Give your cooking a kick: From a jalapeno butter to a spicy cake — our chef is turning up the heat

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MILWAUKEE -- Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner -- so why not spice things up? Chef Alisa Malavenda joins Real Milwaukee to heat things up in the kitchen with some peppers.

Alisa is making a spicy sriracha paloma, chorizo bacon-wrapped dates, a homemade verde sauce with roasted tomatillos, chicken enchiladas, pork chili Verde, ancho chile and coffee steak rub with pico de gallo, and a grilled spicy upside-down pineapple cake. You can get the recipes at after the show.

Here is a list of Scoville Heat Units (SHU) of the most common chili peppers and hot sauces so you can get an understanding of how they relate to each other.

  • Bell Pepper - 0 (SHU)
  • Anaheim Pepper- 500 - 1,000 (SHU)
  • Cholula Hot Sauce - 500 - 1,000 (SHU)
  • Texas Pete Hot Sauce - 747 (SHU)
  • Poblano Pepper - 1,000 - 2,000 (SHU)
  • Crystal Hot Sauce - 2,000 - 4,000 (SHU)
  • Tabasco Hot Sauce - 2,000 - 5,000 (SHU)
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce - 2,200 (SHU)
  • Jalapeno Peppers- 2,500 - 8,000 (SHU)
  • Tabasco Habanero Hot Sauce - (SHU)
  • Serrano Peppers - 8,000 - 22,000 (SHU)
  • Cayenne Pepper -30,000 - 50,000 (SHU)
  • Habanero-150,000- 325,000 (SHU)
  • Ghost Pepper - 1,000,000 + (SHU)
  • Carolina Reaper - 2.2 Million (SHU)
  • Scorpion - 2 Million plus (SHU)

Spicy Sriracha Paloma

  • 1.5 oz Tequila ( silver )
  • .5 oz Lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ t sriracha hot sauce

Grapefruit slices, ice and salt or habanero crystals to coat rim of the glass

Coat the rim of the glass with salt or a combination of habanero crystals and salt if you desire.  Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and mixed well. Pour everything into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Chorizo Bacon-Wrapped Dates

  • 2 lbs dates - makes about 24 dates
  • 1 lb Spanish-style chorizo sausage*
  • 12 strips good quality bacon
  • 15 oz  roasted red peppers
  • 14 oz can good quality tomatoes
  • Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make small slit in each date and remove pits

Fill each date chorizo, but don't overstuff

Slice bacon in half crosswise to create 2 pieces from each

Wrap dates with bacon, bake  on foil-lined baking sheet for about 40 min

You may choose to broil for about 1-2 min to crisp bacon - but be careful not to burn!

Pepper sauce for Dates:

While the dates are baking, make the sauce

Add the peppers and tomatoes to a medium saucepan and cook slowly over med-low heat for the entire time the dates bake.

Season with salt, then puree until almost smooth, about the consistency of a thin salsa (a handheld immersion blender or countertop blender both work)

Homemade Verde Sauce with Roasted Tomatillos (for stews, soups  and enchiladas)

  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 or 2  serrano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon spicy chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Juice from 1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and rinse the tomatillos. Chop them in half and set them skin sides up onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Slice all of the peppers in half lengthwise and set them onto the baking sheet. You might need more than one sheet. Also, remove the innards of the poblano before placing them.

Add garlic to baking sheet and broil not too close to the heat source for 20-30 minutes, or until the pepper skins are nice and charred. Remove from heat and let cool.

Peel the skins from the peppers, if desired, and add to a food processor with tomatillos. Squeeze the garlic from their skins and into the food processor they go.

Add cilantro, cumin, chili powder and salt and pepper.

Process to combine.

Add chicken broth and lime juice and process until smooth.

Pour the green sauce into a pan or a pot and simmer for 5-10 minutes or so to let the flavors fully develop.

A squeeze of lime brings out all the flavors even more!

Chicken Enchiladas

For the enchilada sauce: ( You can buy hatches organic mild enchilada (2-10 oz cans )if you don’t want to make your own )

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup unsalted  chicken stock
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • Note: you can also use the green sauce above

For the chicken:

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2-3 breast halves cooked shredded Or ( buy a cooked rotisserie chicken and shred or shredded pork shoulder )
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, fine diced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 10oz enchilada sauce ( homemade or hatches)
  • flour tortillas (you can also use corn)
  • 8 oz  shredded Mexican cheese

Garnish : chopped scallions , cilantro , lettuce ,tomato sour cream for topping

For sauce:

In a medium saucepan, add oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chilie , chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, jalapeño and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Put 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla and roll it.

Place on baking dish seam side down, top with sauce.

Then top with cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes.  leave you smiling

Pork Chili Verde

  • FOR THE VERDE SAUCE ( or use sauce from above recipe)
  • 2 pounds tomatillos husked and rinsed
  • 2 poblano peppers stemmed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers stemmed and sliced in half lengthwise


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 lbs.  boneless pork shoulder cubed
  • 2 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion ,chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T. oregano
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice from 1 large lime
  • Extra limes sliced jalapeno peppers, fresh chopped cilantro, crumbly Mexican white cheese, spicy chili flakes

Preheat your oven to broil.


  • Slice the rinsed tomatillos in half and arrange on a lightly oiled baking dish with cut side down.
  • Place the peppers on a separate lightly oiled baking .
  • Bake the peppers and tomatillos about 15-20  minutes until skin side is blistering on both the tomatillos and peppers. Rotate the baking sheets if needed off the pepper skins and discard them. Add the tomatillos and peppers to a food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside

Pork Chili

Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil.

Season the cubed pork shoulder with ancho powder, cumin, salt and pepper, then sear the cubes 1-2min.  on each side, until each side is nicely browned. Add the onions and stir. Cook about 5 minutes and then add the garlic and oregano and cook another minute.

Add the reserved verde sauce along with ¾-1  cup chicken stock Bring to a boil, then immediately  reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours until the pork is fork tender.

Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro and juice from 1 lime.

Serve with lime wedges, sliced jalapeno peppers, cilantro, crumbled Mexican cheese, chili flakes

Ancho Chile & Coffee Steak Rub with Pico de  Gallo

  • ½ C  dark roast whole bean coffee, finely ground
  • ½ C Ancho chile powder- ground from dried anchos
  • ¼ C Kosher Salt
  • ¼ C Dark Brown Sugar
  • ¼ C Granulated garlic
  • ½  T  cayenne powder
  • 1 T cumin

Combine ingredients together well and rub on the beef of your choice. Also good on pork ribs

You can store unused rub in a jar for several month

Brush only 1 side of each steak with the oil and liberally coat with the dry rub.

Place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill. Without turning, watch to see that the rub is set and has formed a crust, Cook 4-7 minutes depending on steak and desired temperature . Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes

Pico de Gallo

  • 3 Roma  tomatoes or whatever is the ripest
  • 1/3 C.  cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 C.  white onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño or serrano chile (adjust to taste), finely chopped
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lime juice (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 t Kosher salt (table salt)

Cut the tomatoes in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds Cut into small dice.

Combine with remaining ingredients and let sit at room temperature while you are grilling your steaks Serve as a topping

Jalapeno Butter

  • 1 fresh jalapeño
  • 2 T minced cilantro leaves 1 clove garlic
  • ½  t salt
  • ½ stick soft, unsalted butter

Stem and seed the jalapeño and combine in a molcajete or food processor with cilantro and garlic and salt. Process until very finely minced. Mix into soft butter and refrigerate.

Grilled Spicy Upside-Down Pineapple Cake

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½  cup lite brown sugar
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 2 t  Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru ,  OR  ¼ t cayenne and ¼ t black pepper with a pinch of paprika

Heat grill.

Peel pineapple and then cut into 1/2-inch slices. Using a small round cutter, remove the center core from each ring.

Place the pineapple rings directly on the grill  and cook  2 - 4 minutes on a side. Remove from grill and let cool. Pineapple rings can be grilled ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350

In a skillet , cook , butter, sugar, and salt, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and bubbling. Sprinkle with the chilies ( if using cayenne mixture , add to the mixture when stirring ). Pour into a 9” buttered cake pan and arrange the pineapple rings on the bottom and cut some in half so they cover the entire pan.

Cake :

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a small bowl whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

In a  sperate large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. With the mixer on low, in thirds, add the flour mixture, alternating with two equal additions of the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary

Spread the batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the skillet and Bake until the cake is golden brown and bounces back and  cake tester comes out clean when from the center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to separate it from the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until just cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Invert a serving platter over the cake pan and, while holding them together, quickly flip them over so the cake unmolds, pineapple-side up. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges, and serve.

* You can also do this in a cast iron skillet

*Korean red pepper flakes are a fruity spicy pepper flake that can be found in large bags at Asian or Korean grocery stores or online. They come in various spicy strength, from mild to spicy.

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