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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.

Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Ají Sauce

Hot sauce lovers should take a closer look at ají sauce, a standard in Ecuador and Peru. Aji amarillo is one of the most common types of chiles in the area, and is also one of the most important ingredients in the two countries.

While, like all salsas, there are as many variations as there are cooks, a basic ají criollo is made from the ají amarillo (yellow ají*), along with cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

Each region and city has its own unique recipe. For example, ají de tomate de árbol—tree tomato or tamarillo ají—uses tamarillo as well as ají amarillo. (A recipe is below.)

Andrés Dávila, executive chef of Casa Gangotena, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top Ten Hotel, offers tourists a journey through the different types of ají, with a selection of six sauces carefully paired with a dish that heightens the flavors of the local cuisine. He’s also sent us a standard recipe so you can make your own.

Great for sauces and to kick up any meal with a great flavor and medium heat. Chewing on the chiles adds more heat.

  • Ají mixed with passion fruit, which colors the sauce a spectacular yellow, goes well paired with chicken or pork.
  • Ají with sambo squash seeds, a light green cream with a subtle smell and taste that goes well with white meats.
  •    

    aji-amarillo-perudelights-230r

    Ají amarillo, in shades of yellow and orange. Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

  • Manaba-style pickled ají, flavored and colored with carrots, is the perfect accompaniment to fish.
  • Orange ají is made with tree tomato (tamarillo) and chochos (lupines).
  • Purple ají, colored with beets, has a complex layering of fruit vinegar, grated carrots and pickle slices, goes well with both seafood and red meats.
  •  
    PICK UP A JAR OF AJÍ AMARILLO (YELLOW AJÍ) PASTE

    You can probably find a jar of ají paste in the Latin foods section of your supermarket. Goya makes it, of course, and you can find specialty brands such as Costa Peruana and Inca’s Food online.

    Aji paste is simply a purée of fresh ajis. “American fusion” uses include:

  • Mix a tablespoon with a cup of Alfredo or other white sauce, red sauce or brown sauce or gravy.
  • Add to soup (including chicken soup).
  • Add to a ceviche marinade.
  • Mix into condiments to add flavor and heat.
  •  
    *While ají is Spanish for chile pepper and amarillo means yellow, the color changes to orange as the chiles mature. You can see the deepening colors in the photo above.

     

    aji-amarillo-paste-incasfood-230

    Add bold flavor to many dishes with ají
    amarillo (yellow chile) paste. Photo courtesy
    Inca’s Food.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE AJÍ SAUCE

    This classic ají sauce combines tree tomato (tamarillo), ají amarillo and chochos (lupines, or lupin beans). Lupins are a large yellow Italian bean. You can substitute lima beans or fava beans for the lupins.

    Ingredients

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 2 ajís (you can substitute serranos or other red chilies, or yellow habaneros for extra heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: cooked and peeled chochos (lupin beans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the tomatillos and boil them for 5 minutes.

    2. BLEND the tomatillos with ají chiles. For a milder sauce, seed and devein the chiles. You can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild.

    3. TRANSFER the mix to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. You can also skip the cooking part; the sauce will be fresher in taste, but will need to be consumed more quickly.

    4. ADD the onion, lime juice, cilantro, optional chochos and salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

    VARIATION: Replace the water with oil (avocado, light olive oil or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano-style ají, and do not cook it after blending.

    Recipe courtesy Laylita.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Trending Sauces To Know (And Use!)

    Yesterday we recommended serving proteins “three ways.” One of the ways to differentiate them is with sauces, and we recommended a look at the famed mother sauces of France.

    Then, we got an email from Food & The Menu, a magazine for chefs. The new issue features “10 Sauces Of The Moment”—options that span the world.

    “Say ‘so long’ to complicated reductions and rich, butter-mounted glazes,” says Joan Lang, the article’s author. “Some of today’s most trending sauces are more like condiments, following the popularity of sriracha, harissa, wasabi and aïoli.”

    So if you want to get ahead of your favorite chefs, consider these sauces, many of which are sold ready-made. Some will be familiar to you, others less so. Read the full article, which includes recipe ideas:

    1. Adobo Sauce

    Long a Mexican staple, this vinegar-based sauce is made with chiles and/or paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper, sugar and sometimes tomato or ketchup. It is perhaps the easiest of the group to find in your local supermarket (it’s also available online). There’s a Filipino version of adobo, a simmer sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Try them both!

    2. Colorado Sauce

    Rich, smoky and spicy, Colorado sauce (also called red chile sauce or chile colorado) is another find from Mexico. To achieve its namesake red color, it incorporates multiple types of roasted or dried chiles (such as ancho and New Mexico) with onions and tomatoes. Make it or buy it.

    3. Comeback Sauce

    From Mississippi, this sauce is a cross between spicy rémoulade sauce and creamy Thousand Island dressing is a versatile dip, dressing or spread osandwiches and more—and you sure can’t argue with the fun name.

       

    aloha-soy-sauce-amz

    Soy sauce with a Hawaiian twist can be brush onto grilled food or added to dips, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes. Photo courtesy Aloha Brand.

     
    4. Donkey Sauce

    Popularized by television chef Guy Fieri, donkey sauce combines mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha and lots of roasted garlic to create a hot and spicy alternative to aïoli sauce, the classic French garlic mayonnaise. 
     
    5. Fonduta

    A rich, melted cheese sauce from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, fonduta is usually made with Fontina, Parmesan and cream—and if you’ve got the bucks, white truffles in season. It is served as a sauce over food or as a fondue-like dip.
     

     

    ponzu-yakamiorchard-230

    Ponzu sauce is available in most
    supermarkets. We buy this gourmet blend
    from Yakima Orchard online.

     

    6. Gochujang Sauce

    Pronounced ko-choo-CHONG, this pungent Korean hot red chili paste is made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chile, garlic, honey and salt. Spice lovers will enjoy a jar. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    7. Hawaiian Sauces

    These range from traditional salty-sweet Aloha Sauce (a brand of soy sauce blended with fruit juices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic) to more creative inventions like poi vinaigrette (mashed boiled taro root mixed into a vinaigrette). You can find Aloha Sauce on Amazon.com.

     
    8. Kewpie Mayonnaise

    This MSG-laden mayonnaise from Japan, first made in Japan in 1925, more recently came to prominence at sushi bars in the U.S. as “Dynamite Sauce” for the Dynamite Roll.* Made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, it is yellower, creamier and richer than western mayonnaise. It is now used to give a kick of sweet and vinegary creaminess to salads and vegetables. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

     
    9. Nyonya Sauce

    This spicy Malaysian sauce typically contains chile paste, curry, fish sauce, lemongrass and other spices. Lang predicts that “before long this flavor booster will go mainstream.” We found it available in packets on Amazon.com.
     

    10. Ponzu Sauce

    This Japanese soy-and-citrus-based dipping sauce is an easy mix of yuzu or lemon juice, kombu, mirin and rice wine vinegar. In Japanese cuisine it’s served with dumplings or shabu shabu, but its uses have evolved (we like it with seafood and rice). You can buy it in the Asian products section of your market. Our favorite, from Yakami Orchard, is available online.
     
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONDIMENT AND A SAUCE?

    A sauce is a condiment, which is defined as a food item added to the primary food to enhance its flavor.

    While some condiments are used by the chef during cooking (barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, for example), others, such as ketchup and mustard, are applied by the individual diner.

    The word derives from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or sauce. That word in turn derived from the Latin condere, meaning to preserve, pickle or season. The word originally described pickled or preserved foods, but evolved over time.
     
    *The Dynamite Roll incorporates shrimp tempura, masago (capelin roe) and vegetables, such as radish sprouts, avocado and/or cucumber.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Fischer & Wieser Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

    fisher-wieser-raspberry-chipotle-sauce-230

    Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
    is an award winning condiment. Photo
    courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

    Perhaps we’re in a raspberry state of mind. Yesterday we recommended the delicious jam from Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen. Today it’s the Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce from Fischer & Wieser.

    The motto of the Fischer & Wieser specialty foods company is “inspiring your culinary adventure.” The company manufactures more than a hundred items, but the one that lingers in our memory is smoky Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

    A blend of raspberries and chipotle peppers, it is a smokey, sweet and spicy condiment for meat, fish or poultry. We mix it with a bit of mayo for a sandwich spread, and also enjoy it with scrambled eggs or an omelet. It is delectable!

    You can’t run out of ways to use it. For example:

  • Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Baked beans
  • Brie en croute
  • Chicken dippers
  • Cowboy coleslaw
  • Easy appetizer with cream cheese and crackers
  • Grilled beef or pork tenderloin or roast
  • Grilled salmon
  • Kebabs
  • Ribs
  • Shrimp tacos
  • Salsa
  • Sandwiches (great with ham and cheese)
  • Spinach salad and other salad dressings
  • Steak
  • Stuffed chicken breasts
  • Tomato and feta salad
  • Turkey
  • Wings
  • Don’t forget dessert:

  • Bread Pudding
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Sherry Sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Melon Salad
  • Peach sorbet
  •  
    All of the recipes can be found on the company website. There’s even one for a spicy Margarita.

     

    WHERE TO FIND IT

    Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is sold online, at specialty food stores, club stores and grocery stores in the U.S., and internationally in Canada, Mexico and the U.K. We really like it as a small house gift, party favor or stocking stuffer.

    A 15.75-ounce bottle is $8.74 on Amazon.com; a 40-ounce bottle is $17.95.

    From its origins as a road-side peach stand, Fischer & Wieser now produces more than one hundred products in the same tradition as their first jar of peach preserves. Nestled in the fruitful farmland of the Texas Hill Country, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc. is still family owned and operated. But it’s now a bustling international company that has become the number one specialty food company in Texas.

    The company’s URL reflects its origins: Jelly.com.

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a grilled, roasted or poached protein (in the photo, roasted turkey) with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. It’s our friend Andy’s favorite way of eating!

     

    turkey-sauce-plate-fisherwieser-230

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a plain protein with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. Photo courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Tomato Ketchup

    Not surprisingly, cookbook author Danielle Walker makes her own condiments. Why? They deliver better flavor than mass-produced products, and in the case of tomato ketchup and barbecue sauce, a better sweetener than high fructose corn syrup, and less sweetener.

    Danielle is following up on her the Paleo Diet-focused Against All Grain (10 months on the New York Times Best Sellers list) with the upcoming Meals Made Simple (out September 2nd, but you can pre-order now).

    You can make your own ketchup in just five minutes of prep time, plus 45 minutes of cooking. How can you resist the opportunity to impress your palate, your family, your friends?

    After you’ve made your first batch, you can experiment with your favorite seasonings: chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, sriracha, whatever.

    Danielle chose honey as the sweetener in her recipe, but you can use agave (just use half the amount, since it’s twice as sweet), maple syrup, even cane sugar.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOMATO KETCHUP

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 26-ounce jar or box tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 whole cloves*
  • 10 whole allspice berries*
  •    

    homemade-ketchup-daniellewalkerMealsMadeSimple-230r

    Make it yourself! Photo courtesy Danielle Walker.

     

    *If you’ve had these spices on the shelf for years, they’ve lost a lot of potency. It’s time to buy fresh versions, or “borrow” some from a friend or neighbor.

     

    lumberjack-cheddar-swiss-230

    It tastes even better with quality ketchup.
    Photo courtesy Cheese & Burger Society.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the oil in a deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until fragrant.

    2. ADD the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced by half.

    3. REMOVE the onion, cloves and allspice. Bring to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.

    Variations

    Make the ketchup without the cloves and allspice. You can divide it into half cup batches and flavor them accordingly (seasonings provided per half cup of ketchup).

  • Chipotle Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, chipotle chile powder and lime juice
  •  

  • Cranberry Ketchup: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
  • Curry Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Garlic Ketchup: 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish.
  • Jalapeño Ketchup: 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned jalapeños, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • Sriracha Ketcup: 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  •  
    Your own blend: Anything goes!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup

    sundried-tomato-ketchup-traina-230

    Ketchup with richer tomato flavor, thanks to
    sun dried tomatoes. Photo courtesy Traina
    Foods.

     

    Traina Foods says that they produce “the world’s finest sun dried fruit,” which they sell to manufacturers, ingredient companies and distributors.

    But they’ve taken some of their lush California sun dried tomatoes and turned it into ketchup.

    The sun dried fruit provides a deeper, richer taste than you’ll find in regular tomato ketchup. And because this is a specialty brand (as opposed to a mass market brand), the manufacturer uses less sugar and delivers notes of pepper and vinegar. It’s better quality ketchup, and you’ll notice the difference.

    For those who want heat, there’s a sriracha version.

    Either will add more punch to your hot dogs, burgers, fries, eggs, meat loaf, cocktail sauce and anything else that requires a hit of ketchup.

    Treat yourself to some, and consider the bottles as stocking stuffers for ketchup-loving friends. Just tie a ribbon around the neck!

    The regular Traina Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup is available on Amazon.com, in single bottles or six-packs.

    We couldn’t find the sriracha version online, but here’s a store locator and an email, customerservice@traina.com.

     
    Montebello Kitchens also makes a delicious sriracha ketchup that you can buy on Amazon.

    Their curry ketchup is one of our passions!

    WHO INVENTED KETCHUP?

    The first ketchup was made in Asia, and had no tomatoes whatsoever.

    Here’s the history of ketchup and a review of 42 specialty ketchup brands.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ponzu Sauce

    ponzu-fotoosvanrobin-flickriver-230

    Ponzu sauce. Photo © Fotoos Van Robin |
    Flickriver.

     

    Following our recent endorsement of rice vinegar as an everyday condiment is this one for ponzu sauce.

    Ponzu is a thin, dark brown citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Often mixed with soy sauce (shoyu), it is a popular all-purpose condiment and dipping sauce.

    If you’ve ordered tempura in a Japanese restaurant, it was likely served with a small dish of ponzu.

    Ponzu sauce is traditionally made with rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine), katsuobushi (bonito tuna flakes) and konbu (seaweed). Some recipes use saké, a less sweet rice wine with a higher alcohol content.

    The ingredients are simmered and strained, and then citrus is added, typically yuzu, a bitter orange, or sudachi, a mandarin. (You can use lemon if you’re making it at home.)

    USES FOR PONZU SAUCE

    Mark Bittman of The New York Times calls it the rough equivalent of vinaigrette.

    Ponzu is an attractive condiment with both Western cuisine and its native Eastern cuisine. We recently substituted it for malt vinegar with French fries, and instead of mignonette sauce with oysters on the half shell.

     
    More ways to enjoy ponzu sauce:

  • With cooked and raw fish or seafood (try it with tataki, sashimi or a raw bar; it’s great with lightly-grilled fish and as a ceviche marinade.
  • With broiled or grilled beef, pork or poultry (baste with it).
  • As a dipping sauce for anything, from dumplings and tempura to nabemono and shabu-shabu from the East, to crudités and French fries from the West.
  • In marinades.
  • In stir-frys and stews (add during the last few minutes of cooking).
  • Instead of Worcestershire sauce in recipes.
  • Mixed into a dressing (with a little olive oil) for salads or cooked vegetables.
  •  

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PONZU SAUCE

    This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman. It presumes you won’t have access to yuzu juice and uses commonly-available citrus. But in many cities, bottled yuzu juice (another of our favorite condiments) is readily available at specialty food stores and Asian markets.

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup quality soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (or 1/4 cup saké and 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 3-inch piece kelp (konbu)
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/4 ounce) dried bonito flakes
  • Pinch cayenne

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 2 hours or overnight to let flavors meld.

    2. STRAIN before using. Refrigerated in an airtight container, ponzu will keep for at several days.

  •  

    ponzu-bottle-yakamiorchard-230

    Yakami Orchard makes very high quality Ponzu. Nicely packaged, it makes a fine gift for a good cook. You can buy it online. Photo courtesy Yakami Orchard.

     

    PONZU VS. CHIRIZU SAUCE

    Chirizu is a spicier variation of ponzu, made with daikon, lemon juice, saké, scallions, soy sauce and shichimi togarashi, a table spice made of seven ingredients, including red pepper (togarishi) and sansho pepper pods (which provide heat).

    It can be served with stronger-flavored sashimi that hold up to the heat (mackerel instead of fluke, for example); as well as with fried fish.

    Here’s a recipe if you’d like to make your own.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Vegan Pesto From Sauces ‘n Love

    Sauces-n-Love_Vegan-Pesto-230

    Vegan, lactose free and cholesterol free
    pesto. Photo courtesy Sauces ‘n Love.

     

    Keeping a good jar of pre-made pesto at hand can make any dish extraordinary in only a matter of minutes.

    Pesto sauce, traditionally consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses and salt for seasoning. Add a dollop to dinner and suddenly you’re a fancy cook who understands how to dazzle with delicate herbs. Pesto is vegetarian, low in carbs and packed with fresh ingredients: a bright, healthy addition to your meals.

    Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera. Liguria, the capital of which is Genoa, is home to superb produce, most notably the sweetest, mildest basil. Its people enjoy one of the freshest, healthiest cuisines in all of Italy.

    Just as pesto can be made with different nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts) and greens (arugula, spinach)—or even non-greens, like red pepper pesto—it can be made vegan instead of vegetarian. One way to do this is to substitute vegan Parmesan.

     

    But Sauces ‘n Love has creating a pesto condiment, dip and sauce that eliminates the cheese or cheese substitute. Using only extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper still creates a delicious pesto.

     

    Why vegan pesto? Aside from accommodating the growing number of vegans, it’s a boon for non-vegans who are lactose intolerant, those cutting back on cholesterol, and kosher consumers who want to serve pesto with meat-based meals.

    Sauces ‘n Love, a NIBBLE Top Pick of The Week is one of our favorite lines of Italian-style sauces, sold fresh in the refrigerator case. A sister line, Scarpetta, is shelf-stable and will stay fresh without refrigeration for nine months. Learn more at SaucesNLove.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT PESTO

  • Pesto Overview
  • The History Of Pesto
  • Pesto Serving Suggestions
  • Homemade Pesto Recipe and Pesto Prep Tips
  • More Favorite Pestos
  •  

    Pesto-SalmonCakes-230

    Beyond pasta: Pesto can be used to enhance most savory dishes. Photo by Guyer Wood | IST.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Giardiniera

    Giardiniera (jar-dih-NYAIR-uh) is an Italian word that means “from the garden.” Veggies from the garden (or these days, from the store) are pickled in vinegar, herbs and spices (sometimes oil is added).

    The result is a pickled condiment used like other pickles on burgers, eggs and sandwiches, from the classic muffaletta of New Orleans to the Italian beef sandwich in Chicago to an everyday ham and cheese. (See more uses below.)

    Giardiniera adds crunch, tang, spice and often, heat, to perk up anything it touches. Low in calories and high in veggie nutrition, it’s a guilt-free addition.

     
    TYPES OF GIARDINIERA

    Bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, hot chiles and pitted olives are common, but you can add whatever appeals to you, including non-traditional ingredients like mushrooms and okra.

    In Italy, giardiniera is also called “sotto aceti,” which means “under vinegar,” a common term for pickled foods. It is often made with carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions and zucchini in red or white wine vinegar.

    There are mild and hot versions, the latter employing hot chile peppers.

     

    muffaletta-bettycrocker-230

    A muffaletta sandwich with giardiniera. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    USES FOR GIARDINIERA

  • Appetizer: Time to revive the antipasto plate and relish tray.
  • Bloody Mary: Stir some in and provide a cocktail pick to spear the veggies.
  • Condiment: Place a bowl on the table with the main course. Giardiniera is especially delicious with grilled foods and casual foods (burgers, franks, sandwiches).
  • Eggs: Fold into scrambled eggs and omelets; serve as a condiment with other egg dishes.
  • Pasta: Toss giardiniera with any cooked pasta; add to oven-bound stuffed shells or other baked pasta recipes, including lasagna.
  • Pizza: Spoon it on! If making a frozen pizza, spread giardiniera over the top before placing it in the oven so it bakes right.
  • Salads: Add giardiniera into a tossed salad, tuna or chicken salad, pasta salad or potato salad for instant punch and color.
  • Sandwiches: grilled cheese, meatball, muffaletta, submarine or any basic sandwich
  • Side: make “Italian cole slaw” by mixing with shredded red cabbage
  • Snack: Tangy and crunchy!
  •  

    italian_Mix_Giardiniera_mezzetta-230

    You can buy giardiniera in almost any food
    market. Photo courtesy Mezzetta.

     

    RECIPE: MAKE YOUR OWN GIARDINIERA

    Enjoy it at home and bring a jar full as a house gift. After you make the first batch, you’ll be able to adjust the ingredients to create your ideal “signature” blend.

    You can cut the vegetables as you like, from chunky to a more finely diced relish.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1 cup small-diced carrots
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 4 to 8 serrano chiles, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 cups wine vinegar (red or white)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    *Use good vinegar, and never distilled white vinegar.

     
    Plus your choice of these optional ingredients:

  • Fennel
  • Gherkins
  • Jalapeño chiles, sliced
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Olives, green and/or black olives, pitted and halved
  • Oil: canola, olive, soybean or vegetable
  • Pimiento (roasted red bell pepper)
  • Spices: parsley, red pepper flakes
  • Pepperoncini
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE water and salt in a non-reactive bowl; mix to dissolve. Add the vegetables and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    2. DRAIN and rinse the vegetables. In a clean bowl, mix together the vinegar with the oregano and pepper. Add the vegetables and mix to combine. Allow to marinate overnight in the fridge, or up to two days.

    3. MOVE to an airtight container. Giardiniera improves over time, and will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks or longer.
     
    THE QUESTION OF OIL

    Classic giardiniera does not contain oil, but some people enjoy the extra richness it provides.

    Note that if you use oil in your marinade, it will cloud up in the fridge. But will become clear again at room temperature.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spray-On Garlic

    It’s National Garlic Day, so our tip is: Try this wonderful spray-on garlic juice from Garlic Valley Farms.

    It brings the flavor of fresh or roasted garlic to anything from salads and pasta to veggies, fish and meats. Spritz away!

    You might be suspicious of garlic in spray form, but this product rocks.

    There are actually two varieties of garlic juice, Cold Pressed and Roasted. The flavor difference between the two is quite distinct.

  • Cold Pressed Garlic Juice tastes like fresh garlic. It’s highly fragrant and reminds us of the simple pleasure of raw garlic cloves rubbed across a hot toasted baguette.
  • Roasted Garlic Juice is a real marvel: It tastes just like roasted garlic, but you don’t have to turn on the oven! It’s wonderful on everything from steaks to popcorn.
  •  

    roasted-garlic-juice-spraywww.healthysupplies.co.uk-230sq

    Spray on the garlic! Photo courtesy HealthySupplies.co.uk.

     
    The products are all-natural and certified kosher by OU. And they’re virtually calorie-free.

    Look for them in natural food stores/health food stores, or buy it online:

  • Cold Pressed Garlic Juice
  • Roasted Garlic Juice
  •  

    Read our full review of Garlic Valley Farms, plus the health benefits of garlic.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

    arrope-beauty-mieldepalma.com-230

    Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
    preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
    Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

     

    Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

    If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

    And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

    In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

    WHAT IS ARROPE

    A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

     
    Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

    So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

     

    Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

    As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

    In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

    While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

     

    arrope-jam-forevercheese-230

    A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

     
    *Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
     
    HOW ARROPE IS MADE

    It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
  •  
    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
  •   

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