Tag Archives: Condiments

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

About a month ago we decided it was finally time to cook the gigantic 16lb pork shoulder we have had in our freezer ever since we bought our last hog (hint: almost a year now).  Rather than eat leftovers for weeks we decided to throw a party where the centerpiece was a huge brined and smoked hunk of pork.  Doesn’t that sound like the best centerpiece ever?

The Simple Ingredients

The pork was pretty amazing on its own.  However, we are sauce people at heart.  Marc has been known to whip up a batch of his favorite Thai peanut sauce and pour it over just enough rice to make it appear as if he is not eating only sauce.  The problem with commercial bbq sauces is that they tend to be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and light on things like tomatoes and spices.  So we figured we had best make our own. Besides, if we are going to spend 11 hours smoking fresh pork, why would we let someone else add the final touch in the form of a sauce?

Onions and Garlic in the Pan

Turns out that this project was really pretty simple.  As a matter of fact, we already had all of the ingredients in the house, no shopping necessary.  Gently saute some onion and garlic in oil, add all of the ingredients, simmer 15 minutes and it’s pretty much done.  A final whiz in the blender to make a nice smooth sauce and it was ready to go.  So easy… why haven’t we done this in the past?

Simmer Simmer

Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn


1/2 cup (70 grams) chopped onion

1 tbls (18 grams) chopped garlic

1 tbls (15 ml) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (25 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 cup (125 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbls (4 grams) dry mustard powder

2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar

2 tbls (16 grams) paprika

1 tbls (15 grams) kosher salt

1 tsp (3 grams) cayenne pepper

1 cup (250 ml) catsup (we like Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup because it actually tastes like tomatoes, you could substitute the same volume of tomato puree if you would like)

To Make:

Start with a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the vegetable oil (or use olive oil if you want that flavor as part of your sauce). Add the onion and garlic and gently saute until soft but not browned.

Add in the cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, dark brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add in the catsup, return to a simmer and set your timer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of  the pan.

After 15 minutes of simmering, remove the pan from the heat and allow to slightly cool before blending.  Using a blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  Please, please, please be careful blending hot or warm liquids.  The steam builds up and can cause the sauce to splatter all over, creating both a mess and potentially burning you.  To avoid this, puree in small batches and remove the top from the blender lid to allow the excess steam to be released.

To Serve:

This is a nice, slightly tangy bbq sauce that is great on meats of all kinds (especially smoked ones!).  It would also make a great base for a bbq chicken pizza (like this one). Makes about 2 cups and stores up to a week or so in the fridge.

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Filed under Add-ons, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam

For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations.  Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter.  However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles.  Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.

The key players

The key players

Finally, those days are here.  In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make.  The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave.  I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.

Lots of honey

Lots of honey

Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam.  I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping.  Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make.  The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon.  The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down.  Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger.  You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes.  Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly.  In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form.  The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger.  It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning.  Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
  2. Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set

Gel is almost set

Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
To Make:
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel.  I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack.  A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon.  Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled.  If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on).  Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil.  Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes.  Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area.  Then walk away.  Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours).  If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing.  If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first.  Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel.  However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
To Serve:
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam.  This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops.  Makes 3 1/2 cups.


Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Cognac Butter

Cognac Butter

Want to know a secret?  Cognac butter is my latest obsession.  What the heck is cognac butter you ask?  Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know either.  Then I got my hands on this brandy butter from Thursday Cottage. 

Mmm, cognac

At my office, our vendors send us gift baskets around the holidays.  Since we work with some folks from Great Britain, we often get unique foods from across the pond.  When I saw the brandy butter in the gift basket, I snapped it up.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be totally delicious…  sweet and buttery with just the right amount of cognac taste.  Marc and I ate the whole jar in two days.

Sifting the sugar

Sifting the sugar

After that, I decided I best try my hand at making my own cognac butter (how else can I feed the obsession).  Using the proportions of butter, sugar, and alcohol listed on the back of the Thursday Cottage jar, I used my stand mixer to create a fantastic version.  This comes together very quickly and easily.  A couple of tips to keep in mind: make sure your butter is at room temperature, sift the powdered sugar so it is lump free, and add the cognac very slowly to make sure that it gets thoroughly incorporated.   If you want, jazz it up with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other spices that suit your fancy.

Beating the butter and sugar

What to do with your finished butter… the possibilities are limitless.  Spread it on toast, english muffins, biscuits, or any other baked good you can think of.  Use it to “frost” shortbread or sugar cookies.  Smear it on pancakes or waffles.  Lick it off the knife (oops, did I say that out loud).

Almost ready, can you taste it?

Cognac Butter

For this recipe, I have given all amounts by weight.  What is important here is the proportions: 35% butter, 8% cognac, 57% sugar.  You can scale the exact amounts up or down to get the quantity you want. 


57 grams (4 tbls) unsalted butter

92 grams confectioners sugar

16 grams (20 ml) good quality cognac

1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)

To Make:

Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, beat the butter over medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl.  Add the sugar to the butter in small batches, beating well to incorporate after each addition.  It will look crumbly at first but will get smooth again as you continue to beat.  After all the sugar is incorporated, slowly drizzle in the cognac while the mixer is running.  Allow the butter to continue mixing until the cognac is fully incorporated.  Add the cinnamon (if using) and beat until thoroughly mixed.

To Serve:

Makes enough butter to fill a 1/2 pint jar.  Store in the refrigerator and let warm up a bit before using.  Feel free to get creative with the type of alcohol and spices you use.  I am sure this would be delicious with rum, Amaretto, or Cointreau.


Filed under Add-ons, Dessert, Recipes

Quick Kimchi


Kimchi ready to eat, kimchi ready to store

We happen to have a lot of cabbage in the house these days.  Five heads, to be precise.  Luckily, one of these was a very fresh head of Napa cabbage which was just asking to be made into some sort of delicious Asian dish.  When I think Asian and cabbage, I think kimchi.  I happen to really love kimchi.  My first experience with it was in college.  One of my lovable-but-nutty roommates came home with a jar of this bizarre looking, spicy cabbage.  She put it on crackers with natural peanut butter and offered us all a taste.  I am pretty sure I was the only one to take a bite (surprisingly, it didn’t taste as bad as you might expect).  Fast forward a few years and we found a local Korean restaurants makes a kimchi pancake with pork that is to die for.  That was it for me… I was hooked on that vinegar-y, spicy flavor.  Now I eat it on sandwiches, eggs, noodles, use it to make a quick soup, etc.

Classic kimchi is fermented and traditionally, it is buried in the ground to ferment through the winter.  I wasn’t really prepared for that level of cooking intensity so I was very excited when I found a quick version on Epicurious.  A few modifications and we now have two quarts of delicious kimchi that tastes fantastic on eggs.

Quick Kimchi

Adapted from Gourmet, 2009


1 Napa cabbage, about 3 lbs.

2 tbls chopped garlic

1 tbls chopped peeled ginger

2 tbls Asian fish sauce

2 tsp white vinegar

3 tsp sugar

1 bunch of scallions chopped

1-2 tbls hot chili paste (we used Sriracha)

Kosher salt

To Make:

Quarter the cabbage lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces.  Put the cabbage in a large, non-reactive bowl and add 3 tbls of kosher salt.  Toss the cabbage and the salt and let stand, tossing occasionally, for 2 hours.

Rinse cabbage well and then drain, squeezing out as much moisture as possible with your hands.  In a blender, puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, white vinegar, and sugar until smooth.  Pour the mixture over the cabbage, add the scallions, and toss.  Add the hot chili paste and toss well with tongs.  We used 2 tbls of the hot chili paste.  It was pretty spicy at first but mellowed after some time in the fridge.  Add more or less chili paste depending on your taste.

To Serve:

Let stand at least one hour before serving.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  The flavor will get stronger as it sits.  Makes about two quarts of kimchi.

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Filed under Add-ons, Recipes, Vegetarian