Earlier this week I said I was going to start a new feature on a singular ingredient, telling you a little bit about it and its uses. The reason I decided to do this is simple, people underestimate the ingredients they see every day in the shop, markets and cupboards. Learning a little bit about what your using can really make a difference to its applications in your cooking.
So first up, the chilli pepper. One of my favourite natural ingredients (garlic being another) and usually ends up in my sauces, salads, chopped up in wraps or sandwiches or scattered over the molten cheese of a pizza. I’m getting hungry just writing this! Here’s some interesting facts about the chilli.
- The chili has been used in the Americas since around about 7500 BC and one of the first Europeans to experience the fiery kick of a chilli was actually Christopher Columbus.
- They were used for medicinal purposes in Spain after they were brought back by a member of Columbus’s crew.
- They were traded with the Portuguese and spread through colonies throughout Asia, including their introduction into Indian cuisine.
- New variations of chilli are still being created today.
What can I do with them though?
Everybody knows you can cut them up and put them in chilli’s or curries, that’s a great application for them as they have become a staple in the countries of those dishes origin. But how about getting a little more creative with it? Try these quick little ideas sometime or simply use them to inspire your own creations. these are just a few of my favourites.
Devils grilled cheese on toast
- 2 thick slices of good quality bread. (bloomer/tiger bread is good cut into slices around 2cm thick)
- 60g strong cheddar cheese
- 60g red Leicester cheese
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
- 1 tea spoon of mild chilli powder
- 2 jalapeno chilli peppers, finely chopped (keep the seeds!)
- Preheat the grill at a medium to high heat.
- Mix the tomato puree, Worcester sauce and the chilli powder well.
- put the bread under the grill until it starts to brown on the one side.
- remove the bread from the grill and evenly spread the spicy puree evenly over both slices
- scatter all the cheese and chopped peppers over the untoasted side of the bread, return to grill and toast until melted, then remove and enjoy!.
Habanero hot sauce
- Add the water and vinegar to a saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
- Add the sugar, garlic, peppers, ginger, paprika, white pepper and ketchup.
- Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain into a serving dish to serve.
This works great for a BBQ or even a dip for a Saturday night in watching a movie or some really bad TV. Very warming on a winters eve but equally inviting in the heat of summer. perfect.
Are they good for me?
Red chilies contain large amounts of vitamin C and small amounts of carotene. Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a lower amount of both. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins. So in short, yes. they are. They are also said to kick start your metabolic rate, which could help fat burning.
Hottest chilli out there?
They’re measured by something called the scoville scale. check it out below
Now that’s a little snippet of what the chilli is all about and how you can use it, next time you get chance jump in your kitchen and use it in something new. Throw them in an omelette or through some noodles or salad. They’re really versatile, and add a third dimension to many a dish. Don’t be scared, get cooking!