You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Spices turn up the heat

Your food and drinks can warm you during the cold winter.Recipes and local business owners have hot tips.

There’s no better way to warm up during these dreary winter months than to enjoy a hot drink or some food with an extra level of zing.

We checked in with the owners of several area spice shops to find out how to add some heat to the menu, and we also pulled recipes from two cookbooks: “Winter Cocktails” by Maria Del Mar Sacasa, a recent 160-page book dedicated to alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks alike, and “The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Red Hot Cookbook” by Jenni Fleetwood, a veritable tome covering homemade spice blends, appetizers, soups, drinks and even desserts.

It seems the hottest spice you’ll find in this region is ghost pepper.

Miami Valley Spice Traders in Centerville sells ghost pepper as a powder or a salt, while Spice Paradise in Dayton sells both dried ghost peppers and ghost pepper flakes.

Miami Valley Spice Traders owner Brian Rayburn suggests using ghost pepper salt on corn, chicken, or roast vegetables such as cauliflower.

“It has a wonderful fruity, smoky flavor despite the heat,” he said, suggesting customers “give it a little finger sprinkle” over dishes they want to perk up.

Ulrike Massey, owner of Spice Paradise, added that she also makes her own wet and dry harissa as well as za’atar spice blends.

She discovered one of her favorite uses of ghost pepper at Thanksgiving, when she mixed it into homemade cranberry sauce and enjoyed it on leftover turkey sandwiches. She has also marinated turkey breast in harissa and then prepared it in a smoker.

Bart Dolbeer, owner of the Spice Rack & Bulk Foods in West Milton, says he has avoided stocking ghost peppers because they’re so hot that his employees would need special gloves and masks just to handle them. But he does sell the next-hottest pepper, red savina habanero, in flake form.

“I have a customer on a Jenny Craig diet who doesn’t like the food, so she sprinkles it on everything to spice it up,” he said. Dolbeer also carries wasabi-coated snacks like peanuts and peas as well as habanero-jalapeno cheddar that melts well to make chip dip, he said.

Patty Purdin, owner of No Common Scents, which formerly was a Yellow Springs shop but now operates as a home-based business, sells a blend she calls “chicken spice,” a combination of hot chili powder and hot curry powder. “I put that in with some fried potatoes and onions and it just pops,” she said, noting she also likes it on fish and hamburgers despite the “chicken” name. She also sells a hot chili powder blend that works well in chili and refried beans, plus dried habanero chilies.

So how does she use those habaneros?

“I don’t,” she said. “But my brother says he puts them in chili while it cooks and then pulls them back out” before serving. “You would use it very sparingly, I would think.”


All-purpose flour may be substituted for the chickpea flour, and bay leaves for curry leaves, but the flavor and consistency will be altered. Bay leaves may be substituted for curry leaves, but again, this will result in a different flavor. If you desire extra-creamy soup, use Greek yogurt in place of regular.

Scant 2 cups plain yogurt, beaten

4 tablespoons chickpea flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted, but flavor and consistency will be altered)

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Salt, to taste

2-3 green chilies, finely chopped

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 whole dried red chilies

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-4 curry leaves (bay leaves may be substituted if necessary)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2-inch piece of fresh root ginger, crushed

Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, to garnish

Mix together the yogurt, chickpea flour, chili powder, turmeric and salt and strain them into a pan. Add the green chilies and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let the soup boil over.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the remaining spices, crushed garlic and fresh ginger until the dried chilies turn black.

Pour the oil and the spices over the yogurt soup, remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Mix well and gently reheat for a further 5 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with the cilantro leaves.

SOURCE: The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Red Hot Cookbook by Jenni Fleetwood (Anness Publishing, 2008)


1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 teaspoons whole coriander

3 cinnamon sticks

4-1/2 cups apple cider

Rind and ¼ cup juice from 1 large orange

8 ounces applejack

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices

1 clementine or small orange, scrubbed and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Place allspice, peppercorns, cloves, coriander and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in apple cider, orange rind and juice, and applejack and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Return cider to saucepan and add apples, clementines and cranberries. Simmer over medium-low heat until apples are fork-tender but still retain their shape and cranberries are plump, about 10 minutes. Serve.

SOURCE: “Winter Cocktails” by Maria Del Mar Sacasa (Quirk Books, 2013)

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive
This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive

If you were looking for an excuse for a mini-getaway that’s less than 3 hours away, your moment has come. “Hunger Games: The Exhibition” is on display now at The Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky through September 10, 2017. Louisville is about 2.5 hours from Dayton’s center, so it can easily be a day or weekend...
Plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day
Plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day

Given that yesterday was Arbor Day, why not plant a tree this weekend? Garden centers are stock-full of great selections for your landscape and have lots of people on hand to help you pick out the perfect tree. If you decide to plant a tree, make sure you plant it properly for longevity. One of the biggest mistakes that I see is that people plant trees...
Humane society, Dayton firefighters rescue cat stuck in pipe
Humane society, Dayton firefighters rescue cat stuck in pipe

It took hours and special equipment for rescuers to free a cat today with its head stuck in a pipe embedded in a cement block in Dayton. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton responded to a report the cat had been stuck for hours. When they arrived, the cat had worn down its nails clenching at the ground trying to escape. The pipe was too thick to easily...
Hershey getting health conscious, cutting chocolate calories by 2022
Hershey getting health conscious, cutting chocolate calories by 2022

The Hershey Co. is promising to make major changes in the calorie count of some of its chocolate snacks. The company announced last week that it wants to cut the calories in 50 percent of its standard and king-size confectionary snacks by 2022, and include easier-to-read nutrition labels on the front of 100 percent of its standard and king-size packaging...
101-year-old woman wins 100-meter dash at World Masters Games
101-year-old woman wins 100-meter dash at World Masters Games

She came. She ran. She conquered.  A 101-year-old woman from India won gold in the 100-meter dash at the World Masters Games in New Zealand. Man Kaur may have been the only athlete competing in her age division in the race, but she finished in 74 seconds. Not bad for someone who only started running at 96, according to Sports Illustrated. The...
More Stories