Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Gifts For Spicy Food Lovers

Only 5 days until Christmas and it’s the first day of Chanukah so you’re cutting it super close for those holiday gifts. You still have some time though, especially if you’re going to see some of those on your list after the holidays.

So here are 10 holiday gifts that will surely impress your spicy food loving friends and you may still be able to get some of them before the holidays so get to it! Oh, and they’re easy on the pockets too. Enjoy and happy holidays!

1. Spicy Lollipops Sampler $13.50 – Hot spicy sweets make great stocking stuffers. Great balance of tropical fruit flavors and chili peppers for those who like their sweets with a bit of heat. Includes 6 lollipops, two of each flavor: Mango Habanero, Chili Coconut and Ginger Spice.

2. Ghost Pepper Plant from $4.99 – Great gift from ThinkGeek for the hot pepper fiend! Grow your own Bhut Jolokia peppers, one of the hottest peppers in the world. Perfect for growing indoors during winter months and replanting in the spring. So inexpensive you can give a few!

3. Chile Flavor Wheel $12 – similar to the flavor & aroma wheel for wines but for chilies instead. Features flavor profiles, uses and everything you wanted to know about 14 of the most popular chilies…or you can direct them here for a free quick guide.

4. Travel Spice Kit $14.99 – What a great little kit, all the spices you ever needed in a travel case from World Market! Take it to your tailgate party, camping, or vacation home. Even great for those who don’t cook often and just need a little bit of spice…they get 20 spices in kit! I want one…thanks!

5. Indian Spice Box $69 – This is absolutely gorgeous and great for storing spices or anything else you like. It’s a traditional spice box from India and hand carved…just lovely and from West Elm.

6. Chili Pepper & Herb Wreath $43 – Love, love, love this! Organic, air dried, and pesticide free from Natural Kitchen. This is the gift that will keep on giving and good for anytime of the year. Just image how fragrant this will be in the kitchen. Includes thyme, sage, arbol chili, majoram and a few others.

7. Masala Dabba $27 – You may find this spice box in most Indian homes and used for storing the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking. Use it to store whatever spices are common in your home. Can be found on Amazon and is made of stainless steel and includes 7 spice containers and a spoon. Would look great on a kitchen counter top.

8. Spicy BBQ Sauce from $5.95 – Great BBQ sauces from Brother’s Sauces pack an amazing amount of flavor and spice! Get the original Brother’s Gold BBQ sauce, Brother’s Heat and the Brother’s Spicy Brown Mustard Gold. Trust me, you will not regret it…hey, you may even keep it for yourself!

9. Kitchen Aide Coffee Grinder $29 – Grind up your coffee and your dried chili peppers (not at the same time!). Perfect gift for those who like to make their own dry rubs. Order online or get to your local Target.

10. eGift Card from Restaurant.com – Get a gift card for less than half of it’s value! $40 for a gift card worth $100 and recipient gets to choose their favorite restaurant. Awesome deal for you and the chili lover in your life. Who doesn’t love a great deal for the holidays?

Get to Know Your Hot Chile Peppers!

Ever walked by a gorgeous display of peppers at your local farmers market or grocery store and wonder, “hmm those look great but not sure what to do with them” or just quickly move pass them? No worries, you don’t have to like spicy foods to enjoy the flavors in hot peppers. Some of the hottest peppers in the world have a sweetness to them…ahem, if you get rid of the spicy stuff inside. Hot chile peppers pack an incredible amount of flavor and knowing your peppers and picking the mild from the hot, and the hot from the hellfire will help you enjoy the peppers that your palate can handle.

There are so many varieties of peppers so I thought it would be a great idea to identify a few of them for you. I hope you will find it useful.

Here they are listed from mildest to hottest…

Ancho (dried Poblano): Very mild, large chile. Can measure 3 inches across and up to 6 inches long which makes them great for stuffing.

Green Chile Pepper: Also a mild chile pepper used in a variety of Mexican dishes and similar in heat to the Poblano. These are large and green and turn red when ripe, although heat is still the same. These look similar to the Anaheim peppers and would be great for pickling.

Guajillo (dried Mirasol Chile): This mild chili can be stemmed/seeded, ground up in a coffee grinder and used as a smoky chile powder. Also great for making sauces and dry rubs.

Jalapeno: Probably one of the most ubiquitous of all peppers. The dried version is called a Chipotle pepper. These range from mild to hot. Hotter than a Poblano but much milder than a Cayenne. Great in sauces, toppings, infusing in liquors, really endless uses.

Arbol (or De Arbol): Very similar in heat to the Cayenne pepper and Pequin pepper. They’re called “de Arbol” which is Spanish for “tree like” because stems look like trees and flavor is earthy and woody.

Thai Chile: Very hot chile used in Thai cooking. I sometimes crumble the dried chilies and sprinkle in soups or chili when I want pure heat but not much flavor. The fresh versions are used in fish sauces, Thai curries and a variety of other Asian dishes. There are other regions of the world that also have similar peppers.

Habanero: Very hot peppers with a distinct sweet flavor. Very similar in flavor and heat to the Scotch Bonnet pepper. You should wear gloves when handling these or wash your hands immediately after. Can be used in sauces, curries (Asian & Caribbean), sweets, pretty much anything. These are my all time favorites!

Bhut Jolokia (aka Naga Jolokia or Ghost Pepper): This was considered one of the hottest peppers in the world up until a couple years ago when the Trinidad Scorpion Butch knocked it out in the Guinness World Records. However, the last I read on this, there have been many others like the 7 pot and the Moruga Scorpian peppers. These peppers are extremely hot, 6-8 times hotter than the Habanero! Caution when handling and using as too much will burn for hours!! Just check on YouTube if you don’t believe me. In saying that, I’ve tried the Moruga, although very little of it and flavor is similar to the Habanero/Scotch Bonnet just more blazing hot!!

So now what? Well, you know a bit more but how do you use them? Well that’s why I’m here, I plan to create easy to make dishes using each of these peppers but in the meantime, here’s a simple recipe:

Jalapeno Infused Vodka
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
 
Ingredients
  • 1 liter quality Vodka
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed
Instructions
  1. Pour ½ liter of good Vodka (Tequila works as well) into a glass pitcher.
  2. Stem a jalapeno and cut lengthwise and drop ½ of jalapeno into vodka.
  3. Let vodka sit (no need to refrigerate) for at least 6 hrs or overnight. The longer it sits the spicier your vodka. Strain vodka when ready to use...you don't want seeds in your drink!
  4. Place in freezer to get it nice and cold and enjoy neat or on the rocks.

 

Before the holidays are over I’ll share a few drink recipes I make with this spicy vodka.

Again, if you don’t like the heat in any recipe, you can easily remove the insides (membranes) and enjoy the great flavor of chile peppers!

FYI:  The heat of a pepper (levels of capsaicin) is measured on the Scoville Scale. The scale indicates how hot a pepper is based on it’s Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). The lower the SHU the milder the pepper. For example a bell pepper has zero SHU, a jalapeno has between 3,500-8,000 SHU and Habanero about 200,000-350,000 SHU….get the picture? If you really want more details on these ratings and the ratings of other peppers check out this great diagram at the Eat More Chiles site.