Posts Tagged ‘Sauces and Condiments’

I have seen both Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver make white crudite platters.  And they looked soooo beautiful.  Even Jamie’s, who’s food usually looks delicious, but well, not like Martha’s, to say the least.  So, I wanted to do that.  Either they have whiter vegetables than me, or they were photographed through some magic whitening lens because this is not white.    So, this is my shades of beige crudite platter.

The vegetables are endives, steamed potatoes, radish, and carrots.  The white (ish) carrots and radishes were procured by my amazing husband, who went to Berkeley Bowl and searched for the best white vegetables he could possible find, just for me.  Totally made my day that he came back with awesome stuff and not boring old cauliflower.   The potatoes were inspired by a friend of mine, who served steamed potatoes and siracha aioli at her housewarming, and it was so delicious.  But since siracha aioli is not white, I did not make it.  Instead, I made roasted garlic aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli
Recipe from the this website, reprinted from the Mustards: Napa Valley Cookbook by Ciny Pawlcyn.

1 large head garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Cut a thin slice off the very top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of all the cloves. Set the garlic head in a shallow baking dish. Pour the oil slowly over and into the head. Season with the salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1-3/4 hours, until the garlic is very soft and tender. Don’t rush it; older garlic may take longer. Drain and reserve the oil, and set the garlic aside.

When cool, squeeze the pulp out of the roasted garlic into a food processor or blender and add the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, water, salt, and cayenne pepper. Purée until smooth. With the motor running, add the reserved roasting oil and the additional 1-1/2 cups oil in a slow, steady stream and continue processing until emulsified.

Makes about 2 cups

This was my first time making my own mayo, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how delicious it tasted.  I used half the mayo at the party.  The other half went into a potato salad with fingerling potatoes, scallions, and arugula, which was amazing, and a bit on some burgers.

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Whenever I walk down the street here in Berkeley, I have this incredible urge to pick things.  Something is always in bloom year round and my neighbors have rose and hydrangea bushes and gorgeous fruit trees.  The good stuff often overhangs their fences, taunting me.  I also have some neighbors who let their very adorable cats roam around outside.  One of these days, I’m going to snap and just come home with flowers tucked in my hair, lemons and avocados crammed in my pockets, and three cats in my arms.

Thankfully for everyone, I do have some self control (and my husband has cat allergies).  And, now I can stock my house with preserved lemons so I’m not tempted to take a few next time I walk around the block.

Preserved lemons are just lemons in a brine.  The recipe is super simple and they’ll last a while in your fridge.  I’ve been dicing up the whole lemon and adding it to couscous salad.  I’ve seen recipes floating around for adding it to chicken or lamb tagines, usually with green olives.  I may need to try something like that out soon.

To make these, I followed the instructions at Simply Recipes and David Lebovitz’s blog. I didn’t add any seasoning to my first batch, though other online recipes suggest adding peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander, or cloves.

Preserved Lemons

A bunch of lemons
Kosher Salt


Pour a layer of salt in the bottom of a clean jar so the bottom is completely covered.

Slice a few lemons in quarters, leaving one end in tact (see picture above).  Pour salt in the slices, about a tablespoon per lemon.

Place the lemons in the jar, dumping a bit more salt on top of each one before adding the next.  Press them down a bit, cramming as many as possible.  I got four lemons into a pint jar.

Squeeze juice out of more lemons and pour into the jar so the lemons are covered.  Screw on the top and set aside.  For the next couple days, press the lemons down and add more lemon juice if needed.  Let the lemons sit for three to four weeks until rinds soften.

The lemons will keep in the fridge for about six months.  You can rinse them off before using to get rid of some of the salt, but they shouldn’t taste too salty – more briny, like an olive.

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I recently attempted an olive oil polenta cake that was a major fail.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad, if I missed a step, or if it was supposed to taste dry and bland.  So, I won’t be making that again.  What I will be making again is the syrup I drizzled on top.  I wanted to eat this stuff with a spoon.  It’s sweet and thick, and the bay leaf adds an herbal note that rounds it out and makes it interesting.  Drizzle it on cakes, pancakes and waffles, ice cream, or anything you can think of.   I bet it would be fantastic over some goat cheese too. 

Bay Infused Blood Orange Syrup
Recipe by me

5 Blood oranges
1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of honey

Segment the oranges, collecting as much of the juice as possible.  Squeeze out the membranes to gather up more juice.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it.  Add the honey, the orange segments and juice, and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, and continue to simmer another 5-10 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency.  Drizzle over anything you like.  It will gel up a bit if it sits for too long, so to thin it out, just reheat with a couple drops of water.

Makes about 1 cup.

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I adore cranberry sauce.  It is so simple to make that I don’t understand why people eat that weird stuff in a can.  1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, boil, and done.  You can add spices and fruit to that, substitute juice or wine for the water, and reduce or increase any ingredient to get to the desired consistency.  And it’s pretty much fool-proof.

Last year, I made a pomegranate cranberry sauce.  This year, I decided to use satsuma mandarins.  They really are a perfect citrus for cranberry sauce – very few seeds, and a rind that’s not too thick, but has a lot of flavor.  If you can’t find satsumas, look for another tangerine with a medium-thick rind.  Something thicker than a clementine, but thinner than a regular orange.  I’d err on the side of thick and just add a bit more sugar, rather than use a clementine or something with a papery thin rind.  Whatever you use, expect to need more than the standard 1 cup of sugar – the rinds are bitter and you need a little more to cut through that.

Cranberry Sauce with Satsuma Mandarins

1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
2 satsuma mandarins
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Carefully cut up the satsumas.  You want some strips of rind with the fruit still attached, but try to remove any big hunks of white membrane.  I basically cut it in quarters, then ran my knife down the tip of each quarter to pull off what I could.  Then sliced each quater into little 1/4 inch strips.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and if you can’t get all the stringy white bits out, don’t worry too much. 

Heat a heavy skillet on medium.  Add the satsumas and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the satsumas have released their juices and the rinds are soft. 

Add the cranberries and the sugar and stir to coat.

Add the water and give it a gentle stir.  Simmer for a few minutes, giving it a gentle stir every now and then.  You want to stir it gently to keep the cranberries as whole as possible.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, taste test a berry.  If it’s too bitter, add a bit more sugar, and stir for another minute or so.  Otherwise remove from the heat and let it cool.

It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if you don’t eat it all before then.  To serve, let it come to room temp and enjoy.

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I made this last week for my elections party, and named it “October Surprise.” While the official recipe name is a salsa, it really is more like a bean dip, and it was so delicious that I would probably just eat a bowl of it, like chili.

The recipe comes from the Washington Post. (No, I won’t give up east coast newspapers ever. The San Francisco Chronicle sucks.)

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (may substitute 3/4 pound prepped butternut squash cubes)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
14 to 15 ounces canned, diced no-sodium tomatoes, drained
15 to 19 ounces canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted

The recipe also called for a zucchini, diced up, but that sounded disgusting to me, so I left it out. Who wants slimy, watered down zucchini in their salsa/chili? Not me.

The recipe is a labor intensive one, as it involves a lot of chopping, so I highly recommend buying the pre-diced squash, as it will really cut down on prep time. You’ll still have to chop it even smaller, but it does save time.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Spread the squash cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fork-tender.
When the squash has about 15 minutes of roasting time to go, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño; cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden.

Add the tomatoes, beans, and cilantro (plus the zucchini if you are using it); cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add the roasted squash and stir to incorporate; cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

At this point, the salsa can be transferred to a slow cooker to keep warm, or it can be cooled completely, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Just before serving, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top of the salsa.

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The one produce item that seems in short supply here on the west coast is cranberries. Being a Massachusetts native, I love me some cranberry sauce, so this has been distressing. I’ve been searching for these things for a month now, since they are widely available on the east coast in late September. They finally appeared in my neighborhood grocery store this morning, much to my relief. They were a little banged up from their cross country journey, but they worked. I’m amazed that cranberries don’t seem to be grown out here. Don’t they have bogs in California?

Pomegranates, however, do seem to be particularly plentiful around here. Two were included in our farm share box last week, so I set out looking for fun ways to use them. I think that I once saw pomegranate cranberry sauce in a magazine – probably Food and Wine or maybe Martha – but I can’t remember where, and pretty much just made this one up. It turned out delicious, and, like all cranberry sauce recipes, it is incredibly easy to make.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

1 bag of cranberries (about a pound)
Seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
Juice from 1 orange + enough water to make 1 cup of liquid
2/3 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses

I found the molasses at a speciality Spanish and mediterrean grocery store. If you can’t track any down, I’d substitute pomegranate juice for the water, and possibly reduce the sugar to a half cup or so. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to screw up cranberry sauce, once you know the basic recipe is 1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar, so just work with what you’ve got and just adjust the amount of sugar based on what liquid you use and your own personal preference.


Put the cranberries, juice, water, sugar, and pomegranate molasses in a pot and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 8 minutes or so, then add the pomegranate seeds.

Simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then let the sauce completely cool to thicken.

That’s it. That is how easy it is to make homemade cranberry sauce. Yum.

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Last week, our CSA box had tomatoes, cilantro, and serrano peppers in it. So, we made guacamole. Not just any guacamole though. This is the best guacamole you will ever eat. Trust me.

First things first. The equiment. If you really love guacamole, treat yourself to the amazing William Sonoma Molcajete. Your wallet might say “ouch,” but your tacos will say “yum yum.”

I first witnessed the magic molcajete at Rosa Mexicano’s, the semi-posh Mexican chain restaurant that makes the most amazing guacamole ever. A wedding gift registry and a google search for the recipe were all I needed to be able to recreate it at home. If you don’t have the molcajete, this would probably work with a regular mortar and pestle.
So, I present to you, the best guacamole ever. Recipe courtesy of people on the internet who ripped off Rosa Mexicano’s.
2 Haas avocadoes
3 Tablespoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped, seeded jalapeno chile
1 ½ teaspoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoon chopped tomato
I used serrano peppers. You can leave in or remove the seeds, depending on how spicy you like it.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the chopped onions, ½ teaspoon of the chopped jalapeno and ½ teaspoon of the cilantro with ½ teaspoon of salt in the molcajete. Mash these ingredients into a paste. This releases all their oils and juices.

Roughly chop the avocadoes in large chunks and add it to the paste in the molcajete and fold to combine thoroughly.
Add the other ingredients, folding gently, taking care not to mash it too much.
And there you have it. Best guacamole ever.

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We had a few friends over last week and I prepared a few quick little munchies for the event. These two dishes were quick and elegant and incredibly tasty. Both come from old issues of Food and Wine.

2 garlic cloves, sliced
Olive oil
12 sage leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 cups raw cashews


In a medium skillet, fry sliced garlic cloves in olive oil until lightly golden. Add sage leaves and chopped sage to the skillet and cook until crisp; drain on paper towels. Add raw cashews to the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden; drain on paper towels. Toss with the garlic, sage and salt. Let cool, then serve.

The best part about this was the little crispy whole sage leaves. When I do this again, I will definitely be increasing the amount of sage – doubling or tripling it. The sage shrinks up during the frying process and the intense flavor really mellows, so I think you can get away with as much sage as you’d like.


1 cup crème fraîche
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

In a bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the parsley, chives and tarragon. Whisk in the lemon juice and season well with salt.

The recipe recommends serving it with radishes and blanched asparagus, though I subbed raw baby carrots for the asparagus. The carrots were fine, though the dip was perfect with the radishes. It’s a very cool, creamy dip and it is a perfect compliment to the peppery radishes.

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Friday’s farm share box contained a bag of tomatillos. I’m not really sure what one does with tomatillos besides make salsa verde or gazpacho. Not being a fan of cold soup, salsa it was. It helped that the farm share box also contained a few onions, making this a very easy recipe to shop for.

I found a fabulous recipe on Epicurious and the salsa turned out fantastic. And my two months of California living has turned me into a bona fide Mexican food snob, so I am qualified to make that call.


1 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt
5 fresh serrano chiles

Yes, 5 serrano chiles. Apparently the people at Epicurious have tongues of steel. Not wanting to set fire to the mouths of people who would be eating this, I used 3 serranos. As it turned out, it was a good call. The salsa was very spicy – probably about as spicy as most people would want.

Based on that, I would use:

1 if you want it mild
2 for medium heat
3 for very spicy
4 for your friends that dump Texas Pete hot sauce on everything and constantly complain about weak American palates
5 for Fear Factor style party games

Preheat the broiler.
Remove husks on the tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness.

Broil chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender. Serve at your next fiesta.

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I think I may actually be getting a handle on this photo thing.

See what I mean? I’m not going to quit my day job, but I think this is an improvement.

So, on to the dish. We’ve gotten basil in every CSA box this summer and have made pesto a few times, but this time I wanted to try something different. Pesto is one of those things that is pretty hard to screw up, so I figured I could just throw some stuff in a food processor and cross my fingers.

Thankfully, my plan worked. So, here’s my new spin on pesto.


* All measurements are approximate
2 cups of basil – I used leaves and stems. Jaime Oliver says stems are fine, and I trust him.
1/4 cup parmegian cheese
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (if they are salted, just be careful when you actually do add salt)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup of olive oil (or some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste

– Toss the basil, parmesian, and half of the pistachios and sun dried tomatoes in to a food processer and pulse until coarsely chopped. (If you want very smooth pesto, add all the pistachios and sun dried tomatoes.)

– Slowly add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and the extra pistachios and sun dried tomatoes. You may need to stop the food processor to scrap down the sides once or twice.

– Puree until you have reached your desired consistency.

To serve, I tossed a few spoonfuls over some pasta, chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzerella. Yum.

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