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Monday, 30 May 2011

Eden Project Chili Pepper Habenaro

During Easter I went on a drive into the country and stopped off at the Eden Project in Cornwall this was a place I had long wanted to see but the drive is too far for a quick visit. With the tropical sections I had hoped to see the chilli pepper represented and grown somewhere in the vast domes. The Eden Project is build in a disused clay mine, transforming it into a rich, global garden where people can learn about nature and get inspiration about the world around them. The view is very inspirational as you park your car and catch one of the buses into the  project itself. you are surrounded by lush vegetation and all manner of 'green' projects.


The Eden Project
 In the reforest Biome near the end of the winding path through the high humidity provides the perfect conditions for for growing spices. I was very please to see that chilli was represented by a large patch of orange Chinese habanero plants. Most of the chillis pictures are not yet ripe but there were hundreds there. So many that i thought they wouldn't miss one and pinched one for the seeds to grow at home. All I need now is to build a biome in the back garden. I will let you know how i get on with growing the Habanero.

Capsicum Chinese Habanero


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mexican Food Made Easy

I have recently been bought Master Chef winner Thomasina Miers Mexican Food Made Simple cook book. I was not aware of this book before and have to say it is fantastic and full of wonderful ideas demonstrating how exciting and delicious traditional Mexican food can be! The book clearly explains with lovely illustrations how to get the best from your different chillis and Mexican ingredients. There are soo many recipe's including soft corn tacos, tostados, quesadillas, Mexican chille con carne, Grilled Seabass and even some traditional sweets too including churros with chocolate sauce. I have tried many recipe's from the book and am slowly going to work my way through the whole lot!! Not every recipe has overpowering flavours as you might expect, their are many subtle flavours and unique ideas put in practice too.

The book itself is filled with great colourful pictures throughout, and easy step by step guides like folding the perfect burrito, eating a taco and plenty more true medical tips so you can even plan your own Mexican theme day with friends or just enjoy a fantastic meal anytime. I have learnt soo much from this book, fueling my growing love of Mexico and Mexican food. Through reading the book too I have discovered Thomasina Mires has a number of restaurants http://www.wahaca.co.uk/. I hope to check one of them out when I am next in London this August and plan to let you know how I get on. As my Friends will tell you I can be very critical of Mexican food and this book gets my vote so take a look pick yourself up a copy soon.

Also check out her series on TV at the moment every tuesday on channel five where there are great competitions and demonstration of dishes like real mexican chilli and guacamole how it should be!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Home Grown 2011 - The beginning

Here are some pictures of my chilli plant grow your own attempts from this year. I am slightly behind where I had hoped as my propagator with my first crop melted with my first set of seeds inside so I had to start all over again!


Above are the few lucky chile plants rescued from the twisted melted mess of my propagator, I have potted them up with some feed and placed them on the windowsill to hopefully recover and grow. In this set so far the padron and cayenne plants look to be holding on well and I am hopeful they will continue to grow.


Where I have started again, my new seedlings are coming through healthy and are almost ready to be potted up

From the seeds I have left and those I picked up from the south Devon chilli farm i am hoping to grow Jalapenos, Cherry Bombs, Yellow Scotch Bonnet and Ring of Fire Chillis this season. I hope to make my own hot sauce this year too hopefully. If you woul d like soem tips to grow your own chillis to get you started check out my mini basic growing guide here



Monday, 23 May 2011

Blairs Original Death Sauce

Blair's Original Death SauceBlair has an amazing range of hot sauces from the basic introduction sauce to the extreme and insane sauces. Blair has been making hot sauces since 1989 and has got quite good at it too!! I have tried a number of chilli sauces from this range and so far love every one of them in different ways but they are not for the feint hearted and definitely powerful as you progress up the range.

Blair's Original Death Sauce is a good introduction sauce to this range with a perfect balance of ingredients with just enough heat to keep the hot sauce enthusiast interested with red habaneros chilli and loads of flavour to balance out the heat with vinegar, fresh cayenne chile, smashed garlic, chipotle chili, lime juice, cilantro, fresh herbs and spices. I recommend trying this sauce if you are curious about the Blair range,  I guarantee once you have tried it you will want more. Many others have fallen for Blairs skill in sauce mixology and limited edition sauces fetch thousands of dollars to collectors in the us.


Plus as a bonus you may get a cool skill keyring with some bottles, I now have several pick up some to try for yourself here Get me some Death Sauce


Saturday, 21 May 2011

My Hot Sauce Stash

Hello Everyone,

I through i would share with you some of my current hot sauce collection. Though even as I am writing this I have realised that two other boxes are missing from the photos including my authentic Mexican collection. It seems i have more chilli sauces than I remember.

Below are the remains of my mad dog hot sauce box including Mad Dog 357 Hot Sauce which has been the main feature of most of my recent BBQ's this summer so far and also a useful collection from CaJohn's chilli purees that are fantastic for cooking with including the very tasty CaJohn's Select Cayenne Puree
 .


The set below contains some nice chilli jelly's too and also some of the harder to find sauces, CaJohn's Frostbite Hot Sauce and CaJohn's Magma Hot Sauce. There is also a currently un opened bottle of Blair's death sauce which is next on my list to open! Amongst all of these there is also a great little selection box from the nice people at the South Devon chilli farm where I recently paid a visit, take a look at the pictures here.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fried Padron Peppers

This easy chilli recipe is great anytime, as a starter, snack part of a meal or for me usually as an alternative to popcorn watching a movie!

  • Wash the peppers and set aside to dry. Meanwhile fill a small pan with about 2cm of olive oil and heat.
  • Carefully fry the peppers for 1-2 minutes. You’ll need to keep turning them and be careful not to burn the skins as this can happen in a few seconds. Once done, remove from the pan and place on some kitchen roll to drain. Sprinkle with some sea salt and serve with a cold beer!

My Padron dinner in Barcelona

Sunday, 15 May 2011

How to Preserve Chilli Peppers

If you lucky enough to grow more chili peppers than you can eat one year then you will need ways to keep them. I often end up with to many jalapenos! There are several very simple recipies and methods to do this:

Freezing

Chilli peppers freeze very well and will last for ages in the freezer. I have some habaneros and scotch bonnets from 2 years ago and they are still as powerful now as they were when they first went in!


Drying

If you choose the option of drying your chillis its best to select the mature peppers that have grown fully and have a nice colour to them. the peppers can be left on a sunny windowsill to dry out or following a suggestion from Jamie Oliver if you get a needle and sewing threat you can string the chillis up through their stalks and create an attractive display while drying at the same time. I have used this method successfully for a few years now and have made my own chilli crushes from them.

Pickling

Any chilli can be at any stage of its growth. If picked when immature they will be milder in flavour and heat level. after looking on may of the food websites i could not find a straight forward recipe that produced good results. At one of the fiery food festivals in Brighton i was discussing this with Chilli Pepper Pete and he told me to simple use white wine vinegar.

  1. Prepare your chillis removing the stalks, if the chilis are small place them in whole or if large like jalapenos you can slice them like you find in the shops.
  2. Get together enough jars for your supply, place the jars in a hot oven to sterilise them.
  3. Place the lids to the jars in a separate bowl and cover with boiling water to sterilise them.
  4. Remove the sterilised jars and lids carefully making sure not to touch the insides or bur yourself
  5. Heat up carefully in a pan on your hob some white wine vinegar.
  6. Put your chosen chilli selection in your jars and carefully pour in enough hot white wine vinegar to cover every chilli.
  7. Leave to cool and then keep for a few weeks before trying to allow the flavours to work.
  8. Now you can eat your chillis all year round!


Good Luck and hopefully your crop this year is more than you need so you can test these simple recipes


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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Chilli Con Carne Recipe

There are many recipes out there for a good Chili Con Carne. Some different quite a bit and I believe the fun is in the variety and experimentation. This is a basic recipe I have modified over the years and I have included a couple of variations you can also do to change the flavour if you wish. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

2 Tins of kidney beans (in chilli sauce if available)
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 Tin of plum tomatoes
1 Large onion
3 or 4 large peppers of different colours
3 or 4 Jalapenos to taste
1 Pack of diced beef around 700g (or casserole steak)
2 teaspoons chilli powder

Extra and variation ingredients

1) Del Sol Whole Chipotle Peppers (chipotles en adobo)
2) One whole fresh naga chilli.


Preparation time 20 minutes

Cooking time: 2 days for maximum tender meat
or if you are in a rush cook for 1hr 30min until meat is cooked through

Serves: 4 people or 2 hungry Mexicans

Easy Recipe.

 1) Roughly chop up the large onion, peppers and chilli 
2) Open all tins of tomatoes and kidney beans ready


3) Add all ingredients to a large pan or slow cooker if you have one.   
4) Sprinkle on the chilli powder.
5) Bring the pan to the boil, stir all ingredients then turn onto your lowest heat and leave covered. 


6) Check and stir occasionally. You will see all the ingredients start to break down if you are slow cooking.
7) I find the best results come from cooking on low heat for a minimum of 24 hours.
8) Enjoy with rice and your favourite Mexican beer or tequila!



Variations you can do to create a different flavour

Variation one smokey chilli: Along with your tinned ingredients you can also add some chipotle chillis to give a beautiful smokey flavour you can use a can of Whole Chipotle Peppers (chipotles en adobo)




Variation two fruits powerful chilli: Once you have placed all ingredients in your pan you can add in a single whole naga chilli. This will give an intense fruity spicy flavour to your overall chilli. You then have two options. first to leave the naga in to give someone a surprise, or to fish out the naga at any stage during cooking or before serving varying the flavour and power of spice in your chilli con carne. This can be made easier by putting the naga into some muslin and attach it to string tied to the handle of the pan.


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Blairs Death Rain Chipotle Crisps

If your a chilli fan and you go to buy some crisps or potato chips you will no doubt feel let down by the supermarkets claims on packs of Doritos and Pringles that they have 'hot chile' flavour or be the hottest potato chips. At one of the West Dean Chilli Fiesta in 2010 I stumbled across Blairs Death Rain crisps, and I particularly love the Death Rain Chipotle flavour. Much more punch than normal crisps and the wonderful smokey chilli heat, Blairs have done it again expanding on their range for the lover of true chilli heat claiming on the bag to make snacks that taste great but most of all make you FEEL ALIVE.
Blair's Death Rain Chipotle Crisps - 2 Packs

There are other great flavours too to check out, click on the pictures below to find out more about Death Rain Cheddar and Death Rain Habanero happy snacking!

Blair's Death Rain Habanero Crisps - 2 Packs
Blair's Death Rain Cheddar Crisps - 2 Packs



Monday, 2 May 2011

Chilli Pepper Anti Cancer effects

The Chile pepper has shown anti-cancer effects in research with mice. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chile pepper and the source of its heat, is the cancer-fighting element.

Capsaicin is also thought to have many posotive properties: Boosting metabolism, lowering the risk of ulcers, improve heart health and relieveing muscle pain and itchiness

Research led by Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D (Professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeuticsusing) into capsaicin nutraceuticals in mice resulted in suppressing and blocking pro-inflammatory pathways in cancer cells.

"Symptoms common in cancer patients, such as depression, fatigue, neuropathic pain, metastases and tumor growth, are due to inflammation. By using capsaicin, we can inhibit these things."

Also, major risk factors for the most common types of cancer, such as obesity, alcohol, tobacco, radiation and environmental pollutants, are linked to cancer and its metastases through chronic inflammation.
A study tested capsaicin cream for the management of surgical neuropathic pain in 99 cancer patients. Each used capsaicin cream for eight weeks followed by eight weeks of placebo cream on painful sites four times daily. Despite experiencing side effects of skin burning and redness, patients preferred capsaicin cream to the placebo for its pain-relieving qualities.

My Partner is running to raise money for Macmillian cancer support to help pateints with cancer ifyou are interested you can support her charity run here and help the patients that need it most



Though further studies are needed to better understand capsaicin's potential in the prevention and treatment of human cancer. Aggarwal believes that using capsaicin nutraceuticals as an option in cancer treatment, with a physician's consultation, shouldn't be overlooked.

For me this further supports my chilli eating habbit and spreads the word about the increasing health benefits of this wonderful innocent looking pepper. You can read the full article here:

http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2011/04/chile-pepper-cancer-cant-stand-the-heat.html

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Grow your own Chilli Plants: Overwintering

When growing your own and once your crop has been harvested, for a bigger crop the next year you can overwinter your plants. Most chilli plants can be treated as perennial house plants but may need some pruning in the winter. Not everyone recommends it due to a higher chance of disease, but I have had many successes by doing it and some bumper crops! Overwintered plants usually produce a better crop in their second year as the plants can get started more quickly in the spring and enjoy a longer growing season.
  • Pick all the fruit from your plants even the immature fruits.
  • Prune your plants to about four inches from the base once the leaves begin to drop.  
  • Pot your chilli back up if it has been in the ground.
  • Be careful not to over water your precious plant, a small amount every ten days should be fine not letting the soil dry out.  
  • Keep all plants frost free aiming for a temperature between 5C ans 12C.
My overwintered crop from 2010 was not as successful as I had hoped, some plants where shelteringng in the summer house and as you can see from the picture above the snow fell heavy and many plants were lost. I have however saved a few and pictured below is a black naga plant. I hope to grow my first naga this year!

Black Naga Chilli Plant


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