A few months ago I received a very exciting email. I was contacted by Motts Clamato to help work with them to create my own signature Caesar recipe. With the caesar (also known as Canada's Cocktail. Yes my friends, the savory caesar is in fact a Canadian beverage! Can I get an "Oh Canada"?!) being one of my all-time favourite drinks, I literally jumped for joy at the opportunity to be involved. The first idea that came to my mind for my signature caesar was infused vodka! After working on a vodka infusion side project for another company, I was excited to try out some new flavours specifically catering to my favourite drink, the caesar. With that great heat being the star of any caesar, I knew I wanted to make a special vodka infused with the spicy flavour of jalapeno peppers!
Because I had never cooked with fresh jalapenos before, I took this opportunity to pick up a whole pack of them to see what else I could come up with. When I asked my friend Robin what she thought I should do with the extra jalapenos, her face lit up like a little kid on Christmas morning, "JALAPENO POPPERS!" she cried out with glee! We have a winner! With a Costco-sized package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese left over from my Rustic Mushroom Tart with Cream Cheese submission for the Real Women of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (to see me in action in my kitchen and giggle at my first attempt at a homemade cooking video, click here!) I had everything I needed to make some kick-ass poppers!
With a little help from Robin, we got our poppers filled with silky cream cheese and subtle and stringy mozzarella and coated with crunchy and crisp panko breadcrumbs in no time! Because I had never cooked with fresh jalapenos before, I removed all of the seeds and membranes so there wouldn't be too much heat. Little did I know that removing all of the seeds and membranes would mean an almost totally heat-free jalapeno popper. Despite the fact there was very little heat in our poppers, we still devoured every last one and loved each and every bite! They were so delicious with that great flavour from the jalapenos and complimenting textures from the creaminess of the cream cheese and mozzarella and crunch from the panko bread crumbs. We also decided to bake our jalapeno poppers rather than fry them to make us feel better when we would inevitably wolf them all down. I can't wait to make these babies again, but this time I'll be leaving in some seeds and membranes. After all, what's a redhead without a little fire?
12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, with desired amount of seeds and membranes removed, then cut in thirds, you should have 6 pieces cut from each pepper
6 ounces (3/4 cup) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tsp cayenne pepper, separated
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper, to season
salsa or marinara sauce, for dipping (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a medium baking sheet and set aside. In bowl cream together the cream cheese with the mozzarella and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs. Set aside.
3. In another bowl stir together the panko breadcrumbs with remaining 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Place the flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
5. Lay out dishes like a production line in the following order: 1) cream cheese mixture, 2) flour, 3) egg, 4) panko mixture. Fill each jalapeno piece with about 1 1/2 tsp - 2 tsp cream cheese mixture. One at a time, dredge in flour, then dip into the egg, then dredge in the panko mixture to coat. Lay out filled and coated jalapenos on the prepared baking sheet, cut side up.
6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Serve immediately with salsa or marinara sauce for dipping.
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