Food For Thought: Surprise Yourself and Others – Get Sauced!!

Why will these sauces, dressings and condiments surprise you? Because you can make some in a flash, use them in different meals, and give up many of those bottled sauces sitting on your refrigerator door. I use the words condiments and sauces interchangeably here, and dressings aren’t just for salads.

[Foodie Tip: Condiment: Latin condimentum, meaning “spice, seasoning, sauce” and from the Latin condere, meaning “preserve, pickle, season.” Wikipedia]

“Clean up your condiments! Commercially prepared condiments are typically a mixture of low-quality, genetically engineered ingredients, chemical preservatives, fillers and taste and texture enhancers that have potential health risks. Fortunately, making your own isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.” – Mercola.com.

Some condiments give a particular flavor, or complement the dish in a particular way. The term originally described pickled or preserved foods, but has shifted in meaning over time. An example is a sandwich or wrap made with ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise. Some condiments, sauces and dressings are used during cooking to add flavor or texture to food. And then there are garlic and chili oils! We often use condiments like tamari (soy sauce), aminos, and vinegars as condiments or add them to other ingredients to make a sauce or dressing. Some condiments actually get better with time because they are cultured.

When preparing for this piece, I became excited and overwhelmed with the number of options I might present to you. The list of possible condiments, sauces, and dressings is very long, so we are only exploring a few here. There are truly many different recipes that can make your food more nutritious. If there is a condiment, sauce, or dressing that you are interested in making, please write to me and we will explore the possibilities together.

Have you counted the number of bottles on your refrigerator door or shelves? How long have they been there? Can you guess when they were produced and bottled? Scary thought? I remember years ago when I kept ketchup and mayo for months and months on the door of my refrigerator and still continued to use them. They didn’t kill me (and they didn’t make me stronger!), but I question how nutritious and flavorful these condiments are after such a long time from production to table. And then I think about the actual ingredients used in some bottled sauces – again, scary! There are a few commercially prepared condiments that have pretty decent organic ingredients, so look for them if purchasing condiments. Make sure they don’t include high fructose corn syrup and have no chemicals or artificial ingredients, please!

I chuckle when people say to me, “I didn’t even know you could make that!” Maybe it’s up there with my kids not really knowing where eggs came from until we got hens! Ha! You can easily make almost any food given the right ingredients and a little time.

Some of these condiments and sauces I have been making for years while others come from being the ‘mad scientist’ in the kitchen! I regularly make taco sauce, (blueberry) barbecue sauce, and vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, so ask me for recipes. The possibilities are endless and you will love them.

No Gluten, No Grain, No Sugar – No Problem! I will start with what I consider the basics for many. You can mix ‘n match the use of mustard, mayo (aioli) and ketchup (beetchup!) in your favorite recipes or on your favorite burger or sandwich.

The Beetchup (beet “ketchup”) recipe below is not your usual ketchup and you may or may not see it as a good substitute but it is sooooo good and my new fav! Try beetchup on your meatloaf, or try browning boneless chicken pieces and then topping them with beetchup and baking until done. Serve with caramelized onions or shallots and your favorite veggies.

[Foodie Tip: how to peel garlic. I’ve tried all methods out there and nothing works like smashing it with a wide knife on a hard surface and peeling the skins off.]

I love chili oil as a soup topping or for roasting or grilling meat or vegetables. It keeps well! Or try a quick balsamic vinegar reduction as a yummy addition to meat or veggies. Easy-Peasy! For balsamic reduction, put balsamic vinegar in a pan and cook until reduced and shiny. Write to me for a chili oil recipe, and a great recipe for Cream of Garlic Soup with Chili Oil or Balsamic Reduction.


 Beetchup! Ingredients: 1 lb. cooked red beets, diced 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup + 2 T honey 1/4 cup diced onion 1 clove garlic 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. ground coriander 1/4 tsp. ground cloves Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Combine the chopped beets, vinegar, honey, and onion in a 6-qt. saucepan and stir. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 25 minutes, until beets are tender. Remove saucepan from heat and purée with remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Spicy Mustard! Whew! This Spicy Mustard isn’t for the faint of heart! Try combining equal amounts of mustard (or less) and maple syrup to a finely seeded and minced Jalapeño. Smother your wild salmon (or other fish) and broil. Quick and tasty! 6 T Mustard seeds 1 1/2 t poppy seeds 1/2 cup mustard powder 1 t turmeric powder 1/2 cup hard cider, water or beer 3 T apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon Celtic or sea salt 2 T honey (Opt and to taste) 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (Opt – any kind you love) Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. You want them mostly whole because you are using mustard powder, too. Pour the semi-ground seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder. Pour in the water, hard cider or beer, and then stir well. Add optional herbs if you choose to. When everything is incorporated, let sit for up to 10 minutes. The longer you let it sit, the mellower the mustard will be. When you’re ready, pour in the vinegar and add honey to taste. Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. It will be runny at first. Don’t worry, it will thicken up overnight. Wait at least 12 hours before using. Mustard made this way will last about a year in the fridge. Garlic Aioli 3 small garlic cloves, chopped 1 large egg 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 T chopped fresh parsley 1/2 t salt Pinch black pepper Pinch Spanish paprika 1/2 cup olive oil Combine the garlic, egg, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the oil in a slow stream and continue to process until the mixture has formed a thick emulsion. Refrigerate. If you do plan to include raw eggs in any recipe, I recommend that you purchase eggs from a farm in your area that not only produces organic eggs, but also takes steps to ensure a genuinely natural lifestyle for the hens, including a pasture-based diet from a natural landscape. I recommend visiting your local tailgate market to find a good organic egg producer. Ask them how their hens are raised!

Beetchup!

Ingredients:
1 lb. cooked red beets, diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 T honey
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the chopped beets, vinegar, honey, and onion in a 6-qt. saucepan and stir. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 25 minutes, until beets are tender. Remove saucepan from heat and purée with remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Spicy Mustard!

Whew! This Spicy Mustard isn’t for the faint of heart! Try combining equal amounts of mustard (or less) and maple syrup to a finely seeded and minced Jalapeño. Smother your wild salmon (or other fish) and broil. Quick and tasty!

6 T Mustard seeds
1 1/2 t poppy seeds
1/2 cup mustard powder
1 t turmeric powder
1/2 cup hard cider, water or beer
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Celtic or sea salt
2 T honey (Opt and to taste)
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (Opt – any kind you love)

Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. You want them mostly whole because you are using mustard powder, too. Pour the semi-ground seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder. Pour in the water, hard cider or beer, and then stir well. Add optional herbs if you choose to. When everything is incorporated, let sit for up to 10 minutes. The longer you let it sit, the mellower the mustard will be. When you’re ready, pour in the vinegar and add honey to taste. Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. It will be runny at first. Don’t worry, it will thicken up overnight. Wait at least 12 hours before using. Mustard made this way will last about a year in the fridge.

Garlic Aioli

3 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 large egg
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch Spanish paprika
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the garlic, egg, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the oil in a slow stream and continue to process until the mixture has formed a thick emulsion. Refrigerate.

If you do plan to include raw eggs in any recipe, I recommend that you purchase eggs from a farm in your area that not only produces organic eggs, but also takes steps to ensure a genuinely natural lifestyle for the hens, including a pasture-based diet from a natural landscape. I recommend visiting your local tailgate market to find a good organic egg producer. Ask them how their hens are raised!


Try Roasted Cauliflower with Caesar Dressing (homemade recipe below)!


 Roasted Cauliflower with Caesar Dressing! Trim a whole cauliflower and leave it whole. Steam in salted water until tender but not too soft. Cool. Drizzle with Tamari and spread with Caesar Dressing and roast for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Recipe for dressing here: www.wncwoman.com/2016/05/25/food-for-thought-slow-food-in-a-fast-food-world-joyfully-create-and-recreate-all-week-long/

Roasted Cauliflower with Caesar Dressing!

Trim a whole cauliflower and leave it whole. Steam in salted water until tender but not too soft. Cool. Drizzle with Tamari and spread with Caesar Dressing and roast for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Recipe for dressing here.

Next is my new favorite entree inspired by Mario Batali. (This one is for you Kathy R – great talking food with you at the grocery store!)

Try this easy Orange-Basil Dressing for a traditional salad, and try my Hot Salad ‘n Seafood. You won’t be disappointed!


 Hot Salad ‘n Seafood Dressing: make this first and refrigerate so flavors meld together. 1/2 C olive oil 1/4 C red wine vinegar 1/8 C fresh chopped basil (extra for garnish) 1 T fresh chopped parsley (extra for garnish) 1 small clove of garlic Pinch of salt Juice of 1/4 large orange 1 t honey Chunks Goat Cheese (opt) Chop parsley and basil. Save some for garnishing finished dish. Mince garlic and smash with the edge of a heavy knife so its crushed. Whisk together red wine vinegar, orange juice, garlic, salt and honey. Slowly drizzle olive oil into vinegar mixture while whisking. (This can be done in the food processor also.) Whisk until dressing starts to thicken slightly. Add basil and parsley and stir slightly. Salad: I used (thin slices) butternut squash, zucchini, (thin slices) beets, red pepper, poblano pepper, halved strawberries, asparagus, (thick slices) red onion, salmon and shrimp. (Heads of romaine sliced in half long ways and grilled with cut side down are a nice addition, and Japanese Eggplant looks and tastes great, too.) You might try roasting your favorite veggies and broiling the seafood. Then smother in Orange-Basil Dressing. Seafood Salad: Clean, peel, and slice veggies. Clean and dry seafood. Peeling shrimp, but leaving the tail on, will make them cook more evenly. Oil one side of each veggie with coconut oil (best because it has a high smoke point). Place veggies taking the longest to cook on the grill first, then add others and seafood as necessary so they will all be finished together. Oil the other side of veggies and seafood, and add salt and pepper before turning. Turn each veggie when they have nice grill marks on the first side and are partially cooked. Grill seafood carefully, turning once. When veggies and seafood are cooked, arrange on large platter and drizzle with plenty of dressing. Garnish with extra basil and parsley.

Hot Salad ‘n Seafood

Dressing: make this first and refrigerate so flavors meld together.

1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1/8 C fresh chopped basil (extra for garnish)
1 T fresh chopped parsley (extra for garnish)
1 small clove of garlic
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1/4 large orange
1 t honey
Chunks Goat Cheese (opt)

Chop parsley and basil. Save some for garnishing finished dish. Mince garlic and smash with the edge of a heavy knife so its crushed. Whisk together red wine vinegar, orange juice, garlic, salt and honey. Slowly drizzle olive oil into vinegar mixture while whisking. (This can be done in the food processor also.) Whisk until dressing starts to thicken slightly. Add basil and parsley and stir slightly.

Salad: I used (thin slices) butternut squash, zucchini, (thin slices) beets, red pepper, poblano pepper, halved strawberries, asparagus, (thick slices) red onion, salmon and shrimp. (Heads of romaine sliced in half long ways and grilled with cut side down are a nice addition, and Japanese Eggplant looks and tastes great, too.) You might try roasting your favorite veggies and broiling the seafood. Then smother in Orange-Basil Dressing.

Seafood Salad: Clean, peel, and slice veggies. Clean and dry seafood. Peeling shrimp, but leaving the tail on, will make them cook more evenly. Oil one side of each veggie with coconut oil (best because it has a high smoke point). Place veggies taking the longest to cook on the grill first, then add others and seafood as necessary so they will all be finished together. Oil the other side of veggies and seafood, and add salt and pepper before turning. Turn each veggie when they have nice grill marks on the first side and are partially cooked. Grill seafood carefully, turning once.

When veggies and seafood are cooked, arrange on large platter and drizzle with plenty of dressing. Garnish with extra basil and parsley.

I had the best time writing about condiments, sauces and dressings! Hope you will try and enjoy them often. Write to me to talk food; I love it!


Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not being the ‘mad scientist’ in the kitchen or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys being the Food Editor for WNC Woman Magazine and volunteering in the community.

Sandy@SouthernLifeRealty.com | 828.273.9755 | SouthernLifeRealty.com
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