Piper – pronounced “peeh-per”- means pepper in Macedonian. Piper is to Macedonian cuisine what corn is to a 4th of July meal, a must. It is central to every aspect of cooking, used as the main piece on the plate, as a side dish as well as a spice. Dozens of varieties flavor the local life, each particular piper having its own use. Round peppers with four lobes are used for stuffing, long green peppers for frying in a pan, firm short green or yellow ones are pickled, the long flat and sweet or diabolically hot ones are roasted and prepared with garlic, oil, salt, pepper and vinegar. Finally, and historically the most important, are the peppers grown for spice.
In our family, the smell of pepper immediately triggers memories of our trips to the farmers’ markets, of our grand-father biking home with a huge bag of green yellow and read shapes dangling over his shoulder, of our grand-mother cooking lovingly and caning delicious spreads for the winter.
It also reminds me teenage years, when every summer was spent traveling through this wonderful country, swimming in the mountain lakes, strolling through colorful and lively streets, visiting small churches, relishing delicious honey bought from small producers…
About this dish : it is a combination between the macedonian memories and the French flavors that I grew up with. Macedonian piper meets goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
The preparation goes very easily once the peppers are roasted and pealed. The easiest is to prepare them twenty four hours in advance. The rest takes about 10 minutes.