Chilepepper and spice

Hot food can be really cool.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


This week we recieved our chile seeds from Örtagården and today I have planted them along with some tomatillos, basil and cilantro. Now I'll will have to check them every day and give them love and water. I also have some fuchsias planted, which I never have done before, so I have to look out carefully this year. Oh, I also planted some seeds we bought in Australia. Peppermint eucalyptys tree and some wildflower. We'll see if that will work. To be honest I have too much other stuff on ny mind right now to really feel up to growing anything, but that might have something to do with the fact that there is still 30-40 centimeters of snow outside...

I thought I would have also replanted the chile plants we've kept over winter, along with some other plants, but I didn't have the time today. The seeds took forever to plant. So I guess I know what I'll be doing next weekend.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Chile is candy

It seems like ICA, one of the largest food chains in Sweden, have noticed that chiles look pretty, since they use them in their adverts. Sometimes that makes a rather funny picture, when the ad is about something totally different. We found this one today when we were doing some shopping...

Lösviktsgodis is sweets you pick what you like, put in a bag and pay by the weight of it. I just can't seem to find an English word for it!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The chile club meeting

This is going to be a long post, I guess. Well, actually not really. But I'm gonna try to tell you some about the chile club meeting we recently attended. The chili con carne competition which my husband won has already been mentioned, but there were more to the meeting than just the competition.

First there was the actual meeting with the run-through of the agenda and election of boardmembers and stuff. Not too exciting. We drank coffee and ate some nice olive oil bread with Italian ham. The one question we found most interesting was the one about the website. It's really a mess. So we volunteered to help in making it better. We'll see where that will lead. Another big question was about a club t-shirt. We couldn't care less about that one or the colors of the print on it.

The meeting part was rather short anyway, and then began the chili competition. The participants had to finish their chilies by decorating them or whatever, and they were put on the stove. Then the jury began to work. Really a hard job for the jury! They were fun to watch. We saw them getting more and more color on their cheeks.

When the jury had finished there was a wine tasting with Magnus Sjöstedt from Bornicon & Salming. We have tasted wine with him earlier, on a fair in Stockholm. He's good, but this was a bit of an introduction to wine tasting and wine with food. Since we taste a lot of wine with Munskänkarna, a Swedish wine society where we are members, this was a bit too basic for us, but there were some nice wines. It's always nice to taste a Schloss Vollrads.

After some basic talk about the wines it was time to try them with the buffet. We had all the 11 chili con carnes with chips and cheese, and some delicacies. Great. We ate a lot! And after that there were some baked things to have with the coffee. Almost too much!

The meeting continued with some local growers of spices and vegetables telling us a little about their company, and then the number 1 grower of the chile club, Rune Brand from Örtagården told us about what he had been up to lately with chile growing in Africa.

Only ONE thing then remained on the agenda. The presentation of the winner of the chili con carne contest. But that one has already been in this blog, so I guess that's it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Big trouble

Of course we like all the things Matli won in the chili competition, but hey, it really gave us big trouble. See how big this is? It's more than three kilos in total, and almost 2 kilos of that is in fact jalapeños. Hey, we like jalapeño, but the expiry date is March 3rd. This year. That's in less than a month! This week we have started out great. Three days in a row with pickled jalapeño friendly food. How long can we keep up? And still, you can't even see yet that we've started! It still looks full.

And when this one is finished we have two more... at least they had better expiry dates...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chili Chef of the Year

Today we attended the annual meeting of Svenska Chilepepparföreningen (Swedish Chile pepper Association). I assume Nikka will write more about the meeting. I will however concentrate on the competition part; The Chili Chef of the Year. Yesterday I described the Chili Con Carne I made for the competition. However, some points would also be awarded for the visual appearance of the chili. So this morning I chopped up some thai chiles and made a couple of "chile flowers" to decorate my chili with. Nothing too fancy, but at least something.

There were eleven entries in the competition, covering a broad range of chili types. Both with and without beans, hot and mild, smoked and plain, and even without meat (chili sin carne). After the judges had had their share, we could try all the chilies. I might be a little biased, but I actually liked my own chili the best.

There was also a nice chipotle based chili that I liked a lot. I might try something similar some day. Chipotle gives a very distinct nice smoked flavour to any dish. Another intersting entry had a very marked habanero taste, which was a little surprising, and quite good too. Fairly hot, of course.

I heard some people mentioning that they liked #7 (my entry) the best, but I had no idea about what the judges thought. The chilies were judged on three weighted criteria; taste, heat and appearance. I was a little worried about the heat of my chili, but on the other hand, there should be a good balance between heat and taste (if heat would have been the only criterion, I certainly have some sauces that would have made me the winner.)

At the end of the meeting, a mountain of items was put on a desk. It turned out to be the prizes for the top-three entries. The chipotle-based chili I liked got the third prize. Well-deserved.

The second prize went to Viola Blom, a previous winner of several chile pepper related competitions. Her chili was also very good, and she did of course deservere her prize.

And finally, the winner was announced. It was me!

I hadn't really anticipated this. I knew my chili was good. But I didn't know anything about what the judges would think. And I also knew that there would be several good entries. Yesterday, I thought that my best chance would be if there were very few entries in the competition. So when I found out about the eleven participants, I suspected I wouldn't get any prize at all.

The prize was a huge pile of chile related food items and a book. This includes several kilos of pickled jalapenos. I don't really know what we'll do with this huge amount. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I really enjoyed this competition (don't you always when you win?). Now we know that our favourite chili is appreciated by others than us. That's good to know...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Making Chili

As Nikka mentioned in this post, tomorrow is the yearly meeting of the swedish chile pepper association. She also mentioned that we will participate in the chili con carne competition. So my task for today was to make two litres of our favourite chili.

Making chili isn't too difficult. Basically, you just need a lot of time, chile pepper, meat and beer. I prefer chilies without beans. I have hade some good chilies with beans, but I generally regard beans as the poor man's substitute for meat. This is an ofted debated issue, so I won't push my point. Beans can at least give a nice visual appearance to chilies, especially when you mix various kinds of beans. Other subjects to argue about is the type of meat (whole chunks or minced?), if tomatoes should be included, if garlic should be included and so on. There are probably people arguing about every aspect of chili cooking... As long as you don't cook bolognese, throw in a can of white beans and call it Chili Con Carne, almost everything is fine with me. (Unfortunately, this is normally what you get when you order chili con carne in Sweden.)

However, I know what kind of chili we like. So this was what I made. Here comes the approximate recipe for two litres, which should be good for six servings.

1.5 kg stewing beef (in ½-1 inch cubes)
0.75 kg minced pork
2 medium sized onions, chopped
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
4-5 crushed garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of chopped jalapeno
3.5 dl ketchup
1.5 beef stock cubes
6 dl beer
9 tablespoons chili powder
3.5 tablespoons cumin (spiskummin, inte kummin!)
0.5 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar (farinsocker)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons "Try Me" Tiger Sauce (optional)

Brown the beef cubes, minced pork and onions in oil in separate batches. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
Put in a large pot and add all other ingredients except for the optional tiger sauce and stir well.
Bring to a boil. Put on the lid and simmer slowly for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionaly.
When ready, the chili should have a nice thick consistency and the meat chunks should be extremely tender. Add cooking time, and take off the lid if the consistency is too runny. The tiger sauce may be added when the cooking is finished or when serving.

If you make smaller batches, you may have to add more beer or water during the cooking, so keep an eye open.

I recommend serving the chili with tortilla chips, mixed chopped onions, grated cheese and sour cream.

Spicy coffee

When we go abroad we always try to get some coffee at Starbucks. No Starbucks in Sweden, and that's a shame. This time when we went to Australia we had some hours to kill at London Heathrow on the way down, and that's where we had our first meeting with their special seasonal flavours - this Christmas they were Gingerbread, Creme brulé and Peppermint. If I remember it right now Matli had a Gingerbread latte and I had a Gingerbread mocha since I wanted to be able to sleep on the plane. Later in Australia we had more and more, and lucky as we were we found a coupon in a free tourist guide which gave us two drinks for the price of one at Starbucks, so there was no excuse NOT to have our breakfasts and coffee breaks at Starbucks, almost every day in Sydney.

We did also buy two bottles of the wonderful Gingerbread syrup, so since we got back home we've had gingerbread lattes on the weekends. We will miss it when this second bottle is finished.