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
Yes, ten years ago you could not spell chipotle or easily find them in many stores. Now, every dish seems to contain it. Chipotle overload? Perhaps. It is time to be selective, and this recipe is just that. Chipotle is combined with cheddar cheese and paprika. The resulting biscuits are warm, not hot, to the taste and have a lovely reddish brown color.
To complement the warmth, we served these biscuits with honey butter. Why bother to make honey butter? Why not just put butter on the biscuits and then top with honey from the bottle?
Oh, you did not read my recent post about the book Taste. When you taste food, there is the sense of taste involved and the sense of smell and the sense of texture or feel. Honey butter integrates the honey texture into the butter and mutes the sweetness. If you simply pour honey on a biscuit and bite, your tongue is unavoidably saturated with the honey sweetness and the velvet texture of the flowing honey dominates the signals going to your brain.
If, on the other hand, you make this honey butter, the experience is very different. You will, for example, use less honey than if you were pouring it on directly. The sweetness level is lower, so the biscuit flavor is not lost. Try this butter just once and you’ll be a fan.
These two recipes are from the same author, Gale Gand, and two books, Lunch and Brunch. Lunch is new, Brunch is a few years old. Both would be tasteful additions to your kitchen bookshelf.
Chipotle and Cheddar Biscuits
Yield: 12 2-inch biscuits
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked or regular paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh scallions
- ½ cup [1 stick] cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup buttermilk
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, chipotle, ½ cup of the cheddar, and the scallions. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine and blend in the spices. Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed to break down the butter, mixing just until just combined. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it slightly to bring it together, if necessary. Roll out the dough to ¾-inch thickness and cut out 2-inch-diameter circles with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Place the circles on the lined baking sheet. Press the dough scraps together, roll them out again and cut out as many biscuits as you can. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough. Evenly distribute the remaining12 cup cheddar over the tops of the biscuits.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are puffed up and golden brown on top.
The biscuits keep in an airtight container for up to 1 day at room temperature or up to four days in the refrigerator. If refrigerating, reheat them in a 350-degree toaster oven for about 5 minutes before serving.
Source: Lunch by Gale Gand
Yield: ½ cup
- ½ cup [1 stick] unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoons honey
In a bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon. Then mix in the salt and honey. Pack the honey butter into ramekins, and serve at room temperature; or warm it in a small saucepan over low heat (or in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time) until melted, and serve hot.
Source: Brunch by Gale Gand
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/16th second at ISO-3200