Stuffed Jalapenos

29 07 2011


Stuffed japaleños are great for parties and picnics. I like these stuffed jalapeños instead of cheese and crackers they are just a much more manly hors d’oeuvres.

Ingredients

  • 12 large jalapenos /poblanos halved and deseeded
  • 8 oz. soft cream cheese
  • 8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 rashers of  smoked back bacon

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Halve and deseed the  jalapeños.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese.

Chop the bacon in to small pieces (bacon lardons work perfectly for this) and mix in with the cheese.

Stuff the bacon and cheese mix into the peppers and dust with a little chilli powder

Arrange jalapeños in a single layer on a lightly greased medium-sized baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, but cooking time can vary, so keep an eye on it. When the cheese is brown and bubbling the jalapeños are done.

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Chilli Rellenos

27 07 2011

 To make  really great chile rellenos you need to balance three ingredients just right

The first and most important is the chile. The pod has to be of the right size, thick fleshed, and with the right heat level. You want something along the lines of a large Jalapeno or Poblano because it has these characteristics. Here in Ireland I often find it difficult to get large chillies so often use those long Romesco peppers that you can get in some supermarkets, because the heat in these isn’t much more than a bell pepper I often chop up a jalapeno or two and mix them in with my stuffing.

Next the stuffing, you want to use a cheese that will melt well and has just the right strength of flavour, I personally like to use asadero  as it is a traditional Mexican cheese and goes well with the chillies. The basic recipe calls for just cheese but I often like to mix things up a bit and throw in some shrimp some lightly fried lardons… delicious!

Finally, the batter must be light and with just  the right amount of salt and black pepper to enhance the combination, but not detract from the flavors of the chile and stuffing. A great chile relleno captures the unique TexMex flavours of the USA

Ingredients

  • 8 Jalapeno or Poblano chillies, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded.
  • 8 sticks of asadero or mozzarella about the size of a finger.
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup flour, plus more for the chiles
  • Oil, enough to cover 1½-inches deep in a skillet

Method:

Prepare chile pods. Peel and deseed the chiles. Remove the seeds by cutting a slit in the pod from just below the stem and slice about half way down the chile. Stuff the pods with the cheese, but don’t force things. The open edges of the chile must still come together. Hold the edges together with toothpicks.

Next, prepare the batter. Beat the egg whites with salt and pepper until stiff. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks, add salt and flour and mix well.

Fold the yolk mixture into egg whites just enough to mix. (Use quickly, as this batter will separate.) Roll chiles in flour to coat. Dip chiles into batter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. If oil is hot enough, this will only take a few minutes. Turns chile once, then drain on several layer of paper towels.






Naga Viper – The World’s Hottest Chilli Pepper?

15 12 2010

There has been a lot of buzz for a while now that the fearsome Bhut Jolokia has been knocked off its top spot as the world’s hottest chilli pepper.

It was announced back in October that Gerald Fowler from the Chilli Pepper Company had grown a new chilli that had not just beaten the Bhut but had destroyed it…. not only that but it has been developed and grown in the UK of all unlikely places.

The name of this deadly little beauty, the Naga Viper and here it is:

Rather unassuming for something that would melt your face and having you rushing for the chilled toilet paper.

The Viper is the result of selective cross breeding of the Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and the Trinidad Scorpion all of which are so hot it is not even funny.

Warwick University HRI have carried out HPLC testing on the Viper and have returned some pretty impressive numbers, it seems this bad boy has a LOT of heat 1,349,000 SHU to be precise.

Now numbers by themselves don’t always mean a lot to people so here is a quick comparison:

Bhut Jolokia – 1,001,304

Red Savina Habanero – 350,000 – 577,000

Jalapeno – 2500-8000

So we are looking at a chilli that is over 250 times the heat of a jalapeno, now that is hot!

There is an awful lot of dispute going on as to the veracity of the results, in particular there are claims that NMSU  are the only real authority in terms of accurately measuring the heat of a chilli, whether NMSU are the be all or not one thing is certain further verification will be required before Guinness start handing out world record certificates.

As of the end of October Gerald Fowler was in the process of sending pods away for DNA testing so before too much longer it will be official one way or the other.

Personally I think that whether or not the Viper is crowned top dog it is only a matter of time before someone in the UK turns out a world-beating variety and it says a lot about the skill and dedication  of chilli growers in the UK that they are turning out chilli peppers that are even in contention considering the huge climatic disadvantages we suffer from in this part of the world.

Picture credit – cascade news




Spontaneous Combustion Hot Sauce

13 12 2010

I decided to buy an early Christmas present for my uncle who loves chillies and all things chilli related; needless to say he was pleased as punch upon opening the completely over the top packaging and finding a bottle of Spontaneous Combustion Hot Sauce.

So pleased was he with this unexpected gift that he decided to call me up and taste it over the phone, we are a strange strange family. Well I listened to him describe the box and the label to me – they both feature the same set of lips and teeth with a raging inferno on the tongue.

Next up I got to hear him open the seal on the bottle and tell me he was going to have a sniff of it, I heard him take a big big sniff and then proclaim that it smelt vaguely like something Satan had excreted…

Having come this far he couldn’t back out now and decided to try a drop direct onto his tongue, the first thing he said was mmm I can taste fruity peppers and garlic, the next thing he said was OUCH and heard the phone drop whilst he retreated for a stiff drink of milk.

Once he had recovered sufficiently to speak I was informed that too much more of this and he would need to start refrigerating toilet paper.

Boy oh boy did I laugh…

Well that was 3 weeks ago and since that point I have made the arduous journey across the Irish Sea and been to visit said uncle for some much needed R&R. After hearing his amateur dramatics over the phone I had to see for my self just what this bad boy was like….

On looking down the short list of ingredients I see that we are dealing with a predominately Habanero based sauce with some always welcome capsicum extract making an appearance as well, this certainly adds some weight to the advertised Scoville rating of about 400/500,000 – not too shabby.

After having the aroma of this sauce described to me in such a colourful fashion I decided to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and took a honking great snoutfull, you can smell the Habanero, the garlic and a bit of vinegar quite clearly, there is a certain element of heat that you can pick up but nothing to warrant previous histrionics.

Well the time has come to move onto having a taste, now bearing in mind that I heard a grown man reduced to tears I was expecting to have the skin peeled off my face with atomic fury.

I started off by trying a small amount on a teaspoon, much like my uncle I could taste nice fruity habs and some garlic without too much initial heat, after a few seconds I could start to feel some heating coming in and their was a nice kick to it but not really enough to get the blood pumping.

So  I decided to up the ante a little, I made myself one of my favourite treats cheese on toast with chilli sauce, each slice was given a good 7/8 drops of fiery red sauce and I chowed down; the flavour was beautiful, so much so that I will be buying several bottles of this for myself at home. The heat however was still lacklustre, it was there and you could feel it but I just want more bang for my buck.

In terms of an everyday table sauce I think I would be hard pressed to find anything with a better taste; in my opinion this kicks Tabasco straight out of the cupboard and jumps up and down on it in hobnailed boots, it doesn’t just take its place it builds a little fort and sits there looking smug.

Oh and my uncle is a cry baby…





Mr Naga Hot Pepper Pickle

28 11 2010

 I first came across Mr Naga Hot Pepper Pickle in the UK about 2 years ago.

Now I love hot sauces, pickles and indeed anything that is heavy on the chillies. In particular I am a huge fan of the dreaded Naga which holds the rather awesome title of world’s hottest chilli pepper. So on seeing that they feature as the main star of the show in this pickle I had to have a try.

 Just to give you an idea of what we are dealnig with here is the list of ingredients that those crazy Bangladeshis have blended together:

Hot Pepper – Naga Morich 70%, Salt, Vinegar, Vegetable Oil, Paprika, Mixed Spices.

Yup that’s right 70% Naga Morich that’s a lot of heat however you look at it!

Whilst this is very obviously not a beer I have decided to treat it the same way as my drink of choice and will be looking at roughly the same qualities of aroma, appearance, taste and mouthfeel.

So let’s get started on the aroma that you get upon opening the jar; you could be forgiven for opening this jar at arms length with a grimace on your face expecting to have the full atomic nature of the Naga Morich melt your nose clean off your face. Luckily you would be wrong.

You can certainly notice that the Nagas are lurking in there somewhere but the most prominent smell is that of a slightly sweet curry well rounded curry with a hint of fruitiness. Rather enticing really.

In terms of looks Mr Naga is not going to be winning any beauty pagents, it has a brown sludgy colour to it but the large amount of seeds on view should hint at some form of chilli being present (just in case you hadn’t guessed from the name and label). In terms of texture it is not dissimilar to homemade harissa if you were to leave the seeds in the chillies (I always leave the seeds in).  All in all not that attractive but at the sametime we are eating it not marrying it.

In terms of taste and flavour this stuff is the mutts nutts. The spicing isn’t overwhelming and the strong vingear taste you get in a lot of pickles doesn’t really come through until the finish. The star of the show is exactly what it should be – the chillies, you really get the fruitiness of the Naga Morich shining through strong.

Ok and now for the fun part; the heat.

This pickle is pretty damn hot, but surprisingly isn’t completely overwhelming. You know it is there and you can feel the burn at the back of your mouth and on your lips but you need to have quite a bit before you find yourself sobbing like a baby.

I really enjoyed this pickle a lot, it is hot but not so crazy as to mean that you can’t enjoy it with food. I found this pickle to be pretty much my favourite accompaniment to cheese of all things!

If you like fire and flavour pick this up, two jars if you can!





Make your own chili powder

23 11 2010

A number of years ago I found myself getting increasingly fed up with shop bought chili powder.

Unless you go to a specialist shop it is just not a particularly good product; some chili powders have no heat what so ever even if they are labelled as being hot, some have no flavour to them at all and many of them are adulterated with colourants and additives which are just unneccessary.

So I started making my own, now I am able to have different blends or mixes made up ready for certain recipes and have complete control over what goes into my chili powders, their flavours and levels of heat.

You can also make rubs and seasoning blends in advance by mixing in the required herbs and seeds.

Because I tend to get through quite a lot of chili powder I make fairly large batches at any one point but you can make as much or as little as you wish.

You will need to ensure that you are using dried chilies or if not you are going to end up with a paste as opposed to a powder.

If you aren’t able to find the variety of chili that you want in a dried form you can but them fresh and dry them yourself, or even better grow your own chilies.

In order to dry your chilies you will need to remove the stems and the seeds from the chili and flatten out the pieces.

Place these onto a dry baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 5 or 6 minutes before checking them. Smaller less fleshy pieces will dry out quicker and can be removed before returning the larger pieces to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Once all of the pieces of chili are nice and crisp break them into  smaller section and pop them in a blender or better yet a spice grinder, pulse the chilies for afew seconds until you are left with a powder.

Hopefully you will notice that the colour of your chili powder is far deeper and that the aroma and flavour are far stronger and less artificial.

Store your chili powder  out of direct sunlight in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.





Hot Smoked Chipotle Oil…More like fail sauce

14 07 2010

Anyone that has read any of my recipes or listened to me wax lyrical about various different hot sauces etc will know that I have a little bit of an obsession with chillies  and all things hot and spicy.

As such you can imagine my interest when I saw bottles of Hot Smoked Chipotle Oil on special offer at the local supermarket (a Lidl for anyone that cares!)

I’m not normally an impulse buyer but in this case it had two very strong selling points

a. it was a chilli oil

 b. it was cheap (€1.49 to be exact)

So I picked up a bottle and said to my girlfriend that if I liked the oil I would be back for more (you can never have too much chilli oil after all)

Well it was vile.

I’m not over reacting when I say that it just simply was one of the worst things I have ever tasted.

For starters there was no heat at all, we are talking a big fat 0 on the scoville scale – not a good start for a chilli oil. To test the fact that there was no kick to the oil I called my girlfriend into the kitchen and insisted that she try some of the oil on  a little bit of bread.

Now my partner can’t handle any heat at all in foods and is somewhat wary of things that I get her to taste (it has something to do with some Naga chillies that she didn’t appreciate) but even she remarked that there was no heat at all and this is from a woman who finds black pepper to be practically atomic!

Next there was the actual taste of the oil; not only was there no heat there was no taste of chillies. I know some people who don’t like chillies will tell you that none of them have any taste, well they do, especially something like a chipotle which should have a nice fruity smokey taste to it.

The only taste that this oil had was a vague burnt taste, certainly not smokey more like the taste you get in the back of your throat when someone is burning something they shouldn’t like plastic bags or tyres…not what you want to put on your food.

I think possibly the worst thing about it though was the sheer greasiness of it, I realise it sounds nuts describing an oil as being oily or greasy but it was! The oil they had used was sunflower oil and it just felt really really greasy.

I make chilli oils myself as they are something that I like to use to give a bit of oomph or sneak in some illicit chilli flavour  but I always use a good olive oil for mine and I can really see why now.

Luckily though Lidl did manage to redeem themselves by having the Nando’s Piri Piri sauce in stock at roughly the same price…








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