The Conscious Cook: Hot, hot, hot!
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” — Harry S. Truman
Late summer can still bring subtropical conditions, with steaming humidity and 105 degree heat indexes, causing many cooks to quickly turn off the oven and hightail it out of the kitchen.
While the swelter of summer and it’s stunningly high temperatures may leave us feeling slow and sluggish, it's the perfect condition for gardeners who are cultivating hot peppers. Just as their name suggests, hot peppers will gather all their amazing spicy flavor from the intensity of the blazing summer sun.
Hot peppers come in an array of colors, shapes and heat levels. Hungarian yellow wax, bright
scarlet Cherry Bombs, brick red cayenne, deep green jalapenos, light green Robustini (a pepperoncini perfect for sparking up salads), and searing neon orange Habaneros all add incredible oomph to sauces, salsas, pizza, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Wilbur Scoville, a native of Bridgeport, created the Scoville Scale, which measures the heat intensity of hot peppers, defined by the amount of capsaicin they contain. The Scoville method involves taking a solution of pepper extract and diluting it in sugar syrup, until the heat is no longer detectable to a panel of taste testers, and is recorded by number of Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Naga Jolokia, the worlds hottest pepper, has an SHU rating of 1,000,000, meaning this pepper's extract has to be diluted 1,000,000 times before the capsaicin is no longer detectable!!
Capsaicin consumption may decrease cholesterol. Hot peppers are rich in vitamin C, A and K , which may help prevent cell damage, cancer and protect digestive systems. Low in fat, calories and sodium and high in fiber, hot peppers add passion and excitement to all sorts of dishes. The heat of hot peppers may encourage the body to burn extra calories, as well as increasing sweat production to keep the body from overheating.
Add some sweet heat when preparing your delicious life, but be sure to wear gloves when working with hot peppers and don't touch your eyes or face!
Stuffed Cherry Peppers
16 large, fresh cherry peppers (red or green, red may be slightly hotter)
½ pound goat cheese
¼ cup of chopped olives
¼ cup chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup minced fresh herbs , such as basil, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme and marjoram, tarragon or garlic chives
Mix goat cheese, olives and sundried tomatoes together in a small bowl. Cut tops off of cherry peppers and scrape out seeds. Fill each pepper with goat cheese mixture and place in a
glass bowl or dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over peppers. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Enjoy as part of an antipasto platter, with grilled meats or with a late summer glass of rosé!