Peter Picked a Plate of Peppers: Yellow Mole

Being married to Peter is an adventure. No, really.

I’ve had readers ask me how Peter can possibly find time for his many food-related hobbies, such as taste tests, making vanilla-extract (from specially-acquired vanilla beans, no less), constructing sous vide machines (and I do mean machineS in the plural), convincing his favorite restaurants that it would be a good idea to work in their kitchens … the list continues.

(Perhaps my mac ‘n’ cheez taste test was an attempt to model myself after the culinary adventurer that is Peter, and yet … mac ‘n’ cheese. How uncouth.)

How does he do it? Well, to offer a past example as an explanation: while I was slavishly devoting hours and hours to problem sets and studying for my single physics major at Amherst College, Peter picked up honors in his two majors (math and economics), as well as ranking in the top one percent (one percent!) of our class and joining Phi Beta Kappa during our junior year. All this while barely raising a finger except to throw a disc during an Ultimate frisbee game. In fact, I believe Peter’s fascination with the culinary world began during this time of boredom – despite having no kitchen to speak of, he managed to make me a chocolate cream cake for my birthday during our senior year of college (shortly before spilling a pint of cream all over his favorite chair – whoops, was I not supposed to say that? 😉 ).

Needless to say, I’m in awe of Peter’s energetic pursuits. His latest project? Growing his own chili peppers, including rare species and varieties that are not imported to the US (but legal, nonetheless).

He began back in the spring, planting mail-order pepper seeds in pots (smack-dab in the middle of our kitchen, of course) and gently coaxing the seedlings from their comfortable shells into the florescent light of day. After months and a transplant into the ground at his parents’ house (thanks, Dad!), his little seedlings have borne … well, fruit.

These peppers are just a portion of his bumper crop. I see many spicy meals in my future.  The black chili in front is a chilhuacle negro, a very expensive chili that only grows in southern Mexico and is not available here in the U.S.

The little red chili on the left is an Inca Lost chili, a rare Mexican variety (incorrectly labeled as a piment d’espelette earlier).

A quick trip through the dehydrator (and the spicy, cough-inducing air that dehydrating entails) and the peppers are ready for grinding or storage.

Peter kept a few peppers back for making a classic mole sauce.

Rick Bayless’s Empanadas de Mole Amarillo
Adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen
Serving size: 12 empanadas

1 large garlic clove, unpeeled
4 dried guajillo chilies (Peter used 4 fresh chilhuacle amarillo chilies instead)
1 small ripe tomato
2 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 thick slice of white onion
One pinch ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp masa harina
Salt (optional)
3/4 tsp sugar
1 cup cooked chicken, coarsely shredded
24 cilantro sprigs (or is you’re lucky, 1 leaf hoja santa – you can bet this herb is on Peter’s shopping list)

To make the yellow mole: roast unpeeled garlic clove on an ungreased skillet (or right on the burner, like Peter did) over medium heat until soft and black in spots (about 15 minutes). Cool and peel.

If you are using dried chilies, toast the chilies in the same way as the garlic: open them flat and press down on hot surface with a spatula; turn after a few seconds and repeat. Cover the chilies with water in a small bowl and rehydrate for 30 minutes. Drain and discard water.

NOTE: Using gloves while handling chilies is a GOOD IDEA. Just ask Peter (but don’t shake his hand).

Place tomato, tomatillos, and onion on a baking sheet. If you are using fresh chilies, add them to the baking sheet. Place baking sheet about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. When they blister, darken, and soften on one side (5-6 minutes), turn and roast the other side. Cool and peel tomato and chilies (ahem, gloves). Transfer tomato, tomatillos, onion, chilies, and any juice on baking sheet to a food processor or blender. Add peeled garlic, cloves, and black pepper. Blend to a smooth puree. Add a little water if necessary. If you like a smooth sauce, press puree through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl.

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to make a drop of puree sizzle, add puree all at once and stir for five minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup of the broth, partially cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup broth with the 2 tablespoons hasa marina and strain it into the mole. Whisk to remove lumps. Add salt and sugar to taste.

Rick Bayless’s original recipe calls for making your own empanada dough. Contrary to form, we bought tortillas and made wraps instead. You can find a great guide for making empanadas from scratch here. Otherwise, grab your store-bought tortilla and follow along!

Hold your tortilla in one hand and layer shredded chicken, two cilantro sprigs (or a piece of hoja santa), and a tablespoon of yellow mole in the center.

I like cilantro.

Roll tightly. If so desired, you can place wrap on heated griddle for five minutes, flipping once halfway through. Enjoy! (For leftovers, yellow mole keeps several days in the fridge.)

Having Peter for a husband means never having to say your meals are too bland.

Q: Have you ever had mole? Do you like spicy foods?

P.S. I finally updated the FAQs page – go check it out! … I guess when I wrote “Coming soon!” as a placeholder on that page back in July, I really meant “Coming in a little over two months!”


  1. What a gift to have your man so motivated in so many various pursuits! I knew you were a smart couple – I just wasn’t thinking mensa! Love the pepper pursuit. I have ALWAYS wanted to try a mole – the one with chocolate in it as I have heard SO many raves about it – but – where do I live? No authentic (or otherwise, really) mole here!
    This read was a real education for me. I cannot handle heat as I get older – but the flavour would be wild. Love the lesson!

    1. Dr. frybaby says:

      I’ve removed a lot more moles than I’ve eaten.
      Have you tried battering and frying (deep, deep) those peppers, and certainly the empanadas? Bet that would be spectacular. Olive oil if you want to be healthy.

  2. I love all the fun adventures you and Peter get into. He really tries it all. That’s great!
    I do like a bit of spice, but can’t tolerate it as well as others.
    You meal looks just amazing!!! 🙂

  3. I love spicy food!! At least Keith loves it too. Needless to say, he doesn’t know how to cook!. He made me a sandwich for lunch when I first got a job. I could only eat for a month and had to tell him to stop!hahaha. The stories between you two are SO sweet. Adventure is good! especially for marriage 😀
    Tell Peter, can he at least teach Keith how to grow chilies!??

    1. I’ll send Peter over 😉

  4. Wow, this meal looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to make a mole, and I’m excited to try and replicate your success.

  5. Fantastic dish. Rick Bayless’s dish done right.


  6. Wow, Peter is a STAR!! I can’t believe all that he has accomplished. I think he sounds too smart for me, I may not be able to hold a conversation with him. hehe, jk (sorta…).

    So, I love Rick Bayless, but I always thought mole sauce had to have chocolate. MAybe I’m wrong? Clearly I am. Either way, the recipe sounds fantastic, and looks delicious.

    Regarding the SlimCado, it’s actually not genetically modified. Apparently it’s a perfectly natural species (breed?) of avocado!

    1. Weird about the SlimCado! I’ll have to keep my eye out for it – thanks for the info, Gina!

      I always thought moles had chocolate, too, but apparently that’s a more recent addition (I read that info on Wikipedia, so … you know 😉 ). We’ve made moles with chocolate in the past, and they are yummy!

  7. I love spicy food, and I like mole! Growing a variety of peppers is an awesome idea! Enjoy you never bland meals! 🙂

  8. You guys are funny! I love your stories about Peter. That is crazy he starting growing his own peppers. I was at a local Japanese home store the other day and found a pepper plant in with other household flowers, which led me to believe they are not really eating peppers, but this is Japan and nothing would surprise me.

    1. Nothing would surprise me, either! I’m definitely enjoying discovering Japan through your eyes 🙂

  9. Yummy! Wow, your husband is kind of like a superhero! So you two are definitely a super-couple 😀 It’s so wonderful when men cook, I think it’s a highly attractive quality.

    I don’t know too much about all the different varieties of peppers. In Korea people eat a lot of gochujang – a spicy red pepper paste that can be added to lots of different dishes. It’s really delicious and I think it’s quite healthy too.

    Have a delicious day Jessie 🙂

  10. I think Peter is my new culinary hero. Seriously, why can’t my hubby have a secret culinary talent, lol?! What I wouldn’t give for that bumper crop of peppers. 😉 The empanadas look fantastic, Jessie!

  11. Hey Jessie!

    I love reading the sweet little stories of you and Peter back in the days – just too cute! I’m surprised that Peter doesn’t have a blog, or does he? If you’re reading Peter…hint hint :D. Not that I don’t love yours already Jessie, but I’m greedy ;).

    I’m amazed at all those beautiful peppers Peter has grown. I can’t keep a plant alive for the life of me. I agree with you, I foresee many spicy dishes in your future too. You’re a lucky gal to have a hubby actually try different things in the kitchen and KNOW what he’s doing. Mine tries things, but has no idea what he’s doing. Haha. Great advice on wearing gloves too. I learned that lesson after making Denise’s Devil Curry for the first time. My fingers burned for the whole evening, NOT fun! You guys should try that dish, it was so good! I even made it for my parents to try and they loved it too.

    This post was so educational for me as I’ve never heard of many of the ingredients here. Mole sauce is very new to me. The one you guys made sounds wonderful with toasted garlic and chilies. What a great combo of flavours. Seriously, you both make such a great team! All your dinners looks so healthy, fresh, and delicious. No wonder you always seem to have that beautiful glow on your face, natural beauty my dear. Looks like things are going well in THIH household. Keep up the great blogging, stalk ya another time soon. Oh, and to answer your questions, never tried mole before but would love to now! Spicy food? Love love love it. And you know what else? We just missed each other in Scotland. ARGH! One day my dear, one day. 😉

  12. Oops, accidentally pressed submit comment. Anyways, big hugs and have a great weekend! Until next stalking session. 😀

  13. Jessie…if there’s one thing for sure…you’ll never be bored with that companion of yours…love his spirit and your appreciation for the gift you’ve both been given.

    Now, for the mole…wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole…my tummy won’t have any of it…too bad for me. I do really admire his tenacity towards growing his own supply ;o)

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

    P.S. I also took chemistry back in college…it was my worst course ever…now, I pay attention when making jam. Jessie…thanks for your enlightened comment on my little culinary journey 😉

  14. That is an INSANE array of peppers! I love Peter’s culinary prowess…it makes me wish I lived closer to you guys, though.

    I rarely make mole (a) because it takes so long and (b) because of all the random types of peppers it calls for. Maybe the solution is just to grow my own!

  15. You guys are both so adventurous…for him to grow peppers (which still amazes me as that would be the last thing my husband would ever try to do) and then for you to cook this amazing meal? You guys are a match made in heaven.

    Looks divine!

  16. You know how some people adore and love following every single thing about one or another Hollywood couple. That’s me with you guys, not a stalker type but an admiration type…OK, a bit stalker-ish but hey I’m practically harmless 😉
    The mole sounds wonderful and your wraps are a beauty! Yes I like spice 🙂

  17. I’m planning to write about mole soon! For my school column, I mean. I’ve had some moles, but I need to try really good, authentic ones.

    And dang, Peter is a genius. Uh…does he have a younger brother who’s single? Hahaha! :-p

  18. so impressive! How neat! I’m not a fan of things that are too too spicy. I’ve never tried to make mole on my own and I’ve actually never tried an authentic version. What’s wrong with me?! Going to have to try!

  19. i’ve had mole before as a sauce for a stuffed pepper and it was quite delicious. i really would love to try it in a wrap tho!

    xoxo <3

  20. Hi Jessie 🙂 I hope you are doing well and enjoying the fall. I haven’t stopped by for a while so I thought I’d just drop a note to say hi. Also, I’ve recently started a new food blog, and am in the process of ‘sprucing it up’ – which includes adding links! Is it all right if I post a link of your blog on mine? I’d like to be able to share the tips, recipes, and enjoyment that I get from visiting your blog.
    Take care 🙂

  21. Wow – that looks like quite the adventure. How fun to try making your own mole! Man, I want to come hang out in your kitchen!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie! 🙂

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