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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.

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Indian Style Cashew Chicken

This rich, comforting mélange is called Indian_Style to distinguish it from Thai Cashew Chicken, which is a very different dish, although equally delicious. Serve this over brown basmati rice with zesty mango chutney, but other robust fruit chutneys work well, too. Add a green vegetable, such as steamed broccoli, to round out the color palette.

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Cabbage Borscht

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Served with dark rye bread this hearty soup makes a soul-satisfying meal. It has the best flavor when it’s made with a combination of beef and vegetable broth, but if you’re a vegetarian, vegetable broth works well, too.

 

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Leafy Greens Soup

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This delicious country-style soup is French in origin and based on the classic combination of leeks and potatoes, with the addition of healthful leafy greens.

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Black Sticky Rice Pudding(page 194)

Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Years ago, when my husband, daughter and I traveled in Thailand, we became addicted to mangos and sticky rice, a truly delicious sweet. After our return, we tried but could never duplicate the superb taste and texture of the authentic version. Although this black sticky rice pudding is a different dish, it reminds me of that delightful concoction. In fact, it’s so good you don’t even need the fruit. Although it’s high in saturated fat, it comes from the coconut milk, which may have healthful benefits.

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Red Beans and Red Rice (page 178)

Red Beans and Red Rice

 

Red Beans and Red Rice (page 178)

 

Here’s a fresh twist on the classic Southern dish of red beans and rice. Bulked up with muscular red rice, this is very hearty — with the addition of salad, it’s a meal in itself. The green peas add a burst of color, making this a visually attractive dish that looks good on a buffet. It is particularly tasty as an accompaniment to roast chicken or pork, or pork chops or a platter of roasted vegetables.

 

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Roasted Red PepperRisotto (page 174)

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

 

This is a great way to dress up a simple dinner or to handle unexpected guests. Pick up a rotisserie chicken or two or a vegetable stir-fry, and a precooked vegetable, such as asparagus vinaigrette. Make this risotto, open a bottle of wine and everyone will think you’re amazing.

 

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Speaking of chile salt… here’s a CHILE TIP

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Speaking of chile salt… here’s a CHILE TIP: keep a dedicated coffee grinder for grinding dry chiles. Here’s mine. The beauty of a coffee grinder like this is you can control the texture to suit your preference and application. (For my salts, for example, I like my ground chiles a bit flaky.)