Chili Pepper Gardening – May

May is nearly upon us and as the aphorism goes, “April showers bring May flowers”, which means it’s time to be thinking about the garden. Pretty much no matter where you live in the US, you should have already started your chili peppers from seeds unless you’ll be buying seedlings for your garden. We are in the Chicago area (zone 5) and still have several weeks prior to transplanting but we have plenty going on inside with about a dozen different types of chili peppers going.

Chili Pepper Gardening - Habanero Seedlings

Chili Pepper Gardening - Habanero Seedlings

At this point we are selecting which seedlings are the strongest and keeping only those, tossing the weaker ones so that we’ll have nice strong plants. Very soon we’re going to start transplanting to larger pots as the seedlings are growing bigger now. To transplant, we like to take the netting off the soil pellets and place the seedlings in a small pot with soil. By removing the netting we’re allowing the soils to mix and help the roots grow easily. The netting can stay in place and will decompose, but it can tend to take a long time and we feel it is better to allow the soils to mix together to ensure the roots can grow free. This is also a good time to top off the seedling with plenty of soil as chili peppers tend to grow tall. You can cut or bury the lowest set of leaves. Be sure to use a pot that is tall enough to allow you to add soil as the plant grows taller, but not too tall that the sunlight can’t get into your pot.

When it is nearly time to transplant your seedlings in the ground, be sure to harden them off by placing them outside for 30-60 minutes a day, increasing the amount of time each day. Place them out of direct sunlight in a protected area. This will help the plants grow stronger and prepare them for the outdoor elements. When you transplant, be sure it’s 2-3 weeks after the last frost so that the soil will be warm enough for your sun-loving chili peppers.

More information on Growing Chili Peppers:

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Plant Chili Peppers for Earth Day

Plant Chili Peppers for Earth Day

Plant Chili Peppers for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, everyone! We know that most of you will be encouraged to plant a tree in honor of Earth Day. While you’re at it, try your hand at gardening as well. A garden is a wonderful way to support the Earth and also for eating fresh and healthy. Chili peppers are a perfect garden choice, delivering a huge variety, numerous health benefits of chili peppers, idea flavors and addictive spice. Plant your chili peppers today for Earth Day!

Learn How to Grow Chili Peppers: http://chilipeppermadness.com/growing-chili-peppers.html

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Cooking with the Maras Biber Chili Pepper

Maras Biber Chili Peppers

Maras Biber Chili Peppers

A pepper grower recently sent along to me a container of Maras Biber chili pepper flakes, which I can’t quite get enough of lately. The pepper flakes themselves are not very spicy, running from 2000-5000 Scoville Heat Units, a bit lower than your typical jalapeno pepper, but they are high in pungency. Take a good whiff and you’re greeted with a stark, almost sweet aroma and a flavor that compliments many dishes. The peppers, also known as the Marash pepper, are harvested in Turkey. They typically come in flake or paste form due to lack of refrigeration in Turkey, though they will soon be grown in the United States.

Information on where you can purchase your own is listed below. Here are a couple of recipes using the flakes.

Chickpeas with Roasted Jalapenos and Red Pepper Flakes

Chickpeas with Roasted Jalapenos and Red Pepper Flakes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 3 roasted jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Maras Biber flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + a splash as needed
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat a large pan to medium heat.
  2. Add a splash of oil, then add chickpeas, jalapeno peppers and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes
  3. Set into a mixing bowl and allow to cool.
  4. Add olive oil, vinegar and lime juice. Toss well.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Originally posted at Jalapeno Madness

Tilapia with Maras Biber Peppers and Lime

Tilapia with Maras Biber Peppers and Lime Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons Maras Biber flakes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil, like avocado oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ lime

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat pan to medium heat.
  2. Sear the ½ lime, open side down, about 3 minutes, or until the lime is nice and browned. Set aside.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil.
  4. Season tilapia fillets with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon Maras Biber flakes.
  5. Add tilapia to pan and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, or until tilapia is cooked through.
  6. While tilapia is cooking, add garlic, oil and remaining Maras Biber flakes. Mix and cook about 1 minute.
  7. Set tilapia onto serving plates, then top with garlic-pepper mixture.
  8. Squeeze lime juice over the top and serve.

If you’d like to purchase your own Maras Biber pepper flakes, visit Ford’s Fiery Foods and Plants. Tell John that Mike from Madness sent you!

Web Site: http://www.fordsfieryfoodsandplants.com

Looking for more Jalapeno Pepper Recipes?If you enjoy our recipes, I hope you’ll try my chili pepper cookbooks as well. I love chili peppers!

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Spice Rubbed Smoked Ham

Spice Rubbed Smoked Ham

Spice Rubbed Smoked Ham

With the weather turning, I finally got a good opportunity to fire up the smoker and cook up some proper smoked ham. Sure, you can smoke meats and grill in the winter, but there are so many cold weather recipes for those days and months. There is something about warmer weather, sunny days and standing outside with the smoker, even though you can just let it go.

I now have plenty of leftovers in the freezer after this last weekend. I smoked a 10 pound ham and 4 pounds of pork shoulder, all of it rubbed down with a mixture of spicy mustard and a combination of chili powders. For the pork shoulder, I cubed the meat into large cubes and rubbed them down. For the ham, I purchased a pre-cooked spiral beast and got the rub into all the nooks and crannies. I filled up the bottom tray with a taste wheat beer, apple cider vinegar, and some slices of onion and apple.

Smoking meat is actually fairly simple. Keep your moisture, get the wood down below (I used apple wood), and keep your temperature at a constant 225 degrees, and you’re good. There are nuances to certain recipes and you’ll see arguing on various forums about temperature ranges, but 225 degrees has always worked for me.

For these meats, I smoked them for 4 hours total and that was enough. In the end, I wound up with many pounds of packaged meats that have been frozen. Since then I have made several Cuban sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, as well as a large batch of split pea soup in the pressure cooker using the leftover ham bone. So good!

I hope you’ll all be ready to break out the smoker this Spring and Summer. Good luck.

Spice Rubbed Smoked Ham Recipe

Ingredients

  • 10-pound spiral ham
  • 1 cup spicy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons spicy chili powder (I used ghost pepper, habanero and 7 pot chili powder)
  • 2 cups apple wood
  • 1 bottle wheat beer
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • More water as needed

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix the mustard and chili powders together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Rub down the ham with the mustard-pepper mixture. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  3. The rest depends on your smoker – use the wheat beer and vinegar as your moisture. If your tray runs low, add some water as needed.
  4. Use the apple wood for burning and smoking. Mine smoked for about 2 of the 4 total hours and gave a nice smokey flavor.
  5. Heat the smoker to 225 degrees and smoke the ham for 4 total hours. I set mine onto aluminum foil for ease of cleaning. Also, if desired, you can spray your ham down a bit with apple cider vinegar as it cooks, but I didn’t need to. My particular smoker steams the meat a bit from below.
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Jalapeno Peppers and Barbecue Sauce

Sweet Balsamic-Jalapeno Barbecue Sauce

Sweet Balsamic-Jalapeno Barbecue Sauce

Jalapeno peppers and barbecue sauce, you say? Absolutely. Chili peppers of all types are perfect ingredients for a good variety of barbecue sauces. The ubiquitous jalapeno pepper is idea, as it brings a level of heat that most people can enjoy, as well as plenty of substance and flavor. While one may be partial to habanero or even superhots for homemade barbecue sauces, the jalapeno delivers in its own way like no other. Here is the recipe I cooked up recently for some grilled chicken.

Sweet Balsamic-Jalapeno Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 20 strawberries, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

  • In a large saucepan, add balsamic vinegar and apricot jam. Simmer over medium-low heat and cook until reduced to about ¼ cup.
  • Stir in tomato paste, onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers, mustard, strawberries, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. At this point you can strain it if you’d like, or leave it more chunky.
  • Transfer back to the saucepan and season with salt to your personal taste. Heat through as needed and serve!

Originally posted at Jalapeno Madness here: http://www.jalapenomadness.com/recipe-sweet-balsamic-jalapeno-barbecue-sauce.html

Looking for more Jalapeno Pepper Recipes? Look no futher.

If you enjoy our recipes, I hope you’ll try my chili pepper cookbooks as well. I love chili peppers!

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Red Hot Motor Oil

Red Hot Motor Oil

Red Hot Motor Oil

I was recently contacted by Cindy Arlantico, a spicy food lover who makes a homemade chili oil. Her dream is to go commercial with her chili oil, dubbed “Red Hot Motor Oil” (I name I love, by the way) and has begun a Kickstarter campaign to fund the effort.

Cindy’s story is this — “For over a decade this amber colored delight has been a staple in our culinary lifestyle. It’s a recipe our family had almost forgotten about for a long time. A little over ten years ago though my husband and I decided to bring it back into our lives. Some years after we ran into situations where friends or extended family would try it and their eyes would just burst wide open. Not so much because of the spiciness, but because they found it to be a delicious and unique experience. Overtime we got more and more comments about its unique and addictive taste. This led us to the idea of getting it out there on a larger scale.”

I asked Cindy to send me a sample and I enjoyed it very much. After opening the jar, it takes a moment for the mild odor to waft to your nose, but it is very pleasant. A taste by itself offers a mild but deep chili flavor, certainly not spicy with heat but rich with flavor. I have tried other chili oils and “Red Hot Motor Oil” is tops, especially when compared to the mass produced oils on the market. As with many specialty foods, it is difficult to outperform a smaller operation that uses top quality ingredients and pays strong attention to the cooking process.

According to Cindy, “Our chili oil’s unique taste comes from a dried blend of fresh chiles and other very secret, but very natural spices. We have to say though, that the chiles we use are the front runner to the flavor party. Their spicy, somewhat nutty taste really adds a burst of flavor that compliments a wide variety of dishes. Mix that in with our spices and oil, and you’ve got yourself one of the most addictive and delicious flavors out there! It’s genuinely so tasty that our family can’t help but lick it off the spoon after we drizzle it over our meals.”

I used some this morning on a simple Ham and Swiss omelet, just a few drizzles over the top with a bit of the sludge on the side (you’ll enjoy the sludge, it is pungent) and enjoyed it very much. It works great when treated as a simple condiment to enhance the flavors on your plate.

In short, I would buy this product. After experience boring oils, this one brings a flavor I would enjoy using in many dishes.

If you’d like to learn more, here is the link to their KickStarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/redhotmotoroil/red-hot-motor-oil?ref=live

If you enjoy our recipes, I hope you’ll try my chili pepper cookbooks as well. I love chili peppers!

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Chili Pepper Plant Sale at RefiningFireChiles.com

Chili Pepper Sale at RefiningFireChiles.com

Chili Pepper Sale at RefiningFireChiles.com

Announcing – a huge chili pepper sale to help you get your gardens started from Refining Fire Chiles. I have purchased many peppers in the past from Jim Duffy at Refining Fire Chiles, and am happy to support this pepper grower.

Here are details of the sale — $24.99 (and that includes shipping), you will receive the following pepper plants:

  • 1 Bubblegum 7 Pot
  • 1 Brazilian Ghost
  • 1 Aleppo
  • 1 Murupi Amarela
  • 1 Bahamian Goat and
  • 1 Yellow 7 Pot!
  • Plus bonus plants Aji Amarillo and Aji Panca!
  • Cost is $24.99 and that includes shipping!!!

This offer goes through Wednesday, March 26.

Contact Me for Ordering Details.

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Roasted Chicken with a Chipotle Paste Rub

Roasted Chicken with a Chipotle Paste Rub

Roasted Chicken with a Chipotle Paste Rub

Chili pastes impart great flavors to any number of dishes, and they’re simple to prepare. I found a deal on whole chickens at the local grocery store and picked up two of them. I knew I wanted to roast one that night, and the first thing I thought of was a chipotle paste. The recipe is below, but the principle is to basically process all of your ingredients into paste form that can be used as a rub. Get it all under and over the skin, and include some simple vegetables for your stuffing, and off you go. The result is a flavor, tender and juicy chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 4 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro + some for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • FOR THE STUFFING
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lime, sliced in half

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean and pat dry the chicken. Set it into a lightly oiled baking dish.
  3. For the rub, add chipotles, chipotle powder, garlic, cilantro, oil and salt to taste to a food processor. I used a molcajete, but a food processor is fine. Process to a smooth paste.
  4. Stuff the chicken with the carrot, onion and lime slices.
  5. Rub the chicken down with the chipotle paste and bake for 1 to 1.25 hours, or until the skin is nice and crispy.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with extra cilantro and serve!

Originally posted at Chili Pepper Madness – HERE

If you enjoy our recipes, I hope you’ll try my chili pepper cookbooks as well. I love chili peppers!

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Tomato-Chili Sauce – a Recipe

All-Purpose Tomato-Chili Sauce Recipe

All-Purpose Tomato-Chili Sauce

I make chili sauces all the time. The great thing about a chili sauce is that you can use it on pretty much anything. Spice up your breakfast, dash it on your lunch, add some pop to your dinner. Maybe watch out for dessert, but why not? You can make them without tomato sauce, but I like the combination in this particular case. I also like to make larger batches and keep some in the refrigerator for use during the week. Saves me a lot of time, allowing me to blacken some chicken or fish, then toss on a bit of my chili sauce.

You can also vary up the heat level by choosing different chili powders. I personally used some ground chocolate habanero peppers, which are quite hot, but try a milder mix for milder heat levels.

Ingredients

  • 5 dried guajillo chili peppers
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Extra water as desired

Cooking Directions

  1. Add guajillo peppers to a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until guajillos become pliable and have softened.
  2. Remove from heat. Retain a few tablespoons of the colored water, as it now contains some of the pepper nutrients.
  3. Remove guajillos, cool, then seed and chop. Set aside.
  4. Heat a pan to medium heat. Add oil and onion. Cook about 5 minutes, or until onion softens. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and add to a large pot.
  6. To the pot, add chopped guajillo peppers, tomato sauce, cilantro, chili powder, coriander and reserved guajillo water. Stir.
  7. Simmer the sauce mixture about 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer in batches to a food processor and process until smooth.
  9. At this point, you can add more water if you’d prefer a thinner sauce, as desired.
  10. Salt to taste.

Originally posted here: http://chilipeppermadness.com/recipe-chili-pepper-sauce.html

If you like our recipes, I hope you’ll like our chili pepper cookbooks as well! Check them out.

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Massaman Shrimp – a Thai Recipe


Massaman Shrimp Recipe

Massaman Shrimp Recipe

I recently received the latest edition of one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appetit. They featured a section for “Thai Night”, and I am admittedly not very experienced with Thai cooking. How ridiculous! After experimenting with their Massaman Chicken recipe, I am hooked on this particular recipe. I adapted it to my own liking, using shrimp instead of chicken, noodles instead of rice, and I incorporated a couple of Serrano and Thai chili peppers into the mix for heat and flavor. I will certainly be making this dish in the near future.

Any Thai Food Chefs out there? I’d love to get your advice on different Thai foods to try.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili oil
  • 2 small golden potatoes, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Serrano chili peppers, chopped
  • 1-2 Thai chili peppers, chopped
  • 10 large pieces of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons spicy chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Massaman chili paste
  • 6 ounces Belgian style wheat beer
  • 1 13-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups broad egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Chopped cilantro for topping

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat a large pan or wok to medium heat and add chili oil.
  2. Add potatoes and cook about 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Add onions and peppers and cook another 5 minutes, or until onion is cooked through. Set potatoes, peppers and onions aside.
  4. Add shrimp and sprinkle with salt and peppers. Cook about 4 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through. Set shrimp aside with potato/pepper/onion mixture.
  5. To the hot pan, add chili paste and cook about 3 minutes.
  6. Add beer and bring to a boil. Allow to reduce by about half.
  7. Add coconut milk, chicken broth and noodles. Stir. Cook about 10 minutes, or until noodles absorb the liquids and get nice and soft to your preference.
  8. Return potatoes, peppers, onions and shrimp to the pan and stir. Heat to warm everything together.
  9. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in brown sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.
  10. Serve to bowls and top with cilantro.

Originally posted at Chili Pepper Madness – Massaman Shrimp.

If you like our chili pepper recipes, check out our chili pepper cookbooks!

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