Oriental Pork and Habanero Dumplings

Here’s a spicy little appetizer to serve your Valentine this week, and they have everything you want in a dumpling.  The tender, chewy wontons filled with tender pork, spicy habanero pepper, fresh ginger, green onion, and just a touch of sesame oil burst with flavor.

You think a box of chocolates is addictive?  Wait until you try these.

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Habanero Dust


This is it – the end of my spicy habanero recipes from the garden this year. Looking back over the past several weeks, there’ve been some delicious dishes I know I’ll be making again. I hope you will too!

It seems a bit odd having a recipe with only one ingredient and one step, however, I decided to post it because I’ve used this habanero dust a lot more than I expected I would. I sprinkle it on everything; pizza, pasta, sliced tomatoes – anywhere I want a little kick to my taste buds instead of just salt and pepper.

And it all started with an experiment. I had hundreds of peppers lined out on my counter one day and I thought, “I wonder how well these would dry for a seasoning?” So I fashioned up a tether line using two bottles of wine as my holders, two wood martini picks stuck into the corks, a long piece of kitchen string and about 30 assorted peppers strung up between the bottles. They looked very pretty strung up on the window sill above my sink. Then I waited, and I waited, and I waited. About six weeks later, the peppers were dry and ready for the final step.

The powder will store for months in a tightly sealed jar so grind up a batch and see what you come up with!

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Turkey, Habanero and Sun-Dried-Tomato Meatballs


Today, it’s time to talk meatballs. Sweet, savory, tangy, spicy – whatever you’re craving, you can pretty much go in any direction and come out with a very flavorful bite. For this recipe, I decided to make a spicy meatball, and incorporate the spicy mustard habanero pepper with earthy sun-dried tomatoes and mild ground turkey. I knew the amped up flavor profile with the turkey would work well together, and they turned out just as I hoped. The meatballs were tender and juicy, and they had a nice low heat at the finish. The tangy sauce had a little heat of its own as well so overall, this turned out to be a hit. Evidence of that was the lack of portion control I had at dinner that night! There were no survivors.

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Habanero Mole Chicken Enchiladas


I have two weaknesses when it comes to Mexican food, pork tamales with the perfect ratio of meat to masa, and authentic spicy mole chicken enchiladas. When I visit a Mexican restaurant, those are the two things I search for first on the menu. Sadly, I’ve discovered not many Mexican restaurants serve a mole sauce, at least not in St. Louis.

So, since I still had several habanero peppers left from the garden, I decided to try my hand at making my own version of an authentic mole sauce, just to see if I could pull it off. Much to my delight, I did it. This sauce was rich, smoky, spicy, earthy and positively delicious!

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Habanero Pico de Salsa


I’ve been making this “salsa” for about fifteen years and the bowl is always empty at the end of the night. I’ve heard some of my friends call it a salsa, a salsa fresco, and others call it a Pico de Gallo. I finally decided to name it a Pico de Salsa so everyone would be happy! Regardless of what we all call it, when I tell my friends, “Buy a bag of tortilla chips on your way home from work tonight,” they instantly know I’m going to be giving them a jar of the salsa the next day. The anticipated smile on their faces is always worth it!

So even though this isn’t a ‘secret recipe’ (I always share it when asked), it’s one I guarantee you’ll enjoy the simplicity of making and the joy of sharing. And seriously, it only takes twenty minutes from your cutting board to tortilla chip.

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Garlic and White Habanero Marinated Skirt Steak over Dirty Rice


This week’s recipe features the small yet mighty white habanero which was a new pepper in my garden this summer. I really enjoyed the garlicky undertones however it was very mild which is why the ratio of garlic to pepper in the ingredients list below is so dramatic.

I first used the marinade as a spicy salad dressing, mixing in some olive oil, minced shallots, honey, salt, and pepper, then, decided to try it as a marinade to tenderize a tough cut of meat like a skirt steak. It was an excellent choice. The meat picked up just enough heat from the marinade to taste, but it was very subtle, and the acid in the vinegar helped to break down the meat’s tissue, allowing the steak to absorb a lot of the liquid, hence making the meat very tender and juicy.

When I considered what to pair with the steak, I wanted something that could stand up to the heat, so I made a dirty rice with more of the white habanero to continue the heat trend. Again it was subtle and tasted delicious with the accompanying tender onions, sweet bell peppers, and crispy bacon.

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Spicy Caribbean Chili


Today’s recipe is a continuation from last week’s post because I still had some of that deliciously spicy chocolate habanero sauce left over. It was too spicy to eat as a salsa (yes even for me) so I decided to experiment with a version of a Caribbean chili using the slow cooker.

I’ve participated in a few chili competitions in the past and have always found the four, and five-alarm chili’s to be so spicy, they obliterate your tongue and you don’t taste any of the other ingredients.

What was surprisingly wonderful about adding the Caribbean hot sauce to the mix in this chili was you still tasted the pork, ground beef, and tomato base, but you also picked up a great smoky, tangy heat at the end. My mouth was burning when I finished my bowl, but it wasn’t an overpowering heat, it was just right.

The next chili competition I enter will be using this recipe!

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Spicy Caribbean Grilled Chicken with Carrot and Jicama Slaw


Remember last week when I warned you to get ready for a string of spicy recipes?  Here’s a spicy, sweet, tangy, acidic masterpiece of a marinade using chocolate habaneros that I’m definitely going to make again.   Don’t be daunted by the amount of garlic and habanero peppers here.  You can reduce the quantities down to your preferred level of heat and still get great flavor.

Once grilled, the chicken ended up being exceptionally juicy, and it picked up a great level of heat from the habaneros.   The addition of the bright, colorful, crunchy sweetness of the carrots and the dressing for the slaw balanced out the heat and made a beautiful plate.

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Pineapple-Plum Habanero Salsa


My spicy pepper choice this summer was all about habaneros; specifically chocolate, spicy mustard and the rare and elusive white habanero. As any home gardener knows, once you commit to planting edibles in your garden, you spend the next several months watering, chasing bunnies, pruning, staking, and relocating them to different sunny spots for maximum exposure. Last week my patience finally paid off, and I’ve harvested an amazing crop of peppers. So off to the kitchen I went to create some new spicy, flavorful dishes while they were plump and fresh.

Advanced warning, the next several weeks of recipes are going to be all about peppers and delicious spicy heat so get ready!

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