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Chile peppers bring both sweet and fiery zest to dishes — discover a fascinating and seemingly endless variety within the pages of this delightful book.Contrary to popular belief, a pepper does not need to make your eyes water or start a fire in your mouth to qualify as a chile. “Chile” is simply the common name for the fruit of the capsicum plant and chiles come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and flavors.

There are five major species of chile peppers and thousands of varieties, in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors. Even experts disagree about how many there actually are. So it is probably not surprising that the spelling for the word itself is somewhat problematic. Is it chili, chilli or chile? You are likely to come across all of those spellings if you are reading up on the topic.

This comprehensive book (which serves as both a reference and a cookbook) from bestselling author and expert researcher Judith Finlayson takes you through dozens of chiles and provides absorbing information on everything from the historical and geographic origins of chiles to information on the Scoville scale (which measures the hotness of a chile and was invented by Wilbur Scoville) to the health benefits of chiles and finally, 250 delicious and inventive recipes.

Full color throughout, this book takes inspiration from chiles and embraces them with an enthusiasm that maximizes their true flavor potential. From fiery Tex-Mex inspired meals to savory and sweet Thai dishes, this incredible collection of recipes is sure to make you a lover of all things chile.

Irish Vessels

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I keep sugar and flour in these charming canisters, which were made by the Irish potter Nicholas Mosse. I fell in love with his traditional Irish-country designs on a trip to Ireland 15 years ago and had these “cookie jars” (as they were originally purposed) shipped home. Their first abode was my previous kitchen but they happily adapted to the renovated site. Their quaint floral pattern makes me feel cheerful, even on dreary days.

 

Ginger Tea

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My favourite afternoon pick-me-up is a cup of hot ginger tea. I shred ginger root on the coarse holes of a box grater, add it to boiling water, stir well and let it steep for a minute or two. Then I strain it into a mug and stir in honey to taste. Delicious and good for me, too. Ginger is highly anti-inflammatory and an excellent digestive.

Parsnip Soup Shooters

How’s this for cold-weather hospitality? If you are entertaining on a chilly night, start the evening with a welcoming shooter of hot soup. I serve this parsnip soup in espresso or demi-tasse coffee cups before a glass of wine. It makes about 16 shooters.

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Parmesan Crackers


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I’m hosting book club tonight and spent the morning making a variety of nibbles – including these delicious parmesan crackers. They are shortbread like with butter, parmesan and cayenne dissolving in a creamy umami bite. They’re really delicious with a glass of red wine…

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Why do you need a mortar and pestle?

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Why do you need a mortar and pestle? To make homemade sambal, of course! Sambal is a catch-all term for any one of a number of Indonesian chile pastes. Start with a simple mix of chile peppers and, for variety, incorporate more pungent ingredients such as shrimp paste

Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots

This is an updated version of classic French pots de crème. You won’t taste the chile, but it adds appealing depth to the flavor of the chocolate. Served with a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream, this dessert is a welcome indulgence.

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Pimiento Peppers

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Pimiento peppers are a well-known variety of C. annuum. They are small and can be heart-shaped (like the Spanish piquillo) or round and ridged. They are sweeter than bell peppers. Fresh ones are very difficult to find; most end up canned (and called pimentos) and are used to stuff olives or to make pimento cheese, a favorite in the American South According to pepper expert Jean Andrews, the canned pimento industry didn’t develop until after 1914, when a roasting machine was invented that made peeling easier.