Field Notes

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Muhammara

As far as Middle Eastern dips are concerned, muhammara is the stepsister, always outflanked by hummus. But we love this underdog, which combines chilies, bread, walnuts, and the sweet-sour kick of pomegranate molasses into a spread that we can’t stop eating.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 slice bread, cut into cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed Aleppo chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 roasted red pepper, peeled, seeds and stem removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the bread cubes and toast, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown. Add the crushed chili flake and cumin and stir to coat, cooking for another minute or so to toast the spices. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the walnuts, pomegranate molasses, red pepper and olive oil. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste. With the machine running, add ½ cup water and the salt. Transfer to a lidded container until ready to serve. Serve it as a dip with toasted pita bread. The muhammara will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

Master Class: Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Earlier this week, we shared our recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate [link], and in the process of testing and drinking a few glasses, we decided we loved the flavors so much that we’d apply them to a pie (it is the week before Thanksgiving, after all).

This recipe is built off of a chocolate pie recipe from an old community cookbook we found in Texas. We love it for its ease (it’s a dump-and-stir deal), and consistent results. We kicked it up with the addition of chilies, vanilla and cinnamon, and a cornmeal crust that adds texture while giving a nod to the importance of cornmeal in Mexican cooking.

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Aleppo Chili Pepper Uses

Since Aleppo chilies are among the most popular options in gourmet food markets, there is no end of great recipes out there with which to experiment. Here are a few of our favorites:

Flatbread with Chili Butter, Onions, Goat Cheese and Herbs

This delicious recipe combines two of our very favorite conveniences: frozen puff pastry and Chili Butter. Combine them and you get a flatbread on steroids that smacks of a far great time commitment than it actually requires. Roasted onions, fresh herbs and a healthy dollop of gooey, creamy cheese makes this dish the most delicious thing you could whip together. Add a side salad and a glass of wine, and you’re good to go.

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