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Daily Archives: February 20, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot – Chile de Arbol Sauce

When I was in Ixtapa this Christmas, I spent time in the kitchen with Sol (Soledad) who is an incredible cook. The woman knows dozens of salsas and hundreds of Mexican dishes all in her head. My task while I was there: to learn how to make her fabulous hot sauces. I sneaked some dried chiles (which can all be found here) in my backpack and set about to recreate her spicy delights.

For this first sauce, I used a chile known as Chile de Arbol. This pepper is long and skinny (although not as skinny as some of the Thai peppers) and is a deep, dark red when dried. One of the things Sol stressed one should do is toast the chiles before making the sauces. A word of caution here: the spicy components of the chile are volatile, so when making these sauces, keep pets and kids out of the kitchen, use rubber gloves, and open a window for ventilation. Do not touch your face or eyes while preparing this sauce. Yes, it’s hot.

Chile de arbol peppers are very spicy, rating 8 out of 10 in the hotness scale, i.e. burns your tongue. Mixed in this tomato-based salsa, though, the spiciness is toned down and the smokiness is accentuated.

Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce

Ingredients

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup chile de arbol peppers, dried

1 small onion, sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups water

6 ounce can tomato paste

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1. Toast the chiles and onion on a saucepan until you begin to smell the smokey, peppery smell. Try not to inhale it directly, as it can irritate your sinuses.

2. Using gloves, chop off the woody ends of the chiles and, if desired (to reduce spiciness), pour out the seeds.

3. Place the onion, chiles, vinegar, oil, water and tomato paste in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Taste. You can add more vinegar, water and tomato paste to thin the sauce if you want (and also to tone down the spiciness).

4. Pour into jars and freeze whatever you will not use in the next week.

This sauce is great in soups and can be added to Mexican dishes such as huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, enfrijoladas. It is very spicy, so a little goes a long way!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2009 in spices

 

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Super Fast & Fresh Frozen Treats: Grape Granitas

At the age of 15, I discovered the food processor. You could hear me at all hours of the day, whirring and blending, chopping and slicing with this delightful little machine. There’s just no end to what you can do with it. I love it for making hummus, pestos, slicing veggies. But the real secret is that this fabulous little thing makes perfect granitas. If you remember to put a bunch of grapes in the freezer the night before, you’ll be whipping up these two frozen desserts in no time.

Cinnamon-Ginger Grape Granita

This recipe is super-fast and really refreshing. I love the spiciness of the ginger and cinnamon and the sweet, childlike flavor of the grapes. Experiment with different grapes (there’s a variety called “Autumn Spice” that would work particularly well).

Ingredients

4 cups seedless red grapes, destemmed, frozen overnight

1 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

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1. Defrost the grapes slightly by running cold water over them for one minute or so. Drain.

2. Put the grapes, sugar and spices in the food processor and process until smooth.

Serve!

Cinnamon-Basil Grape Granita


This recipe is particularly pretty, with green and red flecks. Serve immediately so that the granita doesn’t melt! This serves 8 people for dessert or 4 people as a snack.

Ingredients

4 cups seedless red grapes, destemmed, frozen overnight

1 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

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1. Defrost the grapes slightly by running cold water over them for one minute or so. Drain.

2. Put the grapes, sugar, cinnamon and basil in the food processor and process until smooth.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2009 in Ice Creams and Frozen Desserts

 

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