THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Sauces-Rubs-Marinades

TIP OF THE DAY: Agrodolce & Gastrique

If you watch Top Chef, you’ve heard the term gastrique (gas-TREEK).

While it sounds like the French word for gastric system*, it’s actually a sweet and sour sauce, similar to the Italian sauce agrodolce (agro-DOLE-chay, meaning sour [agro] and sweet [dolce]).
 
Gastrique and agrodolce have a broad use: as sauces for meat, poultry, fish, pasta sauce, vegetables—even dessert (where chocolate can be used instead of the sugar), and to flavor cocktails. They’re good pairings for dishes that are high in fat content, since the vinegar cuts the richness.
 
The sauce is made by reducing sweet and sour ingredients, typically sugar and vinegar. The sauces are very similar and the terms are often used interchangeably, but there is one key difference: With a gastrique, the sugar is first caramelized in a pan over low heat. The sticky syrup is deglazed with vinegar, and stock is added to thin the sauce.
 
Additional flavorings can be added to create a more complex sauce—often fruit and/or wine; and flavored vinegars can add still more flavor. Both the type of stock and the vinegar greatly affect the flavor of the finished sauce.

  • Red wine vinegar and vincotto, for example, contribute a raspberry or grape flavor, respectively, that pairs well with chicken, lamb, pork, and seafood.
  • Cider vinegar has a sharper flavor, and is used with spicier dishes.
  • Gastrique or agrodolce made with preserves creates a flavorful bread dipper.
  • Pair your vinegar choice, stock, fruits, spices, etc. to the dish.
  •  
    TYPES OF GASTRIQUE & AGRDOLCE

    Duck à l’orange is a good example. But you can also use an orange sauce with sea scallops, as in this recipe from NewFinMySoup.blogspot.com. Chef Marcus Samuelsson and bloggers Smith & Ratliff among others, have a similar scallop recipe.

    Just do a web search for anything you want to make, plus gastrique (e.g. “chicken gastrique”).

    Also consider the classic Italian onion side and antipasto dish, Cippolini in Agrodolce. This recipe, from Williams-Sonoma, uses white and brown sugars and white wine and balsamic vinegars. In Italy, sweet peppers also get the agrodolce treatment.

    Consider this elegant sweet-and-sour sauce for Asian dishes—very different from cornstarch-thickened Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

    Drizzle it over steaks or chops.

    Use it as a salad dressing.

    The options go on forever.
     
    __________________________
    *In French, gastrique plus a modifying word refers to gastrointestinal matters (e.g., suc gastrique is gastric juice).

     

    Scallop Gastrique

    Lamb With Gastrique

    Agrodolce

    Top: Seared scallops with blood orange gastrique from Center: Rack of lamb with rhubarb-sour cherry gastrique from SpoonForkBacon.com. Here’s the recipe. Bottom: Cippollini in Agrodolce from Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10+ Good For You, Quick Sauces

    We’re still in “New Year’s Resolutions Month,” and today the tip is good-for-you sauces.

    Perhaps you’ve already been cooking dinner regularly; or perhaps you’re trying to do more of it to avoid sugar-, salt- and fat-laden take-out food.

    One of the easiest ways to complete a simple home-cooked meal is to cover it with purchased sauces. That’s no better for you than take-out, as reading the nutrition labels will prove.

    Here are 10 couldn’t-be-easier sauces that are good for you, and good on chicken, fish, grains, pasta, and so forth. Before you make a sauce from a can of soup, read the ingredients label—and see how easy these alternatives are:
     
    JUST POUR

  • Flavored Olive Oil. Drizzle basil-, rosemary- or other infused olive oil under the main food (chicken breast, fish fillet, pasta—see top photo) or drizzle it it around the perimeter of the plate (see second photo). Use a pour-top or a squeeze bottle for a thinner drizzle. With flavors from blood orange to garlic and hot chile, you can deliver lots of flavor while enjoying your government-approved two tablespoons of olive oil daily. Here are other ways to use infused olive oil.
  • Unflavored Olive Oil & Herbs. No flavored olive oil at hand? Sprinkle in some dried herbs before drizzling. We add both to a Pyrex measuring cup, stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, and pour.
  • Balsamic vinegar. Balsamic adds great flavor to just about anything. You can layer it on top of the oil. We use a small squeeze bottle and squeeze dots of balsamic on top of the oil (very arty!). You can also use a clean medicine dropper.
  • Pesto.You can also make pesto and keep it in the fridge. Then, 10 seconds in the microwave gives you a delicious hot sauce.
  •  
    LESS THAN 5 MINUTES OF COOKING

  • Tomato sauce: There are many riffs on quick tomato sauce, but they all involve cooking, usually for a minimum of 25 minutes. Here’s our quickest technique, using a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or other quality tomatoes). Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and cook a clove of sliced garlic. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper (or red pepper flakes) to taste, plus any herbs (basil, oregano, thyme). Voilà!
  • Vegetable purée. If you have leftover cooked vegetables, purée them into a sauce. Pop them into the food processor, purée, taste and add seasonings as desired (salt, garlic salt, pepper or other heat). Thin the purée to the desired consistency with a bit of olive oil or broth.
  •  
    PAN SAUCES

    The easiest sauce for pan-cooked food is to deglaze the pan.

    Another French technique typically combines butter or cream with other ingredients to make an on-the-spot sauce for the just-cooked dish. The sauce is thickened by the butter or cream—two ingredients we want to cut back on.

    So here we’re substituting chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and olive oil. The ingredients below are basic, and you should already have them in the kitchen. Feel free to add whatever else you have: capers, garlic and other herbs, lemon zest, minced onion, etc.—or to substitute flavorful balsamic vinegar for the white wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • Quick Mushroom Sauce. Microwave 1 cup chicken broth and 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried mushrooms until hot. Stir to combine, and pour into a hot skillet. Simmer until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in 4 teaspoons of milk (or cream, if you will) to form a lightly thickened sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Quick Dijon Mustard Sauce. Follow the same recipe as above, but substitute 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard for the mushrooms.
  • Quick Herbed Tomato Sauce. Heat the skillet over hot heat; combine 1/3 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ¼ cup canned crushed tomatoes and a generous pinch of tarragon or other herb in a small bowl or mixing cup. Pour into the hot skillet, simmer for 2-3 minutes to reduce by half. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  •  
    NONFAT “CREAM SAUCE”

    You can turn any of these sauces into a creamy sauce with the addition of nonfat Greek yogurt. There’s a hitch, though: Yogurt curdles over heat and can’t be added to a hot pan. Instead, use this technique:

     

    Steak With Rosemary

    Grilled Salmon With Gremolata

    Steak and Gravy

    Spaghetti With Fresh Tomato Sauce

    Top: Pan-grilled steak atop a pool of garlic-infused olive oil. Photo courtesy Quinciple. Second: Grilled salmon on a plate rimmed with basil olive oil and a garnish of gremolata: finely chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Photo courtesy Eddie Merlot’s. Third: Have fun with it: Use a squeeze bottle to turn your sauce into polka dots or zig-zags. Photo courtesy Strip House. Fourth: A can of San Marzano tomatoes becomes a quick sauce. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

  • Spoon the yogurt into a bowl and let it warm to room temperature.
  • Temper the yogurt by stirring in a tablespoon of the hot sauce—not enough to curdle it but enough to get the yogurt used to it.
  • Blend in the rest of the sauce.
  •  
    Bon appétit!
      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chermoula Sauce

    Last night at a nine-course feast at the home of our wine editor, we were served a dish of scallops, sautéed greens and a hearty topping of freshly-made pesto.

    A conversation ensued among the nut-averse and lactose-intolerant in attendance, that they didn’t use pesto because of the cheese or the nuts.

    There’s an easy alternative: chermoula, a Middle Eastern marinade and sauce popular in the cuisines of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

    As with pesto recipes, there are countless regional variations both in ingredients and proportions. But chermoula usually starts with a mixture of fresh herbs (especially cilantro), olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and salt.

    Flavorful chermoula is typically used with fish and seafood, and its green color adds brightness to what we personally refer to as “beige and brown foods.” It is also used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetable dishes.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula offthemeathook 230

    At Off The (Meat) Hook, it’s used to coat broiled halibut. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy OffTheMeatHook.com.

     

    Variations include black pepper, fresh coriander, ground chiles, onion, pickled lemons and saffron, among other ingredients.

  • The preferred recipe in Sfax, a port city in Tunisia, incorporates a purée of dried dark grapes, with onions sautéed in olive oil, black pepper, cumin and chiles, but also cinnamon and cloves.
  • Two countries to the west, in Morocco, one popular recipe uses dried parsley, cumin, salt and pepper with paprika as the variable seasoning. It’s often served with grilled meat and fish.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula lamb pumpkin broadbeans taste.com .au 2301

    Chermoula on lamb chops, rice and vegetables. Photo courtesy Taste.com.au.

     

    RECIPE: CHERMOULA SAUCE

    In the Middle East, chermoula is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. In our tests making pesto, the mortar and pestle produced a more flavorful pesto than the food processor. So we pulled it out to make this recipe. Feel free to switch on the food processor instead.

    This recipe is a Moroccan variation, with paprika. As with pesto, it is easy to make. Prep time is just 10 minutes. You can make extra and freeze it.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves*
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika (or a combination)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes or 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil†
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  •  
    You can put your own stamp on the recipe, of course. We had some leftover fresh mint, so added it to the second batch.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a mortar or food processor. Grind or pulse into a thick paste. It’s that easy!

    2. STORE the chermoula in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, needing only to be stirred.

    3. FREEZE extra in the compartments of an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray. When the cubes have frozen, remove them to a freezer bag.
     
    MORE GOOD FOOD FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

    This weekend we perused a book that had been sent to us on The Food of Oman, a sultanate on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

    When we pulled it out of its packaging, our first reaction was, “We have no time to figure out the cooking of Oman.” But as we thumbed our way through the book, we wanted to eat everything!

    If you enjoy learning new cuisines, or know someone who does, pick up a copy. The author, an American food writer who lived in the Middle East, takes readers on a journey that is delightful.
    ____________________________

    *You can include the small stems that attach the leaves to the main stalks.

    †A fruity style (as opposed to peppery) is preferable.

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

    October is National Pasta Month, and we’ll be sharing different takes on pasta. We start with tomato sauce.

    Some people use fresh summer tomatoes to make their sauce, freezing batches to last through the year. Others used canned tomatoes year-round. Less often, cherry tomatoes are employed.

    For us, since lush summer tomatoes have drifted into memory until next year, cherry tomatoes are the go-to for homemade sauce.

    While cherry tomatoes can be puréed into a conventional smooth sauce, first up is a version that roasts the cherry tomatoes and uses them whole, rather than cooking them on the stove top and pureeing in a conventional sauce.

    Essentially, your sauce is seasoned whole roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil; and beyond pasta, it can accompany rice and grains, polenta, eggs, grilled cheese, burgers and sandwiches, even savory waffles.

    Since the cherry tomatoes keep their shape, this is especially beautiful when made with mixed-color heirloom cherry tomatoes, or a combination of red and gold.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ravioli cherry tomato saucedelfinarestaurant 230

    Colorful cherry tomatoes are a beautiful accent to beige pasta. Photo courtesy Delfina Restaurant | San Francisco.

     
    You can simply sauté cherry tomatoes in olive oil with seasonings. Or, here are two recipes that impart a bit more complexity.

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place the tomatoes in a nonreactive* 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the garlic. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, salt and optional ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over the tomatoes.

    2. BAKE for about 1 hour, until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature.
     
    *Reactive vs. Non-Reactive Cookware: Aluminum, cast iron and copper are popular for cookware because of their superior heat-conducting properties. However, these metals can react with acids in a recipe (citrus, tomato, vinegar, etc.), imparting a metallic taste and discoloration of light-colored foods. This is also true with mixing bowls and utensils. Non-reactive materials include enameled metal, glass, plastic and stainless steel.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Spaghetti chunky tomato sauce ps 230r

    Here, 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes have been quartered instead of pulsed, for a chunky sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: CHUNKY CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    In this recipe, the tomatoes are pulsed in the food processor so do not maintain their shape, as in the recipe above. The reason to use them is because of superior flavor in the off season, and/or to take advantage of good prices.

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the garlic in a food processor. Add the onion and pulse 3-4 times, until finely chopped.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. CLEAN the food processor bowl, add 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes and pulse 3-4 times, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat to process the remaining 2 pints of tomatoes.

    4. ADD the chopped tomatoes to the skillet. Simmer, stirring frequently, until they turn into sauce (about 15-20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.

      

    Comments off

    RECIPE: Oktoberfest Burger With Pork Schnitzel

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/samuel adams Octoberfest burger 230L

    The Oktoberfest Burger, with breaded pork
    cutlets. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.

     

    Hard Rock Cafe is celebrating Oktoberfest with a Germany-inspired burger, the Samuel Adams Octoberfest Schnitzel Burger.

    Available September through October 31st, it has German flavor accents: schnitzel (breaded pork cutlets) instead of beef patties, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard and beer-accented cheese sauce, all on a pretzel bun.

    The Oktoberfest burger is similar to the Schnitzel Local Legendary Burger served year-round at Hard Rock Cafe locations in Germany. Here’s more about schnitzel.

    The Oktoberfest Burger is served with a side of seasoned fries and a Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer.

    What’s an Oktoberfest beer?

    Oktoberfest Beer, or Märzen, is a smooth and malty amber lager with an ABV* of 6% or higher. See our Beer Glossary for the different types of beer.

     
    RECIPE: SCHNITZEL BURGER

    Ingredients Per Burger

  • Lightly breaded tender pork schnitzel
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest-infused beer cheese sauce (recipe below)
  • Smoked bacon
  • Sauerkraut
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Fresh baby arugula
  • Pretzel bun
  • Optional: long toothpick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the schnitzel (recipe—substitute pork cutlets for the veal) and toast the buns.

    2. LAYER atop the bottom bun: mustard, arugula, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, bacon, mustard. Fasten with a toothpick if needed.

     

    RECIPE: BEER CHEESE SAUCE

    Cheese sauce can be used on everything from breakfast eggs to dinner grains, potatoes, rice and veggies. This recipe is adapted from on TheBeeroness.com, a great resource for cooking with beer.

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup Oktoberfest beer (substitute other beer of choice)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Gouda†
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Cheddar†
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or substitute cayenne or chili flakes)
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cheddar 230

    Make cheese sauce with freshly-grated cheese. Photo courtesy Azteca-Foods.Europe.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes.

    2. EMPTY the contents into a saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired; for an extra kick use the cayenne or chili flakes. For a perfectly smooth sauce, use an immersion blender as necessary.

    3. SERVE warm.

    _______________________
     
    *ABV is Alcohol By Volume.

    †Do not use pre-shredded cheese.

      

    Comments off



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.