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After running Germany's first Hot Shop for ten years, Suncoast Peppers GmbH will shift their focus back to publishing, and will  discontinue their online shop by mid 2011. In addition to selling chile food and nonfood products, Suncoast Peppers owner Harald Zoschke authored and published the most popular German book on chile peppers and spicy food, Das Chili Pepper Buch, sold through book stores and Amazon. "The book continues to be a bestseller. We have many more projects like that mapped out, which always had to stand back, as the highly successful shop tied us up completely," Zoschke said. "Those ten years were great, but we feel this is also a good moment to shift focus to other exciting ventures."

Suncoast Peppers will continue to run and expand Pepperworld.com. Harald and Renate Zoschke plan to open the most comprehensive German-language chile and barbecue related content Website for advertising targeted at its audience.

Harald will also continue working with Dave and Sunbelt Shows on various projects. Stay tuned!


 

Wine
Time:
Earlier This Week
Location:
A Poorly Stocked Wine Store in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
The Players: Bill and Roberta, Dave and Mary Jane, Numerous American Retirees, and One 30-Something Yuppie Store Owner Undoubtedly from the American California

“This is one of Baja’s best wines,” he said, indicating a dark red bottle. “Can I pour you a glass?”
“How much?” I asked.
“Eight dollars.”
“For a case?” I teased him.
“A glass,” he countered.
“At that price, it must be good,” I replied.
“You’ll love it,” he said. “It’s an artesanal wine.”
“What does that mean in the land of beer and tacos?”
“Small batches. Hand-crafted by dedicated wine people who know their terroir.”
“Sure,” I said. He poured for Roberta and me. I sipped.
“Notes of blackberry,” he announced. “A subtle balance of intensity and spirit.”
Jug wine, I thought, this is even inferior jug wine, but kept silent.
“What do you think?”
I glanced at Roberta, who was trying to keep from laughing while she sipped the same thing.
“What do you think?” he repeated.
Three-Buck Chuck is ten times better entered my mind. Roberta shrugged and winked, waiting for me to cut this pretentious ass into small ribbons of sour grapes. I took a smaller sip just to be sure. Mary Jane looked over, expecting me to ask the guy if this was the first red wine he had ever tasted.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?”
I almost said, If Thunderbird ever made a red wine, I would buy it instead for two bucks a bottle. At least I didn’t spit it out all over his counter,
He waited for me to rave about it. Instead, I stared at him for a long five seconds, gently set the nearly full glass in front of him, turned, and walked out of his shop without a word. Roberta, Bill, and Mary Jane followed me, grinning.
“Let’s go home and have some real wine,” Roberta suggested, looking to see if I was angry.
“Great idea,” I said, smiling, and we all walked to the car.
I sure have matured in my old age, I thought. Don Rickles slowly revolved in his grave.


The Soil TriangleWe chile gardeners are getting twitchy. We look at our garden plots, many of which are buried in snow, and we yearn for the growing season. Okay, guys and gals, buck up! You can, indeed, take some action in the "off" season. Here's a quick checklist:


1. Plan your 2011 garden. Select varieties and buy seeds or place your bedding plant order with ChilePlants.com. Decide what companion plants you want to grow. I grow tomatoes, eggplants, colored bell peppers, and lots and lots of herbs. I do not recommend growing potatoes, onions, or corn and I don't even grow New Mexican varieties—saving room for more exotic ones because I know Sichler Farms will supply me with my fresh green and red fixes.

2. Clean up your garden plot(s), removing all dead material to the compost pile. It's okay to add organic material at this time if your ground is not frozen. I recommend aged and sterilized steer manure combined with organic material from your compost pile before you add more non-composted material to it.

3. Plan your garden out for maximum access for harvesting, weeding (for shame—use plastic mulch to eliminate them), and for the viewing pleasure of your envious friends. Tall plants like tomatoes in the background, smaller plants in the foreground.

4. For varieties with long growing seasons, like the Chinense species, you can start seeds now if you have a greenhouse or a sunroom free from cats, who like to graze on the seedlings. Remember to pinch back the seedlings if they get leggy.

5.  Read Paul Bosland's and my three articles, "Preparing the Pepper Garden," here.


Be the Perfect Jerk

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

North Coast Jerk PorkTrying to recreate favorite dishes from distant lands can be daunting, but I discovered this past weekend that there is one word to keep in mind while trying it: scratch.  That's right, forget about prepared (commercial) spice mixes, marinades, and sauces, and make the seasonings from scratch.  Take jerk pork, for example.  I totally fell in love with jerk pork as the Jamaicans make it, highly spiced and smoke-grilled.  But I have been unable to re-create it with prepared jerk seasonings.  So I went back to my recipe files and found a recipe that I collected in Ocho Rios, and gave it a try.  At first, while marinating, the mixture looked way too herbal and green to do the job, but once the pork started browning on the grill, it looked right. Damn near perfect, and I'm breaking my own arm patting myself on the back.  Take a look at the shot above, right off the grill.  Not exactly a perfectly-styled photo shoot, but hey, it's a snapshot straight from the grill.  And amazingly delicious.  Here is the recipe I used, and I marinated "country-style" pork ribs in it for six hours, and then slowly smoke-grilled them over low heat.  See you in Jamaica, mon!

North Coast Jerk Marinade

Variations on Jamaican jerk sauces and marinades range from the early, simple pastes of three or four ingredients to the more modern and rather complicated concotions with as many twenty-one spices, herbs, and vegetables. By varying the amount of vegetable oil and lime juice added, the cook can change the consistency from a paste to a sauce. Traditionally, it is used with pork, chicken, or fish.

1/4 cup whole Jamaican pimento berries (or 1/8 cup ground allspice)
3 Scotch bonnet chiles (or habaneros), seeds and stems removed, chopped
10 scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves, crushed
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup fresh thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
Water

Roast the pimento berries in a dry skillet until they are aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove and crush them to a powder in a mortar or spice mill.

Add the pimento powder and the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend with enough water to make a paste or sauce. Remove and store in a jar in the refrigerator; it will keep for a month or more.

Yield: 2 to 3 cups
Heat Scale: Hot


2011 Brings Media Expansion for Us

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

 

Burn! LogoHere at Sunbelt Shows, the SuperSite's parent company, we are really looking forward to the coming year because of the new media projects we're launching—a digital magazine and a book publishing division. We owe it all to technological advancements that now make it easier than ever to publish digital products, so we're proud to announce Burn! digital magazine, and digital books through Sunbelt Media, our book division. But Sunbelt Media will also have printed books, because we are not abandoning a very popular medium that's been around for 600 years or so.

In the next year, look for chilehead and BBQ books from me and from other writers on our team, Sunbelt Media Logoincluding a facsimile release of the original Callaloo, Calypso & Carnival: The Cuisines of Trinidad & Tobago, first published in 1993; The Hot Sauce Bible: New Testament; and The Vegetarian Chilehead, a large collection of spicy meatless recipes. Hopefully, we will be able to complete Barbecue Apocalypse: Spiced-Up Q with an Attitude, but that might have to wait until 2012.  Burn! digital magazine, a subscription-based monthly, will absolutely blow your mind! Read all about it here.  And cheers to a wonderful 2011!



A Mayan "Christmas Feast": Peccary Tamales

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: recipe , holidays , history

 

Peccary Tamale BowlThree hundred and fifty years after the birth of Jesus Christ, the Mayas in Mexico and Guatemala had never heard of this revered person, but they still celebrated their holidays with tamales—lots of them. Recent discoveries in 2010 at the medium-sized Mayan city of El Zotz in Guatemala included a tamale bowl with the representation of the head of a peccary, also called a javelina. This is pretty clear evidence that the pig-like peccary's meat was probably contained within the maize dough of the tamales. According to other archaeological finds, the tamales were served topped with either a squash seed sauce (pipián) or a chile sauce much like we eat today.

Although peccary meat is available in markets all over South America, I could not find a Peccary or Javelinacommercial source for it in the U.S., so you will have to find a hunting guide and shoot one. During slaughtering the first thing to do is remove the musk gland at the end of the backbone or it will taint the meat. My friend Dave Jackson has been peccary hunting in the “bootheel” of southwestern New Mexico and says it's exciting and dangerous because herds of peccaries have attacked and killed humans before.

Tamales Awaiting the Sauce, by Chel BeesonThis recipe would be a close approximation of the Mayan tamales, with pork substituted for the peccary meat. People who have consumed peccary meat (I haven't, yet), say that it has a naturally smoky flavor, and it's been compared to pork, lamb, and veal. So, enjoy a uniquely American Mayan Christmas dinner and remember that early American cuisines like that of the Maya and Aztecs was more sophisticated than that of Europe at the same time.




 

Naga ViperWe wanted to make sure that everyone understands the position of University of Warwick regarding testing of the Naga Viper.  Peter Dunn, head of communications, just sent us this statement:

The University of Warwick School of Life Sciences has been asked by a number of growers to test Chillies to ascertain their heat level on the Scoville Scale. Each of those tests has been done as a commercial service to those clients and the University has not publicized or press released any of the results.

One of those clients recently asked us to test a Chilli they described as a "Naga Viper".  We completed the test and gave the results to the client. We have since seen a number of media publish those results under headlines that this indicates that the tested Chilli is the hottest in the world.

We also understand from news reports that there has been some interest in having this published as a fact in the Guinness Book of Records.

While we cannot release our full report on this Chilli without the commercial client's express permission, we can say that we feel that any result obtained from the Chilli sample that was tested by us should be viewed as only a good indicator that this Chilli could meet the conditions of entry into the Guinness Book of Records. The sample provided to us was relatively small and, while we do not know explicitly what the Guinness Book of Records testing requirements would be, we would expect that they would require at least one more test with a larger sample and possibly a corroborating test in another lab.


Founding Foodies a Hit with Reviewers

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: history , books

Cover of The Founding FoodiesI'm pleased to note that my latest book, The Founding Foodies, is getting good reviews.  Here's a sampling:

“You've put together a wonderfully detailed and rollicking culinary tale. It's one I will look forward to sharing with friends. I love your excursions into the English figuring out what to eat, Valley Forge myths, the importance of the salt industry, and the importance of fishing in the new Republic. Cool stuff woven into a compelling narrative.” —Leni A. Sorensen, Ph.D., African-American Research Historian, Monticello

"This book wholly represents the culinary traditions and passions of important historical figures like Thomas Jefferson – a true scholar and gastronome. It is a fascinating tale of how our nation’s third president elegantly married French and American cookery. Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Foodies is sure to enlighten and entertain everyone from historians to home cooks."  —Walter Staib, Chef/Proprietor, City Tavern Restaurant, Philadelphia, and star and host of the PBS series, "A Taste of History"

"A deft combination of primary-source material, historical context, entertaining tidbits, and authentic recipes, this highly readable piece of popular history is sure to have wide appeal." —Neil Derksen, Library Journal

This would make a great Christmas present for your foodie friends, and you can order a copy here.


Cactus Christmas TreeHere at the SuperSite, we have assembled a tasty array of holiday articles and recipes from many of our writers.  Chile peppers are a common theme and appear in Christmas recipes around the world, from snacks to desserts. Here is a brief overview.

 

Chile WreathRed and Green For the Holidays. Mistletoe and holly are endangered species around here—everywhere we look in the Southwest, the traditional red and green decorations of the holiday season are dominated by the very same colors of New Mexico’s powerful state vegetable, the chile pepper. The abundance of chile gift items boosts the pungent pod to primary status as a New Mexico Christmas symbol.

A Chile PiñataA Chile-Blessed Christmas Around the World. New Mexico is not the only place where the pungent pod plays a roll in holiday fare.  In many countries where Christmas is celebrated, chiles are an integral ingredient in traditional holiday foods.

Deep-Fried Cajun TurkeyDeep-Fried Cajun Turkey for Christmas. Despite the three-day process, it’s well worth the effort to cook turkey this way. Created in the South, this method of cooking a turkey is gaining popularity all across the country. This process produces a succulent turkey and if the oil is at the correct temperature, a crisp, not greasy skin.

It's a Party!Sizzling Snacks for Holiday Entertaining. Ah, the holidays…when friends can drop in unexpectedly and expect to be fed. Don’t be caught unprepared! Here in New Mexico, a really great party always contains some spicy munchies. Chile peppers can be found in every course, from drinks and appetizers to entrees and even dessert.

Old Town FarolitosChristmas Eve Dishes from New Mexico. Christmas Eve in New Mexico is a very special night steeped in tradition and probably no other image symbolizes the season more than the flickering lights from the brown paper bags, called luminarias or farolitos, that line the walkways and outline buildings and houses throughout the state.

Holiday FeastA Multi-Cultural Holiday Feast.  It's the time of year that friends and family gather to enjoy each other's company, to reflect on the year that is passing, make resolutions for the upcoming one, and hopefully, eat way too much hot and spicy food and barbecue. The celebrations seem to be non-stop for the entire month. Ever wonder why there are so many in December?

Spicy TiramisuHeavenly Holiday Treats: Desserts with a Tangy Twist.  As a devout chilehead, I constantly look for a little bit of heat in my food.  I've found my favorite recipes for fiery appetizers, sizzling soups, and exciting entrees.  The only category that I was disappointed with was desserts.  As rich, creamy, and decadent as desserts can be, there was something missing: a little spice, a little zing, a little heat. That's what I was searching for.

Sauza SignSpicy Drinks for New Year's.  Many people compose their New Year's Resolutions at this time of the year, but I prefer New Year's Revolutions: hot and spicy drinks to celebrate in a toast to the coming year, which I vow to make the best year of my life.  Yes, yes, I've been known to be infected with PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.  Salud!


Pecan Grove, Las CrucesChiles had their moments of fame back in the 1980s and early '90s when they were easily New Mexico's number one food crop. But as the pecan groves expanded and the trees matured, pecans have steadily stolen the chiles' thunder. These days, the pecan crop value is nearly double that of chile peppers.

In 2007, New Mexico pecan growers were dancing in their groves this spring after becoming the leading U.S. pecan-producing state in 2006, displacing Georgia, typically the national champ. The 46 million-pound crop was valued at about $85 million, with grower prices at about $1.85 per pound. Last year, New Mexico produced 68 million pounds of pecans in the shell in 2009 to rank No. 2; Georgia produced about 79 million pounds to comePecans in Husks in first. Texas came in third. But New Mexico recorded the highest price per pound in the shell — $1.76. Arizona ranked second at $1.72 per pound, and California was third with $1.51 per pound.

But I'm not sad for the chiles—after all, it's quality, not quantity. So, as the pecan harvest begins, let's combine the two favorite crops of New Mexico.

Pecan and Chile Cheese Roll
Pecan and Chile Cheese Roll

Although it’s easy to prepare and extremely tasty, believe me, this ain’t your grandmother’s cheese ball. Although this type of appetizer has graced party tables for years, this one will soon become a new favorite. I use pecans because they are so plentiful here, but substitute walnuts or almonds if you prefer.  Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

1/2 cup chopped green New Mexico chile, which has been roasted and peeled
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chile
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine the chile and the cheeses in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until firm.

Toss the pecans in the ground chile until well coated.

Roll the cheese between 2 pieces of wax paper to form a log. Then roll the log in the crushed nuts and chile for 8 hours before serving.

To serve, place the cheese log on a platter and arrange crackers around the cheese and place a knife on the platter for spreading.

Yield: 1 log
Heat Scale: Medium


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