Hot Stuff:   A selection of our favorite fiery foods

These recipes all feature the liberal use of chile or Îhotâ peppers (capsicum,  spp.) to spice up the seasonings.  Grocery stores are nowadays carrying larger selections of fresh chiles,  many of which are hotter than the well-known Jalapeño.  Powdered Cayenne ("red") pepper can be used in all of these dishes but fresh chiles give more flavor.

Caution #1 :  Most commercial Chili powders contain cumin so don't use it as a substitute for cayenne:  too much and your dish tastes like another bowl of chili!

Caution #2:  These recipes have been adjusted to what I call moderately hot, which I'm told is very hot for most non- Chile Heads.  If you don't like it fairly pungent, cut down on the chiles initially----you can always add more.

Warning!:  All of the sauces/relishes described should be refrigerated when not in use.  Don't try to preserve, bottle, or 'can' any of these unless (1) you've had experience and (2) the recipe contains vinegar or other acid.  Deadly botulism bacteria are anerobic and grow particularly well in sealed containers of non-acid foods.

Handling chiles:  When you wash, de-seed, or otherwise prepare chiles, the capsaicin or 'hottening' agent in chiles readily spreads to hands and thence to other sensitive body parts (!).  Old-time Chile Heads call this 'Hunan Hand'.  The sure-fire way to 'de-heat' your hands is as follows [courtesy of Jean Andrews, the Pepper Lady]:  Put 1 Tablespoon laundry bleach in 1 cup cold water and thoroughly wash your hands in this solution, then rinse.  Works every time!


Genuine Red-Neck Pepper Sauce

Remove the stems from small  chiles, wash, and fill a bottle [preferably one with a non-metal cap] with them.  Add vinegar [cider or wine vinegar gives a better flavor, I think] to cover the chiles.  Cap loosely for a few weeks until bubbling ceases, top up with vinegar, and  tighten cap.

This is the standard Southern 'pepper sauce' for   turnip greens, collards,  peas, etc.  Add more vinegar as the level drops.  Chiles will lose color after several months but this doesn't affect the flavor.  This one is sufficiently acid to keep well without refrigeration.


Hot Garlicky Cheese Dip/Spread

3/4 C  cottage cheese
1/8  lb  Yellow cheese (American, Colby, whatever;  preferably not Velveeta!)
1/8  lb  Cream or Neufchatel cheese  (the exact amount and mix of cheeses isn't critical)
2 or 3 Tbs milk or beer
2 or 3  cloves garlic, peeled  [or garlic powder to taste]
1 small onion [or 1/2 medium]
2 or 3 fresh or frozen Tabascos, Habaneros, or other hot peppers÷see Caution #2 above.  If these arenât available, use powdered Cayenne to taste÷start with 1 tsp. for moderate heat.
1/8 tsp each salt and black pepper

Cube the firm cheeses and allow them to come to room temperature, then put all ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth.  If too stiff to blend, add another Tb or two of milk or beer.  Pour out immediately into a bowl or other container÷the mixture firms-up somewhat as it sits and becomes messier to remove from the blender if you wait.  If you want a firmer spread, finely grate another 1/4 lb of yellow cheese and stir in thoroughly, or mash in 1/4 lb cream or Neufchatel cheese with a fork.    This will keep for 3 to 5 days [covered] in the refrigerator.

This is especially good with tortilla chips or rye Triscuit.  For those who abhor fat , this  recipe also works well with low-fat dairy products.


Gator Slide Farm PTO Hot Sauce

[ÎPTOâ stands for Pepper-Tomato-Onion.  To readers with farm backgrounds it also means Îpower take-offâ÷the external rotary power connection to the farm tractor.  Add enough chiles to this recipe and both meanings will seem appropriate.

2 or 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 medium onions, quartered
4 to 10 hot peppers [I use Habaneros or Rocotillos, but any really hot chili peppers will do.  If I only had Tabascos (which to me have a strong taste) I'd start with 3 or 4, plus a mild (bell) pepper or two]
2 or 3 cloves garlic
2 Tb olive or other oil
3 Tb water

Place all ingredients in a covered pot  & simmer [covered] on low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Dump in a food processor or blender & whiz for a few seconds [the food processor makes a chunkier product].  Transfer to a jar or bowl with a cover.  Let cool until it can be tasted, then salt to taste.

 Good on tacos, as a dip with tortilla chips, or can be added to other sauces  or to baked beans, etc. to 'liven them up'.  This will keep for a week or longer [covered] in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen.


Hot Salsa

4 or 5 medium tomatoes
2 or 3 medium onions, peeled
2 medium cucumbers, small zuccini (6"-7")  OR 3 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 or more Jalapeño, Habanero or Rocotillo peppers, seeds and membranes removed
[1 or 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro÷optional, some donât like the taste!]
1/4 C cider vinegar or lime or lemon juice÷see note below
 Salt, to taste

Finely chop the vegetables÷I use a food processor.  If you like it 'chunky',  process for only a few seconds.

For fresh salsa,  add the lemon/lime juice or vinegar and enjoy.  This will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.

For a longer-lasting version with a different taste:
Put 1 Tb cooking oil  in a pot [this retards sticking], then add the chopped vegetables and the vinegar/lime /lemon juice if you use it; see the comment below, heat to boiling, then turn heat down and simmer 8- 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add salt to taste.


Green Sauce
[great on tacos, hot dogs, etc.!]

4 or 5  medium-size green tomatoes, quartered
1 large or 2 medium onions
1 dozen green Jalapeños, halved [and seeded, for a milder sauce]
  [or use other green chiles, like Serranos, green Habaneros, etc]
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/2 Tsp salt
2 Tbs olive or other vegetable oil
1/3 C  vinegar

Put all ingredients except oil in a cooking pot,and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, place in a blender, and 'whiz'  until liquefied.  Taste and add seasoning [more salt, garlic salt, cayenne, powdered ginger, mustard, etc.; be creative!] to taste.
Place oil in a large skillet, heat slightly, and pour in the blended mixture.  Heat to the simmering point & maintain heat for 5 minutes while stirring.
Store in sterilized bottles or jars in refrigerator.  This can be 'canned' [boiling water method] for on-the-shelf storage.

Note--  Unless the tomatoes & peppers are quite green, this sauce comes out yellowish.  It doesn't affect the flavor.  If you prefer it really green, add food coloring while blending.


Spicy Baked Beans

1 large (52-oz.) can pork & beans
3 cups diced onion
2 cups diced bell pepper
2/3 cup brown sugar [or if you have it, use cane syrup!]
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 or 3 cloves finely minced garlic, OR 1 tsp garlic powder
2 or 3 hot peppers, liquefied in a blender with 2 or 3 Tbs vinegar.  If hot peppers are not available, use Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper to taste÷start with a tsp. or so.
2 or 3 slices bacon, diced

Add all ingredients except the bacon to the beans and mix thoroughly.  Put in an ovenproof casserole/deep pan/Dutch oven, top with the bacon, and bake uncovered in a 300°F oven until bacon has browned.  This will take about an hour.

Those who want to avoid the fat can omit the bacon.


Hot În Spicy Cheese Straws

1/2 recipe biscuit dough
1/2 cup grated cheese, preferably medium-sharp or sharp
Cayenne pepper [I use about 1 tsp but you may want to experiment by starting out with less]
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Roll out the biscuit dough fairly thin, about 1/16" thick.  Sprinkle the dough evenly with the cayenne pepper [I use the large shaker holes in the cayenne container top], the garlic powder, and then the cheese.  Now, starting at one edge of the dough, roll it up like a jelly-roll with the cheese and spices on the inside.  Fold the ends to the center; then fold the whole mass in half.  Roll the dough blob out flat with the rolling-pin, fold it over on itself twice again and roll it out to about 1/8" thickness or a little less.  With a large knife cut the dough into strips 3 or 4 inches long and about  3/8" wide.   Place the strips of dough about 1/2" apart on  floured cookie sheets and bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 7 minutes.  Watch carefully, as these burn easily!

If you donât serve these at once, the following will keep them crisp longer:  After you remove the cheese straws from the oven, turn the oven off, leave the door open, and let it cool for a minute or two.  Then return the straws to the oven and leave them there with the door partially closed for about 5 minutes--this dries out any residual moisture.  Stored in jars with tight lids, these keep well for a week or more---if you can resist eating them!


Ocapa  [Peruvian Hot Potatoes]

I got this recipe via Internet from the "Chile-Heads Digest".  Itâs a bit different without the native ingredients but is still good with the substitutes!

2 lbs. medium potatoes
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
6 Yellow Aji  or Amarillo [Peruvian hot] peppers (de-seeded or not, your call), chopped.
1 Jalapeño or 2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped  [original recipe calls for dried Mirasols]
1/4 cup  celery leaves, chopped   [Original recipe calls for 1 sprig Huacatay (Mexican marigold)]
1 cup each cottage cheese and grated Parmesan cheese [Original recipe calls for Añejo cheese]
1 cup milk
3/4 C toasted peanuts
2 Tbs cooking oil or lard

Cut the potatoes into 3/4" cubes and boil until done, but not mushy.  Sauté the onions, celery leaves, and peppers until the onions are golden; then whiz them in a blender, adding the cheese and thinning a little with the milk.  You want a medium-thick, not-too-runny  sauce.  If you can find the huacatay, add it to the blender mix.  Coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor or blender.  Put the cooked potatoes in a serving dish, pour the sauce over the potatoes and then sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top. Serve hot.  Buen Apetito!


Green Beans 'Bayou Boeuf'

 This dish was named for Bayou Boeuf [pronounced to rhyme with 'Jeff' by most central Louisiana rednecks like me!].  Bayou Boeuf originates in the pasture  of Hope Plantation (my ancestral home) in Rapides parish, Louisiana and eventually runs into Red River.  This recipe was concocted in late May 2003 [when we had lots of fresh green beans available from the garden at Gator Slide Farm] for the annual pot luck supper of the Willis Bodine Chorale, the week after two performances  of the Bach Mass in b-minor.

2 or 3 lbs. fresh green beans.  Remove ends and string or snap,  if large.
1/2 large onion, chopped
I/2 medium-large bell pepper, chopped
2 or 3 hot chile peppers [I used 1 Rocotillo & 2 Tabascos], chopped fine
3 or 4 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tablespoons bacon grease, butter, margarine, or cooking oil
1/3 C each,  pecans and bread crumbs, toasted
freshly-ground black pepper & salt, to taste

Microwave the beans in a covered plastic or glass pot  with 3 T water for 6 minutes.  This starts the cooking process.  While the beans are microwaving:

Put the fat, onion, garlic, chile & bell  peppers in a large skillet and saute' (medium high heat) until the onion is limp. Don't burn it---burnt garlic ruins the taste!

When the microwaving is done, dump the beans and their liquid into the hot skillet with the  other ingredients, stir, cover, and steam  (medium to medium-high heat, depending on how many beans you used). You may need to add a few Tbs. water to maintain the steaming.   At 3 or 4-minute intervals use a large spoon or pancake flipper to stir and turn the beans  so that they all are steamed.

The beans are ready when they are dark green and limp but still slightly crisp:  8 - 10 minutes. Dust with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Sprinkle the toasted pecans and bread crumbs over the beans and serve in the skillet while still hot .  Bon appetit!


Blowyahedoff  Tuna Salad

1 can tuna  (I still prefer the tuna-in-oil, but your call)
1 smalll onion , chopped fine
1 medium stalk celery, chopped fine
1 or 2 (or more!) fresh habanero chilies, chopped fine
1/2 medium dill pickle, chopped fine, or 1 heaping Tb hot-dog relish
2 Tbs mayonnaise
(1 hard-boiled egg, chopped fine--include this if you like eggs; I don't!)

Mix all together in a bowl.  Serve on lettuce or crackers.  Especially good on plain soda crackers or rye Triscuit.

[Recipes last updated 23 August 2003]