Saturday, July 11, 2015
testing the limits
My most cherished culinary treasure has been put to good use.
Last month, I told you I brought back from Bend a bottle of ghost pepper chili powder (ghost of a chance) -- ground from the world's fifth hottest pepper. During the past month, I have experimented with it in my world-famous bean soup, a batch of spaghetti sauce, and a couple of egg dishes.
It turns out that the pepper is quite versatile. Its primary purpose is to add heat to any dish. And it must be used judiciously. I didn't even bother with measuring spoons. Fork tines are sufficient.
Each time I used it, I would add a fork tine of powder, and then taste the result -- usually adding three or four measures until I had the spiciness at the correct level.
The best thing about the pepper is its layers of flavor. In addition to its heat, it adds sweetness and a bit of smokiness to the dish. As good as it was in the bean soup and the spaghetti sauce, I preferred it with my egg dishes.
Because culinary treats are not to be hoarded, last week I took the jar to Magnolia's in La Manzanilla to share some of the contents with Alexa Mayberry, the cook and co-owner. When I drove over for dinner this Tuesday, she surprised me with a salsa she had made with the chili powder. A simple tomato-based sauce -- with quite a zing to it.
I tried it on her chicken and spinach tamale pie. It was a perfect match. She gave me a small jar of her salsa to take home. I tried it on eggs mixed with garlic, onion, and garlic. Another match made for the palate. Later today, I will try it on my version of tortilla de España.
For those of you who doubted my sanity of using such a spicy chili powder, come on over. The proof is in the pudding.
Hmm. Maybe a chocolate-chili powder pudding?