Kevin checking out a funky looking pepper at a market on Commercial Drive in Vancouver
Some of my recipes call for roasted red peppers. You can buy peppers already roasted and peeled, but in the summer when produce is at it's peak, why not just roast some yourself? It's really easy and you have a variety of options, depending on what sort of equipment you are using. While we're on the subject, why bother with only sweet peppers? Why not try roasting jalapenos and other peppers too? They won't bite you. A word of caution if you roast hot peppers though, make sure when you cut them open that you get rid of the seeds if you don't want a lot of heat, and wash your hands before you touch anything (like your eyes). With some kinds of really hot peppers it's a good idea to wear gloves, even.
Barbecue or gas stove
Leave the peppers whole. Roast them over the flame, using tongs to turn and move around. You want to cook them until the skins are charred and black. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic film, then let cool until you can handle them and peel off the skin.
Oven (which is what I do)
Cut the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds. Set them on a baking sheet that has been lined with greased foil (I use olive oil). Bake in a 400 F oven, cut side down, for about 15 minutes. Check on them and turn, then bake awhile longer (about 10 minutes?) until the skins are good and black. The time is very approximate here, you may cook them longer or shorter. I found that 15 minutes was not enough to make my peppers black and charred at all.
Transfer the hot peppers to a bowl and cover with cling film while they cool for a bit, and when they are cool enough to handle peel off the skins and use in your recipes.
Photo by Christine Leiser
I love roasted garlic. Spread on bread, whipped into hummus, added to soups and sauces, or chopped and put in salad dressings, it is delicious and SO easy to do. Right now, the farmer's markets here have garlic galore, so it's a good time to get something local rather than China produced, which is often in our markets. Really fresh garlic is completely different than the imported stuff-it's actually sticky!
Get 1 head of garlic. Chop off the top bit so you can see the cloves (like in the picture above). Put it in a square of foil. Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with a little salt and cracked pepper. Fold up the foil so you have a little package. Place the garlic packet on a baking sheet and put into a 400 F oven.
Bake for about 45 minutes.
Your house will start to smell wonderful as the garlic bakes, but you will know it's one when you can poke it with a paring knife and it's soft.