Browsing Tag

September Spice

In the Kitchen

Homemade Sriracha

September 20, 2015

Homeade Sriracha 2

Today I’m going to share with you my recipe for homemade sriracha. You may know it better as Rooster Sauce, or that ubiquitous green-capped hot sauce that young folks nowadays love so much. At it’s simplest, sriracha is a fermented blend of hot peppers, salt, garlic, and vinegar. Though it’s precise origins are not known, sriracha was used as a condiment in Thai and Vietnamese cooking long before it was popularized by the wildly successful Huy Fong Foods, which made the green-capped, rooster-emblazoned version that we’re all so familiar with.

This homemade version doesn’t taste exactly like the original, but what fun would that be? After all, variety is the spice (ahem) of life. Don’t mind me. I crack myself up. This version tastes a bit brighter, and depending on the pepper type that you use, can be significantly hotter than the Huy Fong version.

This recipe also allows you to customize the level of fermentation. I personally like the complex, umami flavors that are added through the fermentation process, so I usually let mine go through at least several days of fermentation, tasting every day until I find the flavor profile I like. Once you reach that desired flavor, simply add the vinegar, which stops the fermentation process and preserves the flavor as it is in that moment.

Picking Your Peppers

Ripe Red Filius Blues

Sriracha is typically made with fully ripened red jalapeños. (Did you realize that jalapeños eventually turn red if you leave them on the plant long enough? Now you know. Knowledge is power, y’all.) However, I am a big proponent of not making things the way they’re typically made, so my recommendation is to experiment with your sriracha recipe until you find the pepper type, or pepper ratio that you prefer.

I happened to have a bumper crop of a special little pepper known as the Filius Blue growing in my garden this summer, so I decided to use those instead of the typical jalapeños. Filius Blues are so named because the peppers start out a beautiful blue-purple color– at which point they are quite spicy– before ripening into a slightly milder, mature red.

Purple Filius Blue Peppers

Red Filus Blue Peppers

Filius Blue peppers are quite a bit hotter than your average jalapeño. Whereas a jalapeño measures in at approximately 10,000 to 20,000 Heat Units on the Scoville scale, a Filius Blue clocks in between 40,000 and 50,000 Scoville Heat Units. If you’re not up for the heat, or can’t get your hands on these relatively rare peppers, try substituting jalapeños, serranos, or Fresno chiles, for a milder heat.

Another trick for using extra hot peppers is to mix them with a milder pepper. In this recipe, I use half Filius Blues by weight, and half sweet, red bell peppers. The bell peppers help to dilute the extreme spice of the hot peppers, while also adding more available sugars for the fermentation process.

A Peck or a Pound? Weighing Your Peppers

Weighing the Peppers

One last note on experimenting with hot sauces before I unleash y’all on my recipe. I decided to write this recipe by weight in order to make it both more accurate and easier to customize. The ratio of peppers to salt is fairly important. Generally speaking you want to add 2% salt by weight to your pepper mash, or 2 grams of salt for every 100 grams of peppers. Knowing this ratio makes it very easy to scale this recipe up if you decide you want to make four times the amount, or if you decide to triple the ratio of bell pepper to hot pepper for a milder heat. Just adjust the salt accordingly.

Homemade Sriracha

  • 100 grams or approx. ¼ lb Filius Blue peppers*, stems removed
  • 100 grams red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 grams sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  1. Blend peppers, garlic, and salt in a food processor until it forms a paste. Scrape the paste into a clean pint-sized mason jar and cover with a paper towel and rubber band. It will only half-fill the mason jar, but that’s okay. The pepper mixture will rise as it ferments, so it’s good to give it some extra room.
  2. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 2-7 days, stirring the contents each day and checking to ensure no mold is growing. Bubbles should form on the surface within 2-3 days, which means your sauce has started fermenting. This where the rich, complex flavor comes from in sriracha. Try the hot sauce each day until it reaches the flavor you like best.
  3. Once the hot sauce has fermented to your liking, add the fermented pepper paste back into a food processor with the vinegar and blend until uniform in texture. Store the sauce in a tightly sealed container in a refrigerator. It will keep for up to 4 months.

*Filius Blues can be difficult to find if you’re not growing them yourself. Try substituting ripe red jalapeños, serrano peppers, Fresno chiles, or any other hot red pepper for a different heat and flavor profile. Experiment until you find the combo you most enjoy!

Homemade Sriracha

In the Kitchen

Kickin’ Pumpkin & Bacon Mac N Cheese

September 10, 2015

Individual Mac N Cheese

In keeping with our theme of spicy foods for September, here is a delightful little recipe I dreamed up for a white habanero-infused mac n cheese. It’s got just the right amount of spice, and with chunks of pumpkin and thick-cut, smoky bacon mixed into the macaroni, it’s a hearty dish to start your autumn off right.

Kickin’ Pumpkin & Bacon Mac N Cheese

This recipe is loosely adapted from Laura Macek’s award-winning Best Ever Mac N Cheese.

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni or cavatelli pasta
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 cup of raw pumpkin, butternut, or red kuri squash, cubed
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 white habaneros, finely minced
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ cups Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. Remove the pasta 3 minutes sooner than it says on the package instructions. It’s okay it’s still a little al dente—it will finish cooking when it goes in the oven to bake. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pour cooked macaroni into greased baking sheet.
  3. Cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Reserve 1 tbs of bacon fat. Crumble the bacon when cool.
  4. Sauté pumpkin cubes over medium heat in bacon fat 5-6 minutes, until starting to brown. Remove pumpkin, and mix into the cooked pasta in the greased baking dish, reserving as much fat in the pan as possible.
  5. Add butter to reserved bacon fat. Sauté shallots and minced habaneros over low heat in remaining butter until shallots become translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes more. Increase heat to medium and, whisking constantly, slowly pour in the milk and continue whisking until mixture begins to bubble.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and pumpkin and stir to evenly distribute.
  7. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and bacon and sprinkle over top.
  8. Bake until cheese is completely melted and the top is slightly browned. 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

This dish goes exceptionally well with Southern-style BBQ meats like pulled pork and brisket, which is how I found out that a little bit of BBQ sauce on top just makes it that much more delicious.

Individual w: BBQ



In the Kitchen

Holy Moly Habanero Guacamole & Salsa

September 4, 2015

Guacamole and Salsa

What goes better with margaritas than salsa and guacamole? Pretty much nothing. Which is why I came up with these spicy versions of the beloved classics to go with the Habanero Watermelon Margaritas I posted earlier this week.

Salsa and guacamole may seem like a no brainer appetizer, but adding a hot and unexpected twist to these time-honored crowd-pleasers in the form of minced white habaneros will keep your dinner guests on their toes and clamoring for more. So break out the spice and don’t forget to keep the margarita refills handy!

Pink Watermelon Margarita

A Note on Handling Hot Peppers

Real quick, before we dive into the recipes, I just want to remind everyone to please be careful when handling ultra-hot peppers like habaneros, scotch bonnets, and the like. If you’ve ever touched your eyes after chopping jalapeños, you know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t made that mistake yet, trust me– it is not fun. I always wear disposable gloves when handling super hot peppers, and I highly recommend you do the same. Now, let’s get chopping!

White Habaneros & Gloves

Habanero Tomato Salsa

Habanero Tomato Salsa

This salsa is fresh and light, with a mild heat.

  • 3 cups diced tomatoes, approx. 5-6 small tomatoes
  • ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 habanero, sliced thin, seeds and all
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • juice of one lime

Pulse everything in a blender or food processor until it reaches your desired consistency. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld together.

Holy Moly Habanero Guacamole

This guacamole gets a lovely hint of sweetness from the mango, and a bit of heat from the seedless habaneros. Spoon lavishly onto corn chips and dunk into the Habanero Salsa for added heat.


  • 4 large avocados
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 mango, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 white habanero, seeds removed and minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Scoop avocado flesh into a large bowl and mash together until it reaches your desired consistency. Squeeze lime juice into bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

To store guacamole, cover with saran wrap and press wrap down so that it touches the surface of the guacamole to prevent discoloration.


Habanero Guacamole and Salsa

In the Kitchen

Habanero and Watermelon Margaritas

August 31, 2015

Pink Watermelon Margarita

Looking for a perfect beverage to get you through the final days of summer? Look no further. This watermelon and habanero margarita perfectly matches the weather as we head into the first days of fall. It starts off cool and refreshing with a hint of sweetness from the watermelon, just like those first crisp days of September. Then the habanero kicks in, like a late summer heatwave, just when you thought you were through with all that. It’s sassy, sultry, and definitely not for the faint of heart.

My summer garden is beginning the slow descent into dormancy for the winter, but my hot pepper plants are just starting to ripen into their final fiery colors: white habaneros, orange scotch bonnets, red and purple Filius Blues, and the mother of all things spicy– ghost peppers.

White Habaneros

Scotch Bonnets

Filius Blue Peppers

Ghost Peppers

As they’ve started to ripen, first one by one, and then two by two, and now all in a jumbled mess of super-heat, I’ve started to panic. When one or two habaneros is enough to bring a pot of chili to my perfect heat level, how on earth am I possibly going to eat the dozens of peppers that are practically dripping off my plants? I’ve had to get creative to find new places to sneak in the heat. This watermelon habanero margarita is the first of a string of hot pepper recipes I’ll be posting over the coming month, so keep your eyes peeled for a host of tongue-tingling recipes as part of my new month-long series: September Spice!

White Habanero Watermelon Margaritas

Serves 6, or 4 thirsty individuals.

Not sure if you can take the heat? Don’t worry. These margaritas are the perfect blend of sweet and sour with just a hint of spice. But if it’s still too much you can modify the recipe to use a jalapeño instead, or omit the peppers altogether. You can make these with traditional red or pink watermelon, or try it with an heirloom yellow watermelon for a fun twist! Or be like me and make both!


To make the Habanero Tequila:

Infusing the Tequila

  • 2 cups tequila
  • 1 white habanero, sliced into rounds

Place habanero slices in a pint-sized mason jar or other sealable container. Pour tequila over top and seal. Let sit for 4 hours or overnight. Strain out habanero pieces before using.

To make the Margaritas:

More Margarita Ingredients

Margarita Ingredients

  • 1 cup habanero tequila
  • ¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz agave syrup
  • 6 cups cubed watermelon, orange or pink
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and whiz until smooth. Strain to removed watermelon pulp, or leave as is for a little extra texture. Pour over ice and enjoy with some salsa and guac!

Yellow Watermelon Margarita