From the category archives:


Red Hot Pepper Sauce… and Vinegar and Pepper Flakes

Last year’s pepper haul was way more than expected. So much so that even after I put up 15 pounds of roasted New Mexico chilies, I still had pounds leftover. For no reason at all, I started throwing the peppers that went red into a bag in the freezer. I mean what the hell, they were coming off the plants by the handful everyday. We could not eat them all.

I grow the peppers for salsa, chili and burger toppings. But we like green hot peppers so I had no real idea of what I wanted to do with the red ones. I was reading a post about hot sauce and decided that a fermented red hot sauce would be the thing to do. As the process went along, the vinegar and chili powder just happened.

A former chef I know (well knew, as he has written me off) had suggested a week’s worth of fermentation aided by probiotics (acidophilus). But the kid tasted it day by day and we ended up with just shy of 7 weeks fermenting on the counter before he deemed it done. I did stick with his recommendation to not add salt or vinegar until after fermentation.

So 3 – 4 pounds of peppers were fermented forever and well, wow! The kid has a knack for the taste of glutamates and amino acids in food. These flavors develop as the fermentation happens. When he pulled the plug, the taste was beyond anything I had ever bought.

He also had the idea to pull off the clear liquid as a dressing for greens. This had two results. One was the hot vinegar and the other was that it condensed the red hot sauce.

Lastly, I ran the fermented peppers through a food mill. I toasted the remains in the oven and ground them up in a coffee grinder. Next year all seeds will be collected and frozen. While I only got 5 ounces of the grind, next years goals will be a pound. This is some of the best smoked meat rub I have come across.


3 pounds red hot peppers (jalepeno, thai, poblano, fresno, Sandia and Big Jims)
10 cloves garlic
1 Probiotic 10
Salt to taste
1 cup water

Chop the peppers and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add just enough water to get the blend to happen. Add the probiotic and pulse.

Put it into a clean glass jar (at least 1 gallon in size) and set it on the counter until it starts to bubble. Stir every other day and start to taste it after a week. Just let it ferment until it tastes good to you.

Using a food mill or strainer, remove the seeds and solids and save them. Place the vessel back in the refrigerator to let it separate for 3 days.

Skim off the clear liquid and save in the refrigerator. This is a nice sour hot kick when added to greens and salads.

Toast the seeds on a sheet pan for 1 hour at 300 degrees.  Grind in a coffee grinder and use, as you would use cayenne pepper.

As for the hot sauce, wings!!! Just add salt to taste. This can sit on the counter but I would keep it in the fridge.


Fresh Oregano Pesto. I am usually a basil kind of pesto guy, but the oregano has been just bursting out of the ground. Oregano can be a bit assertive when dried, but in the spring, the fresh leaves are mild and flavorful.

I have taken a few liberties with this pesto. But, in reality, pesto is a technique rather than a thing. Pesto is anything that is made by pounding. Pounding releases the fragrant oils as well as combining the ingredients. And in due course, I did not do this either. Like I said, I took a few liberties based upon some travel and my own particular bias to do whatever I want in the kitchen.

Right, here we go. I will provide all of my transgressions up front.

First, I roasted the garlic. Why? Just to take down the harshness that raw garlic can have. By roasting it, I can add more. And more garlic is good. Right?

Next, I blanch the leaves. Oregano leaves can be pretty tough. So I soften them a bit with a dunk in boiling water and right into ice-cold water. This helps soften the leaves and also helps keep it bright green. For basil I would not do this unless I am freezing a large amount. Then it makes sense to blanch the basil just to make it look good.

And in the classic sense, I am not making pesto. No pounding or blending. In the end, it will not be a paste. But it will be good. Pesto in the generic sense is a mix of herbs, nuts (walnut, pine, pistachio), cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pretty simple, but not the whole story. In many Italian meals, the ingredients are just chopped, mixed and served.

And for total transparency, I also added some garlic chives, parsley and thyme. They all needed to be trimmed back so…

Try it on a baked potato. Mix it into a quick sauté of vegetables. Buy a loaf of fresh crusty bread and a bottle of wine and just eat it straight out of the mixing bowl.


2 cups packed oregano leaves
Other optional herbs – as long as they are fresh
1 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for garlic
3 cloves unpeeled garlic
¼ pine nuts
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese) or more to taste.
Salt and pepper to taste.


Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the garlic clove on a square of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.
Fold up the garlic in the foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes (or longer)
Remove and let the garlic cool.

Clean the herbs and place in a bowl that can handle at least 2 cups of extra water.
Boil at two cups water.
Add ice to a large bowl of water,
Pour the boiling water over the herbs in a colander and let drain.
Pour the ice water over the herbs and let drain.
Roughly chop the herbs and add to a mixing bowl.

Toast the nuts in a medium hot pan until golden brown.  Keep them moving, as they will burn.
Remove to a cutting board and coarsely chop and add to the bowl.

Peel the garlic.

Place the garlic on a cutting board and cover with the kosher salt.
using the back of the knife blade, crush the garlic and grind into a paste and add to the herbs.

Add a few grinds of pepper and mix the whole thing together.
Add 1 cup olive oil and mix until it’s all combined.
Add the cheese and mix again.

It’s ready to go. This will keep at least a week in the refrigerator.

{ 1 comment }

Grilled Pork Loin with Green Chili Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Spring Onions

Thumbnail image for Grilled Pork Loin with Green Chili Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Spring Onions April 29, 2013

Green chili gravy… mmm. When we left Arizona, the thing that I missed the most other than my friends, was the food. And to be specific, green chilies. Roasted, peeled and chopped, the New Mexico chili rivals mushrooms for their meaty taste. Riffing on my green chili pork recipe, I came up with green chili […]

Read the full article →

Grilled Rueben with a Hot and Crispy Potato Salad

Thumbnail image for Grilled Rueben with a Hot and Crispy Potato Salad March 21, 2013

Okay, it’s the third day after Saint Patrick’s day and what are you going to do with the leftovers from the boiled dinner? Especially the vegetables. How about a grilled rueben with a hot and crispy potato salad? The star here is the potato salad. And this is good stuff. Kid approved stuff. Potato crack. […]

Read the full article →

Marinara Sauce – THE Basic Tomato Sauce

January 20, 2012
Thumbnail image for Marinara Sauce – THE Basic Tomato Sauce

Any stereotype of an Italian Grandmother will include Nonna cooking the marinara sauce all day then yelling out the window for the kids to come in. Well I have first hand knowledge that they do yell at the kids. And they did cook those fresh tomatoes forever. Today however, there is no reason to cook […]

Read the full article →