These moments occur in every marriage.
“We have to talk,” I began.
Suzen paused, looked in my face, and realized I was serious. “What?” was her reply.
“Something is not as good as we thought,” I began. Brilliant way to start this off. She clenched her hands.
“It’s okay,” I tried to reassure her. “I still love you.”
“There’s something else,” I said.
“Someone else?” she quivered.
“No, something. The chipotle thing.”
For some reason she got very mad at me.
A few years ago, we were eating artichokes and just before serving, Suzen had frowned. She did not want mayo and was tired of butter as the dipping medium. Her face was staring into an open refrigerator. “Ah ha,” she announced, pulling out the mayo still but also our plastic container devoted to chipotles. Once a container has been “stained” with adobo, you really need to consider it married.
And so, we began our chipotle-mayo life. Mostly mayo, with some adobo sauce and diced chipotle. How much do we use? It depends on our heat addiction for the day. It’s basically mayo, colored to a light red. And on artichokes, I think it’s divine. I was so proud of Suzen for creating it.
And then, I read the new Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook by Neal Corman with his Texas Chili with Chipotle Cream. The recipe there, a fascinating one, is below and it’s quite a distance up the culinary landscape from Suzi’s. And then, to check, I googled “chipotle cream” only to discover that:
- Suzen is not the discoverer of this recipe
- Hundreds of variations exist
- Here’s an endlessly fun way to use up those leftover chipotles
What do these other recipes do differently? They use more ingredients to achieve richer flavors and textures. Mayo may still be used, but there is some other “dairy” component: yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, cream cheese and — in Virgil’s case — goat cheese. You’ll find recipes with lime and lemon juice as well as zest. Dashes of salt or sugar are suggested in different recipes.
What can you learn from all these ideas? How do you proceed? Basically, for a ½ cup of dairy, use 1-2 teaspoons of citrus juice, the zest of a single lime or small lemon, and perhaps a teaspoon of sugar to mediate the heat. How much heat? For that ½ cup of dairy, recipes vary from a meager 1 teaspoon of chipotle to a burning 2 tablespoons of heat. That’s a 6 to 1 ratio, so there is generous space here for you to achieve the fire level that you want.
Is your mouth lined with asbestos? You can do even more chipotle or just the adobo sauce, itself a chili combination. How are you using this chipotle cream: for those artichokes, as a garnish on top of chile as in Virgil’s case, as a replacement for mayo in roast beef sandwiches, … You may well find yourself using different proportions depending on the day’s culinary mission.
Here’s the recipe from Virgil’s. It’s the only one I found using goat cheese and I can see substituting cream cheese, particularly if bagels are being targeted. At Virgil’s, this cream is used on top of a hearty and hot chili. This recipe is cut with a cup of heavy cream, so it is not goat cheese stiff, but you could use less cream, have a stiffer mixture, and litererally let the cream melt into the chili – my idea and not what they do at Virgil's.
Preparation of all the cream ideas I saw is pretty simple: process most of the ingredients in a blender then add any final seasonings.
Oh, Suzi is no longer mad at me. She is testing different goat cheese. The only counseling we need is on the herb contents.
Virgil’s Chipotle Cream
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 10 ½ ounces goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Juice of 2 limes
- Zest of ½ lime
Place all the ingredients except the lime zest in a blender. Process until smooth.
Remove to a bowl and add the zest. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Source: Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/40th second at ISO‑500
Growing up in Oregon, I was surrounded in spring and summer by fields of berries, mostly strawberry because they have higher productivity than raspberries. And strawberries behave themselves, while raspberries tend to “grow wild” and spread out of control. They are members of the rose family after all.
The United States grows 9% of the worldwide crop. Russia grows 26%. I have no idea what Putin and his associates do with them. I will research. There’s only so much vodka you can make.
The beverage above has no vodka, but it does have a bit of a kick. This is my latest agua fresca and I investigated what to do about the essential flavor of raspberries. Don’t get me wrong. I love raspberries. The color of raspberry red is immediately recognizable. Darker, deeper, more mysterious than pure strawberry read.
No, my issue is that raspberries tend to be tart and have a monolithic flavor. These days, mixologists will use 6+ ingredients to create cocktails with an abundance of flavor notes and layers. Wine makers have, of course, been doing the same for centuries. There is surely some difference between a deep Burgundy and the one-note of Welches Grape Juice.
Same issue as the raspberries: one note. The skills of a mixologist need not be devoted to just cocktails. Any beverage can be experimented with, extended, and amplified.
To give raspberries more flavor here, I’m doing a yin-yang approach. There is some lemon juice, which always brightens. There is sugar to sweeten. And there is Adobo Honey — see yesterday’s post! — for a second layer of sweetness and just the barest image of heat in the finish of your sip. This drink is not fiery, but it has full sweetness and series of flavor layers that you will sense and adore.
About the sweetness. This recipe calls for 1 cup of simple syrup, which consists of ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar. You’ll find agua fresca recipes that call for a range of sugar: from 1 tablespoon to that full ½ cup. You can adjust as you wish. But the sugar syrup is viscous, and I find that it adds some body to the drink. Textures is one of the senses involved in “tasting” food and here the syrup plays a double role of sweeter and “thickener.”
To make it easy for you, the Adobo Honey is made with ⅔ cup honey and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle pepper in adobo. Please, start with 1 teaspoon the first time out. Go for more heat in future experiments.
Raspberry Adobo Agua Fresca
Yield: 4+ cups
- Two six-ounce packets of fresh raspberries
- 3 cups of water
- Juice of one medium lemon
- 1 cup of simple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of Adobo Honey
Put the berries and water in a blender and process for two minutes. Strain through a fine wire mesh sieve. There will be considerable residue — with a blender and even with a Vitamix.
Stir in the lemon juice, simple syrup, and adobo honey. Mix very thoroughly. The honey can be viscous, so you may want to warm it before stirring in.
Chill thoroughly before consuming. At least 4 hours. And then, you can taste test. More sweetness is unlikely. But you can mix this agua fresca with some sparkling water to dilute the flavor a tad while imposing those bubbles. Or, you can mix this with the sparkling wine of your choice, in the proportions of your choice, to create an unmatched summer aperitif.
Sources: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/15th second at ISO-3200