed our order and were relaxing with our drinks and enjoying small talk when, out of the kitchen, came Cesare himself. He was carrying a sizzling platter of sauteed mushrooms and hot peppers. “From the garden!” He said, as he placed the platter on our table.

Every table in the dining room got one of those platters that night. That’s the way Cesare was. It was that touch of “home.” Like having dinner at your grandparents house in the ‘Burg. It’s what made the place a favorite and why we miss is it so.

I’m a huge fan of mushrooms. And peppers. Especially hot peppers. The idea of cooking them up together is not foreign to me. They make a nice side/topping for a sizzling steak or some roasted chicken.

Served on their own, with some bread for dipping into the flavor infused olive oil….! What better way to start a meal?

Cesare’s, unfortunately, is long gone. You can find this dish on the menu at Rossi‘s…perhaps the “old ‘Burg’s” remaining hold out.

Or you can make it at home.

Right now, while the local peppers are in abundance in backyard gardens and farmers’ markets, is the time to do it.

So simple. So good.

Mushrooms and Peppers

  • 10 ounce package of fresh mushrooms, preferably brown (crimini, baby bellas) but white will do. Wipe them clean but leave whole, only removing the hardest ends of the stems.
  • 4 to 8 fresh, locally grown hot peppers (pick your favorite or go with what is available from your garden or the market), cut into 1 inch pieces or left whole; stemmed; seeded if you want/need to control the heat.
  • 4 cloves of garlic. Three peeled and whole, one peeled and minced.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for “drizzling” if needed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • several slices of good bread for dipping and sopping.

In a 10 inch skillet, warm the 1/2 cup of olive oil and whole cloves of garlic over medium/medium-high heat. Let the garlic color (and flavor the oil) but do not let it burn!  (about 5 minutes)

Remove the garlic and add the peppers. If the peppers are of medium to thin walled (banana or cayenne types), cook for two minutes. If thicker, cook just until they start to color and soften.

Add the minced garlic.

Add the mushrooms and stir. Sprinkle lightly with salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Stir to mix well.

Cook until mushrooms and peppers have softened but don’t let them become mush (3 to 4 minutes). Stir as needed.

Remove from heat, place in platter to serve. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed.

Serve with bread for sopping.

Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as a light lunch.

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Funghi e Peperoncino

August 9, 2010

One of my favorite places for a satisfying meal used to be Cesare’s Cafe in the Chambersburg section of town. The Pingitore family always made guests feel welcome and no one ever left there hungry or dissatisfied. At least not that I know of.

At this time of the year, Cesare’s garden would be overrun with peppers and he would share the bounty. Guests would be treated to a free starter of hot peppers sautéed with mushrooms.

Funghi e peperoncino

Ann was at the Trenton Farmers’ Market Sunday and picked up a few hot peppers. That got me thinking about Cesare’s little treat.

Since we had a large and later than usual lunch this afternoon, I decided to pick up some mushrooms and make my own version. Accompanied with a glass of wine and a slice (or two) of crusty bread for sopping up the juices, I had a light, savory and satisfying summer supper.

Funghi e peperoncino

  • Olive oil
  • ½ to ¾ pounds of fresh mushrooms coarsely chopped*
  • 2 hot peppers (I used long, banana type peppers), cored and seeded, sliced into ¼ inch rings
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 – 3 Tbs dry white wine
  • 3 Tbs of minced fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme in this case)

Pour just enough oil in a large skillet to film the bottom and heat over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Toss or stir frequently until they mushrooms give up their water and start to brown.

Add the cut up peppers and toss.

Add garlic and toss again. Make sure to NOT burn the garlic.

After 2 or 3 minutes, add the white wine.

Toss frequently until wine has reduced. Add fresh herbs, toss and serve.

*brown button mushrooms are fine, but tonight I used a mixture of brown, oyster and shiitake mushrooms.

This makes a great light meal, a good starter, or an accompaniment to grilled meats. It would also make a good topping for a pizza or flat bread.