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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Condiments, Part 2

Make your own citrus salt: You’ll want to
use it on everything! Photo courtesy
CookingSF.com.

 

Yesterday we presented the first five recipes, mixing common condiments—balsamic vinegar, honey, maple syrup, mayonnaise and mustard—to create gourmet condiments. When you combine two condiments, the whole is greater (and more delicious) than the sum of its parts. Today we conclude chef Johnny Gnall’s lesson on combining condiments. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

CITRUS ZEST + SALT OR SUGAR =
FUN FINISHING SALT

Here we create citrus salt, a great ingredient to have fun with because you can make it in advance, store it in an airtight container and use it as a flourish any time you want to kick up a dish. You can also give your homemade citrus salt as gifts to friends who like to cook.

  • Zest your favorite citrus onto a baking sheet. Spread it out so it doesn’t clump up.
  •  

  • Preheat the oven to 170°F, then turn it off (yes, turn it off) and place the baking sheet in the oven. Keep an eye on it, as you want to leave it in there just until the zest has dried. You don’t want to see any color change: This indicates caramelization, which changes the flavor; and the finished product doesn’t come out as nicely.
  •  
    How long in the oven? The timing will vary depending on the zest, your oven, the altitude, etc, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Once the zest has cooled, simply mix with salt or sugar and voilà! Now you have your own homemade infused salt (or sugar).

    Adjust the amount of zest to your preference for the condiment’s intensity, and use to finish fish, meats, or anything that could use some brightening up (start with eggs at breakfast, salad and soup at lunch, and whatever you’re serving for dinner). You can use lime finishing salt to rim a Margarita and a sweet finishing salt to rim a Lemon Drop or other cocktail.

    The sweet citrus condiment (sugar instead of salt) can be used to finish baked goods (sprinkle atop icing or plain loaf cakes) and rim cocktails. It makes a snazzy table condiment for parties.

    DRINKS + HEAT = REDUCTION = DRIZZLING SYRUP

    For Thanksgiving, I reduced Bundaberg ginger beer (which is my absolute favorite brand) and drizzled it over caramelized Brussels sprouts, and they stole the show. (I’ll reprise the recipe for Easter.)

  • You can make a reduction with anything from fruit juice to soda to stock to beer or wine.
  • You generally want to reduce the liquid to somewhere between one fourth to one half of its original volume, so be sure to start out with enough liquid so that you end up with the amount of syrup you need.
  • Just how thick in texture and concentrated in flavor your syrup will be is in your control, so taste it once you’ve gotten to about half of the original volume, to get a sense of its intensity. If it gets too thick or too strong in flavor (which often ends up meaning it tastes super sweet or super salty), no problem: Just add water.
  •  

     

    MOLASSES + RED WINE VINEGAR =
    MAGIC MEAT MARINADE

    Molasses adds great depth of flavor while the vinegar has enough punch to hold its weight at the other end of the flavor spectrum. The result is a balance that complements pork particularly well, but also goes nicely with beef or lamb, and is excellent on salmon.

    Be sure to season your meat generously with salt and pepper, as this is a powerful marinade and needs the salty element to hold its weight on your palate.

    Since a little can go a long way, you may decide to soften and stretch the marinade by whisking in a little olive oil.

    ROASTED GARLIC + OLIVE OIL =
    GARLIC “BUTTER”

    By applying a little heat to a head of garlic and using the right kitchen tool, you can create a delicious, fragrant condiment with sweetness and depth that will surprise you.

     

    Sour cream mixed with Dijon mustard makes Chef Johnny’s favorite sauce. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

  • Start by taking a whole head of garlic and making a horizontal cut about an inch above the bottom, through the thickest part of the head. Stop just before you slice all the way through, in order to leave a hinge. You should be able to see a cross section of all the cloves cut more or less in half.
  • Now rub olive oil generously all over both halves, inside and outsides (the oil helps to absorb the heat evenly). Put them back together, wrap in foil and bake at 425°F for about 45 minutes or until all the cloves are soft and brown.
  • Let cool, then squeeze each half from the ends like a tube of toothpaste to extract the garlic.
  • At this point, you can whisk the roasted garlic paste into olive oil with a wire whisk or a fork; you can also put it in a blender or food processor to “emulsify” with oil or do the same with a mortar and pestle.
  •  
    The quantities of oil and garlic will naturally affect the thickness of the condiment, as well as its flavor concentration; I like the ratio of about ¾ cups of oil to the average head of garlic. Don’t forget to season, and, as always, feel free to embellish with add-ins like chilies, dried herbs or spices.

    SOUR CREAM + DIJON MUSTARD = MY FAVORITE SAUCE

    At least once every couple of weeks when I want a quick and easy side for dinner, I simply slice whatever vegetable I happen to find in my fridge and sauté it.

  • Just as it’s finishing cooking, I drop a dollop or two of sour cream and a generous spoonful of Dijon mustard into the pan.
  • Season with salt and pepper and stir while the veggies finish cooking like this and the sauce will reduce just a bit and cling to everything beautifully.
  •  
    The combination of rich and tangy is to die for, and the whole is absolutely greater than the sum of its two parts; it’s familiar and different at the same time and it goes with anything!
     
    FIND OUR FAVORITE CONDIMENTS & RECIPES IN OUR GOURMET CONDIMENTS SECTION.

      





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