Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eating Out the Storm

Happy spring everybody!  April showers bring May flowers!  Or in this case, March monsoons bring big water in June.  Which is a bit of a mixed blessing.  Come summer there should be quite a bit of available water for irrigation, but it's also pushing back people's planting schedules.

Mine included!  I've got nigh on 50+ pepper plants that have survived my inexpert tending that I would absolutely love to get out into some sunshine!  But overall, they're doing fairly well with the $30 lighting setup I cobbled together from some clamp-lights and an old kitty jungle gym.  My only outright failures have been my 2 strains of habanero and my fatalis.  The latter of which is an awful tragedy since I was given a small baggie of dried fatalis that I've been alternately hoarding and slathering in everything I can find.

Like what?  Well Purple Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls for starters!  The sure cure for the early spring congestion and general post-Rogue blahs.  It's moderately spicy broth with fresh veg, egg noodles and nice dense matzo balls.  And so purple you'd think you were cooking with beets! 

Spicy Purple Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

1 lb boneless chicken breast
1 1/2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fine egg noodles
2 cups diced purple carrot from Thao Produce
1 cup diced celery
1 shallot minced
1 cup chopped green beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 dried fatali chili minced or ground
1 bay leaf
1 serving of matzo ball mix (see below)

Season chicken with a few pinches of the oregano and thyme, salt and pepper to taste and chop into bite sized pieces.  Saute chicken in your soup pot with 1 tablespoon of oil until lightly done.  Remove and reserve chicken.  Add remaining olive oil and all of your vegetables to the pot and saute until shallots are glassy.  Add all of your chicken broth, herbs and chili and bring to a simmer.  Add your matzo dumplings and simmer soup for about 30 miinutes or until your carrots are al dente and your dumplings are plump..  When the matzos have about 6 minutes left, add the chicken and your egg noodles and cook until they're done.   Serve piping hot with some nice hot crusty bread and butter.  And maybe a glass of milk for the less chili-centric in the family.  Tee hee!

Matzo Balls

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons broth
pinch of salt

First, mix together everything but the broth, then add the broth and mix until uniform.  Then refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the meal to hydrate, it'll seem thin when you first put it in, but it'll suck all of that moisture into the matzo meal.  Make into balls about 1 inch in diameter and drop into the simmering soup (or broth)  Cook for 30-40 minutes or until plump and delicious. 

And thats not all.  Fatalis have been finding their way into just about anything and everything I've been making lately.  Including late night munchies.  I deperately wanted a spicy roast beef sandwich last night.  And this was after I had kimchee for dinner!  Oh, I was singing Ring of Fire this morning, but it was totally worth it last night.  It doesn't really call for much of a recipe.  I just took a chopped fatali and sprinkled it all over some deli meat, fried it quickly in butter, threw some provolone on top of some toast and began to chew and sweat.  It was quite lovely.  And painful.  But mostly lovely.

And if this inspires you to try some new chilis but don't have the want or the space to grow your own, there are great online resources for dried exotic chilis and hot sauces made from just about anything you can think of.  Keep the chill off and the flu away with some spicy goodness.  My favorite is The Hot Pepper forums, but if you're looking for something specific, leave a comment and I'll see what I can find. 

Stay dry Fresnoodles!