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Entertaining Gifts

Sep 15, 2014


I'm a lucky gal, this has been a pretty good season for produce gifts.

This week a huge bunch of mint, with the roots intact, was delivered to my door. It's already been planted. My garden is grateful, so am I.

And, my beautiful neighbor joined a canning co-op. Each participant canned a different item. There is a big party where you get to try all of the goodies, and then you get to take home one of each. So fun. She told me she really joined (and took on a ton of work) because a talented friend was bringing jars of a garlic eggplant spread she loves, and she wanted a jar of her own. I have to admire spirit like that!

She was contributing a hot chili chutney, so she found a local supplier and purchased a case of fiery peppers. She did not need a whole case.

As a result, I received a half case of long red chilis. They were a beautiful, deep red with most of the heat at the front, tapering off fairly quick. I haven't had their Scoville units tested but they're hot, maybe a 7.5 out of 10.

I can't let a gift go to waste, but these peppers go a long way and I have a huge amount. I have whittled down the pile by starting with a few items that would be useful for a cocktail. It was hard to narrow the possibilities, but I decided to make a vinegar style hot sauce and a spicy shrub (more on that later). Making those gave me two bi-products which I also really liked, a refrigerator pickle and an antipasto.

Something about being around the chilis has got me fired up and I think we need to make a really bold recipe to go with them. It's the end of summer and I think it's only fitting that we have a Tiki drink before it's gone. I'm also getting down to the last of the local melons. I'm not bracing for winter yet but I am a little sad to see them go. Here, they refresh against the heat of the hot sauce.

Olga's Inferno
1 C watermelon, cubed & frozen
2 oz fresh pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz Russian Vodka
1/2 oz light rum
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 tsp Honey Hot Sauce*
3-4 drops Peychaud's bitters

Add all ingredients to a blender, mix on medium until just smooth. Pour into your favourite Tiki mug, garnish elaborately 

I think it's important to remember to experiment. This drink has quite a few ingredients in it and it's very well balanced. That being said, not every ingredient is around all of the time. Try this without the bitters, or maybe try using Angostura bitters if that's what you have on hand. It might not be exactly the same but you might like it even more. The best way to practice substitutions in any recipe is one equivalent ingredient at a time. Swap a spirit for another spirit, swap a sweet juice with another sweet juice etc.. 

Honey Hot Sauce
12 whole chilis, 5-6inches ea.
1 medium onion
1 large clove garlic
1 C water
1 C rice vinegar
1/2 C honey
2 tsp salt

In a food processor pulse chilis, onion and garlic. On low speed add water. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, over medium heat, add chili mixture, vinegar, honey and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer until reduced by half, approx, 1 hr. stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, let stand to cool and strain. Keeping liquid in a mason jar in the fridge.

I reserved the chili mixture and poured 1/2 C olive oil over top in a mason jar. This will last a few days in the fridge.

I had/have so many chilis, this isn't over. Let me know what your favorite hot products are in the comments below.

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