Did you miss me?

I've been buried under deadlines (that's why they call them deadlines) and have been stockpiling but not finishing blogs all week.

Like here's my Tuesday Top Five.

It's Hatch Chile Season, like I already told you and I asked chef Todd Gardiner over at Z'Tejas to send me his top five ways to use these amazing peppers which many consider to be the most flavorful of all kinds of chilies.He did send them but then I dropped the blog ball.

There are thousands of different chilies, you know-they're one of the most varied vegetables in the kingdom. I was surprised then, that Wiki gave me an absolute answer to my query, "How many kinds of chili peppers are there?

3009, it said. Period.

So Hatch, some say, are at the very top of that pepper tree. And here's how chef Todd uses them.

They're roasting now at Whole Foods, or you can buy raw peppers and roast your own. They freeze beautifully. Or, you can go check out one of Todd's menu specials.

Chef Todd Gardiner's top 5 uses: 1.Roasted: This is great for adding a complex smoky flavor. It also caramelizes the natural sugars in peppers and enhances the sweetness. This is fun for the barbeque and adding roasted peppers to your hamburger fixings or just as a side plate. Oras stuffing in pork tenderloin.

2.Stuffed: Poblano and Anaheim/green chiles are especially good when stuffed with savory or sweet fillings. During the Chile Fest we are stuffing Hatch, New Mexico green chiles with barbacoa and jack cheese. On our regular menu we have a poblano pepper stuffed with smoked chicken, dried apricot, raisins and jack cheese. Experiment and have fun creating your own stuffed pepper.

3.Fried: What isn't tasty when fried? This is great with rellenos. Lightly batter the pepper after stuffing it with cheese, meat and anything else and fry it.

4.Dried: There would be no such thing as Texas Chili without powdered chiles.

5.Add to desserts: Certain smoky chiles such as chipotles and anchos are a great match with chocolate. Z'Tejas's staple dessert is the Ancho Chile Fudge Pie. Spicy chiles such as habaneros and jalapenos pair well with citrus. Green chiles work well in bread puddings, cakes and with caramel such as the bread pudding featured during the Chile Fest.