Friday, May 25, 2012

Some like it hot

My latest food obsession, besides anything that can be barbequed, is hot banana peppers. I have previously, on occasion, purchased either a jar or small tin of jalapeno peppers for making quick guacamole as the preparation of raw ones is somewhat hazardous and a bit fiddly too. I usually end up using only half of one pepper and the other half quickly shrivels and dies in the fridge over the next couple of days. And that's if it even makes it to the checkout before falling out of the bottom of the shopping cart. I also find that the pickled/canned ones are hot but don't quite burn like the raw ones do which is nice. I feel hardcore eating hot peppers without actually scarring my digestive tract in the process. I had been exposed to the banana peppers (that come in 3 colours: red, orange and yellow and are cut with something similar to craft scissors so they have a zig zag edge pattern) at various salad bar type establishments. "Do you want hot peppers?" "Why not?" I'd say, throw 'em in. They add a nice flavour yet without the slighty-too-long lingering heat and taste bud damage. I was perusing the aisles on a leisurely shopping trip and saw the jars of these peppers and bought some, thinking it was a sizable jar compared to that of the jalapenos and the dregs may end up lingering in the fridge with various other partially used condiments that I'm saving for that certain recipe. Well, we're probably getting through a jar every 2 weeks now. I use them in salads, in grilled cheese sandwiches for PB, on top of burgers, mixed with canned tuna and grainy dijon mustard for a sweet potato topping and of course, just straight out of the jar.
PB and I also devised a new snack food for when we are watching Netflix. We barely watch any TV, but we usually watch 1-2 episodes of a TV show each night on netflix-no commercial breaks, yay! The first show was Prison Break. 4 seasons, 80 episodes. We devoured that (and loved it) and just started Rescue Me. We are 3 episodes in and I'm liking it so far. Ah, I digress.. back to the food. The snack is this. Some type of crackers,  a small square of sliced Havarti cheese (we usually have a pack of this ready to go for PB's grilled cheese sandwiches-I know-gourmet grilled cheese made with Havarti, Sprouted grain bread and banana  peppers), and topped with a slice of banana pepper. The slices of cheese are very thin and the crackers are small so I'm finding I can tolerate that amount of dairy without a problem. My favourite crackers are Mary's rice and seed crackers which you can get in most grocery stores these days but they are pricey at usually around $5-$6 a box so they are definitely a treat. The crackers in this pic were from Superstore and were left over from some snacks we had when we had some visitors recently. They are really small little squares, perfect for this treat.

Our other Netflix treat is kale chips, which I have blogged about previously. I have experimented with these and found that these are the key steps:
  • The kale must be bone dry. I used my salad spinner to draw out all the water and then pat with paper towel.
  • 300C is enough, cook them low and slow for about 15 mins and then check at 5 min intervals.
  • Try to tear the leaves quite big, the smaller leaves make for really small crumbs and they dry out faster in cooking.
I've used olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil and like them all. The coconut oil is a little lighter and the olive oil is richer. I also add Nooch (nutritional yeast) as a topper and I mix it right  in with the oil and massage it in to the leaves with a bit of salt before cooking. The usual routine is to do the prep and heat up the oven ( 5-10 mins), put them in and watch half an episode. Pull them out when done and let cool and crisp up then watch episode 2 avec snacks. 1 big bunch of kale does not go far though, they shrink up a lot and taste delicious so none will be left over. I used to eat twice as many until PB tried them and decided he liked them so now I have to share. He even likes the nutritional yeast ones. Hint: if you are making these for other people, don't tell them the cheesy flavour is Nooch. Tends to scare people off like anything containing tofu does too. I love nooch, it's fab in soups or used as an alternative to Parmesan and gives me that cheesy hit I just don't get any other way without repercussions. I heard you can make a cheesy nacho type sauce with it too, that's next on the experiment list. Now I just need not to be sensitive to corn so I can put it on my tortilla chips!

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