Sunday, January 15, 2012

International Hot and Spicy Food Day

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By Diane Forrest,

I remember when I was very young I would go visit my grandparents on the coast.  Every morning my grandmother would cook breakfast, fried eggs, crisp bacon, grits, homemade biscuits with her own fresh preserves and hot coffee.  I can still smell how good her kitchen smelled in the morning.  When my grandfather sat down to eat, he would cut up his egg, letting the yoke run out, then crumble his bacon over the top, then sprinkle salt and pepper over the mixture.  Before taking his first bite, he would douse it all with tobacco sauce.  My grandfather covered everything he ate with tobacco sauce.  He was a Cajun, and they are known for their hot and spicy foods.
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When I tried a taste of tobacco I thought my head was on fire.  I couldn't breathe and there wasn't enough water in the world to put out the fire.  The most I can do is sprinkle a little black pepper on my scrambled eggs.  Then came my son.  He certainly got my grandfather's taste buds.  He loves hot and spicy food.  One summer he even grew his own peppers and ended up selling some to the local Mexican restaurant.  He found some sort of extremely hot sauce on the internet; I think it was actually nuclear waste.  He was only able to put a small dot on his plate then barely dip his food in it, getting just a molecule of sauce on it before the sauce ate through the plate.
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The thing that makes the peppers hot is an oil called Capsaicin.  Hot foods can actually be very good for you too because of their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Garlic, chilies, onions, allspice, and oregano have all been proven to kill bacteria to make food safer to consume.  Peppers have been used in food for over 6000 years, and there are many recipes including these spices.
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Today is International Hot and Spicy Food Day.  I am including one of my husband's favorite appetizers, stuffed jalapeño peppers.  They are especially good when dipped in ranch dressing.  Try something hot and spicy today, I think I will just stick to my black pepper on scrambled eggs!

Jalapeño Poppers

  • 15 jalapeno peppers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • oil for deep frying

  1. Slice jalapeno peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Combine the cream cheese and Cheddar, mixing until well blended. Fill the jalapeno pepper halves with cream cheese mixture and press halves back together. Put milk in a shallow bowl.
  2. Combine the salt and flour in a shallow bowl.
  3. Put bread crumbs in a shallow bowl.
  4. Dip the peppers in the milk, then in the flour, coating thoroughly. Set them on a sheet of foil or waxed paper to dry for about 15 minutes.
  5. Dip the peppers in the milk again, then in the bread crumbs. Let them dry again for 10 to 15 minutes. If necessary, dip again lightly in the milk and again in the bread crumbs and let dry again.
  6. Meanwhile, heat oil in deep fryer to 370°. Deep fry peppers in batches for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer jalapeno poppers to paper towels to drain.

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