The Great Pepper Cookbook
A Spicy Read
By Bobbie (Roberta) Kitto
Two recipes included below: The Devil’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake & Albondigas Soup
Trying to keep a social distance while shopping in the produce section of your local market can sometimes be a challenge… until you get to the vegetables most people avoid, the chile and pepper section.
Most of the general population think of chiles as those little red fireballs or shriveled up dark green or black pods. Their idea of a pepper is the socially acceptable green pepper we see in our salads or salsas.
Most people are missing out of a lot of flavor in their lives. I was one of those people until I read The Great Pepper Cookbook from Melissa’s Produce .
This book in clear and concise language explains the various culinary properties of these gems in our vegetable world. The book clarifies how the Scoville scale is used to gauge the heat in each of these vegetables. The book gives you a picture and a short paragraph on how the pepper/chile can be used and substituted for one another. All of the recipes are also graded per the Scoville scale so you will have a pretty good idea of the heat your dish will bring to your table.
This is definitely one of the best reference books you can have in your library. It should be put in the same section as your “go- to” collection of cookbooks. You know what I mean. The books you turn to when you want to find that perfect recipe for the next neighborhood get together.
This book is all deliciousness and intriguing recipes. I think you’ll like the totally yummy appetizer section. The Sweet, Smoky, Spicy Party Nuts is versatile and can be made up to three days in advance. You can even try different mix-ins depending on the holiday or time of year so it will always have a new look but have a guaranteed chorus of “Oh, great you brought those nuts.”
There are recipes for soups, main courses, and even deserts and drinks. This will be a well-used reference source. I found interesting recipes for Lobster-Chile-Mac’N’ cheese, Pollo En Crema, Albondigas Soup, Crab Cake Sandwiches, Mango Chile Party Wings, Chile Roasted dyp Potatoes, and Guajillo Chile Zucchini Bread. The recipes don’t stop there. There are deserts like Chile-Lime Cream Puffs and The Devil’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake.
This kind of books takes several people to make it what it is, an enjoyable read. Melissa’s culinary team is led by Corporate Chef Ida Rodrigues. Her recipes are steeped in tradition and flavor.
The Test Kitchen Director Chef Tom Fraker’s passion and knowledge for the food he creates is evident in each recipe.
The task of double checking these recipes to make sure they were accurate for this collection fell to Chef Rachel.
Another contributor was Melissa’s “Produce Guru” Robert Schueller. He is the man to go to if you need information about chiles or peppers. Robert is the person who clarified for me the difference between a pepper and a chile.as of 2021 there is none. Due to a new labeling law all peppers and chiles are labeled as peppers since there was too much confusion with the word chile and the country, Chile.
I wish this book was in an e-read format because it is one of the books I would download to my phone. Then when I found myself face to face with trying to make a different crab-stuffed appetizer I could look up a few suggestions in the e-format and know I was choosing the right pepper for the dish. No guess work or worse yet, no having my dinner guests grabbing every water glass in sight after trying one of my creations. Been there, done that.
With its’ easy read, great layout of pictures and recipes this book rates FIVE STARS.
Enjoy these two recipes from the book courtesy of Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc.
The Devil’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake
Recipe on page 234
Ancho chile pepper has a hint of cocoa flavor, making it an excellent partner for chocolate.
Prep Time: 20 min. / Total Time: 3 hr. / Serves: 16 (1 piece)
2 cups sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
½ cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 tablespoons espresso syrup or coffee extract or 2 teaspoons espresso coffee powder
2 large eggs
¾ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
1 fresh cayenne chile pepper, stem and seeds removed
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon salted water
- To make cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray; dust with flour. In a bowl, sift together sugar and next 4 ingredients (through salt); add milk, oil, espresso, and eggs. Using an electric mixer, mix on low speed 1 minute, then on medium speed 2 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup water to a boil. Drizzle boiling water into batter, stirring until blended. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool completely.
- To make ganache, in a small saucepan, bring cream just to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in cayenne chile. Let sit at least 30 minutes; discard chile. Reheat cream to a simmer. Remove cream from heat; immediately add chocolate chips, stirring until just melted. Add butter; whisk until glossy and smooth. Let sit 30 minutes.
- Pour ganache evenly over cake (make sure top is completely covered). Chill in the refrigerator until ganache is firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve.
Recipe page 80
This now-traditionally Mexican soup originated in Moorish Spain: “Albondigas” is derived from the Arabic word for hazelnuts, referencing the small size of the meatballs.
Prep Time: 40 min. / Total Time: 1hr. 30 min. / Serves: 10 (About 2 cups)
2 pound ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped, divided
½ cup dry Italian breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 quarts beef broth
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained
1¼ pounds fresh Poblano chile peppers, roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed, and chopped (about 4 large)
1½ teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ cup quick-cooking long grain rice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a bowl, combine beef, half of onion, breadcrumbs, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic). Add a little cold water as you combine, keeping beef mixture moist but not wet. Form beef mixture into small balls.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook until browned, turning often, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, combine broth and tomatoes; stir in remaining half of onion, chile, basil, oregano, and Tabasco Bring just to boiling. Stir in rice. Reduce heat and cover; simmer 15 minutes.
- Add meatballs and cover; simmer until meatballs and rice are fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro; stir in additional salt and black pepper, if desired. Serve.
Make Ahead: Brown the meatballs up to 2 days ahead of time. When finishing the soup, increase the simmer time from 10 to 20 minutes.
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Note: Roberta (Bobbie) Kitto is a freelance writer based out of Laughlin, NV. Her interests include travel, culinary pursuits and gardening. A courtesy of the is book was provided for review purposes. No fee was paid for this article. The opinions are my own.