Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Playing with fire- from Quick's Hot Spice

It's pretty cool as you get to know people, they like to have you sample their products and tell everyone what you think about them. In the course of food blogging and keeping up a Facebook fan page to go along with it, I have met some really great people, and I get very excited when a local producer asks me to try something they make and sell. In this case, it's hot peppers and seasoning mixes. Everyone who follows this blog knows we are nuts about hot and spicy food at the Little Lake House. We're brave enough to try anything! 

Quick's Hot Spice is a growing company on Des Moines' south side, owned by Paul Quick. We "met" on Facebook after having discovered we have several mutual friends- and we share a passion for HOT HOT HOT. Several conversations down the road and Paul offered to send us some samples of his seasoning mixes to try them out. Of course I agreed! A couple days later the mailman delivered the loot- Hot, Extra Hot and Blazzin' pepper blends (and a business card- Paul had no idea I am OBSESSED with business cards!!!). 

So what to do with this super hot surprise package.....

Let's talk about the seasoning mixes first. Hot is a fiery 17 pepper blend. It's a beautiful color- a lot like paprika but deceptively spicy. The blend is flecked with other spices as well, you can see little bits of things- but I don't dare ask for the secret combination. Paul recommends this as a shake-on spice for pizza, rather than the tired old dried out and stale red pepper flakes you see on restaurant tables. Until you know what you're sprinkling on, either taste test with a toothpick or start with just a LITTLE bit. 

Extra Hot is the same 17 pepper blend BUT Paul has added ghost chilis to the party. This amps up the heat quite a bit, but surprisingly you still get a real good deep pepper flavor, and not just heat. It's definitely not for the weak at heart- if you want to try something REALLY hot, this is a great one. 

Blazzin' is a masterpiece that is SUPER hot and definitely NOT for someone who has never experienced any of the superhots before. When using this blend START SMALL. You can always add more if you're crazy enough but if you overdo it up front, you can't take the heat out. Use this one with caution and make sure you tell anyone who is sharing your dish what to expect. Even the SCENT of this blend is a warning!

Peppers grown by Paul in his garden.
I promised I'd be cooking with these seasonings, so let's talk about how I used them.

HOT- Of course, we went with the recommended use- pizza! In this case I made a "white" pizza and I think those can always use a good boost in flavor- so mushroom, salami and 17 peppers spiced this baby right up! The pepper flavor is outstanding, and the heat is right on point. 

I also used the Hot Seasoning in a compound butter with some finely chopped chives. It is AMAZING on fresh Iowa sweet corn and melting over a sizzling steak, oh man......If you're looking to kick up flavor big time, this is the way to go!

EXTRA HOT- What can I say about Extra Hot except WHOA!!! Hang on to your meatballs ladies and gentlemen, this seasoning is NOT kidding around. I chose meatballs as a way to experiment with and showcase this wildly hot seasoning blend because hot and spicy foods make excellent appetizers and party foods, and this one is just waiting for football season. I used my regular meatball recipe with one pound of ground beef and added 2 tsp of seasoning to the meat mixture and another 2 tsp to the sauce, whether you're making a marinara type sauce or barbeque meatballs, and boy did it make it's presence known! If you like it hot, give this one a try for sure. Adding to barbeque sauce also gives you a lot more options for super spicy barbequed ribs, pulled pork, drizzled over sliced brisket, and serve with smoked sausage in a crusty bun. 

BLAZZIN'- Blazzin'......this one was just plain outrageous hot. Many of my friends would never eat something this hot. When you're working with a seasoning that packs this kind of heat you have two choices- showcase it in a supremely hot sauce, like mind-melting chicken wing sauce OR use it sparingly to add heat to a sauce, like a burger sauce. We've done the ridiculously hot wing thing so many times I thought a burger sauce would be a great option. So move over Sriracha, Blazzin' Barbeque Mayo has arrived on the scene and it's got something to say! For this spread you will need-
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • 2-3 tb barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Quick Spice Blazzin' Seasoning blend
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill several hours for the peppers to meld with the liquid and evenly flavor the spread. Use on BLTs for a powerhouse summer sandwich or as a burger spread. 

I didn't stop with spicy mayo either! I already make a spicy tomato jam that a friend shared with me last year, so I figure, why the heck not, let's kick that up too, and stirred a 1/2 tsp or so into a couple tablespoons of tomato jam. WOW- it was CALL 911 Hot !!!! Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!

Now that we have been able to play with the awesome hotness, let me tell you a little about Paul. He started growing peppers around 1998. Back then the hottest pepper was thought to be the Red Savina pepper. About the only plants and seeds available locally were the usual Habaneros, Jalapenos, and hot bananas so he started with those. In 2001, at the urging of some buddies, he began selling his seasoning mixes and discovered the internet as a great source for a much larger variety of peppers. As his pepper collection grew, so did his desire to find more varieties and eventually led him to the ghosts and trinidads and the hottest peppers we know of today. He has grown nearly thirty different varieties of hot peppers.  His peppers have also won awards at the Iowa State Fair.

Paul is using his hobby as a way to generate a little income on the side as well. Quick's Hot Spice sells the seasoning mixes as well as peppers on their website. He sells many varieties of dehydrated peppers so even if it's not in season, you can get your hot pepper fix. I highly recommend you give him a try. It's a great product, a great guy and who doesn't want to help support a LOCAL business??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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