Friday, September 30, 2011

Some like it HOT!

Not all cooking is about BBQ or even a gas or charcoal fired grill. I'm fooling around with some Habañero recipes. Mostly I'm posting just to show off their incredible colors.

The red peppers in particular look great but the orange Habañeros are no slouch either when it comes to intensity of color.

The first recipe I tried was a simple recipe from Rick Bayless which included carrots, onions and some garlic in addition to the Habañeros. It really packs a punch. I had some on reheated beef and chicken Fajitas for lunch and it was pretty good. (One change - I used shallots instead of onion as that's what I had on hand.

For the next recipe I wanted to try something that would be good with chips. For that I went with a fruity concoction called Aunt Lindy's Habsolutely Mango. It uses a lot less Habañero for the volume of salsa. It has a nice fruity flavor and the heat doesn't gob-smack you when you first taste it. Instead the heat builds as the fruit flavor fades. It eventually gets fairly hot but not unbearably so.

I've got some canned peaches so tomorrow I'll have a go at some Habanero Peach salsa. And with all of the tomatoes that are ripening I might make some of that. I might even add some Jalapeños to the mix. I have one Jalapeño plant that suddenly decided to set a couple dozen fruit. I guess the weather a couple weeks ago was conducive to Jalapeño fruit set.

The red peppers above? Those are for drying. They're Red Rockets and I've strung them on some string and they're hanging in a warm oven to dry.

Update:  I figured I better do something with the remaining Habañeros. I split them in half, seeded them, boiled them for about 15 minutes and pureed them. Wow! Just seeding them I had to open a window as the fumes were making me cough and sneeze and my nose was running!  The particular variety of capsaicin found in Habañeros is subtle but potent. When I boiled them I had to turn on the exhaust fan or I couldn't stay in the room. It makes me wonder what kind of protection they use in plants where they process these commercially.

I also made some peach salsa. I used:
  • 1 15.5 oz can of peaches (drained)
  • 2 medium tomatoes peeled and seeded. (*)
  • about 1/4 C sautéed onion.
  • 2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate.
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar.
  • a small amount of the following spices:
  • cinnamon
  • allspice
  • cumin
  • powdered ginger
  • 1 Tbsp of the pureed Habañeros. That's probably between one and two Habañeros.
That was plenty of heat for something that I didn't want to be particularly hot. Again, it starts with the fruity flavor and the heat comes on slowly and builds to a nice hot crescendo.  (That's on the initial tasting. The flavors may change as the spices meld.) Now I wonder if I should have put some vinegar in the salsa. I'll have to try some with a little vinegar added. ... Yes! About 1 Tbsp white vinegar and 2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate brighten this up nicely. I'd consider adding lime or lemon juice, but the peach flavor is subtle and I don't want to overpower it totally. I'm going to call this salsa done. Now I guess I need to run out and get some more chips.

I've got two cups of pureed  Habañeros on 4 oz. containers in addition to the hot sauce and two fruit salsas I've already prepared. I think think I have plenty of "hot stuff" to last me a while.

(*) I dropped the tomatoes into boiling water for a minute or so to loosen the skin. I also stroked them with the back of a knife to further loosen the skin and they peel easily.

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