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A few years ago a friend gave me a lovely pepper grinder as a thank you for helping her with a project. I used it happily for a year or so and then, for no apparent reason, the metal in the grinder began to disintegrate. It was still useable, but looked really gnarly. That was, as I said, a long time ago and for literally years now, I’ve been saying, “I need to get myself a new pepper grinder.” Which I would immediately forget until the next time I used it, at which time I would repeat, “No, really I have to get myself a pepper grinder.”
I even went so far to make myself a note and, the next time I visited Bed, Bath and Beyond, I actually looked at pepper grinders. I felt like Goldilocks, discarding one because it was too small, the other because it was too big, another because I suspected it was exactly the same pepper grinder my friend bought me, which was now moldering in my pantry with some sort of metal canker.
Meanwhile, I’ve been using plain old garden-variety pepper in my daily use and dragging out the pitiful pitted pepper grinder when I wanted a coarser grind. Then, a few weeks ago, the clouds parted, the celestial voices started chirping and a CARE package arrived from Frontier Natural Products Co-op: A box full of assorted peppercorns, each in its own handy-dandy adjustable grinder.
Photo courtesy www.frontiercoop.com.
Since then, I’ve been on a pepper orgy, madly adding a dash of pepper to almost anything. Last night it was pink pepper on Asian pears. (Odd, yet delightful.) Included in the package were grinders of Frontier’s Pepper Fusion, including a chipotle/pepper combo and one that combined garlic and black pepper. Warning: the garlic fusion was so garlicky that one of the other editors couldn’t keep it in her house because she said it made her home smell too much like garlic. This, in my home, is not even possible, sort of like having “leftover wine.” I’ve used the fusion products the most—gleefully grinding them over everything from my morning eggs to veggie stir-fry.
I like these grinders because they’re an easy size to use, they store nicely and come in a terrific variety. They also are allegedly adjustable, though I haven’t felt the need yet and can’t figure out how to do that bit anyway. I also like that the Frontier website provides a quick education about pepper if you go check out whatever variety you’re interested in.
Here are a couple of my experiments from the past couple of weeks. Send me your favorite pepper recipe and we’ll share it with our readers.
I love that this is chock full of nutrition, despite its pale appearance, and that it’s perfect for this time of year.
• 1 tablespoon coarse brown mustard
• 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup non-fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
• A pinch of kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground white pepper
• 2 cups cooked frozen cauliflower (or fresh florets, briefly steamed)
• 2 heads Belgian endive, cleaned and leaves cut diagonally into bite-sized pieces
• 1 small head Napa cabbage (1/2 pound), darker outer leaves discarded and pale inner leaves cut crosswise into bite-sized pieces
• 1 small white onion, finely chopped
1. Whisk first five ingredients together (mustard through pepper) to make salad dressing; soak the onion in a little water while you toss the rest of the vegetables together in a large salad bowl; drain and add onion to the veggies.
2. Stir in salad dressing and toss thoroughly. Add more white pepper if it’s a little too tame for you. (This is my interpretation of a recipe I initially found in Gourmet magazine a few years back …)
This is simple and just plain delicious. Meets the need for a quickie appetizer.
• 1 log (about 6 ounces) soft goat cheese
• 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, cracked
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or orange thyme leaves (I imagine plain ol’ thyme would do—I just happen to have lemon and orange right outside my door)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 small garlic clove, minced
• Toasted slices of Karen’s fabulous homemade baguette – or, if you don’t live near my favorite baker, any inferior baguette, sliced into ovals and toasted.
1. Just smoosh all the ingredients except for the bread together; toast the bread and spread with the cheese mixture.
2. I garnished with a little fresh thyme, and I imagine little curls of lemon peel would also be festive.
Next I’m going to make a version of Bouef au Poivre (which I understand just means “Beef with Peppercorns”), except with some sweet little deboned fresh organic chicken thighs I got at our natural foods co-op. I’ll use some of the Exotic Peppercorn Blend that Frontier provided (a mix cubeb, grains of paradise, and black and pink peppercorns). I’m going to try making it with Greek yogurt instead of whipping cream, on behalf of my waistline and arteries.