Archive for the ‘jalapeno’ Tag

08-18-2016 Journal – Summer Cooking!   Leave a comment

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Fresh and delicious shrimp.

Do these shrimp look good to you?  They were just as delicious as you might think or so says my better-half.  She’s a shrimp junkie going back many years and considers herself an expert.  I tried just one and really couldn’t disagree.

Summer time meals are something special around here and are to be enjoyed and relished whenever possible.  While I’m not a big fan of shrimp or lobster I do love just about everything else that the ocean has too offer.  I experiment when possible to come up with new flavors and textures with my seafood.  This week we picked up those shrimp and a large haddock fillet just for me.

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To make things a little more interesting I poached the fillet in habanero wine.  I made this wine a few years back and it carries with it a delicious flavor and heat. Once the poaching was completed the fillets were dropped onto the grill to give them a little crispiness.

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Just sooooo good.

Then it’s off to the table with a side of fresh corn-on-the-cob and a glass of Chardonnay.  Cherry tomatoes picked just before the meal and chilled are a perfect addition.  That beer in the picture belongs to my better-half.  She considers any beer she drinks as her Chardonnay.

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The garden continues to flourish now that we’ve had a few days of rain to help perk things up.  I picked this collection of hot peppers (Serrano, Fresno, jalapeno, and Anaheim’s) today because tomorrow is salsa day and I want them as fresh and hot as I can get.

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I’ll be slicing and dicing all of the other salsa ingredients this evening in preparation for tomorrow.  This is the best part of Summer for me without a doubt.

OLE!

05-22-2016 Journal – Spring Has Sprung . . Finally!   Leave a comment

I was beginning to wonder if Spring would ever arrive but as always it has. Finally the fear of frost has passed and we can start getting serious about gardening.  Todays posting will be a few miscellaneous items about the garden and other things.  Our day today has already been planned and as soon as I leave this computer I’ll be back playing in the dirt once again.

My first item concerns something I mentioned in a recent post about my new favorite drink, the Hot Pepper Margarita.  I collected all of the ingredients needed to get things rolling and here it is. This photo was taken after two days of the peppers soaking in tequila.

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I can already seen the peppers losing their colors as the tequila bleaches them and it won’t be long before it will be ready for use. One more week and then I’ll strain the tequila and put it back into it’s bottles. Then the fun can begin.

I began planting in earnest this week with zucchinis, cucumbers, onions, kohlrabi’s, and eggplant.   Later today I’ll finish up with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, Thai peppers, and Kung Pao peppers.  Now that the nights are warming up the peppers should flourish.

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I began my night time skunk patrol this week.  He made his first stinky visit a few days ago and has been digging up the ground in and around the garden already.  The fence will keep him out of the larger frames but if he insists on causing problem in the unprotected frames he’ll be risking his stinky and smelly life.  My new rifle has been cleaned and oiled and is ready for action.  “Go ahead sucker . . . make my day.”

Here’s an update wide angle photo of the garden as it begins to grow. 

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THANK GOD IT’S FINALLY SPRING

01-07-2016 Journal–2016’s First Salsa Day!   Leave a comment

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What do you do when you’re bored?  Everyone seems to have a few ways of dealing with boredom and so do I.  When I’m bored it’s usually being bored with the people around me and occasionally with life in general.  Over the years I’ve  had a very low tolerance for boring people up until the time I finally became one.

It’s only January seventh and I’m already going a little crazy being stuck in the house for most of the day.  I read a quotation once upon a time and it’s stuck with me over the years.  I’m not sure who the author of the quote was but I still find it pertinent all these years later. “Everyone is a bore to someone. That is unimportant. The thing to avoid is being a bore to oneself.”

Help Me!  I beginning to find myself really effing boring.  I plan every year to have a sufficient number of chores and projects to help me through these long winter months.  My biggest problem this year is I’m not the least bit motivated to do anything. The situation started becoming a real problem this week which forced me into taking immediate action yesterday.

The one thing that always helps me to get my mind right is to cook something. I made a quick trip to the supermarket and picked up all of the necessary ingredients and spent one evening watching Netflix and dicing jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, and habanero peppers. Then dicing piles of red and white onions, sweet bell peppers, parsley, and cilantro.  Yesterday was to be the first Salsa Day for 2016.

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‘First prepare the jars and lids.’

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I started by adding all of the ingredients together and allowing them to cook slowly. Then the hard work began as I seasoned and tasted, seasoned and tasted, and using a variety of hot peppers set the level of heat I was looking for.  I wanted this batch to be as hot as possible but not so hot that people couldn’t eat it.  It took a while but I was pleased with the results.

I also love the flavor of beans and use some combinations of them in many dishes. Since the salsa I was making is Roasted Corn & Black Bean I needed a way to add bean flavor without having the salsa look like a three-bean salad. I took three varieties of beans and pureed them into a heavy slurry. I slowly poured the slurry into the pot and hoped for the best. I also hoped that slurry would thicken the consistency of the salsa as it cooked.  I really didn’t want to use tomato paste because the flavor is almost too strong. 

After all was said and done here is the result.  Thirteen quarts of Roasted Corn & Black Bean salsa that’s hot enough to make your head sweat and bring tears to your eyes.  Just the way I like it.

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My boredom disappeared almost immediately and one thing is for certain. The flavor of this salsa is as far away from boring as you can get.

Bring on the chips it’s time to eat.

07-15-2015 Journal–A Maine Chili Day!   1 comment

Every summer I set aside a few special days for restocking the shelves for winter. One of those days is spent making a large batch of salsa and the another is for for making of a huge batch of chili.  The salsa is canned for storage while the chili is normally frozen. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing better than enjoying a steaming hot bowl of spicy chili with a bit of cheddar cheese melted on top while watching a Maine snowstorm through the kitchen window.

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My salsa day was completed last week and the finished product is on the shelf.  I decided this year to break with tradition and to make a different style of meatless chili, one that can be canned instead of frozen. I love experimenting and going-outside-the-box whenever possible and today’s the day.

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This chili is made from a number of off-the-shelf ingredients as well as fresh peppers from the garden.  For the first time in my life I’ll be making a non-meat chili using a Vegan approved meat substitute made from soy. I’ve always loved other soy products and I’m long overdue trying it in my chili.  This ingredient comes freeze dried and requires rehydrating in a vegetable broth before use. All preparations from that point on are identical as when using ground beef. I was more than a bit surprised when the soy looked and felt exactly like regular browned ground beef.

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I spent time yesterday cleaning and dicing jalapeño and Fresno peppers which will supply some of the heat needed for this chili.  Then I diced a few large white and red onions for that special flavor they provide.  Add to that a quantity of sweet bell peppers of assorted colors and you’re well on your way to a beautiful dish.

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Canning the chili this time around is new.  Normally to can chili containing meat you need a pressure canner.  By removing the meat, replacing it with soy, and increasing the acid level, I can now can the chili instead of freezing it.  I’ve always disliked freezing chili because it changes both the texture and taste. I’m hoping this experiment will keep the chili as close to the way it was originally prepared as possible.

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I’m also trying something new for this batch. Normally you seal the jar with a metal lid which is then held in place by a metal band.  Those bands are notorious for corroding and becoming difficult to remove. This year I’m sealing them exactly that way but just after the lids “click” to indicate a good seal, I’m removing the metal bands and covering the lid with a white plastic screw cap. This will keep the seal intact and keep the lid and top of the jar much cleaner during storage.

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The final result is fifteen and half quarts of a flavorful, hot, and spicy Black Bean & Corn chili. My mouth is already watering.

08-14-2014 Journal Entry–Wet Weather & Hot Salsa!   Leave a comment

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Now that the rain has finally stopped I might be able to get out the house for a few hours. The last week minus two days has been pretty damn wet.  Last night at 2am I took a peek out the rear window and surprise surprise, there was three feet of water in the back yard.  The runoff from the surrounding hills became so heavy there was nowhere else for it to go. Fortunately the yard drains very quickly and once the rain stopped the flood disappeared. 

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‘The Beginning’

With all the rain keeping us inside I decided to take care of another cooking chore while I had the chance. I spent a good part of the day yesterday making salsa.  My normal salsa recipe makes 10 quarts or 20 pints but I decided to increase it by fifty percent. I purchased the necessary ingredients, returned home and got to work.  It took longer for me to dice the peppers, onions, and tomatoes than it did to complete the entire batch.  Three hours later the kitchen looked like a tomato bomb had exploded but the end result was well worth the effort. I finished the batch with 13 quarts and 8 pints of some killer Roasted Corn & Black Bean salsa.

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I changed the recipe a bit and added more habaneros, less jalapeños, and a healthy heaping tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  I call this batch my Commando salsa. As your eating it,  it slowly creeps up behind you when your not paying attention and blows the top of your head off.  It has an immediate hit of habanero to jolt you a little and then the jalapeños lessen the burn somewhat.  Just when the heat is subsiding from those jalapeño’s the cayenne kicks in at the  back of your throat and nails you hard.  With that mixture of peppers the more you eat the hotter it gets but man it’s a wonderful pain.

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‘The End Result’

As of this morning it’s been canned, labeled and placed on the shelf. There should be more than enough to keep us salsa happy for this entire winter. I’ve worked my winter cooking list down to just two remaining items.  I need to make a huge batch of chili and some hot pickle relish. Once those are complete I’ll pretty much be done with the garden for this year.  I should be able to start removing some plants and begin the cleanup in two or three weeks. 

Fall is fast approaching and I can’t wait. 

07-27-2014 Journal Entry – Harvest Time Begins!   Leave a comment

I know it’s a little early in the year but with the garden filling up with cucumbers it was time to get busy.  Last night I gathered all of the equipment together in preparation for canning.  I cleaned jars, gathered lids and rings, pots and pans, and updated my experimental pickle recipe. We normally make hot Bread & Butter pickles and a lot of them.  I’ve made dill pickles in the past but never was really happy with the results. My approach to things has always been to identify a problem and then fix it and this new recipe for Hot Mustard Dill Pickles is the fix.

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I took my normal kosher dill recipe and jacked it up with a number of additional ingredients and spices. The end result will be pickles that are extremely hot, canned in a liquid containing dry mustard, curry, habanero powder, and a handful of other minor ingredients.  I soaked the cukes in canning Lime overnight which should help keep them crispy once their canned.

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Yesterday afternoon we picked the cucumbers, zucchini’s, and jalapeño’s from the garden along with some herbs.  I’d be making my mustard pickles and my better-half would be making her new experimental recipe for hot pickled zucchini or as she calls it Hot Zucchini Pickles. She’s trying to come up with a few solutions for processing and storing of the large number of zucchini’s we’re expecting.  She’s always made a lot of zucchini breads but we can only eat so much of that.

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We work well as a team and set up an assembly line in the kitchen.  I sliced the cukes, the habaneros, and a few jalapeños and set them aside. She prepared her zucchini,  and jalapeños, and we were ready to rock and roll.  She was responsible for packing the jars and I then added the brine, capped the jars and placed them into the water bath.  It took a couple of hours of work but we rolled along like a well oiled machine.

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After all was said and done we had ten pint jars of the mustard pickles and six additional pints of pickled zucchini.  The jars sealed properly and will be ready for labeling tomorrow. Unfortunately we have to wait a month or so before we can taste the finished product.  The veggies need time to absorb the flavor from the brine and the heat from the hot peppers.  We can’t wait to try them and will keep our fingers crossed for the anticipated good results.

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“The Finished Product”

01-05-2013   2 comments

Today is going to be creative cooking day for me.  I have a few hours to kill so I decided it might be a great time to adjust my favorite salsa recipe, Corn & Black Bean. I want to make it a little more flavorful than usual with a few new ingredients I’ve not attempted before. This takes a while to do but adjusting the written recipe is always much easier than making it work in the pot.

In the past I normally add the black beans (my fav’s) to the pot towards the end of the cooking process. This allows them to cook slightly in the pot and more during the twenty minute canning process. If done properly they’ll cook just the right amount and won’t be mushy.  My problem was getting the corn to be more flavorful.  I wanted a natural smokiness to come through my salsa without using something manufactured, like Liquid Smoke, to do it. My solution was to switch from whole kernel yellow corn to white Shoe Peg corn.   I prefer the flavor of Shoe Peg and it seems to hold it’s shape better when cooked. If everything cooks to mush it makes for a salsa with little or no texture.

I propose to  take the corn from the cans and spread it on an cookie sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil. Then lightly spray the corn itself and sprinkle with Cumin.  Place in the oven at 425 degrees until golden brow then remove it, stir it up, and replace in the oven. When it’s roasted to my liking I’ll remove it and set it off to the side.  That’ll give the corn a huge boost of flavor with some crispiness as well.

I normally make my salsa’s extremely hot but without losing all of the flavor to the heat.  I love habanero and in my opinion it has by far the best combination of flavor and heat.  I also intend to  add a dozen diced jalapenos for addition flavor and 6-8 Serrano peppers for more heat.  That should allow me eliminate Cayenne pepper from my old recipe.  While Cayenne has great heat it lingers in the back of the throat which I really don’t like. 

I want a person eating my salsa to initially taste nothing but the flavors of the ingredients and then slowly feel the heat begin to rise.  The more you eat the hotter it will get and to me that’s perfect.  Well, I’m off to shop for ingredients at the local supermarket and I shall return.

Do-Wa, Do-Wa, Do Do Ditty (Just a time killing tune)

I’m back with two bags of all of my favorite things; assorted hot peppers, fresh herbs, white onions, and my absolute favorite, red onions.  I have at least an hour of dicing up these goodies in preparation for cooking.  I like to throw them all into one container so they can mix and mingle their flavors overnight in the fridge before I toss them in the pot tomorrow. Hopefully by Sunday afternoon I’ll have ten quarts of dynamite, smoking hot, and tasty salsa .

I can’t wait.

Posted January 6, 2013 by Every Useless Thing in Cooking, Just Saying

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