Handy Guide To Chili Peppers

chile-primer-various-peppersMy husband and some of my friends see peppers as a challenge.  The hotter the better.  They love to burn the heck out of their mouths and sweat & suffer afterward.

Not me.  I like my food spicy, but I still like the ability to taste and enjoy my food after I feel the burn.  Not the “Bern” that Bernie Sanders supporters feel 😉 , but the burn that a zip of spicy pepper adds to a dish.

Peppers, like salt, acid and fat, are essential flavor building blocks upon which dishes are built.  In an article at www.bonappetit.com, Amiel Stanek encourages readers to “tease out” the subtle nuances of spice in the season’s crop of peppers using some very specific techniques.  As someone who likes the taste, but not necessarily the need for a fire extinguisher after a bite, I appreciate the guidance.

Stanek reminds home cooks that peppers aren’t just spicy.  They’re also flavor bombs hiding hints of fruitiness, floral notes, earthiness, and “funk.”  To begin to experiment with these hidden flavors, a cook must first work on mellowing the pepper’s spice a bit:

  1. Remove the seeds – Using a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, remove the seed pod beneath the stem and white membranes that hold the rest of the seeds within.
  2. Char – You can do this whole on the grill, under the broiler, or directly on a stovetop gas burner and peel off the burnt layer before seeding them.
  3. Soak – Capsaicin, the compound that makes a pepper hot, is alcohol soluble. When using the hottest peppers, remove membranes and seeds, muddle, and soak in vodka for anywhere from a few hours up to a couple of days.

For a great, printable reference of the varied types of peppers and their levels of spiciness, from mild to “grab a fire extinguisher,” click on this link.

A recipe I shared earlier this year was for one of my favorite cocktail hour snacks on steak and salad night:  Blistered Shishito Peppers.  Take my advice and make a double batch!  These suckers are addicting and one batch is never enough.  If you have any left, put them in a re-sealable container or zip bag and toss in the refrigerator.  These are easily revived in a hot pan with a splash of olive oil a day or two later.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Decadent Sunday Dinner

FullSizeRenderEvery once in a while I get a craving I just can’t shake for a thick, juicy steak and a moist, tender lobster.  Thankfully we are in an area where there are Asian markets with whole live Maine lobster in a tank, ready to be steamed for me on the spot, that are surprisingly affordable ($9.99/lb!).

Yesterday I got the craving while shopping in Costco (On a Sunday! What was I thinking?) and I just couldn’t face the weekend crowd we were sure to encounter if we trekked to the Ranch 99 Market.  I knew I had a pair of thick filet mignon steaks in the freezer and Costco had previously frozen Canadian lobster tails that looked meaty enough to satisfy my craving, so I decided to give them a try.

Knowing timing would be my biggest hurdle to making sure everything would be ready and warm at the same time, I set my cooking schedule for a true 30 minute meal:

FullSizeRender_35:30 – Get the steaks started.  I turned the burner to medium-high and pre-heated my favorite pan in my kitchen arsenal, my cherry Le Cruset Square grill pan, then added a spray of olive oil spray, seasoned the steaks with Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning, then put them on the sizzling pan to cook.  Assuming your filet mignon steaks are at least 1 inch thick, turn steaks over after 8 minutes (for medium rare), 10 minutes (for medium/medium well), or 12-13 minutes (for well done).  When you have turned cook the steaks for the same amount of time for your desired degree of wellness and, when there is about 2 minutes left in your cooking time, put a pat of cold butter on top of the steak.

In a pan with a lid, put in 1 inch of water and a steamer insert then bring to a boil.  When water reaches a boil, place the lobster tails inside the steamer insert, cover, reduce heat to low-medium and steam for 8 minutes.  While the lobster tails are steaming, in a small pan (or a ramekin in the microwave) melt a half cube of butter to dip the lobster in.

Open a bag of frozen C&W (A.K.A. Birdseye) whole petite green beans, pour into a covered 2 quart dish and set the microwave for 6-7 minutes on high power.

FullSizeRender_2This timing will have all of your parts done at the same time so that you can quickly plate and serve your dinner at 6:00.  I opened a bottle of  Eberle Rare & Reserve 2012 The Ravelin red wine blend to serve alongside.  The wine was a perfect complement to the boldly spiced steak.  Bon Appetit’.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood