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Presto, It's Pesto!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: recipe , gardening , fiery foods

Greek Minature BasilOne of my favorite summer things is fresh pesto—spiced up, of course.  And one of the main ingredients is basil, although cooks substitute spinach, Italian parsley, and cilantro for the basil on occasion.  There are more than 60 species and varieties of basil, and one of my favorites is 'Greek Miniature Basil' at left.  I shot this photo in a greenhouse full of Italian chile pepper varieties in Torre del Lago Puccini on the northwest coast of Italy last year.

Dana Bowen, writing in Saveur, noted:  “From its humble beginnings in Liguria, pesto has gone far: not only can you find it in jarred form all around the world, but it's used to flavor everything from pizzas to fast-food sandwiches to chips. It's now a household name, up there with marinara and mayonnaise. But unlike those sauces, pesto has always conferred a certain gourmet status in the States; its rise in popularity in the 1980s coincided with the period when Americans started exploring regional Italian cooking and embracing all things Mediterranean.”

Saveur's online pesto articles are here and their pesto recipes are here.

Here are two spicy pestos for you to try!

Green Chile Pesto

Of course we have our own New Mexican version of pesto! It’s a topping for pasta but also can be added to soups, stews, and rice. Although we have specified cilantro in this recipes, you can use the traditional basil or even Italian parsley. Pecans, another New Mexican crop, can be substituted for the piñon nuts.

1 cup chopped green New Mexican chile
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup piñon nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup virgin olive oil

Place the chile, cilantro, nuts, and cheese in a food processor and, while processing, slowly drizzle in the oil to form a pesto.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Heat Scale: Medium

Chipotle Pesto
Chipotle Pesto

From our friend J.P. Hayes of Sgt. Pepper's Hot Sauce Micro Brewery in Austin comes this excellent pesto designed to be served over homemade bread, pasta or use as a pizza topping. Mix it with mayonnaise or ranch dressing and it's a tasty dip. J.P. gave a dramatic demonstration of preparing this pesto without electricity at the 1996 Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival.

1 can chipotle chiles in adobo (or 1/2 cup chipotles rehydrated in wine vinegar)
1/4 cup tomato paste
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lime juice
1 cup grated Parmesan or romano cheese
1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or piñon nuts, toasted
1 cup canola oil

Combine the chipotles, garlic, and vinegar in a food processor and puree. Add the cheese and pumpkin seeds. With the processor running, drizzle in the oil until the desired consistency is reached (you may not need all the oil).
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Heat Scale: Medium hot


Pungent Pizza on the Grill

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: recipe , grilling , fiery foods , chile peppers

 

Pungent Pizza on the GrillDon't want to heat up the kitchen? Tired of bland commercial pizza? Heard enough about Godfather's Pizza to last a lifetime?  Try this spiced up Southwestern pizza cooked on your grill! 

Pungent Pizza on the Grill

In this recipe we attempt to recreate the wonderful thin-crust pizza from wood-fired ovens in your very own backyard. Our homemade crust has something that Pizza Doodle Express does not: chile. But if you’re lazy and don’t want to make your own dough, you can use a 12-inch, pre-baked pizza shell. You can also easily make the dough in your bread machine. It is very important to have a clean grill for this recipes, as any residue on the grill will give the crust an off flavor. Why not make both toppings and divide the pizza?

You can read another article about grilled pizza by Mark Masker on the Burn! Blog. In it he celebrates National Pizza Day—February 9.

The Chile Dough
1 cup warm water (100 degrees F.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons crushed red chile
Freshly ground black pepper

Yield: 1 12-inch pizza

Powerful Puttanesca Topping
3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, such as cherry or roma
2 tablespoons chopped capers
2 tablespoons chopped nicoise olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons crushed red chile
Garlic salt
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese
Olive oil

Southwest Green Chile Topping
8 New Mexican green chiles, roasted, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated provolone cheese

To make the pizza by hand, combine the water and sugar in a bowl and stir in the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, chile and pepper. Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast water and olive oil. Stir until almost mixed, turn onto a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft free location and let rise until doubled, about an hour and a half.
Punch down the dough and divide into 2 balls. If preparing ahead of time, place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring the dough back to room temperature and then proceed with the recipe.

Roll out each portion into a round or oval pizza or do it free-form. If it will fit on your grill, you can also combine the balls into one and make one large pizza.
Heat a gas grill to hot. If using charcoal bank the coals to one side, creating a hot side and a warm side.

Brush each of the pizzas with olive oil and gently drape, oil side down on a hot grill. Shortly, within a minute or two, the dough will start to rise and bubbles will appear. Gently lift an end to see that the underside is browned and has grill marks. Immediately invert the crust onto a pan, and turn the gas grill to low
Brush the dough with additional oil.

To make the puttanesca, place the tomatoes on the cooked side of the pizza, sprinkle the capers, olives, pepper and cheese over the top. Shake a little garlic over the pizza and sprinkle some olive oil over the top.

To make the Southwestern topping, lay the green chile strips over the cooked side. Top with the cheese and sprinkling of the olive oil. Slide the pizza(s) back onto the grill. Cover and cook, rotating once or twice until the toppings are heated through and the crust is browned, about 5 minutes on the cooler part of the grill.

Yield: 1 12-inch pizza or 2 small individual pizzas
Heat Scale: Mild to medium


Popular Plates Fiery Foods Cover

 

Mail-Order Copies Now Available!

My popular bookazine on chile peppers and fiery foods will be on the newsstands of all the big box stores for another month, but for convenience it is now available for ordering single copies internationally, or a 9-issue subscription to Popular Plates, the real name of the magazine.  There are many foods covered in the single-subject ongoing series, like grilling, barbecue, pizza, and my forthcoming title in October, Popular Plates Soups & Stews.

To order your copy both domestically and internationally, go to the Popular Plates website, here.


Scorpion Fields Doing Great

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Marlin Bensinger in Scorpion FieldMarlin Bensinger reports on his field of 'New Mexico Scorpion' chiles in a field near Las Cruces: "The peppers are starting to get their growth spurt.  Most peppers are 9 to 10 inches tall. No blossoms yet but probably will see some in a week or so. No signs of disease or pests so far. The biggest problem is always weeds. This field had alfalfa on it before this. So, the weed population was quite substantial. The tractor/cultivator gets most of the weeds between the rows but there is still need for hoeing and hand pulling of weeds between the plants.  Weeding will become less of a problem as the peppers get taller and bushier. We expect the majority of the peppers will grow to be about 30 to 36 inches tall (hopefully by the end of July).  This field is looking very promising for a couple of non-farmers participating in the details of growing."  My plants in Albuquerque are just a couple of inches behind Marlin's and I have some blooming '7-Pot' chiles!

									
			
		

Popular Plates Fiery Foods CoverOn June 28th, my latest publication, entitled “Popular Plates: Fiery Foods” will hit all the major newsstands in the U.S., including Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Borders, Costco–all the big box stores.  The publisher, Source Interlink Media is printing 200,000 copies, which is by far the largest print run of any of my publications.  Essentially, this is a book in magazine format that traces the history of spicy foods from the first chile peppers in the Americas to how we cook with them today.  This bookazine makes a great gift for the chilehead in the family, or a friend who wants to get started eating the hot stuff.  There are 80 recipes from all over the world from basic to advanced, plus many photos and illustrations.  I certainly hope everyone enjoys it!


Home Gardening Infographic

Courtesy of MNN


BBQ Mags Very Popular in Germany

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , grilling , entertainment

German BBQ MagazinesFrom Harald Zoschke in Kressbronn, Germany.

Here in Germany, grilling & barbecue is getting more popular than ever, as evidenced at the newsstand. German BBQ fans can enjoy two dedicated magazines, as well as a whole bunch of special BBQ publications. "Fire & Food" is the oldest one, around since 2003 and very well presented, while "Grillmagazin" entered the market just last year. "Beef!" is a mens' cooking magazine with lots of grillin' stuff inside, and "Grillen" by giant magazine publisher Burda made its debut this year, as well as the "Grill Katalog" by German "Grillsportverein" grilling enthusiasts, also loaded with great articles on the subject. "Bookazines" by other publishers are popping up now almost every month for this years's BBQ season, and it seems like we have more rags to read while supervising that barbecue smoker than U.S. grillers!


Barbecue Videos Added to SuperSite!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: tasty travel , smoking , grilling

Butch Lupinetti on Barbecuing the Perfect RibAs part of our ever-expanding effort to bring you the best in barbecue, we have added barbecue videos to the SuperSite.  Check back often for new videos, but so far we've featured Butch Lupinetti of Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ Team on making the best rib possible, Steven Raichlen of Planet Barbecue fame following up with preparing baby back ribs, the winner of $100,000 for the best hamburger, and the hilarious and most-viewed Brad's Buick BBQ Tour from Austin to Atlanta.  You can find them all here.


 

Laser-Leveling for an Alfalfa Field You are looking at a rare occurence in central New Mexico: vacant land being laser-leveled to make an alfalfa field rather than a housing development.  This field is less than a mile from our house, so we will have something green to look it rather than the little boxes Pete Seeger used to sing about.  The vertical laser unit on the leveler pulled by the tractor connects with a central transmitter in the middle of the field, giving the tractor operator continuous information about where to move the soil.  When finished, the leveling assures that irrigation water will flow properly and drain off without leaving low, wet spots where alfalfa won't grow.  Alfalfa is New Mexico's number one agricultural crop.

 


 

 

Condiment Gun

Roast My Weenie

Breast Bar

God-Grilla

You totally need every single one of these.  Really.  From top left, the Condiment Gun, from Firebox; Roast My Weenie, from the perverted folks at the company with the same name; the artistic, woodie-inducing Breast Bar, discovered somewhere on the web by Harald Zoschke (Happy Googling); and the astonishing God-Grilla, large enough to barbecue 1,000 sausages, 500 burgers, or two whole cows. Read about it on That'sNerdalicious!  And Happy Start of Summer, everyone!


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