lundi, octobre 30, 2006

Hooray for Hot Peppers

Well, my day at the Salon du Chocolat made me realize that I have very rarely cooked anything spicy since I've arrived. Sure, I usually dump some rocoto or ají amarillo into the broth when I'm making rice, but that just gives a mild curry burn (although enough rocoto will make anything super-hot). For firey hot goodness, you need fresh, raw hot peppers with the seends still intact. Unfortunately, the only thing you can find in Paris (although I haven't checked out all the ethnic enclaves, obviously) are these piments verts (green hot peppers); they're finger-shaped peppers of the cayenne-banana-cubanelle variety, so the flesh is barely spicy at all, but the membranes and seeds add a fair bit of spice. Sadly it lacks the smoky resonance of poblano chiles, or the slightly tangy burn of jalapeños, but they'll do.

I came home from work with my mind made up: I'm making salsa, dammit. I'm also making lentils. And tomorrow, I'll fry up whatever leftover lentils I have into refried beans. I bought 3 of those finger peppers, 5 lemons, and a bell pepper (the rest of the stuff I already had at home). I made a simple onion+tomato+hot/sweet pepper salsa, with a fair bit of lemon juice and all the seeds in. Served as a salsa fresca (i.e., fresh, not yet marinated), it was a kaleidescope of all the component flavors: strong raw onion, vine-ripened tomato, sweet bell peppers, and the occasional sting of hot peppers. Whatever is left over tomorrow will hopefully meld together into a proper salsa, which I will have with my refried beans. Speaking of beans (or lentils, in this case), I tossed the other two hot peppers, sliced, into the lentils. I had already created a base of sautéed sausage, onion and garlic, but I waited until I had added the water and lentils before adding the hot peppers; I didn't want any of the capsaicin to cook out. The result was an evenly hot lentil dish that was thicker than lentil soup, but a bit too thin to be refried beans (yet). Mmmm. Everything about tonight's meal conjured up "home" for me.

Shortly after eating my meal, I remembered some of the other reasons to love hot food. Eating a lot of spicy food creates an endorphin rush, coupled with a metabolism boost. A few minutes after eating, I was in a great mood and was suddenly inspired to clean up my apartment. Hooray for "natural" self-medication!

Oh, by the way, I had totally forgotten to mention last Saturday that I had bought a bag of cacao pasta. Yes, I have a bag of dark-brown rotini that have been made with unsweetened cacao. I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do with it, but I was thinking of making chicken simmered in something creamy (maybe creme fraîche and cracked peppers). Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

2 commentaires:

wayne&wax a dit…

I'm thinking a pollo mole con pasta cacao might be out of this world, but maybe double-chocolate is not the best way to go. perhaps contrast would be better. still, knowing your predilections...

LMGM a dit…

What do you mean, "predilections?" You,...oh, wait...ohhhh, you mean my chocolate fetish. Right. Yes. Can't get enough.
In fact, that's partially why I'm asking for advice. My first thought was "more chocolate!", but I was worried that the mole might drown out the cacao pasta. Could I forgive myself if I manage to ruin two chocolate ingredients by fusing them together? Will I ever live it down? Am I possibly procrastinating from my doctoral work?
I realize now that I probably have enough of the pasta for two batches, so I'm going to make one "purist" batch with nothing but a bit of melted butter and chicken. Then, I'll try something more complicated for the second batch.