My poor husband may never recover from the suggestion that winter is soon to follow, but I would be remiss if I didn't offer the following tip: If you tie a simple gold, silver or raffia ribbon and gift tag around the top of the jar, it makes a beautiful and tasty (and perfectly colored) Christmas gift.
The recipe yields around five eight-ounce jars, but can easily be doubled or tripled. I recommend an automatic doubling of this recipe if you intend to give it as gifts, because once you taste it you won't want to part with it.
Roasted Red Pepper Spread
5¾ lbs. sweet red bell peppers
¼ lb. fresh cayenne peppers (or other red-hued hot peppers) (If you don't like heat, use an additional ½ pound of sweet red bell peppers.)
1 lb. plum tomatoes
1 small onion, unpeeled and uncut
3 large cloves garlic, unpeeled and uncut
½ c. red wine vinegar
2 T., packed, thinly sliced (chiffonade) of fresh basil
2 t. sugar (I prefer raw)
1 t. salt
Preheat the broiler in your oven. Spread the peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast under the broiler, turning frequently, until the peppers are softened and blackened all the way around, and the tomatoes, onion and garlic have some black spots on them.
Transfer the peppers and tomatoes to a paper bag, fold the top down three or four times to seal it, then let cool about 15 minutes, or until the produce is cool enough to handle. Set the onion and garlic on a cutting board to cool as well.
When the peppers and tomatoes have cooled, use your hands to rub the skins off as well as you can. Don't panic if a bit of the skin remains. Cut the peppers open in order to remove their stems and seeds. Rip the peppers into strips and put into a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) and process until smooth. Pour into a stainless steel stockpot and repeat the process with the tomatoes.