Tag Archives: Spicy

Spicy Tomato Salsa

11 Sep

9 dried chili peppers

Hot water

12 cups diced cored peeled tomatoes (1/2 inch/1 cm dice) * See How to Peel Tomatoes.

3 cups chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups tightly packed, finely chopped cilantro

15  cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped * If you like your salsas extra spicy, leave in all or a portion of the seeds and membranes.

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

3/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

1. In a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl, combine dried chilies with hot water to cover.  Weigh chilies down with a bowl or a weight to ensure they remain submerged, and soak until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain off half the water.  Transfer chilies and remaining water to a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine chili puree, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, salt and hot pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa.  Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process both 8-ounce and pint jars for 15 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving, Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.

I haven’t been able to stop talking and thinking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles the year she and her family  committed to eating 100% local produce.  She talks about asparagus the way some men talk about women in fishnets; and I can tell you, I’ve been as excited to see asparagus in local markets after a long, food-dull winter as many are to see beer, nachos and Bears football today. Maybe the book has stuck with me because I share her utter excitement in juicy, sweet tomatoes after months of unripened, tasteless toms from god-knows-where at grocery stores, but really, it’s just that she makes it sound so incredibly easy and doable.  And it turns out, it is.

I don’t live on a farm and I share my yard with 6 other units (currently 11 people total) so although the City of Chicago does allow its residents to raise and keep both chickens and roosters on their property within city limits, I figured all 11 neighbors would not be welcoming to a little brood of chickens between the 3 grills,2 tables and my garden.  Space is tight as it is.  These were the sorts of things I thought immediately as she described ordering her little box of chickens and the variety of wild turkeys for her property.  Literally every can-not that I’ve come up with has been followed by a very easy solution in the city.  For example, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, which is 3 blocks from my house, sells free range, organic chickens from a farm in Wisconsin and there are nearly always local eggs and meat at the farmers markets (and there is a farmers market somewhere in this city every day of the week).  I haven’t fully boarded the all-local-bandwagon (it’s so hard to resist avocados in summer) but I would estimate that well over 80% of the items I’ve cooked at home this summer have been local.

So as fall is setting in, I’m contemplating how to continue supporting local farming and how to save the tastes of summer.  This weekend was momentous because I finally started jarring.  This was yet another task that I had found completely daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy and, between you and me, fun it can be.  I started with this salsa recipe but I also made a peach salsa that I hope to post soon.  It’s so convenient to have homemade salsa available when you need it and each of the individual ingredients shine in the homemade salsa rather than condensing into a homogenous stew like many of the store-bought options.  If it seems like too much work for you alone, get friends together to split the jars (this recipe makes 12 8-oz jars).  And I happen to know the local Ace Hardware on Lincoln Avenue is having a sale on jars and canners through the end of the month.  I’m happy to burst your can-not bubble, but no excuses,  you can do it too.

Paella with Poblanos, Corn, and Clams

16 May

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 pounds littleneck clams
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 lemon wedges

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, poblanos, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add rice and saffron. Cook 2 minutes; stir constantly. Add 2 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper; bring to a boil.
3. Bake at 450° for 50 minutes or until rice is done. Stir in corn and tomatoes. Nestle clams into rice mixture. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until shells open, and discard unopened shells.
4. Return the pan to medium-high heat, and cook without stirring 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates and rice browns. (It should smell toasty but not burned.) Top with parsley; serve with lemon wedges.

Mark Bittman, Cooking Light , May 2011

I made this paella last night before heading out to watch the bulls wins (!) so I was drinking a sauvignon blanc and managed to burn myself not once or twice but three times on the pot.  Once the pot goes in the oven, keep the mitt on if you are in the habit of holding the handle while stirring your skillet-cooking foods.  Yes, I am an idiot, but hopefully this warning will help others avoid the same finger-burning fate.

The burns were worth every second!  I’ve never had a dish with saffron or poblano that I didn’t like and this was certainly no exception.  I’ve made paellas in the past, but this is hands down my favorite.  The wealth of smoky heat is balanced by the citrus of fresh squeezed lemon pouring from the perfectly cooked clams.  Nothing overpowers here.  The corn adds texture and a nice sweetness.  This dish is perfect for entertaining because the hands-on time is relatively short, but the product is complex and impressive.   Or you can make it for two to spice up an otherwise average Sunday night.

I strongly recommend serving with a light white wine.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

2 Mar

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for topping
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs oregano, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces bucatini or linguine
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until almost cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet, then add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the wine, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the parsley, pasta and shrimp to the sauce along with any collected juices from the plate and toss to combine. Stir in some of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce. Season with salt. Divide among shallow bowls and drizzle with olive oil; top with red pepper flakes, if desired.

Food Network Magazine, March, 2011

This is a quick and easy recipe, perfect for weeknight cooking but it is more than good enough to share with friends as well.  The anchovies add a nice salty flavor which balances the acidity of the tomatoes and the wine.  The parsley and basil add a nice fresh flavor as well.  I made it exactly as prescribed and would recommend it to anyone for most any kind of evening.

Spanish Rice

15 Jan

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 1/2 cup uncooked white rice

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup pico de gallo

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Mix rice into skillet, stirring regularly.  When rice begins to brown, stir in broth and salsa.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and rice is the desired consistency.

Butternut Squash Bisque

26 Dec

1 2-3 lb butternut square or 3 12-oz pkgs. frozen winter squash, thawed

1/4 cup butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large Braeburn or Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 48-0z box reduced sodium chicken broth

1 cup apple cider or apple juice

2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sour cream

3 oz. smoked Gouda or smoked cheddar cheese finely shredded

Crumbled cooked bacon, celery leaves and/or shaved gouda cheese (optional)

1. Peel, seed and cube butternut squash.  In a 6 qt. Dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add fresh squash (if using frozen squash add with apples and broth), onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add apples, broth, cider and chipotle peppers.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover; simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables and apples are tender.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.

2. When slightly cooled, puree in pot using an immersion blender (or puree in batches in a blend; return soup to sauce-pan.)  Bled in sour cream.  Heat through.  Remove from heat; stir in shredded Gouda until melted.  Top with bacon, celery leaves and/or Gouda cheese.

Servings: 8

Better Homes & Gardens

This is one of my all-time favorites.  The chipotle and Gouda creates a nice smoky flavor and the chipotle also makes the bisque perfectly spicy.  You can use vegetable broth to keep this dish vegetarian-friendly.  I always use fresh squash and apple cider, both of which keep the bisque incredibly flavorful.  Perfect for a fall or winter day.

Crab and Vegetable Gumbo

1 Dec Crab and Vegetable Gumbo

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped carrot

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 celery stalk, sliced

2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) package frozen gumbo-blend vegetables

1 cup water

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (8-ounce) container crab claw meat, shells removed

2 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice

1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add onion and next 7 ingredients (through celery); cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Increase heat to medium-high.  Add chicken broth and vegetable blend.  Combine 1 cup water and flour, stirring well; stir into broth mixture.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 18 minutes.  Add crab, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Yield: 4 services

Cooking Light, December 2010

Let me start by saying that I’ve never tried any other gumbo recipe – but my first gumbo was awesome!  This is so easy to make that actually I managed to drink a few beers and play a few rounds of Wii Tennis while this one was cooking.  I love those recipes that you can leave on the stove while you’re enjoying something else, and all the while the smell of your delicious dinner wafts through the house.

It’s incredibly spicy, but the starches of the rice and the sweetness of the crab meat round out the flavors and tame the heat.   This recipe is particularly fun because it leaves a lot of room to experiment and play with the flavors while you’re cooking.  I couldn’t find the frozen gumbo veggie blend so I bought a bag of frozen okra and used that with a half-bag of frozen corn I had left over (I used the whole bag because what on earth was I going to do with a half bag of frozen okra?).  I also chopped up two bell peppers (one red, one green) which I added with the carrots and celery.  I also added quite a bit of extra red pepper (nearly double!) because I had it in my mind that a gumbo should be red (remember the beers mentioned above), but I thought extra the spice was great.