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Some like it hotter

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Try these 3 chile pepper recipes
Eggs Poached in a Chile-Tomato Broth is a traditional Mexican dish. [Hillary Levin/Tribune News Service]
Spiced Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Lime Butter is a recipe with chile peppers. [Hillary Levin/Tribune News Service]
Dark Chocolate-Chile Ice Cream uses dried pasilla negro chiles. [Hillary Levin/Tribune News Service]

Chiles I can typically count on to be perfectly content in my container garden.

Craving heat of the culinary kind at summer’s height, I grew prolific jalapeno and Thai bird chiles in last year’s garden. But those innocent-looking pods that pack such a punch turned on me this year.

Languishing in its Smart Pot throughout late May and all three summer months, my jalapeno refused to even bloom for much of that time, despite applications of bloom food. While a “lemon” cucumber 6 inches away produced a bumper crop, the jalapeno finally forced a half-dozen white flowers.

Exasperated, I prepared to pull the plant last week to give the cucumber more room when I noticed two of the tiniest green fruits I’ve ever seen at this stage in the growing season. I gave the jalapeno a reprieve.

So I’ve had to swallow my pride as a gardener and purchase chiles at farmers markets and grocery stores. Amid abundance, I could be content to eat some type of chile every day.

More than 150 types of chiles are grown and eaten in the world, and they range in heat from the utterly mild bell pepper to the ludicrously inedible hot Carolina Reaper. Used fresh and dried, chiles are traditional in a variety of world cuisines from Latin to Asian, African to Eastern European.

To find some chiles more obscure in the United States, check Mexican grocers, Asian markets and other international stores. That’s where to locate dried pasilla negro chiles for the following ice cream recipe.

If a chile kick sounds like too much with your chocolate fix, rest assured these are quite mild, providing what recipe author Rick Bayless calls a “gentle glow.” Recalling the flavor of raisins, pasilla negro emphasizes and enhances the deeper notes of bittersweet chocolate. The base can be made several days ahead and refrigerated, covered. The finished ice cream is best served within a day or two of being frozen.

Another involved process that can be completed a day ahead of time is this poblano chile broth for poaching eggs. A traditional Mexican dish, “huevos en rabo de mestiza” is similar in concept to North Africa’s shakshuka. It’s a satisfying, spicy dish for brunch, and the broth of poblano chiles, tomatoes and onions even can be frozen for future use.

Doing it right will take some work. The poblanos have to be charred, their skins then scraped away. The tomatoes have to broiled, or at least browned, on all sides in a hot, dry pan. But do the work. You'll be glad you did.

Much less time-consuming is Spiced Grilled Chicken With Cilantro Lime Butter, which calls for a paste to spread over the chicken before grilling, followed by a melted butter-based sauce to drizzle on top after it’s done. The paste is supposed to recall the taste of mole poblano, which it does only in the most general sense. A chopped serrano pepper is mixed with cilantro, red onion and lime juice, plus the melted butter, for a traditional Mexican taste.

Reach features editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or slemon@rosebudmedia.com

Dark Chocolate-Chile Ice Cream

1 large dried pasilla negro chile, stemmed, seeded and (if you wish) deveined

1 1/3 cups half-and-half

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70%), chopped into small pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Kahlúa, or other coffee liqueur

In a small skillet heated over medium heat, toast the chile by pressing it flat against skillet with a metal spatula until it is very aromatic, for about 10 seconds or longer per side. Place in a small saucepan, add the half-and-half and heat over medium until steaming but not boiling.

Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes, then pour into a blender jar and process until chile is smooth. Press mixture through a medium-mesh strainer back into saucepan.

Set up a 4-quart saucepan with 1 inch of water. Choose a 3-quart stainless steel bowl that you can nestle into pan without touching water. Bring pot of water to a boil over high heat while you’re preparing custard base. Do not heat water with stainless steel bowl over it.

Reheat half-and-half mixture just until it begins to steam. Spread the chocolate into a thin layer over bottom of a bowl and add the salt. Pour warm chile-infused mixture over chocolate and stir until chocolate has begun to melt. In stainless-steel bowl (of double boiler) whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until thoroughly combined, then whisk in chocolate mixture.

Reduce temperature under pot of boiling water to maintain a gentle simmer. Set bowl of custard base over simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down sides of bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until mixture thickens noticeably, for about 5 minutes. Custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 F — dip a wooden spoon into it and run your finger through custard on spoon; line will hold clearly when done.

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Nestle custard into ice and whisk regularly until completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Stir the heavy cream, vanilla and Kahlúa into custard base. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.

Makes 6 to 9 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Fiesta at Rick’s” by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless.

Eggs Poached in a Chile-Tomato Broth

7 poblano chiles

2 pounds tomatoes

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced white onion

Salt, to taste

12 eggs

6 slices queso fresco

Leave stems, if any, on the poblanos. Place directly over open flame of a gas stove or a wood or charcoal grill. If using electricity, smear chiles with a light coating of oil and place them directly under broiler. Turn chiles from time to time to allow skins to blister and char lightly all over. Do not allow flesh to be burnt through.

Place charred poblanos immediately into a plastic bag and leave them to steam for about 10 minutes. This helps to loosen skins, which you should be able to slip off easily with your hands; this should be done over a strainer, because little pieces are tough and can block a sink drain. Rinse chiles briefly, but do not soak in water. Remove stems and seeds and slice chiles into narrow strips.

Rinse the tomatoes and place on a hot, ungreased pan or griddle over medium heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until soft all the way through and skin is lightly charred. Or, cook tomatoes about 3 inches under a broiler, turning once, until mushy and slightly charred.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the onion until translucent, for about 2 minutes. Add chile strips to pan and let them cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.

Process broiled tomatoes in a blender for a few seconds — do not overblend — and add to onion-chile mixture. Sauce should have some texture. Let it cook over fairly high heat for about 10 minutes, or until sauce is well seasoned and has somewhat reduced. Add 3 cups water and salt to taste and continue cooking for a minute or so more.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, into hot broth. Arrange the slices of cheese on top. Cover with a lid and let eggs poach very gently until set, for 3 or 3 1/2 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe from “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico” by Diana Kennedy.

Spiced Grilled Chicken With Cilantro Lime Butter

1 tablespoon chile powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6 (8-ounce) chicken breasts or leg quarters

1/8 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 serrano pepper, stemmed and finely chopped

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the chile powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar. Brush over chicken.

Arrange grill for indirect heat. When grill is hot, place chicken on grate, cover and cook until done, for about 30 minutes for white meat or 45 minutes for dark meat. Chicken is cooked when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the largest piece reads 165 F.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the melted butter, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, chopped serrano and black pepper. Drizzle over chicken before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from a recipe from tasteofhome.com