The fine folks at Hangar One Vodka sent me a bottle of their new vodka, so I had to give it a try. I pulled it out of the freezer (see ice crystals, left), poured a little into a shot glass, and sipped it. Big flavor! Then the heat, which was medium hot. Very nice. Then the smokiness hit, and it really worked. Then the crucial test, a Bloody Mary. Tomato juice, Hangar One, a little lime juice, a touch of Worcestershire sauce over ice, stirred, not shaken. Delicious—even my non-Bloody-Mary-drinking wife Mary Jane liked it—but because of the dilution of the vodka, not quite hot enough. A few dashes of hot sauce solved that and I wondered: how is this made? The back label provided the answer by Master Distiller Lance Winters: "We're blending infusions and distillations of beautifully roasted chipotle peppers, green jalapeños, red bells, and Scoville-scorching habaneros. Each pepper was smoked by my friends at T-Rex Barbecue in Berkeley, California." In my humble opinion, this is a wonderful, spiced up vodka, and again proves my long held belief: vodka is the only alcoholic beverage that works with chile peppers. Chiles do not improve mediocre wines or beers, and ruin fine ones.
Rick Grice of Maya Natural Sea Salt just sent me a link to pics of his salt harvest, which apparently has been going on long before he was born! Rick writes: "White Gold or Mayan Sea Salt has been the subject of numerous books and scholarly papers written about the trade routes of the ancient Mayans. Some have estimated that 3 to 6 tons of sea salt per day had to be transported by canoe and on human backs into the interior to supply the Mayan people whose population then is estimated to have been greater than the population of the same region today. This sea salt was produced on both sides of Central America in what is now Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and even into Honduras and El Salvador. Recently discovered archeology sites (many now underwater) attest to the vastness of this ancient enterprise. Our FDA-registered operation is within walking distance of one of the Mayan sites." View the rest of his harvest shots here. Mouse-over the pics to see the captions.
In 1987, Robert Spiegel, Nancy Gerlach and I launchedChile Pepper magazine and began my lengthy quest to assemble the world's hot and spicy recipes. In our third issue, we published an article that Nancy and I wrote, "Asia Heats Up." The recipe is from Xinjiang Uygur Automomous Region, which is, after Sichuan and Hunan, the spiciest region in China. There, the ubiquitous kebabs are called 烤肉 (kăo ròu).
Lamb is rarely eaten in other parts of China, and in fact, the Mongolian tribes were the ones who introduced lamb to the rest of China. This simple barbecue goes well with a flat bread or sesame seed biscuits and a tossed salad. This recipe is adapted from one by Lynn Joiner, a PBS journalist who published it in Wok Talk, a newsletter for Asian food enthusiasts that was published in the 1980s. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
1/4 cup hot chile oil 10 cherry tomatoes 1 small onion, cut in half and sectioned 6 large jalapeño chiles, seeds and stems removed, cut into large chunks 2 pounds lamb, cut in 1/2-inch cubes 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon salt Pinch sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate the lamb overnight in the refrigerator or for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
Thread the lamb on skewers, alternating with the jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions and grill them over gas or charcoall, basting frequently with the reserved marinade until done.
Serve the lamb and chiles over rice, garnished with carved chile pepper flowers
Piperies Gemistes me Feta may be Greek to you and me, but to a Greek, it means “Greek Peppers Stuffed with Feta.” A photo of these peppers was part of the Burn! digital monthly magazine display at last weekend’s Fiery Foods Show, and several people said they wanted to learn how to make that dish. So here’s the recipe…you can find this and many other recipes for stuffed peppers from around the world in the April issue of Burn!
Because they’re broiled, not battered and fried, these stuffed peppers are somewhat healthier than traditional chiles rellenos.
6 fresh New Mexican red chiles, unpeeled, cut open along one side to remove the seeds 9 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest 1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano 2 egg yolks Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Arrange a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and set your oven to broil. Put the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until just soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer peppers to a rack and let cool.
In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the feta, oil, yogurt, parsley, zest, oregano, and egg yolks; season with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise cut from the stem to the tip of each pepper and stuff each pepper with some of the feta filling; transfer to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Sprinkle the peppers with grated Parmesan cheese and broil them until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 6 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a platter and serve hot.
Our 23rd annual show was jammed with people and happy exhibitors. We will release attendance figures as soon as we get the final count from Ticketmaster, but all initial indicators predict another record crowd. Additionally, there were a few other accomplishments:
The launch of Burn! digital monthly magazine, here.
The popularity of El Pinto's new Scorpion Salsa, here.
The live broadcast of the show from Eat More Heat, with more than 40,000 viewers, here.
From the producers of the show, we thank everyone responsible for making the show a huge success: exhibitors, attendees, the general public, and the media.
The 23rd annual show, beloved by foodies in the Southwest and elsewhere, takes place at the lovely Sandia Resort and Casino at the Tramway exit of I-25 north of Albuquerque. For the fifth year in a row, the show is sold out of exhibitor space. This year, we have a record number of trade buyers attending, and will feature the following highlights.
The launch of Burn! digital monthly magazine. Get your free first copy at the Burn! booth, number 417.
The Great Disc-It Giveaway. Nevin of Disc-It made 3 fiery foods themed Disc-Its, and you can register at their booths, 107 & 109.
The Pace Chef's Challenge, featuring three Albuquerque chefs vying for the "best dish made with a Pace brand of salsa." It happens at 2 pm each day in the rotunda area at the east end of the main lobby.
Eat More Heat Live. Broadcasting live from the show on Stickam.com during show hours Saturday and Sunday. Next the the El Pinto booth in the main lobby.
Book Signings. I'll be signing copies of my three latest books in the Rio Grande Books booth (315), each day at 3pm.
The doors open to the general public at 4 pm Friday. See you at the show! Complete show information is here.
We just finished producing the new TV commercial for the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show. It's the first high def spot we've ever done for the show, and so we did a little Monty Python animation for it. Written by Wayne Scheiner, voiced by Wayne and me. The animation was done at :30 Second Street in Albuquerque.
For the fifth year in a row, the 23rd annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show is sold out of exhibitor space! Thanks to all of our loyal customers and the new exhibitors as well. Join us March 4-6 for the show at Sandia Resort and Casino. The bravest of spice fanatics will also have the opportunity to sample El Pinto Scorpion Salsa, a product made with the new hottest chile pepper in the world, the New Mexico Scorpion. The New Mexico Scorpion measures 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) according to tests conducted by a third-party laboratory and is currently under consideration by Guinness World Records™ for the “World’s Hottest Chili” record. Myself, Marlin Bensinger, Chemical Engineer; and Jim Duffy, grower, are pursuing the record.
Other exciting happenings at the show include a daily Disc-It grill raffle giveaway. The Disc-It, customized for the Fiery Foods Show with a chile pattern and inscription, has a unique wok shape that makes it ideal for outdoor cooking and grilling. Disc-It’s are manufactured locally in northwest Albuquerque. The show will also be streamed live for the first time ever on Saturday and Sunday. The live stream can be viewed at www.stickam.com during public show hours on March 5 and 6. More show details are here.
Scorpion bedding plants are available from ChilePlants.com, here. Seeds are available in the Store at Refining Fire Chiles, here.
Las Aguilas, or the Mexican Eagles, on the roof of the Hotel California in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, proving once again that Mexicans have a great sense of humor. The rumor that Don Henley stayed at the hotel and wrote his famous song there is just not true. "I can tell you unequivocally that neither myself nor any of the other band members have had any sort of association--business or pleasure--with that establishment," Henley wrote to travel writer Joe Cummings. No matter, the restaurant there is excellent and Chef Dany Lamote shared his recipe for ceviche with me.
This is a classic dish all over Mexico. The fish of choice on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula is the sierra, or Spanish mackerel, but you can substitute snapper or grouper. For a smoother-tasting ceviche, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil just before serving. I often serve this as an appetizer in a martini glass.
1 pound Spanish mackerel, cut in 1/4-inch cubes 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro 2 Roma tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch cubes 1 small white onion, finely chopped 1 or 2 serrano chiles, minced 6 Mexican limes, juiced, seeds removed, or more to taste 1 ounce Hotel California Tequila Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients is a bowl and marinate at room temperatures for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Serve with unsalted corn tortillas.
Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer Heat Scale: Medium
Sandia Resort and Casino is the ideal location for an event like the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show. It simply has everything you could want away from home. A spectacular location at the foot of the 10,600 foot-high Sandia Mountains, plus a great view of the city makes for relaxing surroundings. The large rooms offer:
King size or Queen size bed
32" flat screen TV
Separate soaking tub
Oversized walk-in shower
Nicely sized vanity
Complimentary Wireless and Wired Internet access
Gilchrist & Soames bath amenities
To make your reservation at Sandia Resort, call the resort directly at 505-798-3930 or toll-free at 877-272-9199. Make sure you specify that you are with the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show to get the special rate. Deluxe Guest Rooms – $165.00/night for one king, $175.00/night for two queens.1 Bdrm Suite – $349.00/night. Rooms are filling up fast, so make your reservation today. For detailed information on Sandia Resort and Casino, go here.