There is talk, whispers of autumn all over the internets. I’m certain I’ve already read the words pumpkin spice a dozen or so times. The deer who was a fawn last I looked is less reticent to emerge from the back woods and can frequently be spotted in the driveway at dusk, all awkward adolescent legs and jutting neck. And my mother turkey and her dozen brood are no longer an adorable trail of tiny tag alongs, but rather they are all nearly grown and have no fear of me or my camera. They were roosting outside my bedroom window in the shade yesterday.
Most of what remained of a garden after the rough weather season is ready to be pulled and the sumac trees are turning. Perhaps because sumac is one of the first to turn and one of only a few trees native to the many varied regions in which I’ve lived, their change in particular is the great heralder, the harbinger of the equinox.
In spite of the hints of season’s change, a few plants are still putting on and the peppers have out shown them all. To be fair, it took very little to shine as most of my scant garden production post-monsoon this year is for seed, but in spite of stunted growth all but a few bell types have produced fairly. And so, a pepper dish. Not so much a dish as a side or hors d’ oeuvres, but never the less a mildly spicy sweet homage to the warm days fading. A healthy dollop of feta whipped with just enough cream cheese for smooth texture, garlic to compliment the peppers, honey as a farewell to long sweet afternoons and smoky paprika to bring it all around again. Playing with cravings rarely turns out so perfectly. Even Josh liked these, and he hates the texture of peppers. That level of crowd-pleaser love letter recipe to summer makes this an ideal replacement for that potato salad you thought you’d take to next weeks bbq and will use up that overabundance of peppers to boot.
STUFFED SWEET PEPPERS WITH HONEY
1 dozen medium sweet or mild peppers
8oz Feta cheese
2 oz cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp honey, plus more for drizzling
Pinch of sea salt and dash of fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil.
Making sure to protect your hands, cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove the pith and seeds from the center. Lay the peppers open side up on the baking sheet; if any peppers wobble, cut a sliver off the underside of the pepper creating a flat surface on the bottom. In a medium bowl, microwave the feta cheese and cream cheese for 20-30 seconds, until softened. To the cheeses, add honey, garlic, pepper and salt and stir until combined and smooth. Scoop an equal amount of the cheese mixture into each of the open pepper halves. Sprinkle lightly with the paprika. Bake for 10 minutes, then place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to darken the tops. (Watch peppers during this step to prevent over browning.)
Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes. Transfer the peppers to a platter and lightly drizzle with honey. Can be served still warm or at room temp.