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Articles

Heat Up Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that research reflects eating chiles at least 24 out of every 30 days really assists overall health and well-being. This research was conducted by Jin Y. Kang, MD of the National University of Singapore and reported in my book, "Real Women Eat Chiles".

A few assorted facts from his study reflects that ulcer-free patients ate 2.6 times more chile than those with ulcers. Those who got ulcers only ate chiles 8 times a month compared with those who them 24 times. Eating chiles also helps reduce hypertension, by increasing the pulse which helps stem off strokes and the ravishing effects of high blood pressure.

Increase your health happily, by adding chiles to your Thanksgiving dinner. Add green or red chile to the stuffing (or dressing), as well as to the gravy. Pure, ground red or green chiles are the easiest way to add them.

You can also add chiles to your side dishes or salads. Some ideas are powdered or crushed red chile is wonderful along with cinnamon or nutmeg with sweet potatoes. Crushed caribe chile is terrific on green vegetables, from green beans to Brussels sprouts to broccoli. You can also add lemon or lime juice or a special vinegar such as sherry or balsamic. Add chiles to spice walnuts, pecans or croutons for salad garnishes.

And believe it or not, chiles are great in desserts, from chocolate cake to pumpkin pie. So live it up--chiles lift your heart and your health!!

Here's some fun ideas for spicy appetizers. For a different taste and perfect timing for fall harvest, prepare Roasted Beets with Romesco sauce several days ahead of time and serve cold. Or try Grilled Serrano-Lime Shrimp which can be marinated a day or two ahead for last minute grilling or broiling. These recipes are from the new expanded revision of Chili Madness cookbook, published, October, 2008.

ROASTED BEETS WITH ROMESCO SAUCE

Beets are either loved or hated, and many people are in the latter camp. But I have won over dedicated beet haters by serving them this appetizer. You will be amazed at how terrific the roasted beets taste with this creamy, spicy, flavorful sauce. I sampled this dish first as a Spanish tapa, and I have been making it ever since. The sauce, by the way, can substitute for a remoulade sauce with seafood such as shrimp, crab, or crayfish, or with vegetables, such as steamed or boiled tiny new potatoes. When roasting, leave 3 inches of stem on the beets to prevent the juice from bleeding too much.

Yield: Serves 6

6 to 8 small fresh beets (about 1 bunch)
1 medium-size ripe tomato
2 large cloves garlic
5 blanched almonds
1 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
corn tortilla (6-inch), torn into chunks
1 Tablespoon pure ground mild red chile
Generous pinch of pequin quebrado
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1.Prepare the beets: Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash and dry the beets, and trim the stems to 3 inches long (you can discard the leaves or reserve them for another use).

2.Place the beets on a baking sheet and transfer them to the oven. Roast the beets until their skins move slightly when touched with a spoon, about 30 minutes for small beets (less then 2 inches in diameter), up to 60 minutes for larger beets.

3.While the beats are roasting, prepare the romesco sauce: Rinse the tomato, remove the core, and cut a very shallow X into the bottom (this will allow you to remove the tomato's skin when it's cooked). Place the tomato, stem end up, the garlic, and the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast in the oven along with the beets for about 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and almonds. Then continue to roast the tomato until it is soft, about 15 minutes more. Remove it from the oven. When the tomato and the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins.

4.Let the beets cool until they're still warm but not hot to the touch. Then peel them by tugging at the skin with a sharp paring knife- the skin and stems should slip off. Any stubborn portions will need to be peeled with a knife. Dice the beets into inch cubes.

5.Pour 1/3 cup water, the vinegar, and the oil into a blender. Add the roasted tomato, garlic, and almonds, followed by the tortilla chunks, ground chile, pequin quebrado, and salt and black pepper to taste. Process until smooth. Then Tast, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Transfer the sauce to a small serving bowl.

6.Center the bowl of sauce on a serving platter and surround it with the diced beets. Provide toothpicks for piercing the beets and dipping them into the sauce.

GRILLED SERRANO-LIME SHRIMP

These zesty shrimp are marinated in freshly squeezed lime juice, then amped up with hot Serrano chiles. They're excellent party fare and an elegant appetizer for an intimate dinner. You can double, triple or even quadruple the recipe as you with.

Yield: Serves 6

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

2 serrano chiles (or to taste), stemmed, seeded (if you wish to reduce the heat), and finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

24 medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon crushed caribe chile or pequin quebrado, for garnish

1 small bunch fresh cilantro or Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, for garnish

1.Place the lime juice, serranos, salt, and garlic in a large nonreactive bowl and stir to combine. Blot the shrimp dry with paper towels and add them to the marinade. Marinate the shrimp, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to a day.

2.Preheat the grill or broiler to medium-high heat.

3.Thread the shrimp onto metal skewers, 3 or 4 shrimp to a skewer, piercing the center of the shrimp and making sure each shrimp nests under the previous one and faces the same way. Make sure the shrimp aren't tightly squeezed together, as this will produce uneven cooking.

4.Grill the shrimp until they just turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Be careful not to overcook them, or they will become tough and dry)

5.Transfer the shrimp, still on their skewers, to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the crushed caribe chile, then garnish with the cilantro sprigs. Serve warm.

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