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The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

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Cookbook of the day – The Habanero Cookbook

The Habanero Cookbook

by Dave Dewitt & Nancy Gerlach

Publisher: Ten Speed Press; illustrated edition (March 1, 1995)

ISBN 10: 0898156386

ISBN 13: 978-0898156386

This book, written by famed “hot food” writers, Dave Dewitt and Nancy Gerlach, is actually outdated, even though it was written in 1995. It declares the habanero as “the hottest pepper in the world”. Those who follow this blog know that there is actually a hotter pepper, the India-based Naga Jokolia, a pepper which is twice as hot as the habanero. Also called “ghost pepper”, this little bomb of a pepper is allegedly used to make pepper spray by the Indian police.

However, this doesn’t reduce the utility of this well-written book.

The first part of the book is a comprehensive source of the history of Capsicum chinese and taxonomical information about variations within the species. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this discussion is the origins of Red Savina, considered the hottest of all of the members of the habanero family. The authors list at least 25 names for the habanero given by different locales, locales mostly found in the Caribbean but also as far-flung as Fiji.

The habanero distinguishes itself from many other chiles through the very distinct citrus and fruit notes that it displays. This gives it a depth of flavor that isn’t obscured by its intense heat.

The discussion turns at times to cultivation, crossbreeding and hot sauces as well.

And the recipes!

The recipes are well-chosen and diverse, offering a glimpse into Caribbean cooking, but it doesn’t end there. The habanero is incorporated into more generic dishes as well.

If you’re a chilehead, this book is right in your wheelhouse. It’s not an expensive volume and will expand your repertoire of “fiery foods”.

Habaneros from the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the United States Agricultural Department

Hot Sauce plug

I’ve probably got about 20 different hot sauces currently around the house. I’ve got several sauces and extracts that make Dave’s Insanity Sauce, the godfather of the high Scoville count crowd, look like baby’s milk. I’ve got Mad Dog .357 Collector’s Edition, which checks in with about 600,000 Scoville units. It’s claimed by some to be the hottest sauce available because if you go any higher you really can’t call it a sauce anymore., it’s more of an extract. This doesn’t offer much more than pure heat but is really good for kicking up large quanties of food like gumbos.

mad-dog-357-hot-sauce-collectors-edition-with-bullet-keychain_1_std

I’ve got Pyromania, a much milder and more flavorful hot sauce, a sauce that has a nice chipotle flavor while still being pretty hot from habañeros. It’s mild enough to be used as a straight sauce but it will still kick your ass.

pyromaniainfo

And I like the various Marie Sharp Caribbean-styled sauces. One of my favorites is her Exotic Sauce, which is fairly mild but has an intriguing flavor profile that’s different from the rest. Her Orange Pulp Habañero is much hotter and still has a nice flavor.

MarieSharps

But all of this is a prelude to what I came here to plug. I love this brand:

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I orginally got a couple of bottles in a swag basket I won in a contest. Back then, they looked like this:

sweet_warm_1

But they’re rebranded and they’ve packaged their products in larger bottles than the old 5 oz bottles. That’s a good thing because these are milder sauces and you tend to go through bottles pretty quickly. Their motto is “Flavor Before Fire” and they’ve nailed that perfectly. These are some of the best tasting hot sauces on the planet. They are especially good cooked in quesadillas. Talk about yummy – they strike the perfect chili note in a freshly made quesadilla. Just enough heat to be interesting. They’ve even added a 100,000 Scoville unit model that I suspect will still maintain some of the flavor that they’ve become known for.

If you’re interested in them, you can buy them directly from their web site. Since they are “natural”, you’ll also find them at Whole foods and Wild Oats. You might also find them at specialty hot sauce stores. They also sell the sauces in larger “industrial” sizes for restaurant chefs that want to use them in their cooking.

Hot sauce fanatics might not find them hot enough, but I love them, even though I’m a sucker for a super-hot hot sauce. These are true “slather-worthy” sauces.

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Right now, they have a special going on. You buy 3 and you get 25% off (don’t know how long this is going on for though). My three favorites are (in order) Jamaican Jerk (not as authentic a jerk as you’ll find but simply great on its own merits), Hot, and Sweet. Many folks love the Roasted Shallots and Garlic, but it’s not my favorite. I haven’t tried the two new “very hot” sauces.

Here’s their website:

http://www.sweetsunshine.com/home.htm

You’ll find the special under “About the Sauce”.