Hot peppers (including chilies) have been used as a staple, by heat-seekers and spice enthusiasts, to give a kick to bland food. The chemical composition in peppers, which give them their characteristic heat, is also known to boost one's metabolism. If you like to "bring it up a notch", below are two great ideas to give your food a needed zing.
Chili Pepper Vodka:
Dried chilies can be soaked in vodka to infuse the alcohol with a peppery flavour. Simply take whole dried red chilies and place them in a sterilized preserving jar. Fill the jar with vodka and wait.
Within time, the vodka will start to acquire the colour and, more importantly, the flavour of the chilies, as seen below.
The concoction will last years in your pantry.
Suggestions for use:
- make a penne à la vodka with a kick
- add to a tomato sauce when cooking meat/meatballs to give a snappy undertone
- used as a zesty replacement for other alcohols when cooking meals
- make a racy Bloody Caesar or Bloody Mary for those people who ask for their drinks "extra spicy"
Another ingredient that I have discovered is the purple ornamental pepper. These peppers plants are usually found in garden shops and are used to decorate homes and gardens alike. After doing some research, I have found that the 1/2"-1" purple hotties are edible and also pack quite a punch.
I decided to create a cold infusion in olive oil. A cold infusion simply means no heat is necessary in the preparation. This method of infusing olive oil with additional flavours can be used with a number of other ingredients including: garlic, rosemary, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
Simply chop your peppers and place them in a sterilized jar.
Attention: Chopping peppers releases oils that can leave a burning sensation on your hands. Never touch your eyes or any other sensitive glands after handling peppers.
- use vinyl or latex gloves when chopping peppers to prevent skin exposure
- hold the stem of the pepper and cut them using kitchen shears/scissors, directly into the container you want them in, to avoid burns
- if your hands start burning after chopping peppers, rinse them with rubbing alcohol to dissolve the oils, released from the peppers, then continue to wash with soap and warm water
After the peppers have been chopped, fill the jar with olive oil and seal the lid. Again, waiting is necessary. Since the peppers are raw and fresh in this process, you may want to keep the oil in the fridge. Note, olive oil will get cloudy and may congeal when cold. Do not worry, it will become clear again once the oil reaches room temperature.
Suggestions for use:
- drizzle on pizza to add some authority
- add some fire to a bland sandwich
- spice up a salad
- trickle a little over pasta or a lasagna to make your lips tingle
- make a peppery chutney
- give a smack to Chinese food
- add some excitement to a curry