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?

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