Saturday, December 5, 2009

Feeling hot, hot, hot

It's very cold out today. The kind of cold that comes in and grabs your feet in your sleep.

And then I look out the window. Snow. Piles of it. And I have to go outside and shovel the car out and scrape off the windows and wrestle my son into snow boots and zip-tie mittens to his hands, and I can just tell it's going to be one long, cold, cold, cold day.

And that makes me want something hot to eat.

I want something that isn't just steaming with warmth. I want a chemical heat, the kind that makes your eyes water when the full impact first hits you. In short, I want peppers. Chiles, to be precise. (Yes, there is a difference between a pepper and a chile. Don't ask me what it is. Go ask Alton Brown.)

I don't like a lot of heat. I don't need a habanero to make me happy. A little jalapeno, a fruity poblano, a smoky chipotle and I'm good to go. A little bit of spice can toast you like putting your shoes in front of the fireplace. (If you have a fireplace. I don't. Sigh.)

And nothing pairs with chile like cheese. Cheese tempers the fire of the chile, turning an explosion into a slow, pleasant burn.

To get the most out of this combo on a cold December day, I'm looking to my old appetizer menu friend...the jalepeno popper. But because I don't have a commercial fryer at my disposal, I'm getting the same flavor in a more convenient shape by turning it into a pizza.

Hot Popper Pizza

1 pizza crust
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small can sliced jalapenos (use fresh, or more, or a different pepper for a hotter pop, or sub in chopped mild green chiles for all the flavor without the burn)
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 T. melted butter
1/2 c. breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza crust on pan. Bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside about 5 minutes.

Mix cream cheese with peppers. Spread over crust. Scatter with cheddar cheese. Combine butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over cheese. (If you want to top with some more sliced jalapenos at this point, you can.)

Bake 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs a golden brown. Let pizza stand about 5 minutes before slicing to allow cream cheese to set.

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