Tag Archive | "habanero"

Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts

Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts

“Most North Americans think habanero = fire,” Rick Bayless writes in “Fiesta at Rick’s” (W.W. Norton & Sons, $35). “I think habanero = aroma of tropical fruit and flowers … plus some pretty searing heat. By roasting habaneros (along with garlic) and blending them into seasoning, we’ve already mitigated their heat without doing too much damage to that beautifully aromatic flavor. Adding a touch of honey soothes the heat to a very manageable glow.

“Still scared about using habaneros? Try using two or three serrano (or two small jalapeño) chiles instead. And if your macadamia nuts come salted, cut the salt in the seasoning by half.”

These can be made a week in advance and stored in an air-tight container before servings.

Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts (Macadamias al Chile Habanero y Ajo)

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 to 2 fresh habanero chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (about 1 pound) roasted macadamia nuts

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a dry skillet, roast the unpeeled garlic cloves and chiles over medium heat, turning them regularly until soft and blotchy-blackened in spots, about 10 minutes for the habanero, 10 to 15 minutes for the garlic. When the garlic is handleable, peel off the paper skin. In a mortar or small food processor, combine the garlic and habanero. Pound or process to as smooth a mixture as possible. Add the oil, honey and salt and pound or process to incorporate thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine the macadamias and flavoring, stirring to coat the nuts thoroughly. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake —stirring occasionally — until the nuts are toasty smelling and the flavorings have formed a shiny, dryish coating, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Makes about 3 cups.

From “Fiesta at Rick’s” by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless

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A Trio of Spiced Nuts Brightens Any Fiesta

A trio of spiced nuts.

During Fiesta or any party time of the year, it helps to have a few recipes you can make ahead and be able to serve whenever guests drop by.

And what goes better with margaritas than something with a little bite?

I recently tried three spiced nut recipes from celebrity chef Rick Bayless, which he has included in his new cookbook, “Fiesta at Rick’s” (W.W. Norton & Son, $35). Each one can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight jar until needed.

A few words to the wise when it comes to making any candied or spiced nut. Don’t let your attention stray, or you could end up with a burnt tray of nuts. If you don’t know if the nuts are ready yet, err on the side of caution and removed them sooner than later. The heat of the cookie sheet will continue to cook the nuts even after it has left the oven.

Chilied peanuts with toasted pine nuts

When I made Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts, I left them on the tray for a second or two too long, and the color darkened. They weren’t burnt, but they weren’t as pretty as they could have been.

My test of the Chipotle-Roasted Almonds also had a little too much sauce on them, which make the nuts sticky in the humidity. The flavor was great, but make sure your almonds are sparingly coated. If they feel too gooey going into the oven, then you may want to add a few more almonds into the mix. (You might also want to blanch the almonds first, a step I forgot somewhere along the way.)

Most importantly, get creative. Recipes are guides, not blueprints. For the Chilied Peanuts and Pumpkin Seeds, I didn’t have pumpkin seeds to go with the spiced peanuts, but I did have pine nuts. I toasted the same amount and tossed them into the mix. You could use anything from buttery Chex Mix to tiny pretzels to fried peas, and get good results.

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Fire and Ice: Wrapping Up Two Weeks of Extreme Eating


After a week of cold stuff, it was a week of hot and hotter. We ran ice cream stories, recipes, dessert ideas and more one week. Then, we went for the chile peppers, salsas, hot green chile recipes in honor of the Hatch, N.M., harvest, finding the hottest chile in the world and serving up some spicy Indian vindaloo.

You don’t want to miss any of it. Here is a complete list of the articles.



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The Hot List: If You’re Not Warm Enough Yet …

PepperOnFire1Monday it’s a burger laced with the hottest chile pepper in the world,  Tuesday it’s Thai, Wednesday it’s a ridiculously popular (cooked in a hot oven) recipe —  and the list goes on.  Enough with the hot food, you say? We’d like to stop, we really would, but we’re on a (hot) roll.

1. The Four Horseman burger at Chunky’s Burgers & More, 4602 Callaghan, tops the list. Not only does this fiery burger contain jalapeños and serranos, it builds on the heat with habaneros. But it doesn’t stop there. The Scoville, or heat chart-topping ghost peppers are added for extra oomph. Though the burger is only a half pound, it isn’t the size but the heat level that counts here. The cost is $15.99, or it’s free if you can eat it all in accordance with house rules.

2. If you like spicy food, Thai food has to be high on your list. But not all heat levels are the same. The most tongue-searing temperatures we have found have been at Siam Cuisine, 6032 FM 3009, Schertz. When the server asks you how hot you want your dish, just say you want it “A.J. hot.” A.J. Kaewlium is the chef, and this is the incendiary level she likes her food. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

3. The hot foodie movie of this hot, hot summer was “Julie and Julia”.  After watching the film, foodies started making boeuf bourguignon in droves —whether they were making it again, after a long hiatus, or for the first time.  SavorSA ran the recipe and it is remains one of the top hits on our website. Click here.

4. At Garcia’s Mexican Food, 842 Fredericksburg Road, the habanero salsa comes in a plastic squeeze bottle and invariably with a warning from the server — “This is hot, you know?” We know and we like it that way. Some of us might dot it on our pork chop tacos, others might pour it all over their Wednesday special.  So many ways to enjoy this pretty orange salsa with a punch.

5. A greater variety of Indian food is making its way into San Antonio restaurants. One of the spiciest treats to arrive is mango chutney, a rich condiment made with green mangoes, lemons (including the peel) and a searing mixture of chiles, ginger paste and mustard seek. Though you can find this dish at many Indian places, the freshest version we have found is at Bombay Hall, 8783 Wurzbach Road.

6. In need of an extra-strength eye opener? Aldaco’s of Stone Oak, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, has a mix-your-own Bloody Mary bar that it offers Saturday and Sunday during its brunch. Add as much hot sauce and black pepper as you like, and let the remains of the previous day wash away.

7. Heat can be measured in various ways. At several Italian places in town, the pizza ovens are hotter than you might ever want to cuddle up to. The ovens in at least three places — Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, 6989 Blanco Road, Il Sogno, 200 E. Grayson St. at the Pearl Brewery, and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, 15900 La Cantera Parkway at the Shops at La Cantera — vary in temperature from 900 degrees to 1,200 degrees. What that means is, you’ll get a good charred crust on your pie. And if you want spicy heat on top, just reach for the pepper flakes.

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Color Your Salsa With Heat

A trio of colorful salsas.

The next time you need salsa for chips or a main course, don’t stop at one. Try these three colorful creations, each one hotter than the last.

Fire-Roasted Red Salsa

3 to 6 chiles de arbol
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
1 medium red onion, cut in quarters
1 clove garlic, cut in quarters
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 key limes
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Soak the chiles in warm water for 30 minutes or until they are rehydrated.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Roast over a medium heat on a gas grill, turning until all sides are grilled.

In a food processor, add tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and chiles. Process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

From John Griffin

Fiery Green Salsa

Joanne Weir suggests serving this salsa in tacos with tequila lime chicken.

2 cups tomatillos, chopped (fresh or canned)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced red onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 serrano, seeded and minced
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

If you are using fresh tomatillos, peel them. Place them directly over the gas flame, on a charcoal grill, or in a heavy dry skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until blackened all over, 5 to 8 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the tomatillos, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, and serrano.

Season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from

Fire Yellow Salsa

This salsa is the hottest of the three because of the habanero pepper, but it also has a touch of sweetness from the mango and the agave nectar to balance the heat.

1 habanero pepper, seeded
1 large or 2 small mangoes, peeled and flesh removed from pit
2  tablespoons  finely chopped shallot
1 1/2  teaspoons  minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, cut into pieces
1  tablespoon olive oil
1  teaspoon coriander seeds
1  teaspoon agave nectar
Juice of 2 key limes
Salt, to taste

In a food processor, combine habanero, mango, shallot,  ginger and garlic. Pulse until smooth.

Warm oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coriander and cook, stirring, until medium brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in agave nectar, lime juice and salt.

Pour warm spice mixture over mango mixture and pulse in processor until blended.

Note: This mixture will get hotter as it settles.

Adapted from

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Ask a Foodie: How Hot Is That Chile? Scientists Know


There is a reason an objective rating scale for heat in chiles had to be invented.  Consider this scenario: Two people are eating the same dish with the same amount of hot chiles.  One is soon on the floor clutching her throat; the other is happily chowing down, staying infuriatingly cool.

Was that chile hot? Depends upon whom you ask.

Chile heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units, a method to determine just how hot, or pungent, any chile is. According to “The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia,” by David DeWitt, in 1912 Wilbur L. Scoville was a pharmacologist with a Detroit company, Parke Davis, which was using capsaicin in its muscle salve.  Scoville, in the course of his work, developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test.

“This test used a panel of five human heat samplers tasted and analyzed a solution made from exact weights of chile peppers dissolved in alcohol, then diluted with sugar water. The hotter the sample. the greater the amount of water required to dilute it, until the pungency was no longer detectable to the palate” according to DeWitt’s encyclopedia.

“So, if the dilution required was 1,000 units of water to 1 unit of the alcohol sample, the sample was said to have a pungency of 1,000 Scoville Units.”

Later,  in1980, high performance liquid chromatography was developed to determine more accurately the pungency, which also was  expressed in Scoville Units.  Scoville Heat Units remain the standard industry measurement, says DeWitt.

Scoville Scale on Wikipedia

Scoville Scale on Wikipedia

The pungency of chiles is caused by a group of alkaloids called capsaicinoids.  There are 15 different capsaicinoids that make up capsaicin, according to The Chile Pepper Institute at the New Mexico State University. So, there are endless possibilities for flavor and heat combinations.

So how hot is hot? The habanero, which we all know is hot, registers between 100,000 and 500,000 Scoville Units.  But then consider the bhut jolokia, also known as the ghost pepper. It comes from India and measures at 1,001,304  Scoville Heat Units.  Ow!

A serrano chile is 5,000-15,000, while a long green chile, let’s say a hot Hatch chile, is between 500-1,000 Scoville Units.  The pickled pepperoncini you put on your pizza is between 10-100, and the mild bell pepper ranks right down at zero.

Yet, I have heard people ask a cook or server to not put any bell peppers in their food because they “can’t take spicy food.”  I usually suspect they just don’t like bell peppers.

Information for this article came from the New Mexico State University and “The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia.” For more on chiles, go to

An earlier version of this article mentioned that the Chile Pepper Institute was at the University of New Mexico. The institute is at the New Mexico State University. The error has been corrected.

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Ask a Foodie: Where Can You Get the Four Horseman?

jean_victor_balin_toque1Q. The Travel Channel just ran a piece on the hottest burger in San Antonio, if not the world. It’s called the Four Horseman. I can’t remember the name of the place, though, where you can get it. Do you know?


A: “Man v. Food” featured San Antonio’s own Chunky’s Burgers & More, 4602 Callaghan Road, in June for its Four Horseman burger. If you remember mention of the four horseman of the apocalypse in the biblical book of Revelation, then you know what’s in store for you in terms of heat.

This burger is made with four types of peppers, including ghost peppers, habaneros, serranos and jalapeños. It weighs in at a half pound.

The cost is $15.99, or you can take the Chunky’s challenge: If you can eat the burger within 25 minutes  without eating or drinking anything to help you fight the heat, you get it for free. You also have to wait five minutes after eating the burger without any help.

The TV episode has had a significant impact on Chunky’s. “It’s completely boosted our business 110 percent,” says manager Sherry Avila.

Call (210) 433-9960.

If you have a dining question, e-mail

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