Week of April 22, 2012
Rehydrating Dried Chilies
You will usually find dried chiles for sale in a cellophane package or in bulk. You want to look for whole, not split or broken chiles. They should be even toned in color and slightly pliable.
Now to rehydrate the chilies. Cut the top off of each chile, removing the stem. Then, cut a slit down the side of the chile. Split it open and shake out the seeds. If any remain, scrape out any remaining seeds and veins with a spoon. Throw away the seeds and veins.
Place the chiles on a pre-heated medium/hot griddle, roasting the chiles for 3-4 minutes, turning often to prevent burning. (Burned chilies will give whatever you make that burnt flavor, so discard any that you burn.)
Place the roasted chilies in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 20-30 minutes. Soak times depend on how thick the chiles are. If they float to the top, push them back under using a wooden spoon
Discard the soaking water and your chiles are ready for your recipe.
Most will call for chopping or processing in a mini food processor.
Or you can make a chili garlic paste by processing and adding a little water and a couple of cloves of garlic.
Week of April 15th, 2012
How to Handle Fresh Chile Peppers
Fresh chile peppers add heat and flavor to dishes, but you need to know how to handle them. A chemical called capsaicin gives chilis their heat, and exists in different levels depending on the type of pepper you're using. Many recipes call for fresh jalapenos or serranos as they are quite common.
If you like your chiles hot, slice up a jalapeno or serrano chile, seeds and all.
If you want the flavor of chiles without the burn, hold a jalapeno by the stem and slice off the sides as you rotate. If you remove the membrane and the seeds, you'll also remove a lot of the heat.
Keep the chiles away from your eyes. Always wear gloves if you use your fingers and nails to remove seeds and membranes. If you do not wear gloves, be careful to use a knife to remove the seeds and membranes without touching so you will not get capaisin on your fingers. Do not rub your eyes before thoroughly washing your hands.
NOTE: Never ever use your nails to remove the seeds and membrane. The tissue underneath your nail can be very sensitive to capaisin. Just trust me on this :)
Week of April 8, 2012
It's that great time of year when you begin to see a few Cantaloupes in your market. So how do you pick a ripe melon?
1. Inspect the outer rind for several characteristics. You will be looking for:
- A firm hard melon with no obvious bruises/mouldy patches
- Clean unblemished netting on the outer surface
- The color should be mostly orangish/whitish under the netting. Avoid melons with mostly green or white underlying color.
Inspect the stem end. If the stem is still attached, or there is a jagged piece that extends outward, avoid that melon as it was probably picked before it was ripe. Ripe Cantaloupes separate cleanly from their stems when picked and usually leave a small indentation on the stem end.
Smell the stem end. If there is NO smell, or a slightly moldy smell, avoid that fruit and choose another.
Ripe cantaloupes should smell like cantaloupe, slightly fruity and faintly musky.