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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.

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.

Spinach and Tomato Dal

 

Dal can be pungent or very tame, and it plays a significant role in Indian cuisine. This mildly spiced version makes a delicious main course over hot cooked rice; it can also be served as a side dish.

 

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Icelandic Salt Cellars

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Speaking of Iceland… these are saltcellars I picked up in Reykjavik. I love their whimsical, other-worldly designs. I have Icelandic sea salt in both – a smoked version on the left. Guess I’m missing that fantastical island today…

Cuban-Style Hash (Picadillo)

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Picadillo is Spanish for “hash.” Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.

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A Chile Is a Chili Is a Chilli

 

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Many aspects of the chile are extremely confusing, from its historical misnomer (pepper) to the nomenclature of its many varieties, which even horticulturalists have difficulty sorting out. 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.

According to horticulturist and capsicum expert Paul Bosland, the name is derived from the word chil, which comes from the Aztec dialect and refers to plants from the Capsicum genus. The “e” ending is the correct Spanish spelling. English linguists (who probably didn’t know any better) changed it to an “i.”

Although most people associate the word chile with hot peppers, in fact the word refers to capsicums in general, whether they are spicy or not. The word chili refers to the dish, as in chili con carne.