Journal

Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

A new variation on a favourite snack

Posted by Anna at 19:43 on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The other day when I wrote about our visit to Peppers By Post I mentioned that we'd brought some Poblano peppers back with us:

Poblano peppers

We've now had a chance to try them (actually that's an understatement - they've all been eaten!) and I have to say that they have more than lived up to our expectations. As I expected, they are absolutely gorgeous in a stir fry (one of my signature dishes) but the real find was an unexpected one - a variation on a favourite snack of mine.

For a while now one of my favourite snacks has been mature cheddar cheese melted onto well toasted multigrain bread (the unsliced variety, naturally) with mixed herbs, chopped onions and a dash of hot pepper sauce. I'm rather good at it by now, and Beth likes it so much that she often asks me to make it for her too. This particular snack is even better with my favourite cheese at the moment - an Oak Smoked Cheddar you can buy in Sainsbury (it's made in Dorset, but I'm not sure at which farm. I'd love to find out, though). I cannot recommend it enough if you are a cheese fiend....

Anyway, on a hunch I decided to try this particular snack with chopped poblano (specifically, the red one - it was more ripe and carried a little more heat) in place of onion and without (this time) the hot pepper sauce.

What can I say but "Wow!". I now have a new favourite snack...

Here Be Chillis

Posted by Anna at 00:40 on Saturday, August 25, 2007
Beth and I are both fans of spicy food, and over the past couple of years or so we've been experimenting with different styles. It was inevitable that sooner or later we would encounter the Habanero and Scotch Bonnet - especially given we can buy them locally in Charminster. Although both are particularly strong and need to be handled with real care (we always wear gloves when handling them) they nevertheless have nothing on the Naga. Now those are truly evil - they are so incredibly hot and have such a strong flavour that I find it difficult to find a receipe that will suit them. Most of the time I use Thai bird chillis instead (we can buy them fresh locally too).

Last year a story broke in the media about a chilli farm in Dorset named Peppers by Post which had apparently produced the "world's hottest chilli pepper" - a naga variety they had named the Dorset Naga. They are about an hour's drive away from here, and when we read their site we discovered that they were holding an open day in August, which we thought might prove to be an interesting outing.

The open day fell on Sunday, and as planned we went along for a couple of hours. After a brief wander around the farm we joined one of the tours, and spent an enjoyable couple of hours learning about the different varieties they grow and chatting to the owners.

One we didn't know about was the Poblano, a mild and large variety which superficially resembles a bell pepper. What we found intriguing about it was the taste - very like a bell pepper (with virtually no heat) at the tip, with increasing heat as you get closer to the stem. I can imagine doing an amazing stir fry or stuffed pepper dish with them (we bought some, so that is exactly what we plan to do!).

We both found it a fascinating experience, and we will definitely be back. In the meantime, Beth has a couple of new additions to her house. The first is a Thai sun chilli plant - basically an ornamental species, but those little chillis are wickedly hot and we will definitely try cooking with them.

This miniature plant only grows ten to twelve inches high. The one inch peppers grow upwards facing the sun. One plant has literally hundreds of these fireballs.


The second is a very colourful Numex Twilight (which is actually a hybrid derived from the Thai Sun):

Numex Twilight.

The chillis on this plant start off purple, ripening through yellow and orange to red. The result is a beautiful variety of colours when the plant is fruiting:

Numex Twilight.

Of course, these are small varieties well suited to growing indoors. Something like a habanero plant would be more of a challenge (they can grow to 5 feet tall!).

Who needs pets when you have chilli plants to look after?