Some like it hot. From time to time, I linger on the side of scorching. It makes me feel alive. I prefer an extra glug of hot sauce in a cold michelada. And a jar of chili flakes could probably be fashioned at my hip in a red pepper holster when I’m in the kitchen.
This is not to say spicy mistakes haven’t been made. I’ve even been a hot mess on occasion. But life lessons have been learned along the way. (And relearned.)
Lesson one: If someone—particularly an ex-boyfriend—dares you to do a shot of habanero hot sauce after drinking a cluster of margaritas, do not oblige. And do not oblige twice.
Lesson two: If a waitress warns you that the “Armageddon wings” you’ve ordered are so hot that she can’t be in the kitchen while they are being prepared, don’t be a blockhead and eat them. Especially if they come with a menu disclaimer.
It does not matter that you are in a tiny mountain town in the Adirondacks: they’ll be the hottest thing you have ever put in your mouth. In fact, being in a remote location (where cell phones don’t even work) also means there are no hospitals in proximity should you need one, you idiot. And you might.
Best case scenario: the wings will haunt you for days, sometimes multiple times per day, if you get my drift. And for god’s sake woman, don’t order them again to make sure they are as hot as you remember.
In contrast, this spicy sweet pepper jam will not cause a four-alarm fire. While it has some sneaky underlying heat, the sweetness from the honey and orange peppers help to tame its intensity. I’m well aware of the reputation I’ve just cast, but believe me when I say this jam is not as hot as it sounds. It’s also brightened with the addition of vinegar. I imagine a little squeeze of lemon wouldn’t hurt a bit, either.
You’ve probably noticed there is also a big, bright blossom perched on top of the glaze of orange jam. I recently bought a nasturtium plant at the farmers’ market solely for its fiery orange flowers. (Sometimes I’m shallow.) I had grand plans to add a few blossoms into the jam, but they were immediately swallowed whole, in one syrupy stir, never to be seen again.
Instead the blossoms work much better on top, with the sweet jam and salty feta cheese underneath. This lets nasturtiums shine as nature intended, as they are mildly peppery themselves. Arugula would probably work equally as well in this supporting roll.
The jam would also be complimented by a number of soft cheeses. I haven’t tried cream cheese, but that seems to be the classic pairing consensus from the online pepper jam chatter. A number of people have also recommended that spicy pepper jam serves as a nice stand-in for the traditional fruit spread in peanut butter and jelly sandwich or as a topping for shrimp. Let’s just say I’m game.
After all, I have a whole jar to myself. Which I will not consume in one sitting. No matter how much you dare me.