Pass the sauce
By KAREN K. WILL
Foodies and nutritionists often advise us to shop only the perimeter of the grocery store. The reason being to avoid the middle aisles where all the unhealthy foodstuffs are located, including condiments – and for good reason. Most commercially made condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and barbecue sauce, are made with high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, preservatives, thickeners, and other unnatural additives that can be unsavory. So what’s a person supposed to spread on a sandwich? Homemade condiments, of course!
If you’re an adventurous home cook with a well-stocked spice cabinet, you’ll love the challenge of making your own spreads and sauces. Some recipes are like science projects that require specific reactions to take place among the ingredients, like the egg yolk and oil in mayonnaise; others, like barbecue sauce and ketchup, come together from a seemingly random assortment of ingredients. Your eyes will be opened to a whole new frontier of cookery, and you’ll be able to produce those choice provisions you only thought possible from the likes of Heinz or Hellmann’s.
This spring and summer, when fresh produce and cookouts are plenty, try your hand at crafting some condiments from scratch. You won’t believe the difference in flavor and quality- and neither will your family. Homemade condiments don’t have a long shelf life compared to store-bought varieties, so halve recipes if you don’t want waste, or double if you’re feeding a crowd.
Fresh tomato ketchup
This fresh ketchup is nothing like the neon red, cloying store-bought kind that comes from a squeeze bottle. The recipe is quite simple-it doesn’t require any peeling or coring of the tomatoes-and it’s worth the time spent in the kitchen. Make enough to last throughout the year and freeze it. Seasonings can be easily adjusted for individual taste. Heirloom tomatoes will give the best flavor, and organic is even better. Yields 2 to 3 cups.
3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 whole cloves
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 inch of a cinnamon stick, broken
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Place tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, peppercorns, mustard, allspice, cloves, celery seeds, cinnamon stick, paprika, and cayenne into stockpot and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly until about 1/3 of juices have evaporated. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to cool.
Puree mixture in pan using immersion blender, or use electric blender and process at highest speed for 1 minute, pulsing to start.
Run mixture through food mill using finest-mesh screen – or use chinois or fine sieve – and return to clean saucepan.
Heat to simmering, then add sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt; adjust spices to taste. Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring frequently, until thickened. Allow to cool to room temperature before using or freezing.
Freeze in freezer jars, or refrigerate in airtight jar for up to 3 weeks.
To use frozen ketchup, thaw and then simmer in saucepan for 15 to 20 minutes to evaporate extra liquid.
The next time you’re frying or grilling fish, whip up this sauce to serve alongside, using homemade Mayonnaise (recipe below). It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Yields about 1 1/2 cups.
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
3 to 4 tablespoons minced dill pickles
2 tablespoons minced capers, optional
3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, or tarragon
Place Mayonnaise and mustard in small bowl. Stir in vinegar.
Place minced pickles and capers in paper towel and wring out excess liquid. Add to mayonnaise mixture with herbs and mix well. Season with salt, if desired.
According to Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, “mayonnaise is a process of forcing egg yolks to absorb a fatty substance, oil in this case, and to hold it in thick and creamy suspension.” Making mayonnaise by hand is an experience you’ll cherish and be proud of, though the difficult part for me has been figuring out the right type of healthy oil that will approximate the taste of my favorite store brand. If you use home-raised, free-range eggs when the yolks tend toward orange, your mayonnaise will turn out more yellow than you’re used to. Yields about 1 1/4 cups.
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups extra-light olive oil (not extra-virgin)
Ground white pepper, optional
Place egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and salt in large mixing bowl. Using handheld electric mixer on highest speed, beat until mixture is frothy.
Beginning with a drop or two, add oil and beat until the emulsion process begins. Beat until you cannot see oil any longer, but a thickening sauce. Keep adding oil, increasing amount with each addition. Be patient and do not rush this step; this process will take 10 to 15 minutes for the egg yolks to fully absorb the oil.
If the finished product is too thick for your liking, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons boiling water to thin and smooth it. Season to taste with white pepper, if desired, and additional salt, if needed. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I never thought I’d attempt homemade mustard, but when I realized just how simple it is to make – and that mustard seeds are sold in bulk at my local co-op – I was a convert. Like all homemade condiments, mustard allows for endless variations and flavors to suit individual tastes. Using different vinegars will give the mustard a sharper (white distilled) or milder (malt or wine) flavor. You can also substitute honey or agave nectar for the maple syrup for a different flavor note, or add 2 teaspoons of your favorite dried herbs while blending. Yields 1 pint.
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh, finely ground black pepper
Combine mustard seeds, wine, vinegar, and water in medium bowl. Let stand overnight.
Dump seed mixture into bowl of food processor. Add maple syrup, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and process until mixture is smooth and of desired consistency. Adjust with additional wine, vinegar, water, or sweetener, 1 tablespoon at a time, if mixture is too thick for your liking.
Pour into hot, sterilized pint jar and cap. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Homemade barbecue sauce is a real treat. Its complex, smoky-sweet flavor marries well with meat, so make a batch whenever you barbecue or smoke any kind of meat. It’s also delicious on pizza, topped with onions, cheese, and cilantro. It takes just 20 minutes from start to finish. You can make your own tomato puree by cooking down tomatoes until very soft, then running them through a food mill. Yields 1 1/2 cups.
3/4 cup heavy tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons Fresh Tomato Ketchup
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or ground chipotle
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Heat over medium heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Freeze in freezer jars, or refrigerate in airtight jar for up to 2 weeks.
To use frozen barbecue sauce, thaw and then simmer in saucepan for 15 to 20 minutes to evaporate extra liquid.
If you don’t grow and grind your own horseradish root, look for prepared horseradish in the refrigerated deli section at the market; the only ingredients should be horseradish, vinegar, and salt. Use homemade mayonnaise for best flavor. Serve this sauce alongside prime rib or roast beef, with fish, or even as a salad dressing or a dip for fresh vegetables. Yields 1 cup.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly ground horseradish
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
A common recipe ingredient is a can of “cream of mushroom” (or chicken, celery, etc.) soup. These condensed soups evolved over the years as an easy way to substitute for a thick white sauce. Condensed soups have an ingredient list full of items you can’t pronounce, so if you prefer whole-food ingredients, give this recipe a try. It makes the equivalent of one can of condensed soup, but it can easily be doubled or tripled based on how many cans the recipe calls for. You’ll feel an immense sense of pride and know-how when using real ingredients.
2 tablespoons minced onion, mushrooms, or celery
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon instant chicken base or equivalent of bouillon, optional
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, optional
Worcestershire sauce, optional
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, saute onions, mushrooms, or celery in butter for 2 minutes. Add chicken base, if using, and stir until melted and combined. Add flour, and cook and stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Gradually add milk, whisking until smooth. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with pinches of salt and pepper, and/or a dash of hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
Note: Soup can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or it can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Plastic Ball canning jars work well for storing.
For cream of chicken soup, use onions; for cream of mushroom soup, use mushrooms; for cream of celery soup, use celery.
Excerpted from Grit. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 800-456-6018. Copyright 2019 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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