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Archive for Condiments

RECIPE: Beer Barbecue Sauce

Add beer to your homemade barbecue sauce. Photo by EasyBuy4U | IST.


Spell it barbecue, barbeque or BBQ: May is National Barbecue Month.

Here’s a delicious homemade beer barbecue sauce from Samuel Adams. You don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy it: The malt and hops provide a subtle lift in flavor and complexity that everyone can appreciate.



  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste


    1. HEAT all ingredients in a large sauce pan; stir and cover.

    2. REDUCE by half and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

    3. STRAIN and serve with your favorite grilled meat or poultry.

    You don’t have to use lager; any beer you have on hand will work well, although a more mild wheat beer will have a different impact on the sauce than a hoppy IPA.

    Personally, we’re in the IPA camp. If you barbecue a lot, try different types of beer in the sauce. You may find that what you like to cook with differs from what you like to drink.


    Add a bottle to the sauce, then drink the rest with your barbecue. Scattered in front pf the beer are the barley and hops used to make it. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ketchup

    A while ago, we tasted 32 different tomato ketchups to find “the best” (here are the ketchup reviews).

    Many of these were small, artisanal brands and more pricey than supermarket ketchup. But one of the top winners, Muir Glen, is widely available (at most stores that sell natural and organic foods; we get it at Whole Foods), one of the least expensive, and is both organic and kosher.

    But how about making ketchup at home, just as you make salad dressing. It’s just as easy. There are five basic ingredients: tomato paste and purée, vinegar, sweetener and seasonings.

    It’s fun to make ketchup. You can cut back on salt, avoid high fructose corn syrup and reduce the sweeteners in general, while adding favorite spices.


    Heinz Ketchup
    contains tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors.


    Homemade ketchup is a worthy match for a top-quality hot dog. Photo of Fearless Franks courtesy Niman Ranch.


    The ingredients are pretty much the same for Hunt’s Ketchup: tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and natural flavors.

    Del Monte Ketchup uses regular con syrup instead of HFCS. Otherwise, the list looks familiar: tomato concentrate, corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt, natural flavorings, onion powder, spice and garlic powder.

    These ketchups tend to deliver sweetness first, then tomato flavor, and not much else. You can greatly improve the flavor of homemade ketchup by using:


    Serve waffle fries with your homemade
    ketchup. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato

  • Better Vinegar. Mass-produced ketchups use distilled white vinegar. Cider vinegar makes ketchup taste so much better.
  • Better Sweetener. Instead of HFCS or the more benign corn syrup, both of which deliver bland sweetness, use flavorful brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. Or cut calories and lower the glycemic index with agave or a non-caloric sweetener like stevia or aspartame.
  • Favorite Spices. Add chilies, hot sauce, pepper and other spices; we love curry ketchup. Add them in small amounts, letting the spices meld; taste before adding more. You also get to use real onion instead of onion powder.


  • 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Other seasonings of choice
    *If you are using a different sweetener, the proportions may be different. Add a smaller amount and adjust to taste.


    1. PURÉE tomatoes and liquid until smooth.

    2. COOK onion in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until softened (about 8 minutes). Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and other seasonings.

    3. SIMMER, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour. Stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching.

    4. PURÉE ketchup in 2 batches until smooth. Chill, covered, at least 2 hours for flavors to develop. Adjust seasonings.

    Continue to work on the recipe, switching the proportions of vinegar, sweetener and spices, until you define your signature recipe. Then, don’t give it out: It’s your secret.



    RECIPE: Barbecue Sauce Secrets Revealed

    It’s easy to make your own barbecue sauce. Photo by Eddie Berman | IST.


    If you want a balsamic vinaigrette, mix two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with three tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s that simple: You don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of salad dressing.

    If you want barbecue chicken, mix up ketchup, chili powder, garlic powder, mustard, onion powder, paprika, salt, sugar and any other favorite spices (allspice, chipotle, cinnamon, thyme, mace). It’s that simple; you don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of barbecue sauce.

    Here’s the easy recipe from, a website dedicated to teaching families the basics of cooking.

    When you make your own barbecue sauce, you avoid ingredients like added high fructose corn syrup and extra salt. To avoid all HFCS, buy an organic ketchup or a natural ketchup like Muir Glen; the big brands tend to be loaded with HFCS. See our review of the best ketchup brands.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 6 chicken thighs (or any parts)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • BBQ seasoning to taste (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. RINSE chicken parts and trim any excess fat. Pat dry with a paper towel.

    3. COAT each piece with the BBQ seasoning mix and reserve.

    4. HEAT the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan until a medium to high heat is reached. Sear chicken on all sides for even browning. Reserve in a baking pan.

    5. Sweat the onions and garlic, using a little of the oil in the sauté pan.

    6. ADD the ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne to the sauté pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

    7. LADLE the liquid mixture over the chicken, making sure to coat each piece.

    Serve with potato salad, fresh carrots and celery sticks.



  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 12 tablespoons paprika
  • 6 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 12 tablespoons granulated sugar (use less if you like things less sweet)


    1. COMINE all ingredients thoroughly.

    2. STORE in jar with tight fitting lid.


    Barbecue seasoning. Photo courtesy Savory Spice Shop.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Aïoli

    Store-bought or homemade, aïoli, garlic
    mayonnaise, is a treat. Photo by Viktor |


    Last week we published easy asparagus recipes, suggesting an aïoli dip (more formally, sauce aïoli, which is garlic mayonnaise). Then we realized that we’d never published an aïoli recipe. Here, we remedy the situation.

    First, the word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

    Second, you can buy prepared aïoli, although it may be hard to find outside of specialty food markets. Our favorite brand is the Restaurant Lulu Aïoli, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (our review).

    This recipe uses the classic technique of a mortar and pestle. If you want to cut corners, you can use a blender (see footnote*); but Julia Child advised against it. The metal blades create bitterness in the garlic and the consistency isn’t as heavy and correct.

    Ingredients For 2 Cups Of Sauce

  • 1 (1/2-inch thick) slice white bread, crust removed (stale bread can be used)
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 4-8 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature†
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Freshly ground black pepper

    1. BREAK the bread into pieces. Place in a mortar or small, heavy bowl and cover with vinegar; set aside for 5-10 minutes until bread is soft and pulpy. Twist the bread into a ball to extract liquid (you can squeeze it in a cloth or paper towel).

    2. PLACE bread and garlic cloves into mortar and pound with a pestle for 5 minutes or longer, until you have a very smooth paste. Alternative blender instructions are in the footnote* below.

    3. ADD the egg yolk and salt, and pound until the mixture is thick and sticky.

    4. ADD the olive oil drop by drop, pounding and blending. When the sauce has thickened to the consistency of sour cream, you can trade the pestle for a wire whisk and add the oil more quickly. You have the right consistency when the sauce should is like thick sour cream and holds its shape with a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. (If the sauce is too thick for your taste, thin with boiling water or fish stock.)

    TIP: Should the sauce curdle, here’s the remedy: Warm a bowl in the microwave. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon or other prepared mustard and 1 tablespoon of the aïoli. Whisk until blended and thickened. Add the remaining aïoli a couple of teaspoons at a time, blending thoroughly before adding more.

    *Place all the ingredients except olive oil into the bowl of a food processor and purée into a paste. Then, with the processor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is the consistency of thick sour cream.

    †For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella by pasteurization (or another approved method).


    Aïoli can be varied with different flavors, from basil (pesto aïoli) and cilantro to red pepper, spicy, tomato and truffle. As an egg and oil based sauce, aïoli can take on just about any flavors.

    Check out our favorite flavored mayonnaise, from bacon and chipotle to wasabi, and look for the wonderful flavored mayos from The Ojai Cook.


    Aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to sandwiches and potato salad. Here are the classic French uses:

  • With escargots
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aioli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup), and in America, with broiled fish and seafood, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs
  • On vegetables, especially boiled potatoes and string beans
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette

    For a Provençal twist on artichokes, steam them and dip them in aïoli instead of melted butter or vinaigrette. Photo courtesy AnnieGlass.

    For a delightful side, make:



  • 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, unpeeled, cleaned and patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh chives for garnish, minced
  • Ground pepper to taste

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

    2. SIMMER uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander and place a kitchen towel on top, allowing the potatoes to steam for 5 to 10 minutes.

    3. SLICE the potatoes in half and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chives. Serve the aïoli in a ramekin for spreading or dipping.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Onion Crunch, The New Condiment Sensation

    From hot dogs to filet mignon, Onion Crunch
    adds something special to every dish it
    garnishes. Photo courtesy Loeb’s Onion


    It‘s not often that a new condiment appears. Generally, like salsa and wasabi, it enters our cuisine due to the popularity of a foreign cuisine in the U.S.

    In fact, the inspiration for Onion Crunch comes from Scandinavia. The crisp, crunchy bits of fried onions can be used as an ingredient or garnish with just about any savory dish. It’s like shaking fried onion rings on your food, whenever you like.

    And shake them we do: on eggs, hot dogs and burgers, mac and cheese, potatoes, salad and soup. And that’s just for starters.

    If you love onions, read the full review.

    Then, load up on thes wonderful crunchy onion bits.





    EVENT: Best Hot Sauces & The NYC Hot Sauce Expo

    It’s the first annual New York City Hot Sauce
    Expo! Image courtesy Expo.


    Our palate is so sensitive that a hot chile will wipe it out for 45 minutes. But three members of THE NIBBLE team leaped at the opportunity to attended a media preview for the first annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo. If you’re a hot sauce fan, get thee to East River State Park in the trendy Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the weekend of April 20th and 21st. General admission tickets are $10.00; for $100.00 you can be a VIP.

    An expo just for hot sauce? “Hot sauce production has been rated one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S.,” say the event organizers. “The trend shows no sign of cooling off.”

    If two days of fiery food is your idea of the ultimate endorphin rush, the weekend promises to be packed with live music, fire breathers, spicy food vendors, eating challenges and contests, adult beverages and the best hot sauce producers in North America.

    Awards will be presented on Saturday afternoon in categories that include Chipotle, Fruit Based, Fruit Based Hot, Habanero, Jalapeño, Louisiana Style, Novelty Hot Sauce, People’s Choice, Pepper Blend, Scorpion and a category we always appreciate, Best Label Artwork.


    We grew up in a household that used hot sauce for Bloody Marys. Everything else was flavored with fresh-cracked pepper and fresh herbs. True hot sauce fans shake the condiment on just about everything, from grilled cheese and other sandwiches, eggs, fried foods, French fries and hash browns, meat loaf, ribs, soups and anything else you can think of, including, of course, chili and Tex-Mex cuisine.

    Dave Pace, founder of Pace Foods, who began to manufacture hot sauce in Texas in 1947, would even shake hot sauce into his coffee. Whether he added sugar and milk as well, we don’t know. But we do know people who sprinkle hot sauce on their oatmeal and ice cream. (More about hot sauce.)


    Leah Hansen was one of THE NIBBLE writers who tasted her way through the media preview. “It was so much fun, and the hot sauces so terrific, that I’m going to attend the two-day Expo,” she reports.

    Here are the favorites of all she tried. Even if you can’t get to the Expo, you can order the sauces online.

    1. NYC Hot Sauce Co. A traditional red hot sauce with more depth of fruit flavor (from the flesh of the chiles) than the large commercial hot sauce brands. It‘s heavy on the vinegar flavor in a good way, and went really well on the mini grilled cheese sandwiches served with it. I loved the squeeze bottle too; it made it easy to squirt as much sauce you want. Ingredients: habanero peppers, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, fresh squeezed lime juice and creole seasonings. More about NYC Hot Sauce Co.


    The favorite in THE NIBBLE’s tasting, from locally grown chiles. Photo courtesy NYC Hot Sauce Co..

    2. High River Sauces ”Rogue.” This company makes a line of attractively-packaged and named hot sauces, including Grapes Of Wrath, Hellacious and Tears Of The Sun (the fourth favorite—see below). We all liked Rogue: very hot, but with a nice depth of flavor. It was a third-place winner of the 2013 World Championship Golden Chile Award in the Pepper Blend category. The ingredients include moruga scorpion, jolokia and red serrano chiles; blood oranges, apples and pears; apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice, garlic and ginger. More about High River Sauces.

    3. Big Fat’s 7 to 8. Big Fats makes an impressive array of hot sauces, all with number names. This super-hot sauce started out with a pleasant, subtle sweetness and a good depth of flavor with a big burst of citrus, quickly swirling into a vortex of spices. I really like the Trinidad 7 Pot Peppers used (they appeared in a few sauces, one of the super-hot chiles that have yet to enter commercial production). It takes a whole minute to hit you, but then the heat is pretty extreme and stays with you for a good 20 minutes. Ingredients: orange juice concentrate, onion, water, Trinidad 7 pot peppers, pineapple concentrate, garlic, pomegranate molasses, sea salt, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and white pepper. Learn more at BigFatsHotSauce.

    4. High River Sauces “Tears of the Sun.” The different fruit ingredients make this my favorite of the sweeter sauces. It’s not too sweet, with pretty high heat and a lingering aftertaste. How it got its name: “Your taste buds are greeted by the sweetness,” says the manufacturer; then the heat rises like the sun on a hot summer day.” Ingredients: habanero peppers, peaches, papaya, pineapple, mango, cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper, salt and garlic. More about High River Sauces.


    See the different types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

    What’s the deal with “chiles” versus “peppers?” Chile is the correct word, alternatively spelled chili and chilli; chilli is the original spelling in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    When one of Columbus’ crew first tasted a chile in the Caribbean Islands, he likened the heat to the black pepper known in Europe. Hence, chilli became pepper, or chile/chili/chilli pepper.

    To us purists, pepper should only refer to Piper nigrum, the peppercorn, which has no relationship to the chile plant. Capsicum is the genus for chiles, fruits that, when cut in half, have a white spine and seeds that contains the heat (or, in the case of bell peppers, no heat at all). For us, chile/chili/chilli is the way to go.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Mustard As Condiment & Ingredient

    A field of mustard plants in Napa Valley. The
    seeds are harvested from the beautiful
    yellow flowers. Photo courtesy Napa Mustard


    When some people think “spring,” they think daffodils and tulips. The food-focused think “mustard.”

    A few days before the official start of spring, we look forward to St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage with lots of prepared mustard on the side. Then comes Easter, where we slather on mustard to glaze the ham, and spread different types of mustard on the ham sandwiches that follow (take a look at these cherry-mustard ham glaze and these ham glaze recipes).

    Then come the spring vegetables, accented with mustard: in a sauce for fresh asparagus, mixed into vinaigrette with new, tender greens, as part of a dip for fresh artichoke leaves.

    The next thing you know, it’s baseball season: hot dogs and soft pretzels drizzled with mustard. Then come the picnics: mustard on sandwiches, in deviled egg recipes and mixed into cole slaw and potato salad for an extra hint of flavor.

    Many kitchens have a jar of Dijon mustard and a jar of yellow “ballpark” mustard. But there are quite a few different prepared mustards, including some you’ve never heard of. See the different types of mustard in our Mustard Glossary, and try something new. You’ll discover delightful flavors with almost no calories.

    You can also check out the history of mustard.

    Grains of mustard have been found in the tombs of the pharaohs, and mustard was a popular condiment with the ancient Greeks and Romans. By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard arrived in America in the 1700s as immigrants set up their own businesses.

    Here’s a plateful of ideas from Roland brand mustard on ways to use mustard add a punch of flavor to other dishes:



  • Serve two mustards. Serving a dish of Dijon and grain mustard side by side highlights the differences in taste and allows everyone to experiment with various combinations of flavor.
  • Try flavored mustards—mustard blended with with tarragon or other herbs, blue cheese, beets and other ingredients—on sandwiches and hamburgers, for a truly special taste twist. Do it even if you like the same old, same old: We adore flavored mustards.
  • Serve mustard as a cheese condiment: Dijon, grainy (old-style or à la ancienne) and flavored mustards are our favorites here. (More about cheese condiments.)
  • Make your own honey mustard. Just blend honey into Dijon mustard, to taste. You can also use maple syrup, or go for low-glycemic agave nectar or calorie-free sweeteners.
  • Experiment by pairing different mustards with your favorite foods. For example, grainy mustard is a great pairing with Cajun style sandwiches: fish, pan-fried oysters or pork. We love herb-flavored mustards with cold cuts. With pâtés, try green peppercorn-flavored Dijon mustard.

    Fried green tomatoes and crab with Creole mustard. Here’s the recipe from



  • Add flavor to sauces. Mustard is an essential ingredient in everything from hollandaise to reduction sauces to vinaigrettes.
  • Add dry or prepared mustard to vinaigrette or other salad dressing. In addition to the dash of spiciness, mustard helps to hold the emulsion in the dressing.
  • Add mustard at the end of the cooking process. In a sauce or a other cooked recipe, too much heat will make the mustard flavor weak and bitter.
  • Add mustard to dips. Perk up artichokes, asparagus and crudités, as well as steamed and grilled veggies.
  • Put mustard in your rub and your marinade. Mustard mixed with herbs, salt and black pepper makes a great rub for roast meats, and is always a welcome flavor element in marinades.
  • Make compound butter with mustard. ustard works very well in compound butters. Soften butter at room temperature. Then add chopped garlic, parsley, black pepper, minced shallots and the mustard of choice. Mix well, spoon onto parchment paper, form into a roll and freeze. Cut 1/2 inch sections off and place over grilled meat or fish. (More about compound butter.)
    Try this recipe from Roland Foods: Fresh mint makes it the perfect spring vinaigrette.



  • 1.5 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1. COMBINE mustards, vinegar and mint leaves in a small mixing bowl; briskly whisk to blend. While whisking mixture, slowly drizzle in olive oil.

    2. USE immediately, or be prepared to re-whisk if the vinaigrette separates.



    PASSOVER RECIPE: Charoset, An Apple Chutney

    Charoset, an apple chutney that’s a
    traditional Passover dish. Photo courtesy


    Passover, the holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jews from bondage in ancient Egypt more than 3,300 years ago, begins this evening. One of the symbolic foods on the Passover seder plate is charoset (also spelled charoseth, charoses or haroseth), a name that comes from the Hebrew word for clay.

    Why clay? It represents the mortar that Israelites used while enslaved as builders by the Egyptians.

    A kind of apple chutney of sorts, charoset is eaten during the seder with matzoh and fresh-grated horseradish. It is delightful as an accompaniment to roasted meats at any time; we enjoy it year-round on matzoh or toast.

    This recipe, which you can whip up in 15 minutes, is courtesy of Bee Raw Honey, a purveyor of artisan honeys. They recommend their orange blossom honey in this recipe; but you can use what you have on hand.


    You can enjoy the charoset immediately, but ideally let it rest in the fridge for an hour or longer to allow the flavors to meld. The yield is approximately 4 cups.



  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup oange blossom honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 crisp apples, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Toss occasionally and watch carefully; remove the walnuts when they are fragrant. Let cool, then roughly chop.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice, wine, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt.

    3. MIX the apples and walnuts with the liquid mixture in a large bowl; toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Condiments, Part 2

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


    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.


    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.


    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 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.


    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.


    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!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Combine Condiments Into “Gourmet Condiments,” Part 1

    Today and tomorrow, chef Johnny Gnall takes on condiments: how your cooking can soar to greater heights by combining condiments in non-traditional ways. We got a lot of inspiration from his suggestions! Email your comments and suggestions for tips of the day to Chef Johnny.

    You’re about to discover how to take your favorite condiments—ketchup, maple syrup, mayonnaise, whatever you have at hand—and combine them in ways that make them even more delicious.

    Last May, when I reviewed The Flavor Bible, I talked about what I call “guerilla cooking.” Guerilla cooking is what being a chef should be all about: taking whatever ingredients are thrown at you, no matter how seemingly incompatible or mismatched they appear, and turning them into dinner. The meal doesn’t always fall under a specific cuisine or stay inside the culinary box, but with skill and knowledge, anything edible can be turned into a tasty treat (anyone who has watched an episode of Chopped knows this is true).


    Combine balsamic vinegar with soy sauce? Who’d have thunk it? Photo by Rainer Zenz | Wikimedia.



    Another key to the process of turning odds and ends into an exceptional meal is knowing how to maximize the potential of the common ingredients you have in your fridge or pantry.

    Take the condiments group, a large set of ingredients bursting with opportunity. Anyone can drizzle truffle oil over potatoes to take things to the next level, but that’s so easy it’s almost cheating. Having the eye to spot a bottle, jar or can of something everyday and the imagination to apply it in an unexpected way can lead to signature dishes and great recipes that you never even knew were possible.

    Here are a few not-so-everyday combinations and applications for ingredients you have in your kitchen right now. Use them as a jumping off point, but remember that the real magic will happen when you come up with something brand new and completely your own. Mix away!


    These two ingredients are a match made in heaven: one intense and sweet, the other intense and salty, both rich and velvety and bold and overflowing with umami and tannins.

    Add this combination to pretty much any vegetable and cook it however you like: The result will blow your mind.

    To get the amounts right, whisk the two together first (before adding to veggies), adding each in small amounts until you achieve balance. A few grinds of cracked pepper or a pinch of chili flakes add even more zing.

    Bear in mind, the better the quality of each ingredient, the richer and thicker your final product will be. The flavors will be there no matter what, but if you happen to have some of the good balsamic in your pantry, bust it out for this one. In addition to flavor, it will cling better to ingredients.

    And use a good soy sauce—not the packets that come with Chinese food take-out.


    Mix naple syrup and grainy mustard?
    Magnificent! Photo by Arpad Benedek | IST.



    Whether you’re dipping French fries, crudités, or chicken tenders, this sweet and hot combination is a true crowd pleaser. You may need to season with a little salt or soy sauce depending on what kind of chili paste or hot sauce you use, so test a dab before applying it.

    You can go naughty and thicken the sauce with a little sour cream, or add depth with a few drops of sesame oil. You can also stir in fresh herbs or citrus zest to brighten things up.


    This is an easy one and it blows minds every time. A variation on honey mustard, the maple syrup delivers deeper flavor, and the whole grain mustard adds texture as well as clinginess.

  • Mix the two together in roughly equal amounts, or until you have a paste that will stick to a chicken without sliding off.

  • Season said chicken generously with salt and pepper first. This step is important as the sweet, tangy dressing needs the salt to help it achieve balance.
  • Then slather the chicken all over with the maple-mustard mix, and roast it on a rack at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until its internal temp reaches 160°F.
  • Make sure to rest the chicken for 10-15 minutes after it comes out of the oven, before slicing into it. Resting allows the cooking process to finish and retains the juices, which otherwise flow out of a non-rested roast.
  • Then cut into pieces and get the Wet-Naps ready!

    Mayonnaise is just so darn versatile: The version we know today was invented by the brilliant French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833), founder of the concept of haute cuisine (here’s the history of mayonnaise). The key with mayo is to not go overboard on quantity and turn it into a cholesterol-fest.

  • Whisk in some raw garlic and a drizzle of olive oil to turn it into aïoli; add a generous spoonful of smoked paprika and you have a killer condiment for roasted potatoes that is not far from Spain’s patatas bravas*.
  • Throw in some fresh chopped herbs, some lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper and you will take your sandwiches to a whole new level.
  • Just remember that mayonnaise is rich, so any ingredient you combine should be complementary. Bright flavors, acidity and spice are all excellent foils for richness, so you aim your combinations in those directions.
    TOMORROW: How to combine citrus zest, molasses, pickling liquid, sour cream, tomato paste and more into gourmet condiments.


    *A tapas bar favorite, patatas bravas (also called patatas a la brava or papas bravas) is made from white potatoes that have been cut into small, irregular shapes, then fried in oil and served warm with a very spicy mayonnaise or tomato sauce.



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