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Archive for Condiments

GIFT OF THE DAY: Horseshoe Brand Hot Sauce

We receive lots of hot sauce samples. Most of them are fine, but not special.

Enter the special: Horseshoe Brand hot sauce, developed by two entrepreneurs in New York State’s food mecca, the Hudson Valley.

All natural, made in small batches, you can’t help but say, “This is good stuff!”

Why? The hot sauces are made from scratch using fresh chiles. Many hot sauces use extracts that provide heat, but not flavor. Macerating fresh chiles provides a lively, fresh-tasting hot sauce that is a delight.

The current line-up includes:

  • Cajun Hot Sauce
  • Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Habanero Hot Sauce
  • Kiwi Jalapeño Hot Sauce
  • Mango Fatali Hot Sauce
  • Peach Hot Sauce
  • Roasted Garlic Hot Sauce
  • XXXTra Hot Hot Sauce
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    Horseshoe Garlic Hot Sauce

    One of six delicious flavors; horseshoe not included (photo courtesy Horsehoe Brands).

     
    At $5.99 a bottle, they’re affordable stocking stuffers, party favors.

    Head to HorsehoeBrand.com and load up!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Martini With A Side Of Olives

    If you’re not the type to sip seasonal cocktails with apple, cinnamon, cranberry or pumpkin flavors, here’s a tip to seasonalize that American classic, the Martini*.

    Recently we read an interview with a fashionable mixologist. Asked, among other things, of his pet peeves, he said, “I sell cocktails, I don’t sell garnishes. Everyone who orders a Martini keeps asking for more olives. We should make ‘dish of olives’ an bar menu item.”

    Voilà, our tip of the day: Serve Martinis with a side dish of olives—ideally, a vibrant mix of different colors and shapes.

    We adapted Sable & Rosenfeld’s Blue Martini, garnished with its blue-cheese-stuffed olives (photo #1), with red or reddish† olives, for a red-and-green holiday theme.

    There is one really red olive, and other options in the purplish range.

  • Red† Cerignola olive: from Italy, a jumbo olive with mild, buttery flesh.
  • Gaeta olive from Italy, popular in recipes
  • Kalamata olive from Greece, a meaty olive
  • Niçoise olive from France, pleasantly bitter with nutty undertones
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    Other purplish varieties you may encounter are the Alfonso, Amfissa, Nyon. But essentially: Head to the nearest olive bar and buy the reddest olives.

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: HOLIDAY MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ ounces gin or vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 3 regular-size olives or 1 Red Cerignola olive
  • Ice
  •  
    Plus

  • A small dish of olives in mixed colors and sizes
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    Preparation

    1. PRE-CHILL the glass.

    2. PREPARE the garnish. Strip the leaves from bottom 2 inches of the rosemary sprig and skewer three small olives onto it, or one large Red Cerignola olive.

    TIP: Some kitchen scissors have a leaf stripper in the center for herbs. We use this one from Esschert.

    2. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the alcohol and ice; shake and strain into the glass.

    3. GARNISH and serve with a side of olives.

    If your guests don’t polish off all the olives with their cocktails, you can toss them into the salad or serve them with the cheese plate!
     
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    *Check out the history of the Martini.

    †The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and become black olives in shades from black to purple-black and brown-black. As the olive ripens, it produces colors in-between: light brown, purple and reddish. In general, the darker the olive, the riper it was when picked. As they mature, some varieties may be red for a day or two. But what nature doesn’t provide, man will: Red Cerignola olives are actually dyed bright red with an FDA-approved colorant (red #3) and a patented process to provide festive color. La Bella di Cerignola is the formal name for the olives grown in the area of the town of Cerignola in Puglia, Italy.

     

    Olive Martini

    Mixed Olives

    Red & Green Cerignola Olives

    Esschert Herb Scissors

    Sable & Rosenfeld). [2] What Martini drinkers want: a side dish of olives (photo courtesy Pompeian | Facebook). [3] The reddest olive available is the jumbo Red Cerignola, shown with the Green Cerignola (photo courtesy DeLallo). [4] Strip leaves of of herb stems using the center part of this Esschert herb scissors.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Crunchy Fried (Or Baked) Tortilla Strips

    What more crunch in your summer salads?

    Toasted croutons and chow mein noodles have long served that purpose.
     
    OTHER CRUNCHY OPTIONS

    You can also add slices of bell pepper, bok choy, carrot, celery, fennel, kohlrabi, radish or water chestnut; florets and stalks* of broccoli and cauliflower; and even nuts (try cashews).

    Romaine is the crunchiest lettuce; you can substitute or add shredded cabbage.

    But one ingredient we’ve been enjoying lately is fried tortilla strips.

    It had not been top-of-mind for us until the lightbulb turned on as we were crunching on the Skinnylicious Mexican Tortilla Salad at The Cheesecake Factory. These strips are more flavorful than chow mein noodles and most packaged croutons.

    We asked ourself: Why don’t we use them on every salad?

    We headed to the supermarket and found bags of fried tortilla strips, from Fresh Gourmet’s slender Tri-Color Tortilla Strips to Mission’s standard strips that are wide enough for dipping.

    But you can easily make your own, simply by cutting corn tortillas into strips and frying or baking. The only difference is that yours will be fresh, warm and all natural. Bonus: You can control the amount of salt.

    There’s nothing better than homemade tortilla strips, warm and fragrant from cooking. They’re made the same way as tortilla chips; just in a different shape.
     
    RECIPE: FRIED TORTILLA STRIPS

    Ingredients

  • 4 six-inch corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  •  
    Plus

  • Deep-fry/candy thermometer
  • Wire skimmer
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    Preparation

    1. STACK the tortillas. Cut them in half, then crosswise into thin strips (you can use a pizza cutter). Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels, for draining.

    2. POUR 3 inches of oil into a 4-5 quart pot. Clip the thermometer to the pot and heat the oil over medium-high to 350°F. Test the oil with a drop of water from the tap. If it sizzles, it’s ready; if it splatters, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat for a few minutes.

    3. ADD half of the tortillas to the oil carefully—that oil is hot!—and use a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to stir often so they don’t burn. The strips should be submerged in the oil until golden brown (about 3 minutes).

    4. REMOVE the tortillas with the skimmer or a slotted spoon, allowing the excess oil to drain back into the pot. Spread the strips on the paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
     
    If you won’t be using the strips within a few hours, let them cool and store them in an airtight jar.

     

    Tortilla Strip Garnish

    Tortilla Strips

    Tortillas

    [1] Mexican Tortilla Salad. Here’s the Skinnylicious recipe from Cheesecake Factory. [2] You can make your strips long as in the first photo, or short like these (photo courtesy Heather H. | Food.com). [3] Beautiful colors of tortilla chips (photo courtesy Ramiro Valencia, D.R.).

     
    Spicy Variation

    This option brushes the tortillas with seasoned oil, before stacking and cutting.

  • 1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1?4-1?2 teaspoon ground red chili flakes
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    COMBINE the oil and spices; brush one side of each tortilla with the mixture and proceed with steps above.
     
    Oven Variation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. SPRAY a baking with cooking spray and spread the the strips, trying not to let them overlap. Sprinkle with salt.

    3. BAKE for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
     
    USES FOR TORTILLA STRIPS

    In addition to a salad garnish, try them on:

  • Mac & Cheese, instead of toasted crumbs
  • Sandwiches, including burgers and franks
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    *There’s no reason to toss the bottom stalks of broccoli and cauliflower. The reason people do is because we’re accustomed to eating the “pretty” florets. The stalks are just as delicious—and they’re the parts used to make fancy purées. We cut them into coins and steam or roast them.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ketchup For Your Cookout

    Homemade Ketchup

    Burger & Sweet Potato Fries

    Hot Dogs With Ketchup

    [1] Homemade ketchup [2] with burgers (photos courtesy GoodEggs) and [3] on franks (photo courtesy Applegate).

     

    If you’re considering making something for a cookout, how about homemade ketchup?

    You can make your own ketchup in just ten minutes of prep time, plus 45 minutes of cooking. You can choose a better sweetener, avoiding high fructose corn syrup by substituting agave*, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or non-caloric sweetener.

    And you can add specialty seasonings such as chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha.

    The following recipe is from Good Eggs of San Francisco. Here’s an alternative ketchup recipe made with honey (instead of brown sugar and molasses), cloves (instead of cumin) and coconut oil (instead of olive oil).

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOMATO KETCHUP

    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
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    Flavor Variations

    Instead of the allspice, cloves and cumin, you can flavor the ketchup with other seasonings.

    Divide the base ketchup into half-cup test batches and test different flavors. Flavoring a half cup at a time enables you to adjust the seasonings to your particular taste.

  • 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 Ketchup: 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
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    You can also make hickory-smoke ketchup with liquid smoke, add lemon zest, and so forth.
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    *When using agave, use half the amount since it’s twice as sweet as the other sweeteners.
     
    Preparation

    1. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, until translucent; then add the garlic.

    2. AFTER another 4 minutes, add the tomatoes (including the liquid), vinegar, salt, allspice, cayenne and black pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, until the tomatoes have broken down. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

    3. POUR the mixture into a blender and pulse until it’s a smooth purée. Be careful: Blending a hot liquid requires extra attention. Using a dish towel, hold down the lid tightly. An immersion blender is a superior alternative for puréeing hot liquids.

    4. POUR the purée back into the pot and add the the brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes uncovered, until the mixture has thickened. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.
     
    THE HISTORY OF KETCHUP

    The concept was brought to England from Southeast Asia in the late 1600s, and had no tomatoes. The first printed recipe for kachop was an early version of what we know as Worcestershire Sauce.

    Check out the history of ketchup.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Watermelon Steaks

    Grilled Watermelon Recipe

    Seedless Watermelon

    [1] Grilled watermelon steaks with walnut gremolata (photo courtesy McCormick). [2] Use seedless watermelon (photo courtesy Bridges Produce).

     

    We’ve previously recommended cauliflower steaks and grilled cabbage steaks. Today’s “field meat” steaks are made with watermelon. The sweet fruit is grilled with savory seasonings to create a special first course.

    Seedless watermelon is cut into thick “steaks”; marinated in a mixture of white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rosemary; and topped with a walnut gremolata.

    What’s gremolata? It’s a lively, fresh-chopped condiment that typically includes parsley and/or other green herbs, plus lemon zest and garlic. It’s the traditional accompaniment to osso bucco, braised veal shank; but it’s a tasty accent to many dishes. Bonus: Because it’s so flavorful, you can cut back on salt.

    Here’s more about gremolata, including the classic gremolata recipe.
     
    RECIPE: GRILLED WATERMELON STEAKS WITH WALNUT GREMOLATA

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 8 minutes. Some people like to cut the watermelon into rectangles, in line with the steak theme. You also can cut the grilled watermelon into bite-size squares and serve them as hors d’oeuvres.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 small seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (substitute kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
  •  
    For The Gremolata

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT four 1-inch-thick, half-moon slices of watermelon. Reserve any remaining watermelon for another use.

    2. MIX the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling over the grilled watermelon. Place the watermelon steaks in glass dish and add the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, turning the watermelon halfway through. Meanwhile…

    3. MAKE the walnut gremolata: Mix the walnuts, parsley and lemon peel in a small bowl and set aside. Remove the steaks from the marinade, reserving the leftover marinade for basting the watermelon during grilling.

    4. GRILL the steaks over high heat for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until grill marks appear, brushing with the leftover marinade after the 2-minute mark.

    5. SERVE: Cut the watermelon steaks in half. Drizzle with the reserved marinade. Sprinkle with the gremolata.
     
    WHICH IS BETTER: SEEDLESS OR SEEDED WATERMELON?

    We turned to the National Watermelon Board to learn that:

  • There’s really no difference between seedless and seeded watermelon when it comes to taste. Most people prefer not having to deal with seeds, as opposed to those who enjoy seed-spitting contests.
  • A watermelon’s flavor is impacted by different factors, and seeds aren’t really one of them. Flavor can be greatly influenced by seed variety, the time of year the fruit was harvested, the amount of rain the crop received, the general climate it was grown in, how much direct sunlight it got, the type of soil, and other variables.
  • All watermelon grown for retail sale must meet a minimum brix level, a measurement of sweetness. Most watermelons exceed that level.
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