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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Grilled peppers served with spicy mayo

By Paul Suplee,

The plot to our own personal story often turns to hokum when we attempt to discern what is necessity and what is drivel. Do we really need sleep? Yes, but not quite as much as you might think or be led to believe. Do we need to avoid bacon? Not really, but then I guess that completely depends on who we are getting our “learned” information from.

Do we need to spend the vast majority of our lives lost in the muddle of work (usually for someone else) before spending a few golden years in retirement, if we are lucky? I am not one to answer, as it looks like that is the path on which I am traveling.

But most importantly, do we really need the stress of hosting these blasted holiday parties? I mean, really?

Yes, the holiday season is upon us, and I can’t think of a better way to act out my “old man” schtick than to gripe about the holiday season being upon us. I’m not sure about you, but while 2020 was a difficult year, 2021 has been a marathon straight into the tar pits. I’m still waiting for Independence Day to “happen,” and here we are planning for Thanksgiving. I cry a little on the inside.

At least we are the lucky ones who can celebrate the holidays, and as long as we remember to help those who might not be in as fortunate a position, then I believe that we have done our due. But, that is neither here nor there. I am griping about hosting holiday parties, after all. I can’t lose sight of old-man ramblings.

Why in the hell are the holidays here so quickly? Where did they come from? If I didn’t know any better, then I would say that these things happen every year, and I simply haven’t figured that out yet. Don’t worry, we will get through this together.

On the bright side, at least we can now get our pumpkin spice bacon and scrapple, so that sure is a win for society, isn’t it? OK, I will dial in the cynicism and get back to the task at hand: holiday parties.

It has been a long time since I have personally hosted one, so perhaps this is the year to do so. It would be nice to welcome people into my home, opening the door for all to enter. And with a formidable spread, we would feast and frolic and enjoy ourselves as we try to forget the past two years.

And while I am a staunch traditionalist when it comes to holiday fare, I also know that there is plenty of room on the table when it comes to cocktail hour. There is a certain joie de vivre when I go to a holiday party and the array of starters is vast and flavorful. That’s when I know that at least I will have some choices.

One of my favorite (and quite simple) dishes to put on a holiday sideboard is grilled peppers. If you have not had the pleasure, let me assure you that, as long as you pick the correct peppers, you will succeed in this overly simplified yet flavorful device.

Grilling peppers brings out a sweetness in them that is difficult to replicate, and if you do it correctly, a nice char will add an umami element (meaning savory) that counterbalances the sweetness perfectly. Herein lies a caveat. Don’t go too spicy.

Avoid the jalapenos and habaneros in your life, and certainly don’t reach for some Carolina Reapers or Ghost Peppers. Most people are not in the mood to be singed at a holiday party, and you certainly don’t want anyone calling 911 because they ingested a hot pepper in your strange adaptation of the Mardi Gras King Cake. Instead, stick with sweet and mild peppers. Shishitos are a go-too, with only one out of every 10 or 20 being spicy. The mini-sweets in the grocery store are great, as are the poblano and banana peppers. Mix them up so as to give a diversity of flavor.

Treat your guests to a colorful plate of holiday cheer. Fight the hokum.

Grilled peppers served with spicy mayo

serves about 6 for hors d’oeuvres

1 1/2 # Fresh assorted peppers*

Cracked pepper and sea salt, as needed

Olive oil blend (higher flash point), as needed

1 1/2 c. Duke’s Mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lime

2 Tbsp (or to taste) Adobo Sauce from chipotles

1. Toss the peppers in the oil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Get a grill raging hot and place the peppers on board.

3. Let them char before turning them and cook for a total of about 5 minutes, depending on the heat of the grill.

4. Pull and allow to rest so that they wilt and are easy to eat.

5. For the spicy mayonnaise, combine the mayo, lime juice and adobo sauce. Whisk well, and if the adobo is not seasoned enough, season it with salt and pepper OR trimix.

6. Serve at room temperature

*When choosing peppers, don’t forget to read your crowd. Even if you only have a couple of guests who cannot stand spicy foods, it is still better to choose mild and sweet peppers, as one blast from a stray habanero or jalapeno can ruin their evening. There is enough kick in the spicy mayo

—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts at
Community College and owner of
boxcar40 and boxcar on main.
Visit him at;