Friday, January 16, 2015

“Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo” & A “Bloody Mary” For "International Hot & Spicy Food Day"

Another day of cold weather here in Long Island. That sounds like a day for something Hot! No I don’t mean a hot cup of tea, or soup…but something that will wake your taste buds…Come join me as we celebrate “International Hot and Spicy Food Day!” which is every January 16th.

For one red-hot day a year, the world’s chili heads, heat-seekers, and extreme eaters can take their passion to extremes. “International Hot and Spicy Foods Day” sparks a wildfire of events, from habanero-eating challenges to fancy-dress contests and cook-offs of popular recipes. Archaeological evidence suggests that people have been using hot spices in their recipes for over 6,000 years. Did you know that the hottest chili pepper in the world is the Naga Jolokia or Ghost Pepper? On average, one of these peppers is over 170 times spicier than a jalapeno pepper! Among serious aficionados, it also re-kindles the great debate: which chili pepper tops the official Scoville heat scale? 
Naga Jolokia

How is pepper heat measured you ask? How hot is your pepper? The Scoville Heat Unit Scale also referred to as the Scoville Scale, or Scoville Chart, is a long-standing measure of the hotness of Chile peppers. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemical receptor nerve endings in the skin. The number of Scoville heat units indicates the amount of capsaicin present in a particular pepper. The scale was developed in 1912 by American chemist Wilbur Scoville, specifically to rate the pungency or heat of peppers. Officially, his method was known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. (SOT) Try repeating that three times!

Scoville Heat Chart

There’s no denying the daredevil nature of some of the celebrations. However, people who like a meal to tingle their taste buds, not make their eyes water, shouldn’t feel left out. Enjoying a touch of heat in our cooking is a worldwide human trait, so what better day to invite your family and friends to discover a different cuisine? Thai, Indian, Creole, and Caribbean dishes are all famous for their blends of aromatic ingredients, but many cultures boast their own favorites. After all, variety is truly the spice of life…

Throughout the world, there are hundreds of different spices that contribute to an array of hot flavored foods. Hot foods can actually be very good for you because of their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Garlic, chilies, onions, allspice, and oregano, all kill bacteria and make food safer to consume. In general, hot and spicy foods are stimulants. They stimulate the circulation and raise body temperature. To celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day, try a few hot peppers or hot sauces with your food today!

Today I am sharing with you two recipes, one is “Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo” and the other is a traditional classic “Bloody Mary.” Remember, if you are not into “heat” on your foods, you can limit some, by reducing the red pepper flakes. 

“Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo”

Diavolo is the Italian word for devil and refers to sauces seasoned with hot chilies. In this 20-minute recipe, red pepper flakes provide plenty of heat for a shrimp and tomato sauce that's tossed with linguine.

Makes: 12 servings (you can cut the serving in half for 6 servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, cleaned, and de-veined
6 clove garlic, finely chopped (about 3 tbs)
2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes
(You can add or cut back on red-pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans (28 ounces each) Italian-style peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
3-4 leaves of fresh basil (cut up)
2 pounds linguine

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 30 seconds. Add garlic, pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until shrimp are curled and pink. Be careful not to overcook. With slotted spoon, remove shrimp to bowl. Meanwhile, cook linguine in large pot of lightly salted boiling water until al dente, firm but tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well. Stir together tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining salt in skillet. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat; cook for 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. To serve, add cooked shrimp to sauce; gently heat through very briefly. Toss with the pasta or serve on top of it. Lastly add fresh cut up basil to top of dish.


No matter what the season, a “Bloody Mary” is one of America’s top three favorite cocktails.

Serves: 1
1 1/2 ounces vodka (1 jigger)
6 ounces tomato juice
1 splash lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 drops Tabasco sauce or more

Combine first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake to combine flavors. Strain ingredients into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery stick, lemon, or a cocktail shrimp and serve.

Till Next Time………………………………...................

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  1. Good morning Dottie .
    Didn't know it was International hot and spicy day , as you know any day is spicy day at my house . I laughed out loud at the Napa Jolokia peppers , my sister grows them in the vegetable garden and we call them penni peppers (smiling) I guess you can see the reason why .
    Oh yum yum , the Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo dish is out of this world with flavor and taste , just what you need to get your taste buds in gear.

    I think we are on the same wave-length today , great minds do work alike (giggling) You have spicy shrimp and I have spicy crawfish cornbread , these dishes will go good together down here .
    I love 'Bloody Mary's and I think I make mine same as you . It's great for guests , you can feed them while they drink , less dirty dishes , (I am so bad) .
    I enjoyed your the post and it had a lot of useful information about one of my favorite cooking ingredients . Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend , stay warm and safe . ~Nee~ :)

    1. Good afternoon Nee,
      As I was doing my research for this day, I was thinking about you the whole time. You are my "Hot and Spicy" girl. Can't believe that your sister grows Napa Jolokia peppers...They are the hottest ones on record...So glad that you enjoyed my recipe and I thank you for your comment. They say great minds think alike, but I think we are two hot ladies. Have to see your post now, but I am sure your spicy crawfish cornbread would go wonderful with my recipe. Love your idea of the Bloody Mary and the less dishes to wash..(you are not bad) I agree. Thanks for visiting Nee, I always love to hear from you...Have a blessed weekend...
      Dottie :)

  2. I love these hot and super tasty recipes and I love chilly so much! I did not grow up with it really. In the North of Italy we don't have as much spicy food as they do in Southern Italy but you get used to it. The more spicy food you have the more you want.. highly addictive.
    I have enjoyed reading your post Dottie... I wish you a lovely weekend!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thanks for your visit and comment...My family is from the south of Italy and my parents use red pepper a lot, but I have to watch the "heat". I still love the flavor of hot and spicy foods. It just wakes you right up. You are right, the more you eat of hot foods the more you want...and yes, dear friend it is very addictive. Have a wonderful weekend with your family...
      Dottie :)

  3. Dear Dottie, I did not grow up with spicy food though now I do enjoy it.
    This dish looks absolutely delicious!! and the Bloody Mary looks nice too.
    It is quite cold here on LI. I hear the wind as I type! Oh well, it is comforting to know that each day that passes is one closer to spring. xoxo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thanks for visiting and your comment...Glad that you liked this post. Yes, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and a Bloody Mary are so good. I grew up with my parents using some hot pepper but not much. Plus they would take it out of the recipe when my brothers and I would eat. I do remember using red pepper flakes on pizza. I try to stay away from too much heat. To me it takes away from the flavor of the food. I do agree dear friend, it is cold here..and like you I can hear the wind as well. The weather people say that Sunday is going to be a warmer day, but Saturday is going to be very cold and windy. Oh well, it is that yo-yo effect..(what I call it) Yes, every day it is closer to Spring...and it is going to get lighter at night. Have a good safe weekend..
      Dottie :)

  4. Dottie, it all sounds delicious! Mom never cooked with peppers of any kind, but I changed that after having hot spicy food in a restaurant years ago. Love it and the extra heat in this cold weather is great. :-) I was looking at peppers in the grocery store the other day, so many varieties and a big difference with them all. Bloody Mary's with Tabasco works for me. Thanks for the interesting post, and have a good week!

    1. Hi Pam,
      Thanks for visiting and your comment...So happy that you enjoy reading about these "hot" spicy peppers. I like a little heat in my foods, but I can't do a lot of it. Sounds like you love hot and spicy foods. I agree there are so many varieties of peppers now, you don't even know which is which...Enjoy that Bloody Mary...We all need that once in a while..Have a great week...
      Dottie :)