Review of The Great Pepper Cookbook
Melissa’s Produce launches their ultimate guide to choosing and cooking peppers
This post is a review of Melissa’s Produce ,The Great Pepper Cookbook. Peppers are close to my heart as I love the flavor and texture of this produce that is technically a fruit, but can be sold as a vegetable. Peppers comes in every shape, flavor, color size, and heat level. These characteristics of the chile pepper lend themselves to great ingredients for recipes.
Note: I received this cookbook from Melissa’s Produce, although all opinions are strictly my own. If I didn’t like it, I would yell it louder than a man who just ate a scorpion chile. See my disclosure state in my about section if you have questions.
I have been playing around with the recipes in this book for the past week and discovered this book is part instructional aid, part cookbook and part manifesto for converting non chile pepper eaters into chile pepper advocates. I have tested the milder pepper recipes on my wife, who does not like spicy food. She has loved everything I made so far.
The first part of the cookbook is very handy pepper guide for fresh and dried peppers. The guide provides pictures, heat levels (as measured on the Scoville scale), seasons and substitution peppers for recipes. I thought I was knowledgeable in the way of chile peppers, but I was schooled by the information in the guide. For example, did you know you know that chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapenos? Only jalapenos that have turned red are used for making chipotle. The guide also provides instructions for prepping dry and fresh peppers.
The rest of the book is broken into recipes based on appetizers , drinks, breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. What I like about the arrangement of this cookbook is that each recipe cleanly fits on a page, this is especially important when you are fumbling around the kitchen with dirty hands.
I also like how every recipe clearly shows a picture of the pepper for that recipe and a legend on the heat level of the dish. One pepper means “mellow”, meaning it had a touch of heat to make you feel warm inside. Two peppers means you are “feeling sassy..to peel a layer of clothing off.” Three peppers means that you really need to plan an exit strategy with water or milk.
I have tried two of the recipes to completion so far, the Peach Padron grilled cheese sandwich and the Hoppin’ Toad in the hole. Each of them turned out awesome! I am attaching my experience making the Peach Padron Grilled Cheese below, but you can expect some additional recipes from my kitchen over the next couple weeks including
- Chilaca (fresh) – Grilled Sweet Corn with Chilaca Chile butter
- Shishito Peppers (fresh) – Shrimp and Shishito Peppers
- Sweet Peppers (fresh) Savina (fresh) -Beer, Cheese and Savina Soup
- Ancho (dred) Cayenne (fresh) – The Devils Favorite Devil’s Food Cake
My experience with the Peach Padron Grilled Cheese Recipe
The recipe was simple and easy to follow and a learned some new skills for making grilled cheese. The recipe was simple enough as you would imagine, adding provolone, peaches and blistered padron chiles to bread.
The secret was in a secret ingredient and technique. I never tried it, but the recipe called for a light slathering of Dijon mustard on the bread, before you place the cheese. Second, olive oil was much more effective than butter. Third, use a flat pan or large cake pan on top of the bread while cooking the grilled cheese make it cook faster and creates a better crunchy exterior.
My Final Thoughts
I liked the way this cookbook is laid out and I found the recipes easy to follow. I would recommend this book for beginning cooks and folks who have quite a bit of culinary experience under their belt. The book costs $29.95 retail at the Melissa’s Produce website (free shipping). In addition it is available as an ebook on the apple store and amazon.com.
Images taken of Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2014) taken under permission