Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos


Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos -oh yum!  It’s been an unusual growing season here in central Ohio. By this time in the season I’m usually roasting Poblano Peppers to freeze and searching for yet another recipe to add to my growing collection. This year I’ve waited and watched my plants develop a few peppers and have just finally  harvested enough of my favorite peppers to make one dish. Now the dilemma, which one will it be?? In the end it’s determined by another favorite vegetables  – the potato and of course the potatoes will come from my CSA bag.

My earlier post on Crema de Chile Poblano taught you how to roast peppers on a gas range.  Today I’m taking the speed approach and using our gas grill.  It has an additional time-saving element because it’s a task that my husband is great at.  So,  while I do the rest of the prep, he’s out on the deck roasting my precious peppers.

The recipe originates from a February 2011 Cuisine magazine article on Meatless and Delicious and that it certainly is.  In the article the stuffed peppers are paired with a Black Bean Sauté which is also delicious but for tonight’s meal I’m pairing them with some simply grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs and fresh off the vine cherry and grape tomatoes.  Our dog looks sooo sad because he knows that although he can enjoy the aromas, he won’t be getting a bite!

So finally I get to pick some peppers!  Certainly not a peck but enough for dinner.


The jalapeno comes from my “garden” as well.


The peppers go on the grill while I take care of the remaining tasks-so sad that there are so few of them.  Usually the grill is filled.


I’m using a combo of “red” skinned (Blue Gold from Wayward Seed Farms)  and white potatoes (Kennebec from Dangling Carrot Farms),  but in this recipe most any type of potato will work.  But,  remember the better quality the ingredients, the better the dish. So if at all possible look for some high quality potatoes at your local farmers market.  

 When I’m making mashed potatoes, I usually want a russet like variety, but in this recipe they will be more of a smash, so even potatoes that are of the waxy variety will be fine.  It’s a dice for  the potatoes and a slice for the onion. 


Into a pot of salted water they go.  Always start potatoes in cold water so the will cook evenly.


The charred peppers go into a bowl and get covered with plastic wrap to steam.  This loosens the skins, making them easy to peel.


While the peppers are steaming, slice the scallions and grate the cheese.  Check out those beautiful purple scallions from Clay Hill Farms.   Use both the white/purple part and the green stems.   I forgot the shot for mincing the jalapeno, but you should be doing this now as well.

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When the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot over high heat just for 30 seconds or so to evaporate the excess moisture.

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The peppers should be cool enough to handle after 10 minutes.  So pull the blackened skin off (remember not to rinse the peppers, you want all of that lovely roasted flavor to remain), cut a slit on one side and remove the seeds and tough veins and set aside.  


Add approximately 3/4 of the shredded cheese, the scallions, jalapeno, cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder and cumin and mash/smash.  I like mine on the chunky side but if you like smooth just keep on mashing until you get the texture you like. Taste and season with salt and pepper and lime juice if you like.  If you salted the potato water well you shouldn’t need any additional salt. 

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Generously fill the peppers and place them on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  Top each one with some additional shredded cheese. 


Bake for 20 minutes or so until the the cheese is melted and golden brown.


Because a couple of my peppers were pretty small I had some leftover potato ( ya hoo-a start for tomorrow nights dinner).  So I oiled a small baking dish, filled it with the potatoes, topped it with some cheese, covered it with plastic wrap and into the refrigerator it went.  An alternative would be to make little mounds of potato on the sheet pan with the potatoes, top with cheese and bake.

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If you’re having a meatless day, a side of Black Beans (there’s a very nice recipe for Black Bean Sauté that accompanied the original recipe in Cuisine) is all you need for the center of the plate.  Tonight I’m pairing mine with a grilled boneless, skinless chicken thigh and a handful of cherry (Sun Gold) and grape tomatoes from my CSA and garden.  And of course a glass of wine!  The flavors here are bold enough for a light red.  The contrast of the warm, earthy stuffed peppers and the bright fresh flavors of the cherry tomatoes (no need for any embellishment on them) makes for a fine late summer meal.

Buen apitito!




Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from Cuisine- Potato-Stuffed Poblanos with Monterey Jack Cheese February 2011 

Servings: 4 (plus some potential leftover potatoes for another meal)

  • 4 large poblano chiles
  • 24 oz. potatoes, cubed, about 2 cups
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • ½ cup scallions-white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbsp. ( 3 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. jalapeno chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 tsp. lime juice (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Roast poblanos over a gas burner or on grill until skins blacken.  Alternative if you only have an electric stove to work with is to roast the peppers under the broiler until they are charred and blistered.

Transfer the roasted peppers to a glass bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes or so.  Once they are steamed enough to loosen the skins and they are cool enough to handle.  Peel the blackened skin off (don’t rinse), cut a slit along one side of the pepper and remove the seeds and any tough veins.  Set aside.

Put the cubed potatoes and sliced onion in a pot of salted cold water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain and return them to the pot to allow the moisture to evaporate.

Add approximately ¾ of the shredded cheese, scallions, cream cheese, jalapeno, sour cream, garlic powder and cumin to the pan with the potatoes and mash to the consistency you prefer.  Stir in lime juice if you like and then taste and season with salt and pepper (if you salted the potato cooking water well, you shouldn’t need any additional salt.)

Fill the prepared poblanos with some of the potato mixture, top with shredded cheese and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or so until the cheese is melted and golden brown.  If you have extra potatoes that you can’t fit into the poblanos, put them into an oiled baking dish, top with cheese and plastic wrap and refrigerate for tomorrow night’s dinner.  Alternative would be to spoon the potatoes into little mounds on the same baking sheet with the poblanos, top with cheese and bake alongside the peppers.

Buen apetito!


French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad


At long last my table is filling with the bounty of locally grown produce.  To celebrate I’m going to make  French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite non-profit organizations Local Matters and stars green beans grown in my front yard along with new red potatoes and crispy romaine lettuce from my Great River Organics CSA market bag.

This post will give you a bit of an idea of a few of the things I enjoy besides cooking in my kitchen and writing for this blog, but rest assured they don’t fall far from the tree.

The first is as a volunteer for Local Matters (http://local-matters.org/).  This local non-profit does incredible things in the Columbus community and beyond to positively impact our food system and I’ve been volunteering with them for over 5 years now.  The first thing that got me hooked as a volunteer for them was the fact that they were going into pre-schools  and teaching kids and teachers about  recipes like this that came from various parts of the world.  So fun and rewarding to see food that didn’t come through a drive-through or from a box bring a smile and request for more!

In the time since I first started volunteering with them,  the number and types of programs Local Matters offers has grown dramatically. They literally reach from garden to table  and the impact they have on individual’s food choices and culinary skills among the myriad of other things is truly amazing.   My joy in volunteering for them however doesn’t stop at the important work they do.  It gives me the chance to work alongside  wonderful like-minded individuals such as their executive chef Laura Robertson-Boyd who first shared this recipe with me.

My other main ” volunteer”  gig is as a bag packer for Great River Organics CSA (http://www greatriverfarms.org).  Each week my husband and I get a first  peek at the goodies that will be delivered to a growing number of individuals in the Columbus area who choose to eat produce that  is locally and organically grown by a group of farmers that care about providing superior products, rewarding those in the time-honored profession of farming and respecting our environment.   In the literal sense we work for food because at the end of our shift we go home with some of the best produce to be found in Columbus.   Having grown up on a family farm where most of the food on our table came from our garden and pastures, I love the challenge/opportunity of creating great meals from the things that Great River Organics and I grow.   The other bonus of this gig, like my Local Matters work,  is that it allows me to work with yet another group of amazing people.  One of them is so amazing that she invited us to join a group of her friends on a cultural and culinary adventure to Italy last year.  I’ll save this story for another post(s)!

But back to the subject of this post.  This week I was able to harvest just enough green beans from my front-yard garden (I’m slowly but surely replacing things that are just ornamental with plants that either the bees and I enjoy) to go with the lovely new red potatoes and romaine lettuce from my Great River Organics bag.   Lunch just doesn’t get much better than this – at least until the vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn come along!

As with many great recipes, the list of ingredients is short which means that each one gets to shine and the quality is extra important.  So head to the farmers market or your garden and choose the freshest produce possible.  In my case I only have to step outside my front door for the beans.

New red skin potatoes get a medium dice, a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. 
Then into a a 425° F oven or 400°F convection oven to roast until just tender and lightly browned.  They will tend to stick a bit to the foil, so use a gentle touch to stir/ flip them about half-way through the cook time.  Resist the temptation to eat them all as soon as they come from the oven.   
While the potatoes are roasting, blanch and shock the green beans.  Don’t forget to salt the blanching water and have your bowl of ice water ready for the shock.  I like to use a salad spinner as my shocking vessel because it allows me to drain the beans easily and give them a spin to remove the excess water.  Beans are ready for the plunge into ice water when they are bright green and tender to the bite.  
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Next the vinaigrette.  Today I’m using a country style Dijon because it’s what I have in the refrigerator.   My personal favorite brand is Maille, probably because I had the good fortune to visit Dijon many years ago and bring home a pot of fresh mustard.  So each time I use this mustard I’m reminded of the beauty and great food to be found in the French country side and the wonderful people I met there.
The process of making a vinaigrette is simple.  Whisk the mustard and vinegar together,  then  slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to whisk.   At end,  season with a little freshly ground black pepper.  
Finely mince a shallot (if you don’t have a shallot some onion will do) and sauté in a bit of olive oil until translucent.
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Toss in the green beans and potatoes and heat until just warm.  Add the fresh tarragon or parsley ( tarragon is definitely the classic flavor for this dish, but try as I might, it is just “not my favorite” so I substitute flat leaf parsley).   Add the vinaigrette and give it another toss to combine. 
Plate on a bed of sturdy lettuce and lunch is served.  
 Bon Appétit and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad

by: M.B. Einerson

Barely adapted from a Local Matters recipe by Chef Laura Robertson-Boyd, Executive Chef 

 Servings: 2 main course or 4 side dish

  • ¾  lb. of redskin potatoes, medium dice
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ lb.  green beans, snapped into ½ inch pieces (haricot vert are classic for the dish but any fresh green bean will be fine)
  • 1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves or flat leaf parsley (optional)


  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly grd. Black pepper
  • 4 cups Romaine or other sturdy lettuce, torn (optional but highly recommended )

Pre-heat oven to 425°F.   Toss diced potatoes with 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.  Spread in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until just tender and lightly browned.   Stir once, half-way through the cooking time.

Blanch green beans in salted boiling water until just tender and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  This is called blanch and shock.

In a bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sauté the shallots in 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil in a skillet that will also hold the beans and potatoes.  When the shallots are translucent, add the cooked beans, roasted potatoes and a pinch of kosher salt.  Heat until just warm.  Add the fresh tarragon or parsley leaves.  Stir in the vinaigrette.  Serve warm or at room temperature on a bed of lettuce.

Bon Appétit

Masoor Dal – Spicy Red Lentils


The first time I heard the term flexitarian I literally laughed out loud.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that this is exactly the direction I’ve been headed over the course of years.  Meat, although still very much enjoyed at my table has become less and less of a center point.  The portions have definitely become smaller and it is often not present at all or simply as a flavoring.  So, while I  would not consider myself a true flexitarian and according to Wikipedia I should actually be classified a reducetarian, it is the way I enjoy eating these days regardless of what you call it.

A good part of the credit for the change in our diet his must go to my lovely daughter who came home from a study abroad as a  pescetarian (there is absolutely a name for every diet)!  This challenged me to explore more and more vegetarian dishes when she was home.  Low and behold, they were so tasty,  many of them now have a spot in often repeated dishes appearing on my table.

Another large factor is my families love of Indian food.   In this cuisine,  the brilliant use of spices and spice combinations leaves ones senses fully satisfied without a hint of meat.   Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a  hearty dish of lamb or beef Rogon Josh.  However,  I can be just as happy with a bowl of this Masoor Dal, some basmati rice and a piece of nan to scoop them up.

The recipe comes from another of those great little cookbooks that form the backbone of my collection.  The Best of India – A Cookbook – Balraj Khanna.   I just checked and it is still available on Amazon, so if you love Indian food it should have a place in your collection as well.  In addition to great recipes and photography it has a glossary of ingredients that is especially useful when shopping in Indian markets and for the making of several masala’s that you can use in creations of your own.  This Masoor Dal is definitely the dish I’ve made the most often from this book and amazingly one that I never feel the need to tweak or adjust to suit my taste-it’s perfect just as written.  The only changes I’ve made are to update the quantity of tomatoes in a can (it’s dropped from 16 oz. to 14.5 oz) and to mince the garlic, jalapeno and ginger by hand rather than dirtying a blender!  OK maybe I’ve also thrown in a bit more onion and  garlic and a tad less ginger, but if you follow it the first time I think you’ll be happy and then you can go about adjusting to suit your tastes.

Happily nearly all of these ingredients are almost always in my pantry and refrigerator.  I broke down this week and bought some fresh tomatoes for the garnish.  The real deal is still far away from appearing in my garden and the little Campari tomatoes are actually pretty tasty even in March.   I do have a weakness for fresh tomatoes.


Start by rinsing and draining the lentils


Into the pot with the lentils, onion, spices and water.  


Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Give it an occasional stir, especially if you do not have a heavy pot.


While the base is simmering you can prep the garlic, fresh chili (in a pinch you could use canned jalapeno) and ginger.  The easiest and safest way to peel ginger is to simply scrape the brown away with a spoon.


Finely minced, they all go into a small skillet with the ghee or butter.  Ghee is becoming easier to find but butter works just fine.  Just keep the heat low, you want them to sweat not burn.


I prefer whole peeled tomatoes in dishes like this where I want them to melt into the dish.  Diced tomatoes usually have calcium chloride added to help them keep their shape and remain firm.  The easiest way to chop whole peeled tomatoes without having them squirt is with a pair of kitchen shears (every kitchen needs at least one pair).


At the end of the 30 minutes, stir the tomatoes, oil, salt and garlic mixture into the lentil base.  Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes or until the lentil mixture is slightly thickened.


While the dal is on its final simmer you can make some basmati rice.   I’m a fan of brown rice and have switched to it for most of my rice containing recipes.  However,  when it comes to Indian food I prefer white basmati from India.  Indian grown rices will have been aged for a minimum of 1 year before packaging.   This gives the rice a nuttier flavor and a fluffier texture.   If the rice were to be aged with the bran and germ intact, the oils would oxidize and rancid off-flavor would develop.  So save the whole grain for other rice varieties, buy them in small quantities and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.    


And yes, I almost always use a rice cooker when making any type of rice.  It comes out perfect every time if you measure accurately and that keep warm function is awesome.


Now all that’s left is a bit of garnish with cilantro & tomato (totally optional) and heating a bit of nan to use in scooping up all that goodness.   There are many options for good nan in my markets these days.  One of my favorites is one from La Brea bakery in LA and sold at Costco.   I always have a package in my freezer.


One more story before the recipe!  The place mats remind me of a great meal I enjoyed in Singapore where the plates were banana leafs and the utensils were our hands.   One of the dishes we shared was fish head curry.  If you want a chuckle,  check out the youtube video on how to eat Singapore Fish Head Curry.   It’s the real deal.

Masoor Dal

(Spicy Red Lentils) 

by: M.B. Einerson Barely Adapted from The Best of India A Cookbook – Balraj Khanna

Servings: 4 to 6

  •  1 cup split red lentils (masoor dal), rinsed & picked over
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  •  1 Tbs. ghee or unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh hot green chili, seeded and finely minced
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • One 14.5 oz. can diced or whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro, finely chopped for garnish
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced for garnish

In a medium heavy saucepan or pot, combine the lentils, onions, water, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chili powder.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet heat the ghee or butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, chili and ginger and cook for approximately 2 minutes or until aromatic and slightly softened. Set aside until the lentils have cooked for their 30 minutes.

Stir the garlic mixture, tomatoes, oil and salt into the lentils.  Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the lentil mixture is thickened.  Serve garnished with the fresh cilantro and sliced tomatoes.