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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke

Here's a unique way to preserve pods from the garden.  Harald Zoschke, our European editor, notes:  "Candying is one of the most ancient forms of preserving the harvest--the ancient Egyptians preserved nuts and fruits with honey. Like spices, candied fruit like wild oranges, melons and apricots, were brought to Europe by traders from the Middle East and China in the Early Middle Ages. Until sugar was introduced during the Crusades, honey and palm syrup were used, later replaced mostly by sugar-based syrup. The technique is the same, though--by placing fruit in syrup with gradually increased sugar content, their cell liquid is getting replaced by sugar."  Read the entire story and learn how to candy chile pods, here.


Nancy and Jeff Move to Mexico

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: personalities , fiery foods

Nancy in 1995

My longtime coauthor and food editor Nancy Gerlach has retired and moved to Mexico with her longtime husband, Jeff.  Mary Jane and I will visit them in Yucatan, of course, so they're not completely gone from our lives.  Nancy recently recounted their trip by truck and trailer from Albuquerque to Yucatan, some 2600 miles, and it's a great story, here.

 

 


Fresh Pimientos de Padron

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Use the Promo Code pad25 to receive a 20 percent discount!Pimientos de Padron are amazingly tasty, tiny peppers from a medieval town in Galicia, northwest Spain. People flock to tapas bars of the neighboring pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela to savor a plateful of these unique peppers that are lightly seared in olive oil, and then sprinkled with sea salt. Their fame has spread throughout the rest of Spain - and now to America! What makes these little Padron peppers unique is that randomly you will pop a spicy one in your mouth! Since there is no way to distinguish the one from the rest which are sweet, you never know when you will get a surprise! A New York Times writer calls the experience "Spanish Roulette!"  We in Virginia are on the same latitude as the village of Padron, so we asked a local farmer if he could recreate this treat by planting imported seeds. His effort has been a total success. The pepper plants grown in the rich Virginia soil are identical to those grown on the parallel Atlantic shore - in the Rias of Galicia! Every couple of days during the growing season here in Virginia, our farmer hand-picks these small, crisp peppers. Following the tradition of the farmers of the village of Padron, he selects only the small young peppers, because the larger, more mature peppers are always hot. The following morning we receive these fresh peppers and send them on to you! Because these peppers are a farm crop, supplies are dependent upon the weather. If there is an unusually small harvest on a certain day we may ship your order a day or two later when the next peppers are picked. Of course, we will inform you should there be any delay. --from La Tienda, the mail-order Spanish food store.

- 1 pound, 100 peppers in a plastic carton
- Delicious lightly sauteed in olive oil
- Grown from true Padron pepper seeds from Spain

Order HERE.

 

 


Soup Season Is Here!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: fiery foods

Fall is my favorite time of the year because 1. The weather is perfect here in New Mexico and 2. I get to eat a lot of soups, stews, chowders, bisques and other variations of this one-pot meal.  That's why I was so pleased to receive an advance copy of 300 Sensational Soups, by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds (Robert Rose, Inc., 2008).  Not only are the color photos beautiful, the recipes themselves have enough chiles in them to satisfy the most ardent chilehead and for the other soups, well, you can always add chiles or hot sauces to them.  Some of the recipes that caught my eye are Oaxacan Black Bean Soup, Easy Chipotle Chicken Soup, Cream of Roasted Poblano Soup, and Chorizo Chili Soup with Chile Cheddar Croutons.  "Soup is not just another meal," the authors write.  "It's comfort in a bowl, love on a spoon, satisfaction simmering on the stove."  I couldn't agree more.

 


A Rocoto Bonsai from Finland

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

 

Our chilehead friend from Finland, Jukka Kilpinnen, has mastered the technique of bonsai chile plants, as evidenced by this beautiful rocoto plant in a classic bonsai pot.  If any of you would like a step-by-step guide to this procedure, it's in English here.  Incidentally, in Finnish, the technique is called bonchi.


Our European editor, Harald Zoschke, reports on this highly unusual food being served in Germany:  "I admit it--every now and then Renate and I crave for a burger at the Golden Arches restaurant. Yesterday, we had a surprise dessert there, as we discovered a "Schoko-Chili-Torte", a chocolate-chile cake, even decorated with a chile (made from colored white choc). While there were only traces of chile heat detectable, the cake was delicious, and it this is just one more proof how chiles are quickly conquering the former land of the bland. Right now they're also serving wings that are actually quite spicy."


Hydroponic Habaneros Helping Kids

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile peppers

Jim Duffy helps kids at youth centers in San Diego.  He comments on his website: "As far as I know, I am the only person growing the world's three hottest chiles in an NFT Hydroponic System. My vision is to expand the business, find more restaurants, and market my salsa, which will facilitate more activities with the youth in East County, San Diego.  NFT stands for "Nutrient Film Technique." The plants are sitting in tubes or trays. The roots of the plants touch the bottom of these tubes. A thin stream of film composed of water and nutrients passes by the roots giving them continuous feeding. Also, this stream of water carries with it an oxygen flow because any continuous movement in a direction moves the air and with it, oxygen. The oxygen invigorates the root system in the tube, causing more growth."

Jim sells 'Bhut Jolokias', 'Red Savinas', and 'Chocolate Habaneros' to feed kids at the youth centers and to send them to sporting events like San Diego State University football games.  To buy fresh chiles from him, call him at 619-504-9777;  his website,  Refining Fire Chiles is here.  Below is a shot of a partial harvest.

 


Sweet Heat: It's raspberry picking time!

Posted by: Gwyneth Doland

Tagged in: gardening

Heidi's Raspberry Farm is open for visiting pickers here in Albuquerque, and the raspberry brambles are dripping with fruit. (Heidi's is a frequent Scovie Award entrant and winner; in 2007 the company won five awards!)

Heidi's all-organic jams are outstanding, especially the Raspberry Red Chile Jam anRaspberry bushesd the Raspberry Red Chile Ginger Jam. But because it's a family tradition, I like to make jam at home, too.

So after an hour or so of stooping over the rows and digging around for the best berries, I had about five pints picked. A few hours later I had a couple of burns, a filthy kitchen and eight jars of raspberry...soup. Dammit! It didn't gel. I must not have cooked it long enough. Some kind of cooking expert I am!

Maybe I'll try to cook it down again, or maybe I'll just go out and buy some of Heidi's jam. It's way better than mine anyway...

For those of you with raspberry bushes nearby, here are a few suggestions for your bounty.  How about rasberry barbecue sauce? Or hey, since it's also peach season, what about grilled peach halves with chipotle raspberry puree?

Got more ideas? Put them in the comments!


Hurricane survivors turn to grilling

Posted by: Gwyneth Doland

Tagged in: grilling

 In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, thousands of Gulf Coast residents are left without gas or electricity. So how, exactly are they supposed to cook? The other day I saw a slideshow of photographs taken after the hurricane and one showed a couple of guys grilling a ring of kielbasa (or something) over a small grill set up on an apartment building balcony. Makes sense, right? 

 

 But as Pamela Alford of EMG Productions points out in an e-mail: 

One of the most basic requirements for hurricane or other natural disaster preparedness is to have a good supply of non-perishable food. Something that is rarely discussed or planned is how one will cook this non-perishable food given there will be no power.  The very nature of this type of food supply means rice, beans, canned meats, and other food items that require cooking. 

Almost everyone knows how to cook on a gas or charcoal grill – but what if there is no propane or charcoal?  Chances are good that firewood will be readily available in any situation, but knowing how to cook over an open fire takes knowledge and the right equipment. During a natural disaster, it is more important than ever to eat hearty meals that “stick to the ribs”, and a hot meal during times of this nature can be most encouraging to survivors.

 Alford has posted a series of videos and articles about cooking over an open fire. You can see them here. They won't help hurricane victims who don't have electricity (and therefore no access to the Internet), but it might get some of you all thinking about how to be prepared should disaster strike in your area. 

Along those lines I have two words for you: Dutch ovens. You know, the kind with the lip around the lid so you can keep hot coals on top. Buy yours here.


Chile Gear, Part 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: humor , chile pepper gear

Every chilehead probably has some "chile gear;" that is, everyday objects emblazoned with images of chile pods.  We invite you to send us photos of your own personal chile gear.  For example, Marco Budinis in Italy sent us some examples of his chile gear.

His car keys:

His mouse:

His flip flops:

Send us photos of your chile gear by emailing here

 


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