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Home-made Condiments


Every time you bring in something off the grill this summer, you end up asking yourself, "what am I going to put on that?"  The answer is some sort of condiment, of course.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School will tell you, it's all to easy to reach for you store-bought mayo or catsup, but it can be very rewarding to whip up your own versions of your favorite condiments.


Click on the image for the recipes. 


Home-made mayonnaise is very easy, once you master the patience to make it.  Mix together egg yolks, a little white wine vinegar, a touch of mustard powder and maybe a tad of cayenne.  Process it in a cuisanart, and then start to add the best olive oil you have, literally a drop at a time.  You may find it convenient to have a partner involved in this, as it really is a four hand job.  A slow steady drizzle of oil is what you want.  Many food processors have a plunger attachment that you use for pushing food into the blender.  Many of those plungers have a little hole in the bottom which is ideal for drizzling olive oil a drop at a time. 

Here are a few other more exotic condiments you can try.

Onion mustard sauce.  I got this sauce from a Senegalese restaurant in town, which served it with grilled lamb.  It's super easy:  just slow cook in canola oil an entire yellow onion, sliced thin top to bottom.  Toss in a little minced garlic, a few healthy dollops of grainy Dijon mustard, and a pinch of cayenne.  Tangy, savory, and perfect with grilled meat.

Harissa is a complex red hot sauce based on peppers and spices.  It starts with a roasted sweet pepper, then adds spices like coriander, cumin and caraway.

You will sauté some onion, garlic and hot red peppers, and then blitz all the ingredients in a food processor.  The heat depends on your choice and number of hot peppers you fancy.

Sriracha is a Thai sauce that is certainly hot, and often a bit sweet.

It is great for Vietnamese pho noodle soup, but its use has expanded.  The recipe begins with pureed jalapeno peppers along with garlic, sugar and salt.  Put the puree in a mason jar and let them ferment for five days.  After fermentation is complete, check for balanced flavor.  Add some white vinegar, and puree until it is totally smooth.  Strain into a sauce pan, boil then simmer until thick.

Chimichurri sauce is absolutely essential for Latin American grilled meat dishes like churrasco.  Chimichurri is not unlike pesto, just a little more complex.

Olive oil is the base, and chopped parsley is the principal ingredient.  To that you add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and vinegar.  All that is coarsely processed in a blender.  Add some tomato, red peppers and red wine vinegar, and you have a red chimichurri.

Catsup.  I love catsup, but I never thought store-bought catsup  was the final word in quality.  One secret to quality is long slow cooking, and a lot of puréeing.  High quality crushed tomatoes, like Cento, are a great starting place.  Sugar, vinegar, garlic powder, various salts, peppers and spices go into the mix.

Cook at a low temperature for a long time... half a day would not be too much.

Use a submersible blender to smooth it out, let it cool down, and bring on the French fries.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
As General Partner of Clipper City Brewing Company, L.P., Hugh J. Sisson is among Baltimore's premier authorities on craft brewing and a former manager of the state's first pub brewery, Sissons, located in Federal Hill. A fifth generation Baltimorean, Hugh has been involved in all aspects of craft brewing.