Thursday, February 22, 2007

So spicy it almost made us cry with delight....

We ate dinner a little early tonight, so we were looking for a little something to snack on. My freezer supply of baked goods is getting low (Ooh... I smell a baking spree!), so I went looking through my recipe stacks, reading titles out loud of recipes that could be done somewhat quickly, and when I hit this one Jeff said "Yes, stop looking - make it!".

We love the salty-sweet combination and when you add some fire into the mixture, we couldn't pass up this recipe for Maple-Chile Popcorn. It called for 8 cups of popcorn, but it has been ages since we have actually made it on the stove so I had no kernels on hand - I just popped up a bag that we got as a sample during the re-opening of The Common Market and it ended up being about 10 cups. We heated pure maple syrup, butter, salt and red pepper until it boiled for a couple minutes and then streamed the mixture over the popcorn. It goes into the oven to dry and crisp back up and after it had a chance to cool (it didn't take long at all), we each took a handful. The first couple bites brought a mild sweet maple flavor, but then we both looked at each other as our mouths ignited in an intensely hot, but pleasurable, burst of heat. I recommend reducing the cayenne if you can't take spicy food, but for us it was just right with the sweetness quelling the fire some. Even though our eyes were beginning to water, we couldn't keep our hands out of this incredibly addictive snack.

When we have made risotto in the past, the liquid we add is usually in the form of chicken stock. In tonight's dinner, Tomato and Sausage Risotto, we warmed together fire-roasted diced tomatoes (with their juices) and water instead; this method ensured that the tomato flavor is infused into the tender grains of arborio rice. You will also find ample chunky bites of hot Italian turkey sausage spread throughout the creamy mixture. The rice should be just tender when it is ready, so you may not need to use all of the warmed tomato liquid - give it a taste when you think it is close, instead of going strictly by the time, so you don't try to force too much in and leave the rice mushy. Parmesan cheese adds a sharp layer to the creamy texture with fresh chopped spinach stirred in off heat to slowly wilt into the steamy mixture. For a final indulgent touch, we laid a couple pats of butter on top to let the richness ooze into the risotto before we began to portion dinner out.


  1. Oh, my, that risotto looks beyond delicious! As soon as I can eat spicy foods again this is going on the menu. I just had to put all of a batch your lasagna soup in the freezer. :(

  2. It's Friday Night soon which suggests to me that we make this spicy popcorn! And the risotto looks good too!

  3. Mmm...I tore that risotto recipe out of the EDF magazine and have forgotten about it - I'm so glad you reviewed it and reminded me of it.

    It's kind of like CL's Italian Sausage Soup in a risotto version, isn't it? Can't lose with that combo........

  4. Hi Joe!
    I love fire-roasted tomatoes - cooking with them has added a new dimension to alot of our favourite dishes. Your risotto looks like a definate keeper! ...and classic reaction to the spicy-sweet popcorn - LOL!

  5. Robyn - Let me know how it comes out if you try it!

    Freya - Thanks!

    Alysha - Yes, I even made mention to Jeff that it was just like that soup - except thicker with just a bit more richness. Excellent.

    Gilly - I agree - they are very good! I pretty much only use them now!