Tag Archives: spicy recipes

Spicy Maple Roasted Marcona Almonds

One of my guilty pleasures as evening approaches here by the bay is watching the glorious sunsets with a glass of chilled white wine and some little nibble along with it. These spicy maple roasted marcona almonds are the perfect pairing to a glass of wine. Each bit captures the perfect mix of being savory and sweet with an under note of heat. The best part is just how simple these cocktail nuts are to make. Enjoy!
From by the bay, wishing you savory and  sweet food memories!
blog marcona almonds
Spicy Maple Roasted Marcona Almonds
1 1/2 cups marcona almonds, roasted and salted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl toss all ingredients except the salt. Turn onto the lined baking sheet, spreading into a single layer. Bake nuts for about 20 minutes, until the nuts are golden and bubbling. Sprinkle with the sea salt and let cool for 20 minutes, before breaking about. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container for up to one week.
Note: if you can’t find marcona almonds this will also work with regular dry roasted almonds or actually any dry roasted nuts that you prefer.

White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns

blog white peppercorn choco
I love homemade Valentine’s, I’ve beem making them since I was a little girl. There is nothing like taking the time to make something yourself to show you care. I thought making a flavored chocolate this year would be fun. I did a little research and testing and came up with this white chocolate base mixed with touch of lemon zest for tang and some ground pink peppercorns to give a little of heat. The two ingredients offer the perfect harmonious taste when mixed with the white chocolate. What better way to say , ” I love you”!From by the bay, wishing you sweet food memories and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
blog white choco 2
White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns
16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and place in microwave at high for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and stir chocolate with a spatula. Repeat again by placing into microwave for another 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat this process until chocolate is melted, which varies althought ususally in total it is 2 -3 times. Stir chocolate until it is completely smooth. Once chocolate is melted add the lemon zest and ground pink peppercorns. Stir well. Pour melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread into a rectangle shape. You can top with some additional pieces of pink peppercorn if you like. Place into the refrigerator to cool. Once cool, break the chocolate into large pieces.


Spicy Beef Brisket and Sausage Chili

blog chili
Super Bowl Sunday is upon us and nothing is more traditional than making a great chili. What makes this chili recipe special is it’s pretty easy to make and it has really big flavor from combining hot italian sausage along with your ground meat. I suggest ground beef brisket here but regular ground beef works just as well. I do suggest that you get a beef with a slightly higher fat content ( 20%) for flavor. The added flavor is worth the extra step of pouring off any fat you might have after browning the meat. If you prefer your chili less spicy, get regular italian sausage meat and cut in half the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne. Using the basil and the cannellini beans in this recipe really makes for a lighter taste! Hope you team wins the Super Bowl!
From by the bay wishing you winning Super Bowl food memories!
blog chili 2
Spicy Beef Brisket and Sausage Chili
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pounds hot italian sausage, with casings removed
3 pounds ground beef brisket ( or ground beef , 80% lean)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 – 26.46 ounces chopped tomatoes with liquid ( use no sodium added)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leave
1 cup strong black coffee
2 – 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a very large heavy bottomed pot and brown the sausage meat. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon. In the same pot add the ground meat and brown. Remove the browned meat with slotted spoon into the bowl with the sausage meat and set aside. Pour off any liquid and/or fat from the pot. Place pot and remaining olive oil on medium heat and once the oil is hot saute the onions and garlic until softened but not brown, approximately 10 minutes. Add the pepper flakes, cumin and cayenne and saute 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomatoes, bay leave, salt, pepper, coffee and the reserved meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cannellini beans ( strained and rinsed) and simmer another 1/2 hour. Serve warm with fresh basil on top.
Chili can be served with :
Sour Cream
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Diced Tomato
Tortilla chips
Guacamole – here is the link to my favorite recipe


New York City Wine and Food Festival with Train

The New York City Wine and Food Festival just wrapped up. I attended the Trucks and Train event on Sunday night. It was sponsored by the New York Times and Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. and hosted by Andrew Zimmern. There were 24 terrific food trucks. Some of the highlights from the food trucks were succulent hand rolled and pan- seared Tibetan dumplings in broth from Chinese Mirch,  warm charcoal grilled pork wrapped in pita with tzatziki from Souvlaki GR, who won the honors as best truck ,a delicious take on a cuban sandwich from the Bongo Brothers which was made with slow roasted pork, smoked honey ham, swiss cheese and homemade pickles on medianoche bread and for dessert the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck went with an awesomesauce sundae and awesome it was with a vanilla soft serve ice cream, spicy chocolate sauce, crunchy candied pepitas topped with fresh whipped cream. There was also plenty of  fine wine provided by the San Francisco Wine Co. – Calling All Angels Chardonnay, California 37 Cabernet and Drops of Jupiter Red.  As if all this good food and wine was not enough there was a special performance by the grammy- award winning group Train. They gave a powerhouse performance which rocked Pier 36 where the event took place. It was a fantastic event and a beautiful evening in one of the best cities in the world.


Participating Trucks

The Big Gay Ice Cream – awesomesauce sundae, inspired me to make a spicy chocolate sauce and candied pepitas to make my own sundae. Here are my recipes for those two ingredients!

Spicy Chocolate Sauce

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir together until chocolate and butter have melted and the ingredients come together. Let cool before serving on top of ice cream.

Candied Pepitas

1 cup pepitas, crumbled
5 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg white beaten
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the pepitas are golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Let cool before using.


Talking Barbecue with Kenney Dale Johnson : Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Article first published as Talking Barbecue with Kenney Dale Johnson, Drummer for Chris Isaak on Technorati.

blog beyond the sun

I had the opportunity to chat with Kenney Dale Johnson the other day about barbecue. You probably know Kenney as the talented drummer and backup vocalist for Chris Isaak. Kenney and Chris have been performing on the road for over 27 years. Kenney shared ” I’ve been fortunate enough to sample fare from all the over the world, it’s pretty cool. I’m very adventurous.” Kenney was born and raised in Texas, so he knows a thing of two about barbecue. He had the opportunity to sample fare throughout the United States. Kenney recalled some of his favorite barbecue such as ” Carolina’s Mustard Base Barbecue Sauce and Blueberry Based Barbecue Sauce in Nashville.”  Kenney recently spent time in Memphis recording “Beyond The Sun” which was recently released by Chris Isaak and the band. The album is a collection of Sun cover songs from the early days of Sun Studio including Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire”, Carl Perkins’ “Dixie Fried” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” just to name a few of the 36 songs on the album. When in Memphis, Kenney enjoys dining at “Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs” which uses a very special dry rub. Kenney “bought a bunch of the rub and I use to make chicken, that place is a kick in the pants if you get to go there.”  Well, after I hung up the phone with Kenney, I was intrigued to learn more about  Carolina’s Mustard Base Barbecue Sauce, so I did some research. I became even more interested when I discovered that this sauce was a mash up of German ancestry and American barbecue. So I started experimenting in the kitchen, where I travel through my cooking.  I came up with a recipe I know you’ll love. It’s a perfect balance of tangy and sweet.  I’m also including the recipe for Rendezvous Famous Seasoning Rub. I did not dare tamper with a best in class recipe. Hope you take the opportunity to enjoy both recipes while we head into the height of the summer barbecue season. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Kenney for his time and for the inspiration from his music and his food adventures.

From by the bay wishing you some Rockin’ barbecue memories!

Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce
1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaveDirections
Combine all ingredients into a medium sauce pan on high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Cool and store in an airtight container over night in the refrigerator. Can be used as any other barbecue sauce, especially with pork or chicken.

World Famous Rendezvous Dry Seasoning Rub
From Charlie Vergos Rendezvous Restaurant in Memphis
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1 tabelspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients together and store in an air tight container until needed.


Savory Ketchup

Well, Memorial Day is not too far away, so I’m going to start blogging about some great recipes for celebrating this holiday weekend. I am sure you have been wondering why in the world make ketchup? Well, I have some very good reasons for suggesting that you do. The first one is this ketchup is much more delicious than any store bought ketchup. The second is that it’s healthy, you can control the amount of sodium and there are no preservatives. The third reason is this is SO EASY to make. My last reason and most important reason is that it will totally impress your guests, making them feel that they are special even if are serving burgers and hot dogs. I think especially for a long holiday weekend where you might be barbecuing through out the weekend , it’s worth the extra effort to have a batch of fresh ketchup ready in the fridge. I keep the ketchup in a mason jar so that it’s easy to bring to the table so guests can spoon some of this savory ketchup on top their food. Make this Memorial Weekend a real celebration and come back for more holiday recipes.

From by the bay wishing you some happy holiday food memories!
blog ketchup
Savory Ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon fresh red chili, chopped
1 28 ounce can puree tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil, add the onion, garlic and chili and saute until soft. Add tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, bay leave and spices. Simmer uncovered 25 minutes. Add vinegar and lemon juice. If the ketchup seems very thick you can add another tablespoon or two of water. Simmer 10 more minutes. Remove bay leave. Set aside to cool. Once cool, puree in food processor , place in glass mason jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Grilled Spicy Shrimp with Harissa Mayonnaise

Growing up if you asked me my favorite food , there was only one answer: Shrimp –  lots of it fried. i considered myself a fried shrimp connoisseur in those days. Although, i have really expanded my food horizons, shrimp is still one of my favorite foods and I am always looking for new ways to prepare them. I first tried Harissa, a spicy paste, on a buying trip to Paris and I have enjoyed experimenting with it as an ingredient ever since. You can find Harissa as a paste in either a tube or can from food specialty stores. It is from North Africa and it is made primarily of chili peppers and garlic along with cumin and coriander. It’s a great quick way to add heat to a dish. My favorite use is in this shrimp dish. The Harissa mayonnaise is also a great complement to potato fries, with grilled meats or to use on sandwiches.

From by the bay wishing you spicy food memories!


 foodgawker harissa shrimp

Grilled Spicy Shrimp with Harissa Mayonnaise
Serves 4
1 lb Raw large shrimp, cleaned with tails
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons Harissa Paste

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


Place all ingredients into a sealed plastic bag and marinate for at least 2 hours. Soak wooden skewers in water for one hour. Heat outdoor grill or grill pan, skewer shrimp and grill shrimp approximately 3-4 minutes per side until pink. Serve with Harissa mayonnaise.

Harissa Mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Harissa Paste

1 tablespoon Ketchup

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Place all ingredients in a bow, and mix well. Serve with grilled shrimp

Spicy Chocolate Truffles

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? It’s a example of a perfect union. For this Valentine’s Day I wanted to experiment with making my own truffles. There are a lot of truffle recipes around so I wanted to make mine a little unique in taste. I opened my spice rack and experimented with mixing cocoa powder with a variety of different spices and landed on my favorite pairing which I’m sharing with you here today.  

From by the bay wishing you the sweetest Valentine’s Day and food memories!
blog choc truffle
Spicy Chocolate Truffles
Makes approximately 32 pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
zest of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chili powder or chinese five spice or cinnamon – optional
On medium heat place in a sauce pan the cream, rind, cinnamon, honey and butter. Melt the butter and bring to a simmer. Strain the mixture and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand a minute and then whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth, with no air bubbles. Cover with cling wrap directly on top of the chocolate. Let set on the counter for at least 4 hours. Shape using a teaspoon the chocolate into small balls. Place on a baking sheet and put into the freezer for 15 minutes. Sift cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of the spice of your choice onto a plate. Roll the chocolate truffle in the cocoa powder until completely covered. Set on a plate and serve.

Winning Salsa

 blog salsa


Winning Salsa

Serves 6

1 28 ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes ( if you can’t find fire roasted use canned whole plum tomatoes)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and chopped

1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Place all the ingredients into food processor and process until pureed. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.


Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce

When I was a little girl, my parents would entertain on New Year’s Eve at our home. The celebration only included my parent best friends along with us kids. We would be giddy with excitement as my mother made the preparations. I remember feeling very grown up at six year old being allowed to stay up past my bedtime, although for sure it was not very late. My mom would make an assortment of appetizers and hands down my favorite was the shrimp cocktail. Now when I entertain on New Year’s Eve, I wouldn’t think of not including shrimp cocktail. Today, my mom needs to follow a low sodium and low sugar diet. After reading the ingredients on prepared cocktail sauce, I decided to create my own. My sauce uses the ingredients for a bloody mary – save the vodka, although on New Year’s Eve I have been known to include a splash of vodka in this sauce as well. It’s a perfect twist on my Bloody Mary and it’s also perfect for my mom’s dietary restrictions. We all love it! This will be the best cocktail sauce you have ever had. 

From by the bay wishing you a very Happy New Year and may your 2012 be filled with happy food memories!
blog shrimp cocktail
Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce
3/4 cup organic low sodium ketchup
3 tablespoons grated horseradish
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon vodka, optional
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to use. Serve with shrimp, crab or lobster.