Sherry Esser: Gerard A. Esser will be missed

Trib logo Sherry Esser

Thursday, July 25, 2019 | 9:21 AM

My column this week begins with a tender touch.

On July 3, my husband Gerard A. Esser passed away and July 10 we buried him. I have never given funeral food much thought, but we received the most wonderful dishes and comfort food.

Breakfast foods with a special flair, pulled pork in many ways prepared, pasta salads, and amazing desserts of all sorts were devoured by my six adult children and 11 grandchildren. One unexpected dish was stuffed banana peppers that are in season and awesome fruit salad. My heart is heavy and my tummy is full.

Thank you to all for the food and support.

Stuffed Banana Peppers

(serves 8)

24 banana peppers

bulk sweet Italian sausages, ground veal or lean pork (ratio of sausage to veal or pork 2:1)

3 cans (14 ounce cans) crushed or chunked tomatoes

½ to 1 teaspoon basil, preferably fresh, chopped finely

½ to 1 teaspoon oregano

6 to 8 cloves garlic

1 to 1¼ cups vermouth or dry white wine

Red pepper flakes (optional and to taste)

Mix meats with basil. Add red pepper flakes if desired. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut off the tops of peppers. Remove seeds and ribs. Cooking peppers in batches is required.

Plunge the peppers into a pot of rapidly boiling water and blanch for one minute. Run cold water over them to stop cooking. Put the meat mixture into a pastry bag. Fill with peppers. Poke holes in each pepper with a knife or skewer. Place the peppers in an oiled roasting pan. Pour crushed or chunked tomatoes over a layer of peppers. Do not smother.

Toss a few of the garlic cloves over the peppers and sprinkle with some basil and oregano. Layer peppers and repeat. Finish with tomatoes and herbs. Carefully pour white wine around edge of pan. Cover with foil and place in preheated 350 degrees oven. Bake approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Before serving, remove foil and place under a broiler until brown. Serve with crushed French bread to soak up juice.

Awesome Fruit Salad

(serves 8)

16 ounce can fruit cocktail

16 ounce can chunk pineapple

16 ounce can mandarin oranges

3½ ounce package vanilla instant pudding

8 ounce container sour cream

Reserve juice from can of fruit cocktail. Drain pineapple, oranges and add drained fruit cocktail. In juice from fruit cocktail, beat in vanilla pudding. Gently add sour cream by beating on low speed of mixer or fold in. Add and mix well gently into fruit. Refrigerate until read to serve. May be doubled or tripled according to need.