Tag Archive for chile

Preserving Peppers

A sample of peppers I grew this year.

Three bushels of peppers picked in the last 3 weeks. We are eating plenty of peppers, but still…  Something MUST be done. I have used several techniques to preserve them. Peppers are still available at farmers’ market and you may have had a good harvest before the frost too. So here is what I do to preserve my peppers: drying, freezing and several ways to pickle, including hot chunky sauce. Read more

Spicy Peanut and Lemon Basil Pesto

Photo by Molly J Peterson, FoodShed Magazine


What to do with the last of the basil, baby ginger and chile peppers that were pick up before the storm: inspired by a peanut and chile salsa-like dish from Réunion Island (“Rougail pistaches”), this pesto-like concoctioj adds a nice kick to sandwiches, omelets and cold or hot meats.

If basil is unavailable, use a mixture of cilantro and parsley.

Yields About 1 Cup

1 cup tightly packed lemon basil (or lime basil or Thai-basil leaves, or cilantro and parsley)
½ cup roasted Virginia peanuts (preferably unsalted)
¼ cup fresh green moderately hot chili peppers (like Serrano or Jalapeno), stem end removed, and roughly chopped
1 clove fresh plump garlic (green germ removed if any)
1 piece of fresh plump ginger root, the size of your thumbnail, peeled and sliced (if using baby ginger, no need to peel)
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or peanut oil)

Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding olive oil through the feeder tube until it reaches a consistency you like. Scrape bowl down as needed. Don’t over process: You want to see bits of pieces all the different ingredients.

As with all dishes made with basil, the part exposed to air will darken as basil oxidizes. Keep refrigerated for up to a week, under a thin layer of oil.

Locavore log: basil, peanuts, chiles, garlic, ginger

Recipe originally published in Food-shed magazine, Fall 2012.

Of Chile & Chocolate (Spicy Chocolate Custard)

A Spicy Variation on 3-2-1 Custard

This recipe first appeared in the Virginia Wine Gazette.

Peppers (aka chiles) and chocolate are products of the Americas – unknown in Europe until the Spanish conquistadors brought them home in the 16th century. Can you imagine Belgium or Switzerland without chocolate? Calabrian or Greek cuisines without hot peppers?

Cocoa was an expensive beverage – and an acquired taste, too, since it was served without sugar or milk, both unknown in Mesoamerica, but with hot chilies and vanilla, both Mesoamerican native spices. Expensive, bitter and spicy, it’s no wonder cocoa was considered a medication.

Yet, once the Europeans added sugar and milk, hot cocoa, as we know it today, took off. Starting in the 18th century, various processes were developed to form chocolate bars and candies. The modern eating chocolate bar was born in the mid-19th century.

As other tropical areas of the world started to grow the cocoa tree for its seeds, the cocoa bean, which is dried and fermented, chocolate’s popularity was sealed.

Chiles and cocoa work great together indeed: a number of chocolatiers are teasing our taste buds by adding the spice to their gorgeous chocolate confections. You can do it at home too! Add unsweetened cocoa to your favorite chili recipe. Throw a pinch of hot ground chile in chocolate desserts.

I make no claim for their health benefits nor for their possible aphrodisiac qualities, but I can assure you that chocolate and chiles, alone or together, are wonderful winter fare – in fact wonderful fare any time of the year.

Below is a variation of what I called 3-2-1 custard: the Spicy Chocolate Custard. 3 eggs/2 cups milk/ 1 cup chocolate chips: those are easy proportions to remember, negating the need for printed recipe if you need to whip a dessert quickly. You may tweak the spices and flavoring endlessly for subtle differences. Read more