Beyond Pots and Pans Masthead

    "Chile Peppers"
August 13, 2009 - Volume 1 - Issue 15      
       In This Issue
Special LeCreuset Feature
Julie & Julia
Annual Sidewalk Sale
Heating It Up!
Preparing Peppers
Knives 101
Smart Chile Peppers Tips
Q & A's
Cookbook Review
Recipes featuring Chile Peppers
Summer Store Hours
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     Some Like it Hot!
If "variety is the spice of life," chile peppers win on both scores! Hundreds of different chile peppers are appearing in our gardens and farmers' markets even as we speak! The peppers' bold colors are a not-so-subtle clue regarding the character of the fruit. From mild to fiery, HOT Chilespeppers are comfortable in the kitchen as the main event, or as the spice that amplifies whatever it graces. As ethnic cooking traditions go global, chiles are indispensable in creating authentic flavors. In this issue we talk about chile peppers and their heat, then offer tips on the special handling and preparation that peppers require. Kitchen prep of the season's fresh harvest demands great knives and knife skills; we'll present a Knife 101 primer, part one of two. Then, we conclude with a cookbook devoted to chiles featuring three of its recipes that will have your mouth watering and your taste buds dancing!
     Special LeCreuset Feature
LeCreuset Promo
To celebrate the heritage color, Flame, Le Creuset is offering this Limited Edition Set of 4 Mini Cocottes in the iconic shade of orange. For a limited time, purchase the Set of 4 Cocottes and receive a bonus cookbook dedicated to the great features and benefits of the Mini Cocotte.  Perfect for gift giving, this set of 4 comes in a beautifully packaged hat box with lid.

This brand new cookbook from Le Creuset features 25 specially created recipes just  for the Mini Cocotte and its versatile cooking and serving features.  Classic recipes including French Onion Soup, Chicken Pot Pie and Macaroni and Cheese are featured throughout the fully illustrated hard cover cookbook. Set w/ cookbook: $80.00. While supplies last.
     Julie & Julia
Movie CoverJulie & Julia Debuts
Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) are featured in writer-director Nora Ephron's adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends...until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.
Written by Columbia Pictures

Watch for Le Creuset throughout the movie!

Bring in your movie ticket stub from Julie and Julia and receive 10% off a Le Creuset purchase of $50 or more!  Not valid on promotional items.
     Annual Sidewalk Sale - Sep 7th!
Sidewalk Sale
     Heating It Up!

Chile Peppers

Bell Peppers

Anaheim Chile




Thai Chiles


Scotch Bonnets



Heat Arrow


Pepper pods are the fruit, (actually, botanically-speaking a "berry"), of Capsicum plants. Purple, green, red, orange, and yellow, their bright colors are eye candy in the vegetable world. Native and central to the Americas, chile pepper plants circumnavigated the globe in the 1500's becoming a staple in cuisines throughout Africa and Asia. Myth has it, that Christopher Columbus assigned "pepper" to the chile pods likening its heat to black pepper even though the two are not at all related.

Measuring the Heat - Chile peppers are synonymous with culinary "heat." Understanding the "heat factor" of chile peppers will provide you confidence in your explorations and allow you to claim dynamite raves at the table. Capsaicin, one of several heat-producing capsaicinoids in chiles, is the substance most responsible for the spicy feel in our mouths.

Chile pepper heat is commonly measured in two ways:

Scoville Heat Units (SHU) - Devised by William Scoville in 1912, the Scoville Organoleptic test is a method of measuring chile pepper heat by diluting pepper extract in water to the point that it is not discernable to the taste. The higher the number, the greater the dilution, the hotter the pepper. By definition, this method is subjective based on the taster's palate, but it is directionally accurate when comparing the different varieties.

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) - This method is the high-tech, laboratory technique for measuring the chemicals responsible for the chile's heat. The capsaicinoids are extracted from chile pods and processed through the chromatographer. The chemical analysis accurately measures the chile's collective power and the quantities of individual heat-producing chemicals.

Variations in Temperature - Beyond the genetics of a chile, the environmental conditions in which the chile grows can greatly impact an individual chile's warmth. This helps to explain those situations where the same recipe may be just right one time, and over the top with fire the next time. Birds appear not to be sensitive to capsaicin and happily eat chile peppers spreading their seeds efficiently. Men perceive chiles hotter than women - something about testosterone . . . .

Advantages of Heat - Consumed chiles connect with pain receptors in our mouth producing a cascade of chemical reactions in our bodies. The pain receptors send signals to our brain triggering an increased heart rate, more perspiration, and a discharge of pain-relieving endomorphins. The perspiration produces an evaporative cooling effect and the endomorphins provide a natural feel-good. Besides their heat-related qualities, chile peppers are nutritional goldmines - one chile pod has the Vitamin C equivalent to six oranges!

     Preparing Peppers
Peppers are easily wrangled in the kitchen with a little practice. These quick tips on technique will shortcut your learning curve and your prep time!Cutting a Bell Pepper
Cutting Bell Peppers - Achieving a dice or julienne of bell peppers happens quickly by trimming the top stem end and the nubby bottom. Cut the pepper shell cylinder open, trimming any seeds and membrane away. Some of us like to wash the pepper at this stage finding it easy to remove any outside dirt and loose seeds all at once instead of in two washings. Spread the pepper flat. Using your best cutting form, cut strips from the pepper "sheet." To dice, turn the strips perpendicularly and slice away!
Scraping out Seeds - The membranes and seeds in chile peppers hold concentrated heat. Most preparations of fresh chile peppers require removal of these "innards." Depending on the pepper, a knife may do the job very well. For other peppers, especially small ones, try using a melon baller, a grapefruit spoon, or even a demitasse spoon. The curved shapes match the pepper's form nicely.
Roasting PeppersRoasting Peppers - The outer skin of a chile pepper can be tough and undesirable. It's such a thin layer that peeling a pepper as you would an apple is impossible. The time-honored method of removing this outer membrane is through roasting the pepper. Roast a pepper by applying high heat to the outer surface. The heat blisters the skin making it easy to remove. In the process, the skin may become quite blackened; inside the pepper's flesh remains firm and succulent.
Fire Roasting - This most common method can be accomplished on the grill, over a gas stovetop burner, or with a culinary torch. Place the fresh peppers directly over the fire Ristraturning them frequently to allow all sides to be reached by the flames. Over a strong flame, Jalapeño peppers will take 3-4 minutes, the larger Anaheim or Poblano peppers will take 5-6 minutes. Watch and tend the peppers closely.

Heat Roasting - This method can be accomplished in the oven (400-450° F), or with a grid pan on top of an electric burner. Turn the peppers frequently during the heating.
When the skin has blistered uniformly, remove from heat and place in a brown paper bag or closed container for a few minutes. Steam will collect and serve to further loosen the chile's skin. After this step, the outer skin can be removed quickly by gently pulling the skin away from the pepper.
Drying Peppers - A familiar site and fragrance this time of year in the Southwest are the ristras - chiles strung together hanging in the sun to dry. These classic forms are made from red, ripe chiles. To learn how to make your own ristras, consult this "How-To" page from New Mexico State University.

     Knives 101 - Part One of Two
Individuals often comment about the time it takes to prepare fresh ingredients. We're betting they don't have the proper knife, or that they don't know the techniques for wielding a good knife effectively!  We offer several different lines of good knives that we've chosen carefully based on our personal history with the knives, their quality, and price point. To appreciate what a good knife is and how to choose a knife, it's helpful to become familiar with the general characteristics of knives and their proper terminology:

Knife Anatomy

A knife's size is often described as being "x" inches. This measurement refers to the distance from the bolster to the tip of the knife, not the knife's entire length. Knives 101, Part Two, will be in our next e-newsletter. There we'll discuss different knife types and the "why's" behind their different shapes and forms.

     Smart Chile Pepper Tips
Tip #1:  When roasting peppers, make the most of your effort by doing a few extra and freezing them in a single layer. You may peel before or after freezing.
Tip #2:  Chipotles in adobo sauce are red, ripe jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked and canned in a vinegary tomato sauce. We find that one small can provides enough chile power for several recipes. Once the can is open, chop the entire contents and freeze the unused portion in handy tablespoon quantities for future use.
Tip #3: Confused by the chile terminology? Fresh chiles have one name, dried they have another. Here's a translation of some of the more commonly used chile terms: Poblano (fresh) = Ancho (dried), Jalapeño (fresh) = Chipotle (smoked-dried red), Mirasol (fresh) = Guajillo (dried), Green Chile (fresh) = Pasado (dried).
Roasting Peppers with a Culinary TorchTip #4: Generally, the smaller the pepper, the hotter. Peppers become hotter as they ripen with red peppers two to three times hotter than their green precursors. Hotness concentrates even further when dried. The hottest pepper on record according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the Bhut Jolokia with its Scoville score of 1,001,304!
Tip #5: Chiles roasted directly over a flame will wilt the flesh slightly. Chiles roasted in the oven will yield slightly firmer flesh, and chiles torched with a culinary torch will result in the firmest (least cooked) flesh.

     Q & A's
Q and A LogoQ:  What's the best way to protect your skin when preparing peppers?
A:   The capsaicin in chiles can be irritating to your skin. A coating on your fingers with olive oil may provide a layer of protection. Wash your hands well with soap after handling chiles. Rainbow of ChilesSome report that cleaning up with a wipe down with rubbing alcohol will dissolve the potent chile oils. Gloves are helpful when working with chiles. Do not touch your eyes when working with chiles.
Q:  What's the best antidote for chile heat?
A:  Chile heat comes from chemicals that are hydrophobic, that is, they do not combine well with water. That's why drinking water (or beer) will not quell the heat in your mouth or throat. Instead, try a dairy product, bread, or rice to tame the flame.
Q:  What is Tabasco® sauce?
A:  Inspired in 1868 by the tabasco pepper plant, the McIlhenny family made this hot chile into a sauce business located on Avery Island, Louisiana. Crushed chiles, salt, white wine vinegar and 3 years of aging in white oak barrels produce one of the most familiar chile-based hot sauces.
Q:  What is the hottest part of a chile?
A:  The capsaicin is concentrated in the seeds, membrane and stem end of a chile. Remove the inner seeds and white membranes as part of your preparation of fresh chiles.
Q:  What's the difference between green and red chiles?
A:  One might think the two common colors are two different species or varieties, however, green is just the immature form of the pepper. Red indicates a ripe chile. Both immature and ripe chiles are used extensively each lending a particular character to a dish.

      Cookbook Review
The Great Chiles Rellenos Book by Janos Wilder. Copyright 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. (The book may be ordered from the publisher by calling 1-800-733-3000 or by going to
CookbookCookbooks that take a single food and riff on it are fascinating! With a singular focus, mastery of the topic seems accessible for the everyday cook. This is the case with the cookbook, The Great Chiles Rellenos Book. The term, chile rellenos, translates to "peppers, stuffed." As the author explains, he began stuffing Anaheim, Poblano and Jalapeño peppers with traditional recipes from different regions, and then veered off into the land of experimentation. The cookbook logically sets a solid foundation with a helpful discussion of roasting and preparing peppers. The fillings range, as promised, from traditional cheese to exotic lobster with triple cream brie, and everything in between. A chapter is also included for peppers in casseroles, salads, and as "poppers." The sauces and condiments that will complement the chile rellenos are graciously included and polish the presentation to a delightful finish. We appreciated the in-depth lessons on chile rellenos and feel quite enabled in turning a couple of these recipes into new personal signature dishes!

     Recipes featuring Chile Peppers
Reprinted with permission from The Great Chiles Rellenos Book by Janos Wilder, copyright © 2008. Interior photo credit: Laurie Smith © 2008; Cover photo credit: Ed Anderson © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.  The book may be ordered from the publisher by calling 1-800-733-3000 or by going to

Basic Monterey Jack Cheese Chiles Rellenos
Chile RellenosThis introductory recipe is perfect for getting started with chiles rellenos. The preparation provides experience with roasting peppers, stuffing, and light breading processes. Sautéed, not deep-fried, these stuffed peppers were easy and delicious! Topped with a bit of salsa, two per person made for a perfect supper!
Click here to view the illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
Culichi and Shredded Chicken Chiles Rellenos Casserole
Culichi CasseroleLayered in lasagna fashion, the roasted peppers provided one layer, the shredded chicken in a diced onion and tomato sauce provided the next layer. Monterey Jack cheese came next, and a fantastic Mexican white sauce, Culichi, finished the dish. The result was an incredibly delicious casserole that baked into a hearty, delicious meal.
Click here to view the illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
Cheddar, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Chorizo Poppers in Tortilla Crust
Jalapeno PoppersWhile jalapeños lose a lot of their heat when heated, there's still just enough punch to live up to their reputation. These poppers avoid the over-used cream cheese filling. Instead, the stuffing for these poppers is a magic mixture of chorizio, sun-dried tomatoes and cheddar cheese - a great combination for nachos if there's any leftover stuffing. The ground tortilla chip breading completed the complementary flavors. This recipe gives "poppers" a whole new dimension!
Click here to view the illustrated recipe.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Warm up the table with some chile heat!
Lorraine, Katie, and all of the Staff at Beyond Pots and Pans