Roasting Chile Peppers and Bell Peppers


Roast chiles or peppers on a grill, on a rack over an open gas flame, under a broiler, or with a hand-held butane torch.  Turn the chiles frequently until the skins blister and blacken all over, but do not burn the flesh.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them stand for 10 minutes or until cool.  When cool, peel off the skin with your fingers or the tip of a knife.  Do not wash the chiles under running water, as this will remove the natural oils and most of the flavor.  Split the chiles open and remove the seeds and veins with a knife.  Chiles may be roasted ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days; they can also be frozen and stored.


Rehydrating Dried Chiles


Wash the chiles and remove the stems and seeds.  Place in a 275 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Shake occasionally and do not allow to blacken or burn, as this will make the chiles bitter.  Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and cover with enough hot water to just cover.  Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer the chiles to a blender.  Add enough of the soaking water to the blender to just cover the chiles and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes.  Strain the puree through a fine sieve, pressing as much extract as possible through the sieve.


Roasting Garlic


Fresh garlic should be roasted unpeeled, broken up into individual cloves.  Place the garlic in a cast-iron skillet and roast over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes; shake occasionally to prevent the garlic form burning or roasting unevenly.  Garlic can also be roasted in the oven; place the cloves in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned.  When the garlic is done, it should be creamy and sweet, and soft enough to squeeze out of the clove.  Garlic can be roasted ahead of time.


Toasting Nuts and Seeds


For nuts, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in a 300 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Pine nuts burn very easily and should be watched carefully.


For seeds, toast in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.