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Spice It UP--Classic Recipes with a Bit of Spark

By Jane Butel  February 18, 2020

Whooppee!  My computer is working and the updates did not break it.  

Spices of all kinds make foods and eating lots more fun.  I like playing with herbs, spices and most of all chiles to see what a dash, a pinch or a scoop can do to make a dish more fun to eat than just plain and simple.  I had lots of fun developing recipes for my "Hotter Than Hell" cookbook, which became an immediate best-seller.

In addition to spicing up main and side dishes, I invited three of the outstanding bar tenders from famous bars on New York City's upper east side to create new, different and fun to drink cocktails which comprise the beverage section of the book.  I am discounting the book for you this week to just $15.00 for the third edition, autographed, which came out again recently.

Our Chile and Chocolate class on April 23 features what I have been talking about--adding chiles to chocolate really make the dish very special--and we are making an assortment of very yummy confections.  There are very few spaces left, so if you would like to join us--register soon while there is still space.  We also have a week-long class coming March 23-27 and the next weekend class is May 1-3, 2020.

For great baking, fresh spices are the best.  I am discounting our baking spices for you this week.  Our Saigon Ground Cinnamon, Anise Seed, Ground Coriander and whole Nutmegs are on sale for 20% off.  And the fresh spices make our Bizcochitos, (recipe follows) the state cookie of New Mexico very special.  These cookies were made over 100 years ago originally to celebrate the victory of Santa Ana's Army over Napoleon's on Cinco de Mayo.

I promised last week I would send along some of  my favorite romantic dishes, but my computer did not get fixed in time to get them to you for Valentines Day--so here they are...

COQ AU VIN CALIENTE

This is my all-time favorite coq recipe, developed during my early New Mexico years. Fired with caribe and flamed with cognac, it’s a fabulous dish with a perfect marriage of flavors, certain to be a hit with family and guests—though you may want to hoard it all for yourself! Since this stew is so robust, accompany it with a soothing side dish. And, never, ever waste a drop of the savory sauce; if you have any leftover, freeze it for later use. It’s wonderful in all kinds of stews.

Yield: 6 servings

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons caribe (crushed Northern New Mexico red chile)

1 teaspoon salt

1 (3 ½ to 4 pound) broiler-fryer chicken, cut for frying

½ cup unsalted butter

6 Tablespoons cognac

1 clove garlic, minced

1 fresh bay leaf

4 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley

6 small white boiling onions, peeled

½ pound fresh mushrooms, any kind, sliced

6 slices thick bacon, heavily smoked country style sliced into ½ inch pieces

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup Burgundy or other good quality dry red wine

Fried Croutons

French bread, cut in 1 inch cubes

Olive oil

Unsalted butter

  1. In a paper bag or large shallow bowl, mix flour, caribe and salt. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large deep, heavy skillet (or in a chicken fryer) over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned on all sides, turning as needed; adjust heat as necessary to prevent over-browning.
  1. Add cognac to hot skillet and flame carefully, keeping a lid nearby to extinguish flames should they rise too high. When flames die, stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme, 3 Tablespoons of the parsley, onions, mushrooms, bacon, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour wine over all. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender and sauce is thickened.
  1. Meanwhile, prepare Fried Croutons. In a skillet, toast French bread cubes in a mixture of half oil and half melted butter until light golden on all sides, stirring as needed. Cool.
  1. To serve, place chicken on a large warmed platter and cover with sauce, arranging onions decoratively around chicken. Sprinkle croutons over the top, and then sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon parsley.

Reprinted from the book “Hotter Then Hell”

SPICY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Good quality chocolate is a must; bittersweet chocolate is preferred. The unexpected heat of this dessert comes from the spicy, red-hot cinnamon schnapps.

Yield: 4 servings

½ cup sugar, divided

4 ounces high-quality bittersweet baking chocolate

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 Tablespoon red-hot schnapps, or to taste

3 egg whites

1. In a liquid measuring cup, combine ¼ cup water and ¼ cup of the sugar. Microwave for 1 minute on full power to dissolve the sugar, or, on a conventional range, bring to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until dissolved. Set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan, or a double boiler over medium-low heat, combine chocolate and butter, whisking continuously until melted and of a creamy texture. Whisk or mix in the schnapps and 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Taste and add the remaining sugar mixture, if desired. Set aside for later use in another recipe or drink.

3. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Using clean beaters for the electric mixer, beat until foamy. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup sugar evenly over the top. Beat on high speed to create a soft meringue. Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Serve warm or chilled in footed martini glasses, compotes or wineglasses.

PER SERVING: Calories 330, Protein 5 g, Carbohydrates 43 g, Fiber 2 g, Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 17 mg, Sodium 44 mg.

BIZCOCHITOS (ANISE SHORTBREAD COOKIES)

These spicy, anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico are rich, crisp, and very easy to make. They are the state cookie of New Mexico and one of my holiday favorites. They were first made to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Puebla, Mexico where Santa Ana's army defeated Napoleon's.  Due to this, the cookie is traditionally made in the Fleur de Lis shape of the stylized iris on the French flag.    Stored in a tightly sealed container, they can be frozen up to six months.

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Baking Time: 10 to 12 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

1 ½ cups lard, chilled

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 eggs

2 teaspoons anise seeds

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons brandy, apple juice, or milk

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat lard and 1 cup sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and anise seeds, and beat until very light and fluffy. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture along with the brandy. Mix thoroughly to make a stiff dough. Place dough on a long piece, about three feet of waxed paper at one end. Bring the long end over the top and press to about one inch or slightly less in thickness and refrigerate until chilled.)
  1. Roll out dough between waxed paper to just under 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with flour dusted cutters into the traditional fleur de lis shape or into 3-inch rounds. Combine the 3 remaining tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow bowl; dip unbaked cookies into the sugar-cinnamon mixture on one side. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until tops of cookies are just firm.
  1. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Notes: Butter or margarine can be substituted for the lard, however the cookies will not be as crisp and moist. Apple juice or milk can be substituted for the brandy, however they are not quite as good.

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