Step into any specialty food shop and you’ll encounter shelves of fancy vinegars and flavored oils. While the sleek packaging (such pretty bottles!) and infinite flavor combinations make them tempting purchases, it’s far less expensive to make your own—and almost as easy as plunking down a credit card. Not only do they make excellent host/hostess gifts, we’re seeing them in fine dining settings, too—AL’s Place in San Francisco infuses oil with kuri squash peels and kale stems, and at a recent pop-up dinner in anticipation of his new restaurant, chef Bo Bech served an oil infused with pine needles taken from a tree in the lobby of the NoMad Hotel—that’s right, Christmas tree oil. Here’s how to make your own.
Most techniques for removing the seeds from peppers instruct you to slice the chile in half lengthwise, then use a paring knife to remove the seeds and ribs. But, while shadowing in the kitchen of Dirt Candy, I learned an easier way. It’s quicker and less risky; plus, it leaves the chile whole (in case you want round, seedless cross sections).
For those people who really enjoy the flavor of peppers, but can’t quite stand the heat. Most of the heat is really in the pith. But since people remove it along with the seeds, it still accomplishes the desired effect.
The seeds sometimes carry a bit of bitterness in them when heated up, which can really mess up how a dish should taste. Habaneros, for example, are really delicious and flavorful, but their seeds will completely augment and ruin a Jamaican jerk sauce.