Tag Archives: chilies

Brie Soup



¾ C. chopped onion

½ c. chopped celery

4 T. butter

2 T. flour

2 c. half & half

2 cups chicken stock

8 oz. brie cheese, cut in pieces

1-4 oz cans of chopped green chilies

Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan, sauté onion and celery in butter over medium heat until translucent. Stir in flour to form a roux or paste-like consistency. Slowly whisk in milk and chicken stock and continuing whisking until smooth and well-blended. Add brie and whisk until melted. Add chilies, salt and pepper. Cool slightly. If desired, puree in blender until smooth. Serve with crusty bread, a green salad and crisp, white wine. Serves 4.

Week 39: Aphrodisiac Cooking



Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and it’s time to think about how you’re going to celebrate with that special someone. Gifts are always nice, but why not prepare an aphrodisiac meal for them? Who knows where it will lead (wink, wink)?

Aphrodisiac recipes have been cooked up throughout the world for centuries. You may have heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac — but what about potatoes, skink flesh, and sparrow brains? These things were once considered aphrodisiacs, too. Almost everything edible was, at one time or another. Some foods thought to be aphrodisiacs resemble genitalia – oysters, bananas – you get the picture. Short of taking Viagra which has been shown to effectively treat erectile dysfunction, aphrodisiac foods are those which possess vitamins, minerals and chemicals which stimulate desire. In actuality, foods which boost energy, stimulate attraction, fertility and promote blood flow to all important regions are believed to be effective in increasing sexual performance and satisfaction.

Aphrodisiacs get their name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and sexuality. One account of her “birth” says she arose from the sea on a giant scallop, after Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his severed genitals into the sea. Aphrodite then walked to the shore of Cyprus. Her name derives from aphros which means “foam” and refers to her as rising from the sea foam. She is always depicted nude and is often shown floating on a scallop shell.(In Roman mythology, Aphrodite is known as Venus, whose messenger is Cupid). In Ancient Greece during a festival to celebrate Aphrodite, participants were initiated into the Mysteries of Aphrodite and were given salt, a representation of Aphrodite’s connection to the sea, and bread baked in the shape of a phallus. The Aphrodisia festival is still held in Greece and Cyprus each year over a three day period in the summer.


Plump and moist, these sensuous pear-shaped fruits resemble certain parts of the body. They contain vitamin E which helps your body churn out hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, which circulate in your bloodstream and stimulate sexual responses like clitoral swelling and vaginal lubrication.


Bananas are high in potassium which delivers muscle strength, so in theory intensifies orgasms.That’s something powerful to think about when you wrap your lips around this phallus-shaped fruit.


The chili pepper’s effect on the body has actual scientific backing, so there might be some truth to this one. Chili peppers contain capsaicin which can cause a physiological response – increased heart rate and metabolism, sometimes even sweating — that is quite similar to the physical reactions experienced during sex. Eating chili peppers also releases endorphins for that “feel good” sensation. Its bright red color is considered a symbol of love by many, and the shape is, well, self-explanatory.


Sinful and sweet, chocolate has been historically used in seduction rituals. Even Casanova was rumored to indulge in chocolate prior to a sexual rendezvous. Chocolate contains the chemicals anandamide and phenylethylamine, which boost serotonin levels – the chemical which occurs naturally in the body when someone is happy or feeling passionate. It also contains tryptophan, a brain chemical that yields serotonin, which is known to produce feelings of elation.


Some say ginseng is an aphrodisiac because it actually looks like the human body. (The word ginseng even means “man root.”) Studies have reported sexual response in animals which have been given ginseng, but there is no evidence to date of ginseng having any effect on humans.


Figs have for centuries been considered an aphrodisiac, and we’re not talking about Fig Newtons, but actual figs. If you’ve ever split a fig in half and checked out the inside, you’ll see why some have likened the pink fleshy insides to the female form. But aside from its appearance it does contain essential minerals and vitamins that could help kick things off in the sexual arena. The magnesium, potassium, and iron levels alone will help get you back online in these departments, and the Vitamin B-6 will give you energy to keep things going.


Nutty and sweet, maca is used in beverages, cookies and baked goods. This sweet root vegetable has been nicknamed Peruvian Viagra, and animal studies have indicated some aphrodisiac qualities, although this hasn’t been extensively tested on humans. It contains a steroid like chemical which is a precursor to sex hormones and is also thought to increase stamina and heighten awareness.


The most famous of aphrodisiac foods, oysters have a reputation for fertility. Research shows they are high in zinc, which science has linked to increased sperm production. Oysters also contain two unusual amino acids – D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, both known to trigger the production of testosterone. Eating this libido-lifting treat raw ensures you get the greatest benefits of these amino acids, as cooking significantly reduces the amount. Oysters are eaten very seductively – you suck, slurp and eat them out of your hands, or someone else’s hands. See what I mean?

Red Wine

A little alcohol can dissolve inhibitions and put you in the mood. Red wine helps with relaxation and contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during intercourse.


Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which keep sex hormone production at its peak. The pink, velvety texture of a salmon fillet is also stimulating to the senses.


Earthy and black, truffles caused religious consternation in the days of the Arab empire. These precious fungi were banned from sale near mosques for fear they would corrupt the morals of good Muslims. Today, anything associated with luxury or indulgence is considered sexy – it must means she’s worth the extra expense, right?

So, light the candles, put on some soft, romantic music and incorporate the above foods into your menu. Cooking for your partner can serve as the best aphrodisiac of all.







Week 19: Chilies vs. Peppers


What is the difference between chilies and peppers? They are actually the same thing and are differentiated by their potency. Chili peppers are fruit from the plant from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family. Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. They originated in the Americas and there is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chili peppers were cultivated more than 6000 years ago. A physician on Columbus’ second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, brought the first chili peppers to Spain and first wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494. They were likely introduced to Asia by Portuguese traders in the 16th century.

 Peppers are commonly broken down into three groupings: bell peppers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. The substances that give chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and related chemicals, referred to collectively as capsaicinoids. When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are responsible for sensing heat. These receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot and the brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and releasing endorphins.

 The “heat” of chili peppers was historically measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), a method developed in 1912, which is a measure of the dilution of an amount of chili extract added to sugar syrup before its heat becomes detectable to a panel of tasters; the more it has to be diluted to be undetectable, the more powerful the variety and therefore the higher the rating. Smaller chili peppers are usually hotter than larger varieties.The modern method for measuring the SHU rating uses liquid chromatography.

 Some of the more common chili peppers are:

 bell peppers

Bell Pepper- (SHU 0) red, green and yellow varieties add color and texture to recipes.


Cayenne – (SHU 30,000-50,000) often used in Cajun recipes.  Green cayenne peppers ripen in the summer, while hotter red cayenne peppers come out in the fall. They are also dried and ground.


Chipotle – (SHU 3,500-8,000) a smoked, dried whole jalapeno pepper, usually canned.

 ghost pepper

Ghost Pepper (SHU 855,000-1,463,700) – the hottest of all peppers, with no culinary nor medicinal uses.


Habanero – (SHU 100,000-350,000) extremely hot chiles with a fruity flavor.


Jalapeno – (SHU 3,500-8,000)  spicy chiles with rich flavor.  Green jalapenos are best in the late summer, while red jalapenos appear in the fall.  Canned jalapenos aren’t as fiery as the fresh ones.


Poblano –  (SHU 1,000-2,500) These mild, heart-shaped peppers are large and have very thick walls, which make them great for stuffing.  They’re best in the summer.

Paprika peppers in Central Market in Budapest

Paprika peppers in Central Market in Budapest

Paprika – (2,500-8,000) Common in Hungarian cuisine. Usually sold dry or ground, with some versions smoked.

 scotch bonnet

Scotch Bonnet – (SHU 100,000-350,000) almost indistinguishable from the habanero, except that it’s a bit smaller;  popular in the Caribbean.


Serrano – (SHU 10,000-23,000) These have thin walls, so they don’t need to be charred, steamed, and peeled before using.

 banana pepper

Sweet Banana Pepper – (SHU 100-900) long, thin-skinned yellow pepper with a mild, fruity flavor often used in salads.

 Culinary Uses

Chili peppers are used both fresh or dried. The leaves of every species of Capsicum are edible and do not contain any toxins. They are often cooked as “greens” or added to soups. Fresh or dried chilies are often used to make hot sauces that can be added to other foods to add spice.

Red chilies contain large amounts of Vitamin C and small amounts of Vitamin A. Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, in particular Vitamin B6 and are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Chili peppers contain oils which can burn skin and especially eyes. Avoid direct contact as much as possible. Many cooks wear rubber gloves while handling chilies, or generously grease your fingers with any kind of shortening (even the cooking sprays can help). In any case, after working with the chilies, be sure to wash your knives, cutting board and anything else thoroughly with hot soapy water.

 Medicinal Uses

Although chilies have been used as a topical analgesic to ease the pain of arthritis, herpes zoster (cold sores) and headaches, a study done in 2008 linked it to skin cancer. Capsaicin extracted from chilies is used in pepper spray.