Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Ah... to continue. What to do with unending bushels of green chiles. There are many choices. Roast them. Dry them. Eat them fresh with eggs and chorizo. Put them on sandwiches. Make a stew. We did all of the above and still can't keep up with them.

One of my favorite things is green chile stew. My wife and I have good friends who live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is the home of green chile. I crave all of their chile-laden foods, carne adovada, papas con chile colorado, papas con chile verde, chiles rellenos, chile con queso, huevos rancheros, breakfast at Frontier, but especially, guisado de chile verde (green chile stew) from Duran's Pharmacy. Yes, a pharmacy. A pharmacy with a lunch counter with incredible red chile and green chile sauce. Don't miss it if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods. Side Note... My wife and I used to take the Amtrak train from LA to Pittsburgh every Christmas. It was our annual trip to visit family and a way to totally check out from work, etc. Sit on a train and read, play cards and sleep. Layover in Chicago. Dinner at Topolobampo. Back on the train. Sleep. Wake up. Pittsburgh. Back to the story, the train always stopped in Albuquerque, and there was an incredible burrito vendor at the stop. He had the most incredible carne adovada burritos. I still crave them to this day. If you're ever in that area, it's worth a visit to the train station parking lot for one of these beauties.

Back to work. Green chile. What to do? Make a chile verde base. You can freeze it and use it for stew or chile cheeseburgers, burritos, eggs, queso, etc. Get a load of peppers. Roast them. Peel them. De-seed them. There you go....


1.2 lbs Anaheim or New Mexican green chiles - roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno - roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 serrano chiles - roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
6 roasted and cored tomatillos
4 roasted garlic cloves
1 tbsp New Mexico HOT green chile powder
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 diced white onion
1 tbsp olive oil
smoked salt
black pepper
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp chile powder (optional)

Blend the tomatillos, garlic, green chile powder and vegetable stock until smooth. Reserve.
Sauté the white onion in a tbsp of olive oil until soft and golden in a large fry pan. Add the tomatillo puree and fry for a few minutes. Add smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add chile mixture, 3/4 cup vegetable stock, oregano and chile powder. Cook for approximately 10 minutes over medium heat until fragrant, softened and liquid is mostly evaporated. Separate into portions and freeze or use right away.

Oh, you would like to use the base. Okay. These are sloppy, oozing and delicious.

makes 2 big burgers

1 lb 80% lean 20% fat prime grass-fed sustainably raised ground chuck
salt and fresh ground pepper
green chile base
1 tbsp chopped fresh epazote or cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
2 thick slices cheese of your choice (suggestions: asadero or cheddar)
2 hamburger buns of your liking

In a saucepan, combine the chile base, chopped epazote or cilantro, cumin, paprika and cook in a little oil over moderately low heat until soft. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir until combined well. Then, sprinkle in the water, stirring as you add. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened. About 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the ground beef, salt and pepper and form into two 1/2 lb patties. Brush your pre-heated grill with oil (or cook them however you like) and cook the patties to your desired doneness. I use 7/5 for my grill. 7 minutes on the first side and 5 after flipping. That's for medium and that's for guests. I actually cook mine a hell of a lot more rare. Figure about 15 minutes for well done (Which is crazy to me. You can't taste the meat.) If you are a bad timing person for cooking meat and other things - check this out. Highly recommended and a completely essential book.

Grill the hamburger buns until lightly toasted. Top each burger with cheese before removing from the heat and add the chile topping, cooking until the cheese melts. I do the chile on top of the cheese. A smarter method is to do the chiles on the meat and then the cheese. Less messy. Transfer to a toasted bun and top with condiments of your choice. Tomatoes, onions, lettuce, ketchup, pickles, mustard, etc.

We still have chiles!!! What now. Something else that stores well in the fridge. Great with cheese and crackers as an appetizer. Check my wife's blog for her cracker recipe to go with the chutney.

Adapted from Mark Miller's The Great Chile Book

1 lb 13 oz anahiem chiles
3 oz shishito peppers
4 serrano peppers
1/4 tsp white peppercorns, cracked
1/2 tsp corriander whole crushed
1/2 tsp hot new mexico green chile powder
2 c sugar
1 TB roasted ground mexican oregano
2/3 c cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and cook for 10 to 15 minutes over med heat in an enamel or stainless steel pan.
Allow to cool and serve cold.

WE STILL HAVE CHILES!!!! The other thing you can do when your chiles keep coming and coming is to borrow your friend's dehydrator and dry some peppers. Easy peasy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Considering this past summer's garden, leads to a few distinct thoughts. Number one, we have no problem growing Anaheim chiles and shishito peppers. Peppers in general, are not a problem for us. Number two, we weren't as successful with tomatoes as we would have liked to be. We definitely grew enough to keep us in tomatoes, but we didn't succeed in my plan to have enough to preserve for the winter months. We had about eight plants and about four of them were either not very productive or were never pollinated. These are things to think about over the winter months. It was mostly the heirloom varieties that were the troublemakers. Our San Marzano plants were amazingly delicious and very generous. Our Green Zebras were also good growers, as were our tomatillos.

Another issue was our Cucumbers. Our pickling cucumbers started off vigorously and then died, but our Japanese cucumbers were wonderful and we couldn't keep up with them. They produced too much too fast, but that was for about one month. Then, something killed them as well. Who knows what pestilence attacked them, but that will be added to my list for the winter to consider how to combat. Regardless, it was still a very fruitful garden. So, what did we do with the shishito peppers, Japanese cucumbers, Anaheim chiles and tomatoes? First up...



4 Japanese cucumbers - sliced crosswise into 1/2" circles
1 small handful of shishito peppers or peppers of your choice
2 cups water
1 tsp celery seed
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp dill weed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp sichuan peppercorns
2 cups distilled vinegar
2 tbsp agave syrup
8 cloves garlic - sliced
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp red-pepper flakes

Salt the cucumbers with an additional tablespoon of salt. Mix in a colander and let drain for about an hour. Rinse, drain again and put into an appropriate sized jar. They should almost fill it up. A large mason jar or large-mouthed glass jar with tight-sealing lid will be perfect.

Crush the seeds and spices in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Mix all other ingredients with the spices in a big bowl (except the cukes). Mix until all the salt dissolves. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers in the jar. Cap the jar and refrigerate for at least a week before eating.

adapted from Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times. July 23, 2008

3/4 lbs shishito peppers
5 serrano chiles sliced in half lengthwise
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
2 tsps kosher salt
1 tbsp agave syrup
2 tsps dried oregano
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 small white onion - sliced thinly
3 whole chiles de arbol or other small dried red chile

Cut a few thin lengthwise slit into each pepper.
Simmer the vinegar with 2 cups of water, garlic, salt, agave syrup, spices, onion and dried chile for about 4 minutes.
Blanch the peppers (shishitos and serranos) in a large pot of boiling water until they soften and their color just begins to fade (about 2-3 minutes). Drain the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel. Do not rinse them.
Place the warm peppers in a large glass jar with lid and pour the warm liquid mixture over them. Seal the jar and rotate to mix the solution and spices around in the jar. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.


Fresh unblemished habanero chiles - enough to fill your desired jar

Poke a few small slits with a knife into the top of each chile. Soak the chiles in overnight in a brine of 3 cups of water and 1 cup kosher salt. This will crisp the chiles before you pickle them. Rinse them well.

Pickling Brine

3 cups distilled white vinegar (I use Heinz)
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until salt is dissolved. Take off the heat.
Place the chiles in a sterilized glass jar (clean, rinse, dry and then pour boiling water into and over the jar and lid). Pack the chiles tightly and leave about 1/4 inch of head space. Pour the vinegar solution over the chiles. Remove air bubbles by tapping on the sides of the jar. You want the chiles to be submerged completely. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks before serving.

NOTE: All of the above recipes were intended to be quick refrigerator style pickles. If you want to preserve them at room temperature, you should follow more precise canning instructions for packing and sealing them in jars.