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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.

Paella

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My paella is not traditionally Spanish. It is more like a Portuguese dish in the sense that it combines seafood and meat. But I’ve been making it for years and it is a family favorite—one that, I might add, I often serve to guests. Served with crusty bread, a simple green salad and some good white wine, it makes a perfect Friday night dinner with friends.

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Southwestern Turkey Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings

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This simple stew captures the best of the Southwest – the seductive flavors of the chiles, combined with luscious chunks of turkey in a tomato-based broth.  Comforting cornmeal dumplings complete the theme.  Serve it as a one-dish meal – there really isn’t anything else you need, although you may want to add a tossed green salad.

Southwestern Turkey Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
  2. 2 onions, finely chopped
  3. 4 stalks celery, chopped
  4. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  6. 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (see Tip)
  7. 1 tbsp chili powder 15 mL
  8. 1⁄2 tsp cracked black peppercorns 2 mL
  9. 1 lb skinless boneless turkey breast, cut into 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) cubes 500 g
  10. 2 tbsp whole wheat flour 25 mL
  11. 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice
  12. 21⁄2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock 625 mL
  13. 2 cups sliced green beans 500 mL
  14. Dumplings
  15. 3⁄4 cup stone-ground cornmeal 175 mL
  16. 1⁄2 cup whole wheat flour 125 mL
  17. 2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
  18. 1⁄2 tsp salt 2 mL
  19. 1 cup buttermilk 250 mL
  20. 1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
Instructions
  1. 1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring, until celery softens, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño and chipotle peppers, chili powder and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add turkey and cook, stirring, until surface whitens, about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Stir in green beans.
  2. 2. Dumplings: In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk and oil, mixing well. Pour into well and stir just until mixture is evenly moistened. Ensure stew is at a simmer and drop dough by heaping tablespoons (15 mL) onto simmering liquid. Cover tightly and steam until dumplings are puffed and tender, about 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Tip
  2. Chipotle peppers are dried smoked jalapeño peppers. When reconstituted and cooked in adobo sauce, they carry a lot of heat, so if you’re heat averse, use only half of one.
Judith Finlayson http://judithfinlayson.com/

Mexican-Style Tomato Juice (Sangrita)

Whip up this Mexican-inspired spicy tomato-citrus juice during the dog days of summer, when tomatoes are abundant and in season. It’s a delicious nonalcoholic refreshment, but if you want to liven up the experience, add a dash of vodka or (as they often do in Mexico) a splash of tequila.

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Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

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If you have the ingredients on hand, this tasty dip can be ready to serve in about 5 minutes. Serve it with crudités, crackers or pumpernickel rounds for an elegant appetizer at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

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