Some Like It Hot

It's 3 a.m. Do you know where Suzanne Frisse is? Who is Frisee and why am I questioning what she's up to at 3 a.m.? Is she tending to the "ghosts" in her garden?

That early-morning time when most of us are in deep REM sleep is when Frisee, a former corporate trainer and public speaker for 21 years, is usually rising. She gets up before the hens, preparing for her next adventure whether it's cooking classes at Casa Somerset, a demo at Powell Gardens or a local "breading" where she drops off her artisan breads to lucky recipients around the Kansas City metro area. 

Now, what about those ghosts? 

Frisee, an avid gardener, grows the Ghost Pepper, known as the hottest pepper in the world. Her love affair with hot peppers began at the City Market more than 20 years ago when she purchased a brilliantly colored hot pepper plant that produced all summer. From that time forward, Frisee saved seeds from heirloom peppers and created her own mutant peppers. Her obsession with hot peppers took root that day. 

Frisee's favorite pepper acquisition happened at last fall's Slow Food Harvest Dinner when she met John Cobine of Cobine Steinz Farms in Bucyrus. He gave her a Ghost Pepper, also known as bhut jolokia, from India, which is the hottest pepper on record. This red-hot baby clocks in at more than a million Scoville units, the measurement used to determine heat.

Always the creator, Frisee turned out preserves and hot pepper brittle using the Ghost, and found that one-quarter of a pepper per batch was all she needed to create a sizzling kick. 

Meadowlark Acres, the three-acre land, pond and gardens owned by Frisee and her husband, Dan Lathrop Well, in picturesque Stilwell has developed into a small but thriving artisan business. Frisee creates hot pepper jellies and mustard, Chardonnay and Shiraz basil jellies and all-natural soaps from garden herbs and flowers. She tends to more than 46 beds year-round that produce non-certified organics such as heirloom tomatoes, squash and other veggies at the apex of summer.

This winter, as the seasonal basil and pepper jellies were selling fast, Frisee began creating artisan breads for special event dinners, like the James Beard House in New York. Collaborating with me on the menu, Frisee baked different breads to complement the various courses I served. One of her favorite experiments is the "Jasper Challenge of the Month" where she develops innovative breads such as her two-tone Seville and Kalamata olive focaccia and Sicilian crackers such as the Parmesan-Reggiano with red pepper flakes.

Here's one of my favorite Meadowlark Acres recipes ... these little beauties go well with salads, soups, your morning coffee or your evening wine.

For more information on Meadowlark Acres visit

Meadowlark Acres Pepper Jelly Muffins

You'll need:

• 1/2 cup butter 

• 1/3 cup white sugar 

• 2 eggs 

• 1 cup buttermilk/ 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

• 1 cup cornmeal 

• 1 cup all-purpose flour 

• 1 teaspoon salt 

• Meadowlark Acres Pepper Jelly 

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.  

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in skillet.  Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and then stir into wet mixture until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into each muffin cup until about 1/3 full.  Add jelly in small dollops scattered on top of batter.  Try not to let the jelly get on sides of pan.  Cover jelly with small amount of batter so each muffin cup is about ½ full.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, unmold. Spread warm butter on top before serving.

Yield: Approx. 12

words: Jasper Mirabile, Jr.