The idea came first from the Chile Relleno we had at La Destilería, a Mexican restaurant we've come to love in Cancun. We just found out that it's actually a local chain restaurant owned by the same company as Chili's, but this place is on another level. It's delicious. Unfortunately, I don't think I have a photo of the dish, but I can describe it. Take a normal Poblano chili pepper (traditionally used in a chile relleno), stuff it with a mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, pine nuts, and a few other things that make a creamy consistency. Wrap that stuffed pepper in puff pastry dough and bake it 'til golden brown. Serve it over a creamy cilantro sauce. Sounds pretty good, right? It was so good we went back for a second serving 2 days later.
So, imagine my delight when we get home to Torrance, California, and find that my CSA box of fruits and veggies contained a large bunch of cilantro, avocados, and 5 beautiful sweet, pale yellow chile peppers - perfect for stuffing! Score! Needless to say, the minute I saw those items, I had a plan. Here's what I did:
Out of the oven, cheese mixture has set and the peppers are slightly browned
First, I charred the peppers on my stove's gas burners so that the skin would peel off and the flesh of the peppers got tender and soft. I threw the peppers in a paper bag to let them steam, and got as much of the skin off as I could. I could have charred them a little more, but I got too excited = impatient. You can see in the picture above that they have remnants of burnt skin. Oh well.
The night before, I made the cheese mixture. I used goat cheese, cottage cheese, and neufchatel cheese (a French version of cream cheese with less fat), an egg (to bind it), a little milk, salt, pepper, coriander, and cumin. I just threw things in my stand mixer and let 'er rip.
After all the peppers were stuffed with cheese I baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was set and the tops were a little brown. We're trying to keep our carb intake low, therefore I chose to omit the puff pastry this time. But maybe there will be a grand occasion to pull out the buttery dough in the future.
Then I made a sauce in my new food processor. I've only used the machine twice, but I'm in love. I added the whole bunch of cilantro leaves (no stems), lime juice, a small avocado, neufchatel cheese, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin (see a theme?), and some chicken stock to thin it out (you could also use vegetable stock or milk). Beautiful, tangy, creamy. Mmm. I heated up the sauce, poured it on a yellow plate, and plopped the stuffed pepper on top. Garnished with avocado slices. This is the final product:
Yes, that black blob in the top right corner is the reflection of my cat, Rhett. He likes pretty food too.
I served this with seared salmon and it was pretty delicioso, if you know what I mean. I'll need to test the recipe a couple of times before I hand it out, but this is just an example of how I take something I see in a restaurant and make it my own with things that I already have in my fridge. You can do it too! Have fun with it. :)