Sunday, July 24, 2011

how hot is it? and sweet jalapeno cream cheese dip

It is so hot here in St. Louis, I wanted to write a little bit about more hot things...peppers!

Peppers can conjure up wonderful culinary rememberances of sweet and smoky cuisine, or it can terrorize your palate with flashbacks of runny noses, tears and an empty water glass and a waiter-in-hiding. How is it that so many things with the same name, can have such a range of flavors?

All peppers are members of the capsicum family. The amount of capsaicin in a pepper correlates with the amount of perceived hotness. A man named Wilbur Scoville developped a quantitative scale for ranking the capsaicinoid content in each pepper type. Here is the Wikipedia article regarding the Scoville scale.

Here are some common peppers, and their relative Scoville scores.

Bell peppers: 0
Pepperocinis: 100-500
Anaheim or Poblano: 500-2,500
Jalapeno and Tabasco sauce: 2,500-8,000
Serrano: 10,000-23,000
Cayenne: 30,000-50,000
Pequin: 50,000-100,000
Habanero or Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-350,000
Law Enforcement Grade Pepper Spray: 5,000,000-5,300,000 ;)

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip - Make at least 1 week ahead.

And now for a recipe that you're sure to love. You'll need just a few things:

Jar of jalapeno slices
Brick of cream cheese
Corn chips (think Fritos, or some other kind of cracker)

Don't knock yourself out shopping for those things. You may have some of them at home already!

  • Drain the jalapenos. (If you took them out to drain, put them back in the jar.)
  • Fill the jalapeno jar with sugar. Replace the lid tightly.
  • Let the sugar liquidize. (I know there must be a technically correct term for this, but I am unaware!)
  • Fill again with sugar in a couple of hours.
  • Keep repeating this filling process until there is no more room at the top of the jar.
  • Put this in the back of your fridge for at least a week. Yes, I said a WEEK - 7 days, unless you are a British Invasion-type...then it's 8 days.
  • Place a brick of cream cheese on a plate, and pour the contents of the jalapeno/sugar jar over it.
  • Enjoy with your corn chips or crackers.
  • Mmmmmm.....

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