I once saw a friend top their movie popcorn with the pickled jalapeños meant for the nachos—confiding that they enjoyed not just the spice of the chiles in their popcorn, but also the pickling juice oozing all over it. Then I came across Todd English's recipe for Sizzling Shrimp Popcorn with Jalapeños and was further intrigued. I wasn't sure about the recipe—okay, I'm down to try fresh jalapeños topped over my popcorn, but adding shrimp to the mix? However, I'm an equal-opportunity popcorn eater, so I gave it a whirl.
If you don't already have a ready-made container of chipotle purée in your fridge, here's reason number 148 on why you should. Just 1 1/2 tablespoons of chipotle purée adds a smoky heat to this easy stovetop mac and cheese recipe.
Tired of the usual homemade dips in your rotation? Add Muhammara to the mix. I was recently introduced to this Middle Eastern puree of roasted red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. If you're extra ambitious, roast the red peppers instead of using the jarred kind.
Whether it's coated in a blend of chile powders or bathed in a combination of buttermilk and hot sauce, fiery fried chicken has become a force to be reckoned with. Slowly but surely, spicy fried chicken is coming into its own all across the country. (Bojangles', Chick-fil-A's Spicy Chicken, etc.) And this Southern gal--who is serious about both fried chicken and spice--is always looking to cook up fried chicken to quench both these needs.
I have a love affair with icebox cakes. A tower of cookies layered with whipped cream or custard sits overnight in the fridge. After the stint, the cookies have absorbed the moisture, turning into a cakey consistency. Hands down, it's one of the simplest ways to create a cake, which comes in handy after a holiday season full of frenzied baking. And since I add a blast of heat to everything, the whipped cream for this chocolate icebox cake is flavored with cocoa powder, New Mexican chile powder and cayenne. The result is a chocolate-chile slice of heaven that has never been easier to create.
When it gets cold out and my nose gets sniffly, I happily turn to the curing power of a hot toddy. My standby recipe is from an older version of a Gourmet cookbook for hot buttered rum that combines lemon juice, maple sugar, rum, boiling water and is dotted with a pat of butter. But I wanted to add a spicy element to the mix, using ginger tea as a base for the cocktail, which provides a tiny ginger burn at the back of the throat.
What is better during the holidays than a piping mug of hot chocolate? Well, one that's been enhanced with cinnamon and cayenne powder of course. This Mexican take on the wintry beverage is creamy and rich with a spike of spiciness. Top it with whipped cream, marshmallows or whatnot.
For the family who worships fiery food, this is a way to relish spiciness for Thanksgiving. Soaked in a habanero-filled brine, this turkey packs a punch you won't soon forget. If the family isn't totally on board for a spicy turkey, then pare down the brine recipe and use it for a chicken instead.
I was a skeptic. Apple salsa? Sure, I enjoy a good fruit salsa but I had never thought of it in terms of apples. But, hey, it's apple season and a good opportunity to use up the fruit. Who knew it could be so good. There was a certain point where I ditched the chips and just used a spoon to eat the salsa on its own. It's that addictively tasty.
[Photographs: Eventful Moments] Recipe adapted from Chef Zac Campbell of Eventful Moments. Campbell makes this Asian/Mexican fusion of guacamole for Day of the Dead celebrations....
Morcilla sausage. [Flickr: scaredykat] This recipe is adapted from chef Lucio Palazzo of Xochitl Restaurant in Philadelphia and is on the menu for the restaurant's Day of the Dead celebration. According to Palazzo, morcilla is a spicy pork blood sausage...
[Photographs: kretyen] Recipe adapted from Mercadito Restaurant's Day of the Dead menu....
It was at the Nashville breakfast joint Pancake Pantry where I was introduced to pancake perfection—the Village Smithy COLO Sante Fe Cornmeal Pancakes. They take stone-ground cornmeal pancakes and fill them with cheddar cheese chunks, crisp bacon, and roasted green chiles. Just a drizzle of maple syrup over the top adds a sticky sweetness, but the main garnish for me was a swirl of salsa and sour cream. So I set out to recreate the recipe at home with results that would spice up any brunch gathering.
Pasta salad is my absolute favorite summer picnic indulgence. But I wanted a twist to make it a memorable side dish, especially for a picnic potluck. Last year, I found an old Bon Appétit recipe that used an Asian-inspired base for the dressing: a mixture of sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and a kick of cayenne powder. I added a little mayonnaise into the sauce as a personal preference (what's a pasta salad without a hit of mayo?), and additional vegetables on hand.
It's always exciting when someone presents you with a new way to prepare a dish that had never crossed your mind before. This was the case while I was interviewing Chattanooga resident and chef Kent Whitaker for an upcoming article in on tailgating. He mentioned his favorite way to eat jalapenos—battered and fried a la okra and dipped in a creamy horseradish sauce.
There's always a divide between what I want to bring to a party as an appetizer or side dish, and what's portable or easy to reheat. And for all those times I've tried making Buffalo wings in the cramped kitchen at other people's parties, there was a great alternative lurking the entire time. And that was Buffalo Chicken Dip.
A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for homemade Sriracha. Well, for all those commenters who complained that Sriracha had become too mainstream, I have another homemade spicy condiment option: harissa. It was during a trip to Morocco last year where I was first exposed to harissa, a thick, hot paste of red chiles that's a staple in neighboring Algeria and Tunisia, and just recently making inroads in Morocco. Moroccans stir harissa into a broth to drizzle over couscous or dollop it into soups and stews.
My first introduction into the wonder of mojo sauce was one of the early seasons of Top Chef, where a contestant (the always entertaining, Howie from the Miami season) braised pork shoulder in a mojo sauce to rave reviews. But that's only the beginning of mojo, which I've discovered since then has many uses and variations. Mojo does triple-duty as a fiery marinade, a condiment, and as a tenderizer for meats, seafood and poultry.