As you look forward to all of the barbecues and picnics that lie ahead this summer, you may not give much thought to three staple sauces that are bound to be in high demand: ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. The basics. Chances are, you have a bottle of each in your refrigerator right now, and when they run out, it would be easy enough to grab more from the grocery store. But I’d like to ask you to stop and give another moment’s consideration to your condiments.
First, the store-bought varieties are commonly concocted with genetically engineered ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup and chemical additives that favor shelf life over flavor. Second, buying bottle after disposable plastic bottle doesn’t sit well on anyone’s conscience these days. And third — this is where it gets good — you can create your own signature gourmet sauces for a fraction of what the humdrum commercial brands cost. Really! It’s surprisingly easy to elevate basic flavors to brilliant in a matter of minutes. You’ll be the “wow” of the next outdoor bash, guaranteed.
If you have a garden, you’re already ahead of the game. If not, just head to your local farmers market and gather garden-fresh ingredients that will set your sauces apart from the rest.
Sweet â€™nâ€™ Savory Ketchup
Yes, ketchup is the quintessential picnic sauce — always sought after, yet seldom celebrated. Get ready to stir up festivity with this sumptuously spiced recipe that will have â€™em clamoring for more.
6 large tomatoes, quartered (you can use two 15-oz. cans of whole or diced tomatoes)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients except vinegar and salt in a large non-reactive saucepan (enamel, glass or stainless steel). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and salt and cook for another half hour, until the mixture thickens. Allow to cool enough to handle, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. If desired, strain through a mesh sieve to remove any remaining solids. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.
Spicy Stone-Ground Mustard
Speaking of celebration, there are few sauces that have the pizzazz to excite the palate like a fine mustard. This recipe has just the right amount of kick to enliven burgers, brats, pretzels and more.
5 ounces mustard seed
3/4 cup flat beer
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Combine all ingredients in a lidded glass jar. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 days until mustard seeds are softened. Place in a blender or food processor and blend to your desired consistency (you can leave some seeds whole if youâ€™re thinking gourmet). Store in the refrigerator for about a month. The flavor will mellow with time in the fridge.
This is the ultimate mayonnaise, like nothing you’ve ever bought in a bottle. The flavor is mild and creamy with just the right amount of zing. And, oh, the color! Your mayo will dazzle the eye with its buttery fresh golden hue.
2 eggs at room temperature (use farm fresh if you can!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup coconut oil
Warm coconut oil in a saucepan until just liquefied, then add olive oil. Set aside. Puree whole eggs, salt, vinegar and lemon juice until well blended. With blender running, pour oils into the mixture in a slow, steady stream. Continue blending until mixture emulsifies. Scoop mayo into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a month. You can also experiment with adding garlic or herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano to give your mayo a gourmet touch.
*If you prefer not to consume raw eggs, whisk your eggs in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of cold water until bubbly. Warm over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until mixture begins to thicken, coating the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and continue to whisk as you add the oils in a slow, steady stream. Allow mixture to cool, then whisk in lemon juice, vinegar, salt and any herbs your heart desires.
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Copyright 2011, MaryJane Butters.
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