strawberry crisp

strawberry crispIt’s spring! It’s spring! …I can picture about 90% of you slowly getting up out of your chairs, making unintentional fists, and muttering something under your breaths about how you still have snow up to your eyeballs and consider it a grand ol’ time when your kids get to play outside because it’s over 35 degrees. I get it. Well…not really. I live in South Carolina for cryin’ out loud. I don’t really get it, but I feel for ya. Just know that the seasons are changing. And it is spring. And if you reach way down deep inside your soul I know you can feel it. Flowers…chirpy birds…50s music…strawberries.

strawberry crispSTRAWBERRIES. It really is almost time for them to be in full force here in the South and there’s nothing like biting into one that’s ripe and sun-kissed. They’re synonymous with warm, sunny days and are as pretty as they are sweet. They’re just happy berries. And that makes them really fun to toss around in some sugar and oats and spices to make a super quick dessert that’s fresh and comforting at the same time. Strawberries + crisp = happiness.

strawberry crispstrawberry crisp
serves 4
ingredients:
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup oats
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 lb strawberries, stems removed, halved, and sliced (about 8-9 medium sized berries)
optional:
vanilla ice cream
create:
Preheat the oven to 350º.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, oats, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until everything is well combined and the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl, add the strawberries and 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and toss to coat. Add the coated strawberries to a small baking dish (or you can use 4 small baking ramekins) and top evenly with the remaining flour mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the topping is golden. Let cool a few minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.

strawberry crisp

vegetarian tortilla soup

tortilla soupTHERE’S A BABY COMING TO OUR HOUSE. No, not for a visit. For like…ever. I know. I know! It’s crazy. But also really cool and really exciting. And, come to find out, there’s a lot of weird things that happen to a pregnant woman’s food life during the time that she’s growing a baby (who knew). You always hear stories of the ravenous pregnant lady who eats anything that comes within 10 feet of her or the one who eats and eats and never gets full. They’re lies. All lies. Not really, but my experience has been pretty different. I went through the “Let’s see if i can keep this down today!” phase and now I’m in a “I have no appetite” phase. And for a foodie, this is pretty troubling. To see glorious food and simply say, “…meh”.

vegetarian tortilla soupBut. BUT. There are some foods that I encounter these days that still lift me into the air and drag me across the room with their aromas. French fries. Southern biscuits. And this TORTILLA SOUP. I sorta wondered if my body was going to be interested in it when I thought about the recipe because Mexican food, in the beginning, was my you’ve-crossed-the-line-now food that my body rejected 100% of the time. But I always wanted it. So I kept eating it. And my body kept saying, “…ahaha….No.”. So, I wondered if this soup was something my body would turn its nose up at. IT WAS NOT.

vegetarian tortilla soupSo, let me encourage you. If you’re reading this and you’re 1. pregnant, 2. have no appetite, or 3. simply are in a blah mood, this soup may be able to do wonders for you. Because it’s delicious. And it’s filled with yummy flavors and textures and warmness. And you get to top it with crispy tortilla strips. Crispy tortilla strips.

tortilla soupvegetarian tortilla soup
serves 6-8
ingredients:
1 bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 poblano pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
optional toppings:
tortilla strips (recipe follows)
avocado
cilantro
sour cream
lime
cheese
create:
Move the rack in your oven to the top shelf and set the oven to broil. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until slightly charred, about 3-4 minutes. Let the peppers cool, remove the seeds from the bell and poblano, and dice. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and let cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes more. Add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes until everything is coated and fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot and stir until well combined. Add the vegetable stock, cilantro, and broiled peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Optional: At this point I took an immersion blender to the soup to make it slightly creamier. I blended about half of the soup so that some of it would be smooth, but there would still be chunks left. If you like your soup chunky, it’s totally fine to leave it how it is.
Add the black beans and corn to the soup, cover, and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot with toppings.
tortilla strips:
5 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt
Preheat the oven to 450º. Place the cut tortillas in a baking sheet and toss evenly with the oil. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt.

tortilla soup

skillet lasagna

skillet lasagna

Say it with me: skillet….lasagna. Skillet..lasagna. Skillet. Lasagna. I can picture people rising to their feet in a crescendoed slow clap.

skillet lasagna

Let me start by saying that one of my husband’s favorite meals is lasagna. He always asks for it. But…I never make it for him. I can’t be boiling all kinds of pots of water and assembling all kinds of layers and then placing it in the oven to bake for close to an hour. I’ll be honest, that’s a lot of steps for just-got-off-of-work me and, frankly, I’m usually too lazy to attempt such a delicious feat. Plus, it’d probably keep me from succeeding in my weeknight dinner goal: get dinner on the table before Wheel of Fortune comes on at 7:00 (I’m actually 80 years old).

skillet lasagna

So making the discovery that lasagna can be cooked in a skillet was like a revelation for me. I thought, “This…this...could be working?” The ingredients are simple. You use one pan. There’s no boiling the noodles beforehand. You can have lasagna in your family’s face in less than 30 minutes. Ahhh (that’s the sound of some distant choir echoing the joy). Don’t worry. I got super excited, too.

skillet lasagna

skillet lasagna
serves 6-8
ingredients:
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 lb ground beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz (∼half a package) whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into 1″ squares
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
create:
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and 2 tablespoons of the chopped basil together until well combined. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and red pepper flakes. Swirl around until the oil is hot and the red peppers are slightly fragrant.
Add the onion, let cook for 2 minutes, and then add the garlic. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper (to taste) and add to the skillet. Break the beef up into small pieces and allow to cook until browned (no pink should be left), about 7 minutes. Drain any excess grease, if necessary.
Layer the lasagna noodle pieces in an even layer on top of the ground beef mixture. Pour the tomato mixture on top of the noodles and gently jiggle the skillet so the tomatoes fall evenly into the spaces and create an even layer on top. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.
Add the ricotta cheese in clumps around the top of the lasagna and gently spread to cover the tomatoes (it’s okay if it doesn’t look perfect). Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh basil over the top and serve hot.

skillet lasagna

chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo salsa

enchiladas

I made some roasted tomatillo salsa recently and it really had me craving it on everything: plopped on top of pork, tossed with some potatoes, spread on some toast (is that a thing?), and, most importantly, all intertwined in some chicken enchiladas. So, I followed my craving. I made some enchiladas.

enchiladasenchiladas2

chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo salsa

ingredients:
1/2 lb chicken breast
a sprinkle of ground cumin
a sprinkle of paprika
a sprinkle of salt
1 roasted tomatillo salsa recipe
6 corn tortillas
~1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup shredded queso blanco

create:
Preheat oven to 350º. Place chicken on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cumin, paprika, and salt. Roast in the oven until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165º. Let cool and shred. Set aside.
Add the salsa to a large shallow dish. In a skillet over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of the skillet. Add a tortilla and fry until bubbly (about 30 seconds), flip, and fry the other side until bubbly. Dip both sides of the fried tortilla in the salsa and return it to the pan. Fry each side for 15 (or so) seconds until slightly crisp, but still flexible. Move the tortilla to a plate and repeat for each of the remaining tortillas, adding more oil as necessary.
In a medium-sized baking dish, add about 3 tablespoons of salsa to the bottom to prevent sticking. Divide the cooked, shredded chicken evenly in the tortillas, roll, and place seal side down in the baking dish. Brush with a little extra salsa and sprinkle with queso blanco. Cook in the oven until the cheese has melted and everything is heated through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve hot.

enchiladas

roasted tomatillo salsa

salsa

Sometimes when I go to the grocery store or farmer’s market, I find myself rattling through the produce section (likely being one of those people who gets in everyone’s way) to simply see the colors and textures and shapes of what’s available. That probably makes me sound like I’m 95 years old, but I have a strange love for fruits and vegetables. And not necessarily for the taste (let’s be honest. some are good, some are bad…), but rather I think it’s for them being the most basic forms of food for us. My husband and I grow a summer vegetable garden in our backyard and there’s not much more gratifying to me than watching a little seed grow into a seedling and that growing into a plant that creates fruit and then being able to use that fruit as nourishment.

I got off subject. So, the last time I was in the grocery store I passed the little basket that holds the tomatillos and I thought, “Dohh, they’re soo cutttte, like tiny tomatoooooes.” Once I got past my inner squeals, I realized I’d never cooked with them before. And then I pictured some salsa verde being ladled over a pan of hot and cheesy and flavorful enchiladas and my hand reached out to grab those tomatillos without my brain even having to tell it to do so. I haven’t gotten to the enchiladas yet, but I did roast the tomatillos to make some salsa. And that salsa was delicious and fresh and bright.

salsa

roasted tomatillo salsa

ingredients:
5 tomatillos
1 jalapeno
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 pinches of salt

create:
Move the rack in your oven to the highest shelf or so the rack is about 1 1/2″ to 2″ below the heat source. Set your oven to the broil setting.
Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse in warm water to remove the stickiness. Pat dry and add them, along with the jalapeno and garlic, to a baking sheet. Roast the vegetables in the oven, turning once, until they are soft and slightly charred, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Remove the peeling from the garlic cloves and the stem from the jalapeno.
In a blender, add the roasted vegetables and the onion, cilantro, and salt. Blend until smooth. Serve over enchiladas, with tacos, or as a dip for veggies and/or tortilla chips.

salsa

On a random note, I asked my sister recently what she thought about salsa in general. These were her responses:

“Salsa is like life. Sometimes it’s hot and spicy. Sometimes it’s smooth and mild.”
“Salsa makes everything seem like a party.”
“Sometimes salsa makes you overeat.”
“You can use salsa to clear out your sinuses.”

sweet cream scones

scones

Today I made scones. Tonight is the US premiere of Downton Abbey. Am I excited? Chyeah.

sconessconesscones4scones

sweet cream scones
this recipe is taken from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

ingredients:
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unrefined cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
heavy cream for brushing
more suar for sprinkling

create:
Blend sour cream, vanilla extract, and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º. In a large bowl, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in the sour cream mixture and egg until just barely moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch square and cut into wedges. Place them 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Lightly brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.

scones

parisian hot chocolate

hotchocolate6

In my last post I chatted about the events leading up to Andy and me deciding to take a trip to Paris and I made French meringues. In this post, I’m going to talk about my five favorite things about Paris and make one of my favorites…hot chocolate.

hot chocolatehotchocolate2

My Five Favorite Things About Paris:

1. The slowness. It sounds funny that I would be commenting on the slowness, considering that there are millions of people in Paris and it’s one of the most well-known cities in the world. What we noticed, however, was that people much more loved the experience of an event rather than the task of getting the event done. For example, in every restaurant we went in, the people around us had obviously been there a long time. There were multiple glasses on the tables with almost empty bottles of wine scattered about. No one was on a smartphone. Everyone was slightly slouched in their chairs, making eye contact with one another, making conversation with one another, laughing, or simply resting in that silence that so many of us categorize as awkward. Eating dinner was not a task (“let’s eat this and get on to the next thing”); dinner was an experience. An experience to be shared with those around you. With the restaurant. With the city. It was a beautiful thing.

2. Versailles. We made the train ride out to Versailles one morning after very poorly trying to kick each other out of the bed super early (changing time zones will do it to you). It was cold and raining and crowded. But it was perfect. That place was spectacular. The palace itself was breathtaking, but the grounds were immaculate, like seeing Augusta National in a different form. Plus, I’m a history nerd and have a strange fascination with Marie Antoinette, so seeing the Petit Trianon and her hamlet gave me a strange/haunting/longing feeling of being in a nostalgic hot air balloon that floated me back in time.

3. The baguettes. The baguettes. Oh, the baguettes. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. Oomph. That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Flea Markets. I’m sort of a flea market/thrift store/yard sale junkie anyway, so experiencing it in Paris was like a dream. We spent a lot of time at the Port de Vanves market, which was quaint and relatively tucked away from the rest of the city (yet still large). I could have strolled all day. Each vendor had tables filled with vintage French treasures that would be way more expensive in the United States. Paintings, posters, flatware, clothing. Gah. Everything was beautiful. We left with a vintage coffee advertisement, a Sharpie drawing of Amsterdam (which at the time I thought was Paris, don’t ask), a cup and saucer, and a wool toy lamb for my niece.

5. Hot Chocolate. I probably had 20 cups of hot chocolate during our 8-day trip. I’m not lying. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to and one of the things I will remember most fondly. There was no powder mix to be found and the presentation of it was, once again, an experience. It was usually brought out on a small tray with a little pot of chocolate and a miniature pitcher of steaming milk, allowing you to mix it to your liking. It was deep and delicious. I never had a bad cup. And it was the perfect way to enjoy a bit of evening resting at a cafe while watching the scooters and people pass by.

hotchocolate3hotchocolate4

parisian hot chocolate
(this recipe is David Lebovitz’s. honestly, the majority of our trip was planned by using his website. we found the best restaurants, pastries, you name it. if you’re planning a trip to Paris, use his site. seriously.)
serves 4

ingredients:
2 cups whole milk
5 grams high-quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped

create:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in the chocolate and continue whisking until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is hot and steaming. Serve hot.

hot chocolate

french meringues with grapefruit curd

meringue

A little over five years ago I remember sitting in Andy’s old house talking about where we were going on our honeymoon. We had been engaged only a few weeks and we both had pretty drastic ideas of the vacation we wanted (jessa=new york city, andy=riding a donkey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon). Since they were both so different, we started thinking of places that may be a compromise. I remember saying, “What about Paris?” and it sounded so magical and perfect for a honeymoon. Turns out, however, that traveling abroad is rather expensive. So, we didn’t end up going to Europe. We did end up going to NYC (I promise there was no arm twisting on my part) and, since then, we’ve always sort of jokingly said, “Yeah, har har, we’ll go to Paris for our 5 year, har.”

meringue

Fast forward five years. This past summer we spent a lot of time trying to plan our anniversary trip. The destination varied greatly depending on the day: the mountains, LA, Disney World (because we’re dorks), going back to NYC, Alaska, etc. etc. One night we were sitting on the couch and a thought popped into my head. “Hey. Paris. That’s right…Paris!” And I turned my head toward Andy and bit my lip and sorta giggled (a look that can never mean anything good) and said, “Andy…what about Paris?” And we looked at each other for a few seconds and he said, “Yeah, we can think about that.” And my heart spun around in all directions and I floated to my bed for a night of dream-filled slumber.

meringue

I’ll never forget the day that Andy told me he wanted to take me to Paris and that we could make it happen. Our trip was magical. In reality, Paris is just a city. Made of buildings. And pedestrians. And vendors. And restaurants. But to two people who had never before experienced it, it was a grand adventure. I’ll post more later on some of our favorite things, but for this first post, I wanted to try my hand at making meringues. We had one in Paris that was the size of my head and it was light and crisp and gooey. These meringues are just that, but they incorporate some citrus curd to make it a little less traditional.

meringue

french meringues with grapefruit curd
recipe adapted from all recipes & zoe bakes

ingredients:
meringue:
4 egg whites, room temperature
2 1/4 cups unrefined powdered sugar, sifted

grapefruit curd:
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tbsp grapefruit zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks

create:
Preheat oven to 200º. Prep 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
To make the meringue, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until foamy. On medium speed, add the powdered sugar a little at a time until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny.
Using 2 spoons, place globs on meringue onto the prepared baking sheets (about 2 tablespoons each). Rinse one of the spoons and use it to make a well in the middle of each meringue (this space will hold the curd once they are cooked). Place in the oven with a wooden spoon in the door so the oven door doesn’t close all the way. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, turn off the oven, leave them there, and let them rest for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool completely.
While the meringues are cooking, make the curd. In the top of a double boiler over medium heat (the bottom pan will have an inch of simmering water), whisk together the egg yolks, egg, sugar, grapefruit juice, and zest until well combined. Whisk continuously until the mixture starts to thicken (this can take between 5 and 10 minutes) and add the butter. Whisk until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has thickened enough that it can coat the back of a spoon (coat the spoon and draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger. If the mixture is thick enough, the line will stay put).
Strain the curd through a sieve into another container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the top of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming). Put the curd in the freezer for 20 minutes to cool (but not to freeze).
Spoon the cooled curd into the cooled meringues and serve immediately.

meringuemeringue

pumpkin muffins

pumpkin muffins

Sometimes I plan on carrying out these elaborate plans that sound perfect when they’re rattling around up there in my head. Most of the plans involve planning a meticulously executed party with my twin (think Downton Abbey costume parties or Marie Antoinette pastry parties) or knocking down some wall in my house or turning my attic into a playroom (keep in mind that I have no children…). The latest plan in my head was inspired by I Love Lucy. Lucy gets up every morning and scrambles eggs or makes waffles or fries bacon for Ricky and she always accompanies it with freshly squeezed orange juice. I thought, “That looks heavenly. I’m going to do that for Andy.” The first morning of the plan began and ended with me drooling on my pillow and covered in blankets and still in the bed when Andy left for work. And I woke up feeling sad. And I had to tell myself:

1. Ricky is a nightclub performer. He works late and gets to sleep until about 10:00 AM; therefore, Lucy doesn’t have to get up super early.
2. Lucy doesn’t have a job outside of the home.
3. It’s a TV show.

pumpkin muffins

I guess my point is this: a lot of times we have big plans to do fantastic things and a lot of times the plans actually work. But a lot of times they just don’t. And that’s okay. I’ve had to practice giving myself grace and realizing that things won’t be perfect all the time.

This fall has been somewhat of a blur. It’s been busy and, well, life. I haven’t gotten my fall wreath on my door and I haven’t even watched the Great Pumpkin yet. And it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m remembering that despite the details and challenges of the day to day, there is beauty each time the sun rises. It’s okay to take things one step at a time. And I’m loving this realization.

pumpkin muffins

Whoa. Pretty sure this post just turned into a diary session. But right now I’m going to celebrate this season. This season of rest in the midst of unrest. And this season of coolness and Autumn. And, no, I’m not making a gourmet breakfast every morning right now. And I haven’t started my costume for the Downton Abbey party. But I did make these little pumpkin muffins. And they are happy and pumpkiny and spicy and everything you’d expect from a good pumpkin muffin. They’re traditional with no surprises. Sometimes you just want that.

pumpkin muffins

pumpkin muffins
recipe adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen
prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 14 minutes yield: 24 mini muffins

ingredients:
1/2 cup + 6 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/4 cup unrefined brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup roasted pumpkin purée
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

create:
Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly grease 2 12-count miniature muffin pans and set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices and whisk to combine.
In a second medium-sized mixing bowl, add the egg, pumpkin, butter, and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is just incorporated (try not to over mix).
Divide the batter evenly in the muffin pans. Each cup will be almost full. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds evenly over the batter.
Bake the muffins for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

pumpkin muffins

garlic chili paste

chili paste

We were sitting in an Asian restaurant here in Columbia. Andy ordered some kind of stir fried concoction with a sauce I’d never heard of and some kind of animal that still had its legs attached and I probably ordered the most basic thing on the menu. We had just started dating and I wasn’t exactly in tune with my Asian food-side yet (I say yet because now I love Asian food). I’m still, however, at a standoff with seafood. That junk is gross. Imagine. A foodie hating seafood. Just imagine it.

chili paste

Anyhow, we were in the restaurant. The waitress brought the food and Andy let out an immediate, “Oh, can I get some red chili paste to go with this?” and she scurried back to the kitchen and came back with a small bowl which she placed on the table. I stared at it like it was a bowl of beaming sunlight that I’d never experienced. Its bright, intensely contrasty red color had me fixated. It was beautiful. But I knew it was hot. Nothing with such a deep, flaming color can be mild. And my suspicions were confirmed when Andy barely dipped the end of his chopsticks into the bowl and stirred the attached paste into his meat and veggies. Hot it may be. Foul it is not.

chili paste

Chili paste like this gives your food a very powerful heat, but it doesn’t give your food an unwelcomed flavor like other hot sauces can. A little goes a long way and it bumps up the flavor (and heat) profile of stir fries, soups, sauces, and whatever else your heart desires. Heck, spread it straight on a cracker if you’ve got the guts to do so.

Note: Do not, I repeat, do not put your face down in the blender and take a big whiff to see how the chili paste is coming along. You may experience a bomb-like experience in your eyes and lungs. Some of us around here know from experience.

chili paste

garlic chili paste
total time: 5 minutes yield: 1/3 cup

ingredients:
1 cup chile peppers (I used cayenne)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp unrefined cane sugar
4 tbsp water
splash of sesame oil

create:
Trim the stems from the chile peppers. Place the peppers in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, salt, sugar, and water. Blend until coarsely chopped. Add the sesame oil and blend until a paste is formed. Store chilled in an airtight container.
You can use a combination of different types of peppers if you’d like. Feel free to change up the amount of water and/or oil to achieve your desired consistency.

chili paste