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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.

Walnut Dusted Cheese Balls

 

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The combination of soft, sweet mascarpone, slightly astringent Gorgonzola and bittersweet walnuts is quite glorious. Spread this on a plain cracker and enjoy with a glass of robust red wine.

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Potato Tortilla with Peppers

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This variation on tortilla, a traditional Spanish tapas dish resembling an omelet, adds green and red bell peppers, a chile pepper and a liberal amount of sharp cheese to the traditional potato and egg combination. Traditionally it is served cold or at room temperature.

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Fresh Tomato Salsa

Salsa and tortilla chips

 

This is a Mexican fresh salsa, often called pico de gallo. Make it when tomatoes are in season — otherwise the results are likely to be disappointing. It’s delicious with tortilla chips. 

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Mango Spiked Salmon Ceviche

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Because it is made from a cold water fish, this is not a traditional ceviche but it is delicious nonetheless. Serve it on tostadas, tortilla chips, plain crackers or even crisp lettuce leaves such as hearts of romaine. If you’re offering larger servings, think about spooning it into chilled martini glasses and passing forks or small spoons.

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Swiss Chard

Pile of fresh swiss chard leaves on dark wooden table.

Along with kale, collards and other dark leafy greens, Swiss chard is a nutritional superstar.  A relative of the beet family, Swiss chard is a good source of numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K, A and C, as well as magnesium and potassium.  In fact, a half-cup (125 mL) serving of Swiss chard contains more than 150% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K.

 
Like all leafy greens Swiss chard is loaded with antioxidants. It contains vitamin E, a free radical fighter, and beta-carotene, which helps to keep your eyes healthy.  It is a rich source of the powerful antioxidants lupin and zeaxanthin.  There compounds are one reason why Swiss chard and other dark leafy greens have been show to reduce the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55.  Some researcher also think the anthocyanins in Swiss chard may prevent cancers of the digestive tract.  And, with just 35 calories a cup (250 mL) adding chard to your meal plan makes great sense as part of any weight control programs.

Zucchini Fritters

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Serve these fritters as part of an antipasti spread. They are great on their own or, if you like to gild the lily, even better with a bowl of Tzatziki alongside.

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