because they make everything taste better. one tiny $1.39 can of chipotles peppers in adobo sauce is enough to add flavor and spicy deliciousness to everything from soups to sandwiches to plain old cooked vegetables. in case you’re wondering, chipotles are smoked jalapenos, and adobo sauce is a ketchup-y sort of tomato sauce. they’re pretty low on the spiciness scale so i like to eat them whole. if you’re one of those spice-sensitive wusses, that is probably a bad idea. here’s a can:
okay, okay. i fully realize the pile of chipotles on the right look like a pile of recently skinned and still bleeding miniature manatees, but they’re fucking DELICIOUS. i’ve never tasted manatee so i can’t comment on the aptness of the taste comparison.
chipotles are high on the you-can-do-this-even-if-you-are-embarassingly-cooking-challenged scale (open can, chop, and add to whatever you’re cooking) and also high on the flavor scale. i added them to a pan full of kale and ended up with an incredibly simple but very flavorful greens dish. just wash and chop the kale into pieces, add a little oil (or bacon grease you happen to have in the pan), add a bit of water to steam the kale and cover. take it off when the kale is cooked. if you want to be all precise and over-achievery, you can add the stems first so they cook more fully than the leaves. this (and pretty much every other green vegetable) would also be really good with garlic, ginger, scallions, and soy sauce.
also surprisingly high on the hard-to-fuck-these-up-even-if-you’re-a-baking-moron-which-i-sometimes-am scale are gougères aka deliciously puffy cheese balls. (as a quick aside, this makes me think of planters cheez balls. remember those? i used to eat an entire tub of those electric orange balls of awesome, and haven’t seen them in ages. i just googled them and they’ve been discontinued! probably good because those addictive neon friends would tempt me into processed-food-land faster than you can say partially hydrogenated soybean oil).
anyway…don’t the accent intimidate you, gougères are actually really simple. i followed a serious eats recipe for french cheese and bacon puffs (gougères des gruyère is a bit of a mouthful) and they turned out beautifully. here’s a visual walk-through of the recipe, but you can find all exact measurements and step-by-step instructions here.
isn’t that mixer beautiful? i got it as a christmas present from my wonderful bosses at The Go Game. for dinner, take like 15 minutes to make the puff balls, make the bacon while the dough chills, stick the finished dough in the oven and let them bake while you make kale with chipotle peppers, then combine the straight-outta-the-oven gougères with the greens for these adorable little kale-and-chipotle-pepper-stuffed-bacon-cheese-puff sandwiches. so huggable looking, and so tasty. and way better than manatee sandwiches, or so i’ve been told.