Habanero Pizza Sauce – The Sauce that Bites Back!


If you want to ruin delivery pizza for yourself forever, start fooling around with making your own crusts and sauces.  New York Pizza and Pasta at 7123 Sunset Boulevard used to send at least two pies my way every week.  The delivery guy once saw my face so often he’d chat me up at my door like I’d been best man at his wedding.  Well, New York Pizza and Pasta’s delivery menu has been replaced on my refrigerator door with my recipes for homemade pizza dough and this habanero pizza sauce.  That’s how often I’m making them both these days.

This is a pretty standard sauce recipe with the exception of the habanero which kicks things up a notch.  But not too much.  Those who like to avoid foods that make their eyes water will not be put off, though they will receive a subtle indication with each bite that there’s something sneaky going on.  It’s just a pinch of heat that won’t linger on the tongue but will definitely make its inclusion known.

Homemade mozzarella is next!

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I Can Get You to The Hamburgers

Apparently, wherever we’re going, you do not want me to drive.

I’m forever being reminded by Sean and Laura, two who claim to be friends, that rarely do I dare drive more than thirty miles an hour on the freeway, but that I’ll happily plow over the center divider and zip down the wrong side of any city street if it gets me through the light faster.

I’ve also been told that I’m not very good with driving directions.  On this point, I have to agree.  I have never enjoyed having a car.  As with most of society, I don’t like putting gas into it and I don’t like having to insure it, but my disinterest in the entire idea of automobiles goes even further.  I have no desire to keep the interior clean.  If a knob falls off of something and hopelessly rolls under the seat, as far as I’m concerned that’s the knob’s new home.  Somewhere in the trunk I may have jumper cables or a spare tire, but they’re completely buried underneath old laptops, empty luggage and 1990s mix tapes I made with my 1990s boyfriend.  For me, the automobile is mostly a trying and unfortunately necessary nuisance.  If Henry Ford and I met one day, it would be interesting to see which one of us would beat the shit out of the other first.

I can do a great many things well, but getting someone from Point A to Point B in my Chevy Malibu is not one of them.  Sure, like anyone I can be occasionally absent-minded.  Who among us hasn’t temporarily lost a pizza in their house only to find it under the bed after three hours of exhaustive searching?

But when it comes to successfully reaching a destination behind the wheel, I am only what can be politely called a pure and total abomination.  I have lived within the same twenty-mile stretch of Los Angeles for the last fifteen years, and I still get lost on the way home from work.  I once had to pull over to the curb and call my boyfriend to remind me what his cross-streets were.  As for the friendly British woman who tells me from the little box on the dashboard, “In one hundred feet, turn left…” she needs to learn that advance warnings like that do not help me.  They merely create a ball of anxiety in my stomach that increases over the next ninety-nine feet until I’m so worried I’ll disappoint her I completely forget what she told me to do in the first place.  And instead of ending up at Disneyland, I end up in Venezuela having to ask a rebel para-military group how to get back to the 101.

There have been times I’ve gotten so lost driving that I’ve considered giving up on finding my way back and just re-locating to wherever I currently am.  “It’s not too bad here,” I cheerily reason with myself.  “This place has a lot of appeal.  There are many available apartments. I could rent one today.  And look, a FotoMat!  That’s convenient.  Yes!  This is making more sense the longer I consider it.  I’ll just pull over and live here now.  True, I’d have to buy all new clothes, new furniture, and replace the cat.  Plus, since I don’t know where I am, it would be impossible for me to tell friends and family how to get here for a visit, so I guess it’s out with them, too!  But that’s not a bad trade-off for such a quick solution to my problem.  It’s just like the sign says… If I lived here, I would be home now.

But something curious and stimulating happens to me whenever I’m San Francisco.  Freed of my car in a town where walking is often easier and faster, I find I’m suddenly imbued with a superior sense of direction that emerges so unexpectedly and is so remarkably accurate it frightens everyone I know, me most of all.

It’s odd and unsettling.  I don’t understand it, but it’s true.  I can’t get you to the Hollywood sign though I live less than five miles from it, but I can get you anywhere in San Francisco.  If the City by the Bay is a charming, fog-infused maze, I’m the smartest baby rat in the box.

I can get you to Union Square just in case you want to say hello to the silver guy standing motionless on a box with a donation cup in hand. Or I can take you to Clown Alley on Columbus Street where Sean and I once encountered a traditional jazz funeral complete with brass band, dirges and hymns proceeding right through the middle of the Financial District.  If you want to see articulated skeletons of bats and rabbits, I can get you to Paxton Gate on Valencia Street. It’s right next door to the city’s only independent pirate supply store where you can scoop your own lard!

And once an afternoon of street performers, music and trying on hook hands has come to a close, I can get you to the hamburgers.

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Ancho Chile Salsa with Habanero


Summer isn’t exactly the season where people dive into spicy heated Mexican cooking. It seems most people sway towards pasta salads, fruity cocktails and grilling.

Fair enough.

But my Señor Verde’s Chicken Enchiladas went over big both in terms of web hits and compliments to the chef. Plus, my last trip to Super King’s produce section left me with an abundance of dried peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos looking to find their way into something, so here’s a spicy little salsa, slow-cooked to bring out every last hint of flavor.

Without the single habanero I added to the original recipe, this salsa is perfect to bring with you to a summer barbeque or picnic.

With the habanero, you might want to be a bit more selective about the people with whom you decide to share it.

And before we go any further, just to get our maracas off a bit, let’s all take a gander at a six-year-old Señor Verde, getting in touch with his Hispanic roots south of the border in San Felipe, Mexico, nineteen-seventy-bruh-huh bruh-huh. I’ll say this for myself. I know a good sombrero when I see it. I wonder if my family played checkers on me after I fell asleep.

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